Sunday, March 31, 2013

Washed in the Blood of the Lamb



Washed in the Blood of the Lamb are We
Awash in a Sonburst Sea
You—Love—and I—Love—and Love Divine:
We are the Trinity

You—Love—and I—We are One-Two-Three
Twining Eternally
Two—Yes—and One—Yes—and also Three:
One Dual Trinity
Radiant Calvary
Ultimate Mystery

The Easter festival in relation to the Mysteries

Diagram number 1, Lecture Two

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, Easter Sunday, April 20, 1924:

The original idea of any sacred festival is to make the human being look upward from his dependence on earthly things to those things that transcend the Earth. The Easter festival especially can bring these thoughts near to man's heart. During the last three, four, or five centuries humanity of the civilized world has undergone an evolution of soul and spirit which led man farther and farther away from the thought of his connection with cosmic powers and cosmic forces. Man became more and more restricted to those relationships alone which hold good between himself and the Earthly powers and forces. Indeed it is true to say that by the methods of knowledge recognized today, no other relationships can be considered. If a man who stood near to the sanctuaries of initiation in pre-Christian times, or even in the first centuries of Christianity, could learn to know the character and trend of our present scholarship — if he could approach it with the mood of soul belonging to that ancient time — he simply would not understand how it is possible for man to live without a consciousness of his non-earthly, cosmic relationships.
I will now give a brief outline of certain facts, the precise details of which you will find in one or other of the Lecture-Courses. The purpose of these present lectures is to bring especially the Easter thought near to our hearts; I cannot therefore go into all the details now.
We may transplant ourselves in thought into one of the many different religious systems of antiquity. Take for example the one that is least far removed from the modern man — the Hebrew or Jewish system of religion. In such religious systems of antiquity — in so far as they are monotheistic — we shall find the reverence for, the worship of, the One God. It is the Divinity of whom we speak in the Christian conception as the First Person of the Godhead — the Father God.
Now, all those religions in which this conception of the Father God was living were more or less aware — the priests indeed were fully aware — of the connection of the Father God with the cosmic Moon forces — with all the forces that flow down from Moon to Earth. Scarcely anything is left today of that ancient consciousness of man's connection with the Moon forces — unless it be the imaginative inspiration which the poetic mind still feels that it receives from thence, or again in medicine the counting of the embryo period as ten lunar months. But the older world-conceptions had a clear consciousness of the fact that when man descends to this physical life from the spiritual world where he dwelt as a soul-spiritual being in his pre-earthly life, the currents of those forces and impulses which proceed from the Moon pour through him.
To understand what shapes him in the fullness of his life — what lives in him as the forces of nutrition, breathing, and the like, in a word, as the general forces of growth — man must look not to the earthly forces but to forces from beyond the Earth. Man can indeed become aware, if he considers the matter truly, how the earthly forces are related to himself. If we did not hold our body together by forces from beyond the Earth — if our body did not receive its form through these — what could the earthly forces do to hold our body together? The moment the forces from beyond the Earth have left it, this body is indeed exposed to the earthly forces. Then it disintegrates and dissolves; it becomes a corpse. Earthly forces can only make a corpse of man; they cannot form and mould him. But there are other forces in him which lift him out of the earthly realm. These forces make him a connected organism, a connected form and figure within the earthly realm between birth and death. They prevent him from falling a victim to the forces which take hold of him in death and destroy him. Throughout his earthly life they battle against the destruction of his form; indeed they must be battling all the time. For these forces man is indebted to the Moon influences.
While on the one hand, therefore, we may state this somewhat theoretic truth: The Moon forces contain the formative principle of the human body, we must realize on the other hand that the ancient religions revered and worshipped in these forces which guide man, so to speak, through birth into this physical existence, the forces of the Divine Father. The initiates of the ancient Hebrew culture were clearly aware that the forces which guide man into this Earth-existence, which maintain him here, and from which — as physical man — he escapes when he passes through the gate of death, stream from the Moon.
To love the Divine Father forces with heart and mind, to look up to them and to express this reverence in sacred ritual, in prayer and praise — such was the content of certain monotheistic religions of ancient time. But the old religions were more consistent than we generally think. History describes these things quite wrongly, for it only has the outer documents to go upon and is unaware of what can be observed by spiritual sight.
The religions which looked up to the Moon — to the spiritual beings in the Moon — belonged really to a later period. The primeval religions possessed not only this conception of the Moon, but also had a clear idea of the Sun forces; nay more (as we may also mention at this point) of the Saturn forces. Here indeed we are entering a realm of history for which no outer documents exist. For the time we are now considering lies many thousands of years before the founding of Christianity. These are the epochs which I called in my Occult Science the ancient Indian (since one must have a name and the civilization of that first epoch existed on the soil that afterwards was India), and the ancient Persian. In those old civilizations man's evolution was very different from what it was in later times. Moreover his religious beliefs depended on this unfolding of his life.
