Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Mystery of Jesus Christ: the Essene Mystery Schools

The Gospel of Matthew. Lecture 6 of 12.
Rudolf Steiner, September 6, 1910:
An examination of the descent of Jesus as given in the Gospel of Luke shows how the view of the writer of this Gospel is confirmed by the statements made in the last lecture. There it was shown that in the same sense in which an entity of Divine Force was to permeate the physical and etheric bodies of the Solomon Jesus, so an entity of Divine Force was also to permeate the astral body and ego of the personality known as the Nathan Jesus of the Luke Gospel. In this Gospel we are clearly told that this entity of Divine Force is to fulfill itself through the line of heredity streaming in a direct line down through all the generations, from an early stage of human existence before man entered into a physical earthly incarnation. In the Gospel of Luke we find that the descent of Jesus is traced back to Adam, and to God. This means that in order to find this divine principle within the astral body and ego of the Nathan Jesus we must go back to man as he was before his descent into physical incarnation; when he still dwelt in the bosom of the Spirit, and may be described as a spiritual being, and as still appertaining to Divinity. All anthroposophical investigation points to the Lemurian Age as that in which man was still in a spiritual sphere, when he had not yet incorporated in the elements of earthly existence. To this period, when man's divine nature was as yet unaffected by Luciferic influences, the Gospel of Luke traces back the lineage of the Jesus of whom it tells.

Those Mysteries which sought to guide their pupils to the initiation already described as ‘the understanding of the mighty secrets of cosmic space,’ leading man to what was super-earthly or rather beyond what man has become through earthly influences, sought to teach man to perceive the world without using the instruments he has acquired since he came under the influence of Lucifer. When a man has freed himself from perception through his physical and etheric bodies, from all that can approach him by earthly means, how does he behold the universe with his clairvoyant perception? This was the great question for the pupils of the Mysteries. Man was naturally in this state before his entrance into earthly incarnation, before he became the ‘earthly Adam,’ using this term in the sense of the Bible and the Gospel of Luke.

There are two ways by which man can reach that which makes him a divine spiritual being: one is the high initiation of the great Mysteries, the other is not realizable at any optional Earth period, but was present at an elementary stage of human existence before the descent of divine man into what the Bible calls ‘earthly humanity’ in the Lemurian Age, for Adam means ‘earth man’: he who is no longer divine, but has clothed himself in the earthly element.

It may be a matter for surprise that in Luke only seventy-seven generations or stages of existence are mentioned; and still more so that in the Gospel of Matthew only forty-two generations from Abraham to Christ are mentioned. Now it can be calculated that with the number of years usually reckoned to a generation, the forty-two could not extend over the period from Christ to Abraham, but it must be remembered that in earlier times, and noticeably in the patriarchal period before Solomon and David, the number of years reckoned to a generation was longer than in subsequent periods. In attempting to fix historical dates for any three generations like those of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the modern reckoning will not suffice; at least two hundred and fifteen years must be allowed for the three generations. This fact is corroborated by occult investigation. The generations were longest in the times from Adam to Abraham; subsequently they were also long, for great age is always ascribed to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, at the time when they begat their heirs. If we are right today in reckoning thirty-three years to a generation, the writer of the Gospel of Matthew was correct in reckoning seventy-five to eighty years and even longer to a generation in ancient times. But it is important to note that in the Gospel of Matthew each generation back to Abraham refers to an individual, whereas the names given by Luke to the generations previous to Abraham do not refer to individuals. Here we must recall something that, however true, is not easily believed by the materialistic conceptions of today.

What is now called memory, or connecting consciousness, does not extend for normal people beyond the early years of childhood. A person can trace his life back to the point where memory ceases; some can remember more of their early childhood than others. Memory today is confined to the single personal life — indeed not even the whole of this, for it does not reach back to birth. Considering the very different qualities of soul and of consciousness prevalent in those ancient times with which we are dealing, when a certain state of clairvoyance was normal, it need not seem surprising that memory also was very different from what it is today.