Our lives today (and it has been so for more than two thousand years) unfold in such a way that a certain break in our earthly life and development escapes our notice. Indeed it is scarcely perceptible today. The inner change that takes place in the human being about the thirtieth year of life remains for present-day humanity to a large extent in the subconscious, in the unconscious. But it was very different eight or nine thousand years before the Christian era. In those epochs man developed until about the thirtieth year of his life so that one might call this development continuous. But in the thirtieth year a far-reaching metamorphosis took place in him. I will describe it in a radical way. I admit it is radical, but this way of expressing it will serve to characterize the facts.
The following thing might well happen in those olden times. Before the thirtieth year of his life a man had made the acquaintance of another man, say, three or four years younger than himself. His friend would therefore undergo this metamorphosis about the age of thirty, a little later than he did. Now if the two had not seen one another for some time and then met once more — I am speaking in modern terms, which make it seem still more radical — it might well happen that he who had undergone the change, being addressed by the other, simply failed to recognize him. So deeply was the memory transformed.
The small communities of those very ancient times were connected with the Mystery schools, and in these the lives of the young folk were registered. For they themselves, in that they underwent this revolutionary transformation, forgot their earlier life. They had to learn over again what they had experienced in life until about the thirtieth year. So they became aware: ‘In my thirtieth year I have become an altogether different man. I must go to the Registry (a modern expression, needless to say!) to learn what was the content of my life before this change.’ Yes, indeed it was so! And in the instruction which they then received, they learned that it was the Moon forces which had worked upon them exclusively until the thirtieth year, and that then the Sun forces had entered into the development of their earthly life. The Sun forces and the Moon forces work upon man in very different ways. What does the man of today know of the Sun forces? He knows only the outward and physical aspect. He knows — forgive me saying so — that the Sun forces make him perspire, that they make him warm. He knows, maybe, one or two other things. We have Sun baths and the like. Thus certain therapeutic properties are known and so forth; but all these ideas are quite external. The man of today simply does not conceive what the forces that are spiritually connected with the Sun are doing with him.
Julian the Apostate, the last of the pagan Caesars, had still received instruction in what was left of the ancient Mysteries concerning these forces of the Sun. He wished once more to make this knowledge an influence in the world, and for this very reason was murdered on his campaign into Persia. So strong were the powers in the first Christian centuries which intended that all knowledge of such things should disappear. No wonder if this knowledge cannot be attained in any ordinary way today!
Now, the Moon forces represent that element in man which determines him, which fills him with an inner necessity, so as to act according to his temperament, his instincts, his emotions — in a word, according to the whole nature of his physical and etheric bodies. It is the spiritual Sun forces, on the other hand, which free him from this necessity. They as it were melt away the forces of necessity within him. Through the Sun forces, man becomes a free being.
In those ancient times the two things were sharply separated from one another in man's development. In the thirtieth year of his life he became a Sun man, that is to say, a free man. Until the thirtieth year he was a Moon man, that is to say, an unfree man. Today these things merge into one another. Today the Sun forces work already in childhood alongside of the Moon forces, and the Moon forces work on into a later age. Today, therefore, Necessity and Freedom are mingled; they work into one another. But it was not always so. In the pre-historic times of which I am now speaking, the Moon influences and the Sun influences were sharply separated in the course of human life. Hence in those olden times it was said: Man is born not once, but twice. This was said of the great majority of human beings — and it was considered abnormal, pathological, if a man did not experience this fundamental metamorphosis of life at the age of thirty. — This second birth was the Sun-birth of the human being; the first was called the Moon-birth. And when in the further course of evolution this Sun-birth became less clearly noticeable, certain exercises, sacred rituals, and actions were applied to those initiated in the Mysteries. Thus the initiates underwent what was no longer there for mankind in general. They were the “Twice-born”.
We can still find the term “Twice-born” in Oriental writings, but the expression is already a derived one. Indeed I would like to ask any Orientalist or Sanskrit scholar (I believe our friend Professor Beckh is here and you may ask him whether these things are so according to his special studies) — I would like to ask any Sanskrit scholar whether modern scholarship can explain in clear terms what the expression “Twice-born” signifies. No doubt there are plenty of formal explanations, but of the substantial meaning of the term our scholars are quite unaware, for it can only be known by those who are aware of the real facts of life from which it is derived. Spiritual research alone can give information on these matters. But when spiritual research has had its say, I would ask any open-minded scholar who knows the available documents, who knows all that external scholarship can lay hands upon: Does not external scholarship subsequently confirm, piece by piece, the researches of spiritual science? It will do so indeed, if things are only seen in the true light. But I have to draw attention to matters which must take precedence over all documentary research; for by documentary research alone one simply cannot understand the life of man.
Thus we look back upon an ancient time when they spoke of a Moon-birth of man as of his creation by the Father. And as to the Sun-birth, they knew that in the spiritual rays of the Sun, the power of Christ the Sun is working; and this is the power that makes man free. Think for a moment: what does the spiritual Sun-force bring about? We owe it to the Sun that we, as human beings upon Earth, are able to make anything of ourselves. We should be strictly determined, placed in an inexorable Necessity — a Necessity not even of Destiny but of Nature — if the liberating forces of the Sun, the impulses that melt away Necessity, did not come near to us.
In those ancient world-conceptions, as man gazed upward to the Sun he was aware of these things. “This Eye of the World, whence radiates the power of the Christ, this Eye of the World brings it about that I must not remain subject to the iron Necessity with which I was born out of the Moon forces. I need not remain, my whole life long, a human being evolving by Necessity. These Sun-forces — these forces of the Christ, looking down upon me through the cosmic Eye of the Sun — bring it about that I, during my earthly life, by my own inner freedom, can make of myself something which I was not yet by virtue of the Moon-forces when they placed me into this earthly life.”
The consciousness in man that he could transform himself, that he could make something of himself — this was attributed to the Sun forces.
In parenthesis and for the sake of completeness, I will add that they also looked up to the Saturn forces. In these they recognized all that maintains the human being when he passes through the gate of death — that is to say, when he undergoes the third earthly metamorphosis.
         Birth: the Moon-birth
  second Birth: the Sun-birth
   third Birth: Saturn-birth, earthly death
In earthly death man was maintained by the forces holding sway at the outermost limit (as they conceived it) of the planetary system of the Earth — the Saturn forces. The Saturn forces hold man upright and carry him out into the spiritual world, preserving his being as a connected whole when the third metamorphosis takes place. Such indeed was the world-conception of an olden time.
But humanity evolves. There came a time when the ancient knowledge of how the Sun-forces work upon man was preserved only within the Mysteries. And it was preserved longest of all in the medical departments of the Mysteries. For the same Sun-forces which in the normal course of man's development give him his freedom — give him the opportunity to make something of himself — the same Sun-forces, the forces of the Christ, are also working in many different ways in certain plants upon the Earth, and in other earthly beings and earthly creatures. Here they represent medicaments and means of healing.
But mankind in general has lost this connection with the Sun. While the consciousness that man depends upon the Moon forces — the Divine Father forces — remained for a long time, the consciousness of his dependence on (or as we should rather say, his liberation by) the Sun forces was lost. What we today call the forces of Nature — the forces of which we speak almost exclusively in our modern world-conception — are indeed simply and solely the Moon forces, which have become abstract and all-powerful.
But the Sun forces were still known to the bearer of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, who not only knew them, but was able to direct his whole life by them. Indeed He had to know them; for the same Sun forces which had been attainable only in the ancient Mysteries by human beings looking upward to the Sun — this in their own downpouring to the Earth, He was destined to receive into His own Body.
I described it yesterday. At the time of the founding of Christianity this was felt to be the essential point. — In the body of Jesus of Nazareth, in the thirtieth year of his life, a transformation had taken place. It was the same transformation which all human beings had undergone in primeval times, but with this difference: that in those olden times the rays of the spiritual Sun had entered into all men at this point in their life. Now the essence and Being of the Sun Himself — the Christ — descended into human evolution and took up His abode in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. This is the truth underlying the Mystery of Golgotha, as the primal foundation of all earthly life.
We shall recognize the full connection of these things by turning our attention now to the ancient Mysteries and the way in which men there celebrated the Easter festival in its full human form — by which I mean the act of initiation. For initiation was in truth an Easter festival. It took place, to begin with, in three stages. But before the candidate could attain true knowledge or initiation, the first requirement was that through all that had come toward him out of the Mystery, he should have grown truly humble — so humble that no one today can have any real conception of such humility. True, the men of today think themselves very humble in respect of knowledge; but to anyone who can see through these things, they still appear possessed by the greatest arrogance.