Going back to the times before Abraham, and even farther, during Atlantean times, man remembered not only the events of his personal life, but also experiences before birth — he remembered the experiences of his father, grandfather, and previous ancestors. Memory was something that endured in the blood through a long sequence of generations; it was only later that it became restricted to certain periods or to a single life.

In the distant past a name had a quite other significance than what it has today. Names in ancient times require a special study — what philologists say of them is incorrect. In former days names were not associated with things and people externally as they are now. A name at that time was something vital, something connected in a living way with the nature of the being or thing named; it was an expression in sound of the inner character of the being. It had to echo in sound the nature of that being. Modern learning is ignorant of this wisdom. The Kritic der Sprache by Fritz Mauthner reviews at great length all the modern learning in regard to speech, but omits what throughout the ages has been the essence of speech. Such a book could not have been written in olden times. A name did not then merely signify an individual with his personal life, but it included all that memory could link together, so that a name was used as long as memory endured. ‘Noah,’ for instance, was not a name for one man, it signified what one man remembered of his own life — then of his pre-earthly life, then of the life of his father, grandfather, etc. So long as the threads of memory endured one name was used for a succession of persons. ‘Adam,’ ‘Seth,’ or ‘Enoch’ are names which comprise as many persons as were united through the retention of retrospective recollection. When we are told in ancient times that a certain person was called ‘Enoch,’ it means that in a person, who was the son of someone otherwise designate, a new thread of memory had arisen, which does not go back to previous personalities. This new thread of memory then is not cut off at death, but is carried on, after the death of the first Enoch, from father to son down through the generations until a new memory arises and with it another name. As long as the thread of memory endured, the same name was used. In a family line several persons had but one name; as for example with the name ‘Adam.’ It is in this sense that names are used in the Gospel of Luke. For Luke wishes to explain that the being of power of divine spiritual existence, he who descended into the ego and astral body of the Nathan Jesus, must be traced back to the time of man's first descent into earthly incarnation.

Thus in Luke we have at first the names of separate individuals, but when we go back beyond Abraham we arrive at a time when memory lasted longer and one name signifies that which, like an ego, united several personalities. This will help to make it clear how the seventy-seven names could really be spread over very long periods — even so far back as to the time when the being whom we describe as the divinely spiritual essence of humanity first incarnated in a physical human body.

The other point in this Gospel is that anyone who, having passed through the seventy-seven stages of purification in the Mysteries, has purged his soul of earthly taint, attains a condition only possible for man today when he can live in his astral body and ego free of his body. He can then expand into that from which the Earth itself has come forth — into our whole cosmic system. This does come to pass. Then he has reached the being of power who entered into the astral body and ego of the Nathan Jesus. In the Nathan Jesus it is sought to exemplify what man receives not through his earthly but through his heavenly conditions.

Thus the Gospel of Luke describes the divine spiritual being who had permeated and impregnated the astral body and ego of the Jesus of whom it speaks. In the Jesus of the Gospel of Matthew we have described to us that divine spiritual being of power who, on one side, had called into existence the inner organ of Jehovah-consciousness in Abraham, and, on the other side, had worked on the physical and etheric bodies, holding together in them a line of inheritance through forty-two generations.