At the starting point of his initiation, this above all had to come over the human being: that he no longer considered himself a human being at all, but said “I must first become a human being.” Of course we cannot expect the man of today at a given moment in his life to no longer consider himself a human being. But in those times it was the very first requirement. The candidate must in all truth not consider himself a human being. He must say to himself: Certainly I was a human being before I descended into an earthly body. In the pre-earthly existence I was a human being in soul and spirit. Then the soul and spirit entered into the physical body which it received from the mother — from the parents. The soul and spirit — I will not say ‘clothed itself’, for that would be a wrong expression — the soul and spirit permeated itself with the physical body. But as to how the soul and spirit in the course of time permeates the physical — permeates the nerves-and-senses system, permeates the rhythmic system, permeates the system of metabolism in the limbs — of this the human being has no consciousness. He looks outward through the senses and becomes aware of the surrounding physical world. But what after all can a man do when at last he has so far penetrated his physical body with the soul and spirit that he considers himself a fully evolved and grown-up human being? What can he do? He can but look outward from his eyes, hear outward through his ears, feel outward with his skin, perceiving warmth and cold, roughness and smoothness. He cannot perceive inward, he cannot look through the eyes into himself. At most he can flay the physical corpse of man, and then imagine he is looking into himself. But he is not really doing so. It would be childish to believe that he is.
Suppose that I have a house before me here, and instead of looking in through the windows I pick up all manner of instruments and — if I am strong enough — break the house to pieces. There indeed I have the single bricks lying before me. I stare at the pile of bricks. This is what man does today. He flays the human being and dismembers him in the hope of knowing him. But he cannot; for it is not the human being that one learns to know in this way. If we would learn to know the human being, then even as we look outward through the eyes, so we must become able to look back again through the eyes, and to hear back again inward through the ears. All these things taken together — the eyes, the ears, the whole skin as an organ of touch, of warmth, the organ of smell, and so forth — all these together were called in the ancient Mysteries the Gate or Portal to the human being. Indeed the starting-point of initiation was this: Man came to realize that he knew nothing of the human being. Therefore, since he had no self-consciousness of man, he could not be one. He must first look inward through the senses, whereas in ordinary life he looked only outward.
Such was the first stage of initiation in the ancient Mysteries. Now the moment the man learned thus to look inward he also experienced himself in the pre-earthly life. For then he knew: I am in my own being of soul and spirit.
We may draw it diagrammatically. Here is the head. Man looks outward. Now, instead, he learnt to look inward.
Diagram number 1, Lecture Two
But in thus looking inward he became aware of what had entered into him as the pre-earthly life and being, which had entered in through eye and ear and skin, etc. Of this he now became aware. Here it was that he possessed his pre-earthly existence. Moreover it became clear to him that only now could he learn to know what we today should call natural science. When we study matural science today, how do we set about it? We are led to see the things of Nature, to describe them and so forth. But this is just as though I had known a human being for a long time; now I am about to see him again, and someone lays on me the strict injunction: “When you see him again you must forget all you had in common with him; you must not remember anything at all of what you had in common with him before.” Think of it! It is inconceivable what it would mean to husbands and wives, for instance, if on some occasion when they are about to meet again, they were strictly commanded to forget all that they had undergone together in the past. I can conceive that in some cases this might sometimes be not unpleasant to them! Still, life could not subsist under such conditions. Yet this is what is required of the modern man with regard to Nature through the very ordering of present-day civilization. For he already knew the kingdoms of Nature — he knew them in their spiritual aspect — before he descended to the Earth. The human being of today is led to forget all that he learned of minerals and plants and animals before his descent to Earth. The ancient initiate, on the other hand, was thus instructed in what was called the first degree within the Mysteries: “Behold the crystal quartz!” Thereupon everything was done to make him remember what he had known of the quartz before he came down to the Earth, or again what he had known of the lily or of the rose. Recognition was taught as knowledge of Nature. And when a man had learned this Nature — lore recognition of what he had seen before he came down to earthly life — then he was received into the second degree.
In the second degree he learned Music; he learned Architecture, Geometry, the Mensuration of that time — and so forth. For what did the second degree contain? It contained all that the human being perceives when he now no longer gazes into himself through the eyes, or hearkens inward through the ears, but when he actually enters into himself. At this stage it was said to the candidate: “Thou enterest the human Temple Grove”. He learned to know the Temple Grove of man — permeated physically by the forces of soul and spirit, of which man consisted before he descended into earthly life. Thus he entered into himself. And it was said to him: There are three chambers in this Temple Grove. The one was the chamber of Thinking. Seen from outside it is the head. It is but small, but when one sees it from within, it is great as the universe; one learns to know its spiritual nature. This was the first chamber. In the second chamber the candidate learned to know the life of Feeling; and in the third chamber the life of Willing. Moreover in discovering how man is organized in his organs of Thinking, Feeling, and Willing, the candidates were learning to know what holds good on Earth.
The knowledge of Nature holds good not only on the Earth. Man already acquires it before he descends to Earth. Here on Earth he is only called upon to recollect it. But houses are not built in the spiritual world as they are built with earthly architecture. Music is yonder, it is true, but that is spiritual melody. Whatever is earthly music has been cast downwards into the earthly air; it is a projection of the heavenly Music, but in the form in which man experiences it, it is earthly. Likewise all that we measure is earthly. We measure earthly space: Mensuration, Geometry, is an earthly science. This in fact was the important thing for the candidate for initiation in the second degree: he became aware that all talk of knowledge by mere earthly methods is vague and void, save in so far as it be related to Geometry, Architecture, and Mensuration. He saw that a real science of Nature must be pre-earthly knowledge, remembered, recognized; and that the true sciences of Earth are Geometry, Architecture, Music, and Mensuration. For these can be learned here on the Earth.
Thus man descended into himself, and learned to know the three-chambered Man as against the single human incarnation which one perceives in ordinary life, when, without entering inside the human being, one merely knows him from outside.
And in the third degree, man learned to know the human being when he no longer dives merely down into himself and knows himself as a spiritual being, but when this spiritual being learns to know the body itself. Hence in all ancient Mysteries the path one had to take was through the Gate of Death. One became aware what man is like when he has laid aside the earthly body. Only there was a difference between the real death and the death of initiation. I shall explain in the following lectures why there must be this difference; now I will only state the facts.
When man actually dies, he lays his physical body aside. He is no longer bound to it. He no longer follows the earthly forces, he is freed from them. But when he is still connected with the physical body — as was the case in the act of initiation in ancient times — then he must attain by dint of inner strength the freedom from the body which he has as a matter of course in real death. That is to say, for a certain length of time, he must hold himself free. Hence for initiation it was necessary to achieve the strong inner forces of the soul, whereby one could hold oneself in soul free from the physical body. And the same forces which gave man power to hold himself free from the earthly body, these same forces gave him the higher knowledge — knowledge of things which can never be seen by the senses nor conceived by the intellect. These forces transplant the human being into the spiritual world, just as his physical body transplants him into the physical world. At this stage the initiate was able to know himself as soul-spiritual man even during the earthly life. Henceforth, for the initiate, the Earth was a star — a star external to the human being — while he himself (notably in the more ancient Mysteries) must live with the Sun instead of with the Earth. He knew now what man receives from the Sun. He knew how the Sun forces work within him.
This then was the third degree; and it was followed by the fourth, which worked upon the candidate somewhat as follows. — When a man eats on Earth, he knows he is eating cabbage, wild-fowl, and so forth, and drinking all manner of things. He knows: These things are now outside me, and now they are within me. He breathes the air. First it is outside him, then it is within, and then it is outside again. So he stands in connection with the earthly forces; he bears within himself the forces and substances which are otherwise outside him on the Earth. “Before thou art initiated” — thus it was explained to the candidate for initiation in ancient times — “before thou art initiated thou art an Earth-bearer, a cabbage-bearer, bearer of wild fowl, of veal, and so forth. But when thou hast been initiated into the third degree, and art given what can be given to thee when freed from the body, then thou will be not a cabbage-bearer, a pork-bearer, a veal-bearer, but a bearer of that which the Sun forces give thee.” Now in many of the Mysteries that which the Sun forces spiritually give to man was called Christos. Hence he who had passed beyond the three degree was called a Christopher, or Christophorus. For he felt himself henceforth bearer of the Sun forces (even as on Earth he might feel himself as a cabbage-bearer and the rest). In most of the ancient Mysteries Christophorus was the name for those who attained the fourth degree.
In the third degree man had to understand certain things; above all he had to understand that for the moments of knowledge the craving for the physical body must cease. He must perceive that while man in his physical body belongs to the Earth, yet in reality the Earth is only there to destroy the physical body, not to build it. Henceforth he learned to know the upbuilding forces, whose origin is in the cosmos. But he learned something else besides when he became a Christophorus. Then above all he learned to know that spiritual forces are at work even in the substance of the Earth, only they are not visible to earthly sight. Speaking in modern words — though they spoke with the same meaning I can only tell you of these things in modern language, not in the words of that time — they explained to him: “If thou wouldst learn the science of substance — how the substances are combined and separated — thou must behold the spiritual forces which permeate the substance out of the cosmos. Thou canst not know these things when thou art uninitiated. Thou must first be initiated into the fourth degree and be able to see through the forces of the Sun-existence. Then thou canst study Chemistry.”
Just imagine, if we today required of a man wishing to take his degree as a chemist or pharmacologist that he would first feel himself in relation to the forces of the Sun even as he feels himself in relation to the cabbage of the Earth. What madness this would seem! Yet these were the realities. It became fully clear to men: With all the forces that are living in the body and that we make use of for ordinary knowledge, we can study only Geometry, Mensuration, Music, and Architecture. With these forces we cannot study Chemistry; and if we do study it, we shall be talking in superficialities.