To return to the mission of Jesus ben Pandira, it was he who made known — to a few at least — that forty-two generations after Abraham the Hebrews would have advanced sufficiently to make the incarnation of the individuality of Zarathustra possible in the Solomon branch of the House of David. Such teaching was naturally associated at that time with events in the Mysteries. It was not confined to the Schools of the Essenes, but only among them were pupils to be found who had actually passed through the forty-two stages of development, and who were able to perceive clairvoyantly the nature of the being who was to descend through forty-two stages. For knowledge of this being had to be given to the world. It was the mission of the Essenes to see that among a few at least there should be an understanding of what the Christ would be.
Now let us briefly recall the events connected with the particular course of that human being known as Zarathustra or Zoroaster. Under this name he had given out in early days in the East the mighty teaching that had fitted him for the incarnation described in the Gospel of Matthew. It was he who had inaugurated the Hermetic civilization in Egypt, and to this end had given up his astral body to Hermes; he also had founded the Mosaic civilization through the sacrifice of his etheric body, which had been preserved for Moses. Zarathustra himself incarnated later in other astral and etheric bodies. The incarnation in the sixth century B.C. is of special interest, when, as Zarathos or Nazarathos, he had instructed the sages and Magi of Chaldea, and had come in touch with the wisest of the Hebrew pupils of the Mysteries, during the Babylonian Captivity. During the following six centuries, this teaching had permeated the traditions, ceremonies, and culture of the Chaldean Mystery Schools. The name of their great master, Zarathustra, in the form of Zarathos or Nazarathos, had been honored in the highest degree by generations of pupils in the Mystery Schools of Babylon, Chaldea, and Assyria. They looked forward with longing to the next appearance of their great teacher and leader, for they knew the secret of his reincarnation, and expected it to occur at the end of six hundred years. As the time approached when the blood suitable for this incarnation should be ready, three messengers, or wise men, went forth from the East. They knew that the honored name of Zarathustra would guide them, as a star, to the place of his reincarnation. It was the Being of the great Teacher himself which as a ‘star’ guided the three Magi to the birthplace of Jesus, as is told in the Gospel of Matthew.

Even external philology confirms the fact that the word ‘star’ was used in olden times to describe the human individuality. It is not only through the revelations of spiritual science, which speaks more clearly than other sources of knowledge, that we learn that the Magi followed the ‘Golden Star,’ Zoroaster, to the place where he was to reincarnate, but by the customary use of the word ‘star’ for the higher human individuality it is clearly revealed that in the star which the wise men followed we have to understand Zarathustra himself.

Six hundred years before our era the Magi of the East were closely associated with the individual who incarnated as the Jesus of the Gospel of Matthew. He himself led the Magi. They followed in his track.

The secret of the coming incarnation of Zarathustra was known in the Chaldean Mysteries; but the secret concerning the blood of the Hebrew people, which when the time was ripe was to be prepared for the new bodily nature of Zarathustra, was taught by those who in the Essene initiation had passed through forty-two stages of development.

There were therefore two sources from which this knowledge came. From the side of Zarathustra, teaching was given by the Chaldean initiates: they knew of the individuality who was to incarnate in the Jewish race from the external side; that of the body and the preparation of the blood, teaching came from initiates among the Essenes. This teaching was given out for more than a hundred years in the School of the Essenes, the teaching of the coming of the Jesus of the Gospel of Matthew, who in his fullness would satisfy all the needs of which I have spoken, and still others which we will now try to explain.

A pupil of the Essene Mystery Schools who, after long training, had completed the forty-two stages of initiation, was able to perceive the mysteries of the physical and etheric body. The individual who was to be born, who was to incarnate in this special blood, came from on high, already possessing faculties which were only attained by the Essene after the long and difficult trials of his training. Concerning such a being, one must say: ‘From the beginning he had powers capable of bringing the seed that was in him to fruition.’ ‘They were born with him,’ the Essenes said. That which was fostered among them by means of exercises and purification of the soul was in fact the continuation of a kind of occult training that had existed among the Jews from the earliest days. There had always been those among them who were called Nazarenes. Even before the time of the Therapeut√¶ and Essenes certain individuals had used special methods for the development of their soul and body, methods still necessary today in certain connections when anyone wishes to hasten his soul development. The Nazarenes were especially careful to abstain entirely from meat and wine. This made a certain facility possible — for it is a fact that the consumption of meat can be a hindrance in the path when striving for spiritual development. Without implying any propaganda on behalf of vegetarianism, it is a fact that abstention from meat makes everything easier, for in that case the soul increases in strength and in power of endurance, and is stronger to overcome the oppositions and hindrances arising from the physical and etheric bodies. Capacities for endurance increase by abstaining from flesh, though it is not such abstinence alone, but above all by strengthening his soul. It is merely the physical body that is changed by this abstinence; but when certain qualities are absent which should from the soul's side be present, there is no particular object in avoiding meat. All this was included in the teaching of the Nazarenes and was practiced by the Essenes in a much stricter form; in particular they cultivated the strictest abstinence from meat. By this, and the strict training I have referred to, a man was able to enhance his memory comparatively quickly; he learnt to extend it over the period of forty-two generations, and he thus acquired the power to read the secrets of the Akashic Record. He was then given a special name. He was called a ‘bud,’ a bud on the tree of the race, a bud that had endured throughout many generations. Such a man was not in any way isolated from the tree of humanity, but was conscious of his connection with the rest of mankind. He differed from those who severed themselves from the tree, and whose memory had shrunk within a single personality. The special name given to such a man, among the sect of the Essenes, signified ‘a living branch,’ not a severed branch. All such men felt themselves consciously in the line of descent, a part of the tree of the human race. The Essene who had accomplished this and who had completed the forty-two stages of initiation was described as a ‘Netzer.’

Among the class of Netzer there was a special and faithful pupil of Jesus ben Pandira. Among his pupils were five whom he had himself trained; each of these had taken up a special branch of the great general teaching of Jesus ben Pandira, which he then developed further.

The names of these pupils were Mathai, Nakai, Netzer (because he belonged especially to the Netzer class), Boni, and Thona. Occult research reveals the fact that subsequent to the death of Jesus ben Pandira, the teaching concerning the preparation of the blood of the race for the advent of the Jesus of the Gospel of Matthew was particularly the work of Mathai. The teaching concerning the qualities of the inner nature of the soul which was associated with the ancient Nazarene teaching, and also with the later Netzerism, was cultivated and spread by Netzer. This pupil was in particular chosen to be the founder of a little colony. Many such colonies existed in Palestine, in each of which some special branch of the Essene teaching was cultivated, and Netzer's teaching was fostered more especially in a little colony which led a secret existence in a little place named in the Bible, Nazareth or Netzereth.

In this little colony dwelt those who cultivated in fairly strict secrecy the ancient Nazarene teaching. And here, after the events shortly to be dealt with — the flight into Egypt and the return — nothing was more natural than that the Jesus of the Matthew Gospel should be nurtured in the atmosphere of Netzerism. This is referred to in the words of the Gospel when after the return from Egypt Jesus was taken to Nazareth ‘that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets: He shall become a Nazarene.’

Translators, unaware of the real meaning of this phrase, have dealt with it in various ways. In reality it signifies the existence at Nazareth of a colony of Essenes among whom the early years of Jesus were to be passed.

All the facts described in the first part of the Gospel of Matthew lead back to the mysteries taught by Jesus ben Pandira, which subsequently were spread abroad by his pupil Mathai, and indeed the first mysteries of this Gospel point to Mathai. In all that springs from this side which is so characteristic of the Gospel of Matthew we find teaching concerning the preparation for the physical and etheric bodies of the Jesus of the Gospel of Matthew, though naturally during the forty-two generations there were also influences affecting the astral body.

When it is stated that the first fourteen generations are especially concerned with the physical body, the second fourteen with the etheric, and the third period of fourteen — that following the Babylonian Captivity — with the astral body, it must be remembered that a physical and etheric body carefully prepared in this way could only be used by that mighty individuality, Zarathustra.

Now recall the oft-repeated facts of the development of a single personality; how the physical body evolves in the first seven years; the etheric in the next seven, between the change of teeth and puberty; and the astral only begins its free development at the age of fourteen. The development of the physical body and etheric body, as these passed down through the generations from Abraham, was destined to come to an end, and entered on a new existence when it became the dwelling-place of Zarathustra. But when he had completed the development of the etheric body, that which had been prepared for him no longer sufficed, and he had then to proceed to the development of the astral body. Mighty and amazing events brought this to pass, events which if we have no understanding of them make it impossible for us to grasp the full meaning of the great Mystery of Jesus Christ.