And so indeed it is. Since the time when the ancient initiation science was lost, all talk of Chemistry has been superficial. It drives anyone who is seeking for real knowledge to despair when he has to study the official Chemistry of today. For it rests only on external data, not on an inner penetration of things. If men only had an open mind they would say to themselves that something quite different is necessary. We must acquire a different mode of knowledge if we would truly study Chemistry. It is the present cowardice of knowledge which is instilled into the human being and prevents him from awakening to such an impulse.
When man had attained this stage he was ripe to become an Astronomos, which was a still higher degree. To learn to know the stars outwardly, by calculation and the like, was considered altogether meaningless. In the stars, spiritual beings live. They can be known only if one has overcome bodily vision, nay, if one has even overcome Geometry and can live within the universe, thus learning to know the spiritual essence of the stars. At this stage man was truly resurrected. And now he could behold how the Moon forces and the Sun forces work, even into the earthly man.
I have had to bring these things near to you from two sides today. In the ancient Mysteries — not at a certain season of the year but at a certain degree in a higher development of man — Easter took place as an inner experience: Easter as the resurrection of the man of soul and spirit, out of the physical body into the spiritual universe. And in this way those who still had knowledge of the Mysteries at that time looked up to the Mystery of Golgotha. They said to themselves: What would have become of mankind if the Mystery of Golgotha had not taken place? In bygone ages there was the possibility of being initiated into the secrets of the cosmos. For in very ancient times man had experienced as a matter of course his second birth, about the thirtieth year of his life; and in subsequent times there still remained at least the memories of this: there was a science of the Mysteries, preserving in tradition what had actually been experienced in former times.
But in the age when the Mystery of Golgotha took place, all these things had been wafted away and forgotten. Mankind would have fallen into utter decadence if the power to whom the initiates in the Mysteries ascended when they became Christophorus had not descended into Jesus of Nazareth to be present henceforward on the Earth; so that man might henceforward be united with this power through Christ Jesus.
Thus what appears before our eyes in the Easter festival today is connected with a certain chapter in the historic evolution of the Mysteries. Truly we only become aware of the content of the Easter festival when we call this ancient sacred history to life again.
These things will be the subject of our further study. But you will now at any rate be able to draw near to what the candidate for initiation in ancient times experienced. He could say to himself: Through my initiation I have come to understand how the Sun and Moon work within me in their mutual and heavenly relationships. For now I know that I, as physical man, am shaped and formed in such and such a way: that I have such and such eyes and nose and other bodily forms both inwardly and outwardly throughout my body; that this bodily form could grow, and grows to this day in the process of nutrition — all this is dependent on the Moon forces. All that is Necessity depends on them. But that I can live and move as a free inner Being within my bodily nature — that I can transform myself, that I have myself in hand — this depends on the Sun forces, the forces of the Christ. These are the forces I must kindle in my inner being if I would mould with conscious knowledge, and attain by my own inner work, what the Sun forces would otherwise have to do within me, once more by a kind of Necessity.
In this way we shall also understand why man even today looks upward to the Sun and Moon and determines from their mutual constellation the time of the Easter festival. For this alone has still remained. We calculate when is the first Sunday after the first full Moon after the Spring Equinox. The Easter festival of the year is fixed for the Sunday following the first full Moon, indicating (as I shall explain in greater detail tomorrow) that we recognize in the form and structure of the Easter festival something that must be determined from above, out of the cosmos.
But the Easter thought must be regained. And it can only be regained by looking back to the ancient Mysteries, where the human being was made aware how it is when he looks within himself and beholds — the Gate of Man! And when he actually enters into himself — the Three-chambered inner Man! And when he makes himself free — the Gate of Death! When he lives and moves freely in the spiritual world, he becomes a Christophorus.
The Mysteries themselves receded in the age when the free development of man had to take place. But now the time is come when they must be found again. Of this, my dear friends, we must be fully conscious. Institutions must be created today to find the Mysteries once more.
Out of this consciousness we held our Christmas Foundation Meeting. For it is an urgent necessity that there should be a place on Earth where the Mysteries can once more be founded. The Anthroposophical Society in its further progress must become the path to the Mysteries renewed. This will also be our task: out of a right and true consciousness to cooperate toward this end. And to this end the life of man will have to be considered according to the three stages: the stage where we turn our gaze into the human being; the stage where we strive to enter right within him; and the stage where we become, in consciousness, what in the outer reality we become only in death.
Let us then take away with us these words as a solemn remembrance of this lesson which we have held today, and let us make them active in our souls:
  Stand in the porch at Man's life-entrance,
  Read thereon the World's writ sentence,