The individuality of Zarathustra evolved during boyhood until his twelfth year within the physical and etheric body of that Jesus of whom the Gospel of Matthew speaks — for as regards this being and on account of the climate, the period which in our part of the world occurs about the fourteenth or fifteenth year, was reached earlier. By his twelfth year he had attained everything it was possible to attain in the physical and etheric body fittingly prepared within the line of Solomon. The individuality of Zarathustra did then actually forsake the physical and etheric body described in the Gospel of Matthew and passed over into the Jesus of the Gospel of Luke. In the cycle of lectures on the Gospel of Luke the story of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple is explained. There we learn what it meant when the child Jesus was suddenly confronted by his parents, who could in no way understand how he had become so changed. This change meant that the entrance of the individuality of Zarathustra into his inner being had taken place; until then this Zarathustra individuality had developed within the physical and etheric sheaths of the Solomon Jesus.

Such things actually come to pass in life, incredible though they may seem to the untrained and materialistic modern mind. The passing over of an individuality from one body to another does occur. Such a transition occurred when the Zarathustra individuality, forsaking its original body, passed over into that of the Jesus of the Gospel of Luke, whose astral body and ego-bearer had been specially prepared.

From his twelfth year Zarathustra continued his development in the uniquely prepared astral body and ego of the Jesus of the line of Nathan. This is told in such an imposing way in the Gospel of Luke — the story of the twelve-year-old Jesus sitting in the temple among the Scribes, who were astounded at his words. How was this possible to the Jesus of the Nathan line? He was able to speak thus because the individuality of Zarathustra had entered him. Through that twelve-year-old boy who had been brought to Jerusalem by his parents, Zarathustra had not till then spoken. Hence the change in him was so great that his parents failed to recognize him as he sat among the scribes.

Thus we have two sets of parents, each named Joseph and Mary. [Note 1] And there were two children, each named Jesus; the one we read of in the Gospel of Matthew is the Jesus of the Solomon line of the house of David; the other spoken of in the Gospel of Luke is the Jesus of the Nathan line, and is the son of quite other parents. The two boys grew up near to each other until their twelfth year. You can find this in the Gospels. What is related there is quite correct, but as long as it was undesirable for people to experience the truth, or as long as people did not desire the truth, it was withheld. The Gospels speak the truth: we have but to learn to understand them aright.

The Nathan Jesus developed with a strongly developed inward nature. While showing little aptitude for the acquisition of external wisdom, he possessed depth of soul and capacity for love in boundless measure, for dwelling in his etheric body was that force which had come down from a time before man's descent into earthly incarnation, when as yet he led a divine existence. Divinity dwelt in him in a boundless capacity for love. This Jesus of the Nathan line was little fitted for the acquisition of that which men gain in the course of incarnation in a physical body, but he was filled with an infinite warmth of love as regards his soul and inner being. The inward trend of the boy's nature was so marked that those who had understanding of such things tell of something that was brought about through this. What is otherwise only evoked in man by external means was present in a certain sense in the child Jesus of the Gospel of Luke from the beginning. Immediately after his birth he spoke certain words which were comprehensible to his surroundings. Thus this Jesus was mighty in all inward matters, though unskilled as regards what is gained by passing through repeated earthly incarnations.

What wonder that the parents were greatly amazed when they suddenly discovered in such a physical nature a boy filled with great external wisdom that could only be gained by outward means. Such a sudden and amazing change was possible because at that moment the individuality of Zarathustra — the Jesus of the line of Solomon — passed over into the Jesus of the line of Nathan. It was Zarathustra who spoke from the boy at the moment when his parents sought him in the Temple.

Zarathustra had acquired the highest faculties possible to acquire through a physical and etheric body. He had to use the physical instruments prepared in the Solomon line of inheritance, for in them were great and very highly developed forces. He took of this physical nature as much as he could make his own, and blended it with the nature that sprang from the inner force of the Luke Jesus, which had its origin before man's entrance into earthly incarnation. These two natures were now joined in one. Henceforward we have only one being before us.