  Dwell in the soul of Man within,
  Feel in its pulsing, Worlds begin.
In ordinary life we do not see the World's Beginning, but only this or that within the World.
  Think upon Man's earthly ending.
  Find therein the Spirit's wending.
Let this then, be the extract from today's lesson:
  Stand in the porch of Man's life-entrance,
  Read thereon the World's writ sentence.

  Dwell in the soul of Man within,
  Feel, in its pulsing, Worlds begin.

  Think upon Man's earthly ending,
  Find therein the Spirit's wending.

(original text)
  Steh' vor des Menschen Lebenspforte;
  Schau an ihrer Stirne Weltenworte.

  Leb' in des Menschen Seeleninnern;
  Fühl' in seinem Kreise Weltbeginnen.

  Denk an des Menschen Erdenende;
  Find' bei ihm die Geisteswende.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spiritual Bells of Easter: Part 2. The Brotherhood of the Holy Grail. The Spiritualized Fire

Rudolf Steiner, April 11, 1909:

A direct enrichment gained from symbolic seasonal festivals as full of meaning as the Easter festival is that they make our hearts and souls better fitted to penetrate more and more deeply into the riddle of man and his nature. So we will think once again of the Easter legend which gave us an inkling yesterday of its bearing on this riddle, the legend of Kashiapa, the great sage and enlightened pupil of Shakyamuni.

With a vast range of vision and after stupendous endeavors, Kashiapa had absorbed all the wisdom of the East, and it was rightly said of him that of those who came after him no one else was capable, even in the remotest degree, of preserving what he had drawn from Shakyamuni's deep fount of wisdom and — as the last possessor of this primal wisdom — had bestowed upon mankind.

The legend, you will remember, goes on to say that when Kashiapa was on the point of death and felt his entry into Nirvana approaching, he went into a cave in a mountain. There he died in full consciousness, and his body remained immune from decay, hidden from outer humanity and discoverable only by those who through Initiation were able to fathom such secrets. It rested uncorrupted in a cave, mysteriously concealed. Furthermore, it was predicted that a great proclaimer of the primeval wisdom in a new form, the Maitreya Buddha, will appear, and having reached the supreme height of his earthly existence, will go to the cave where rests the corpse of Kashiapa. With his right hand he will touch the corpse, and a miraculous fire coming down from the universe will transport the uncorrupted body of Kashiapa into the spiritual worlds.

The Oriental who understands this wisdom waits for the Maitreya Buddha to appear and perform his deed on the uncorrupted body of Kashiapa. Will these two events come about? Will the Maitreya Buddha appear? Will the uncorrupted remains of Kashiapa then be transported by the miraculous fire from heaven? With true Easter feelings we shall be able to glimpse the profound wisdom contained in this legend if we try to understand the nature of the miraculous fire into which the remains of Kashiapa are to be received.