Though it may seem superfluous, we have our attention now directed to something else; the parents of the Jesus of the Gospel of Luke did not only note an exceptional change in him, but there was also an outward change, for why is it expressly stated that after the child Jesus had been found among the learned Scribes in the Temple ‘He went down with them to Nazareth. ... And Jesus increased in outward beauty of form, in noble habits, and in wisdom.’ Why are these three attributes mentioned? Because now that the Zarathustra individuality had entered into him these were the attributes he could make more particularly his own.

I am quite aware that these words are usually translated ‘and Jesus increased in wisdom, age (stature in the English version), and in favor with God and man.’ Do we require a Gospel to tell us that a twelve-year-old boy increased in age? But in Weizeker's translation we have the words: ‘and Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.’ This, however, is not the meaning; the real meaning is that an individuality is now in the Nathan Jesus, who is not, as formerly, only a being of inward feeling unable to express itself outwardly, but, because it has now assumed a complete physical body, it has also passed on into external physical excellence. At the same time those qualities that especially concerned the etheric body — the habits acquired and cultivated by means of the etheric body—were not to be found previously in the Nathan Jesus. In him the seed of a mighty capacity for love was apparent which could now be developed further, but this attribute sprang up spontaneously in him and could not become fixed as habits are. But once the Zarathustra individuality, which possessed the powers of an evolved physical and etheric body, was present, it was possible for external habits to reveal themselves and to imprint themselves on the etheric body. This was the second attribute in which the child Jesus increased.

Thirdly, Jesus increased in wisdom. This is more easily understood. The Jesus of the Gospel of Luke was not wise; he was to a high degree a being capable of love. The entrance into him of the Zarathustra individuality meant an increase in wisdom.

As was explained in the lectures on the Gospel of Luke, it may easily happen that when an individuality has forsaken a person, and only three members — the physical body, the etheric body, and the astral body — are left, this person may continue to live for a time. That part of the Solomon Jesus, however, which was left behind soon dwindled away and died. This means that the Jesus child of the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew died comparatively soon after his twelfth year. At first there were two boys; later the two became one.

Ancient records often contain astounding things which we should try to understand; yet this is only possible through a comprehension of the real facts to which they refer. The intimate way in which these two boys were blended into one may be left for later consideration; one reference, however, may be permitted here.

In the so-called ‘Egyptian Gospel,’ which even in the first centuries was regarded as heretical, a noteworthy sentence occurs, for even in Christian circles no one wanted to hear the truth, nor wished that it should come to light. In this document, which has endured as a kind of apocryphal Gospel, we find it said: ‘that salvation would come to the world when the two had become one and the outer become as the inner.’

This sentence expresses exactly the facts I have explained as the result of occult investigation. Salvation depends on the two becoming one. The two became one when in his twelfth year the individuality of Zarathustra passed over into the Nathan Jesus, and what was inward became external. The soul force of the Jesus of the Gospel of Luke was most powerfully inward, but this inward force became outward when the Zarathustra individuality — whose outward forces had been developed to a high degree in the physical body and etheric body of the Solomon Jesus — entered into this inward nature, permeating it with his highly evolved physical and etheric nature. Thus a power entered the physical and etheric body of the Nathan Jesus, and what was external became an expression of his inwardness — inwardness that was his before the individuality of the Solomon Jesus passed into him. Thus the two became one.

We have now followed Zarathustra from his birth as the Jesus child of the Gospel of Matthew to his twelfth year, when he left his original body and took on the bodily sheath of the Nathan Jesus. From this time onwards the physical nature of the Nathan Jesus was developed by Zarathustra to such a high degree of perfection that he was able at a certain climax of his existence to sacrifice his three bodies for acceptance by Him Whom we call the Christ.

Note 1. Many people were so named at that time; to deduce anything from the names ‘Joseph’ and ‘Mary,’ as names are understood today, is denied by all true investigation.


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