In the previous lecture we saw how in our epoch the Godhead reveals Himself from two poles: from the macrocosmic fire of lightning and from the microcosmic fire of the blood. We saw that it was the Christ Who proclaimed Himself to Moses in the burning thorn-bush and in thunder and lightning on Sinai; that it was the Christ and no other Power than He Who declared to Moses: “I am the I AM.” Out of the lightning on Sinai He gave the Ten Commandments as a preparation for His coming. Later, He appeared in microcosmic form in Palestine.

In the fire in our blood lives the same God Who had announced Himself in the heavenly fire and Who then, in the Mystery of Palestine, incarnated in a human body in order that His power might permeate the blood where the human fire has its seat. And if we follow the consequences of this event and what it signifies for Earth-existence, we shall be able to find the flaming fire into which the remains of Kashiapa will be received.

World-evolution consists in the gradual spiritualization of all that is material. In the material fire of the burning thorn-bush, and on Sinai, an outer sign of the Divine Power was revealed to Moses; but through the Christ Event this fire was spiritualized. Now, since the Christ Power has penetrated the Earth, by what can the flame of the spiritual fire be perceived? By what can it be seen? By eyes of the spirit that have been opened and awakened through the Christ Impulse itself. To the eyes of the spirit this material fire of the thorn-bush is spiritualized. And ever since the Christ Impulse awakened the eyes of the spirit, this fire has worked in a spiritual way upon our world.

When was this fire seen again? It was seen again when the eyes of Saul, illumined by clairvoyance on the road to Damascus, beheld and recognied in the radiance of heavenly fire the One Who had fulfilled the Mystery of Golgotha. And so both Moses and Paul beheld the Christ: Moses beheld Him in the material fire in the burning thorn-bush and in the lightning on Sinai, but only inwardly could he be made aware that it was the Christ Who spoke with him. To the enlightened eyes of Paul, Christ revealed Himself from the spiritualized fire. Matter and Spirit are related in the evolution of worlds as the miraculous, material fire of the thorn-bush and of Sinai is related to the glory of the fire from the clouds that shone before Saul who had now become Paul.

Now, what were the consequences of this event for the whole evolution of worlds? Let us look back over the great succession of benefactors and saviors of mankind — those great figures who were the outer expressions of the Avatars, the incarnations of the Divine-Spiritual Powers who from epoch to epoch descended from spiritual heights and took human form in order that mankind should be able to find the way back into the spiritual worlds. Such, for example, was Krishna, one of the Avatars of Vishnu. In earlier times man could only find this way by the descent of a Divine Being. But through the Mystery of Golgotha man was endowed with the faculty to draw from his own innermost being the forces that can raise and lead him upwards into the spiritual worlds. Christ descended far more deeply than the other Guiding Spirits, cosmic and human, for not only did He bring heavenly forces into an earthly body, but He spiritualized this earthly body to such a degree that now, out of these earthly forces, men could find the way to the spiritual worlds. The pre-Christian saviors redeemed mankind with Divine forces. Christ redeemed mankind with human forces. These human forces were then made manifest in all their original, pristine power.

What would have happened on the Earth if Christ had not appeared? We will ask ourselves this solemn, crucial question. One world-savior after another might have descended from spiritual worlds, until finally they would have found on the Earth below only human beings so entrenched in matter, so immersed in substance, that the pure, divine-spiritual forces would no longer have been able to raise men again out of this corrupted, impure substance. It was with grief and profound sorrow that the Eastern sages looked into the future, concerning which they knew that the Maitreya Buddha will one day appear in order to renew the primal wisdom, but that no disciple will be capable of retaining this wisdom. “If the world continues along this course,” they said, “the Maitreya Buddha will preach to deaf ears; he will not be understood by men wholly engulfed in matter. Moreover, the materiality prevailing on the Earth will cause the body of Kashiapa to wither away so that the Maitreya Buddha will not be able to bear his remains into the divine-spiritual heights.”

It was those with the deepest understanding of Eastern wisdom who looked with such sorrow into the future, wondering whether the Earth would be capable of receiving the coming Maitreya Buddha with greater understanding and discernment.

It was necessary that a powerful heavenly force should stream into physical matter, and in physical matter should sacrifice itself. This could not be accomplished by a god merely within the mask of a human form; it had to be accomplished by a man in the real sense, a man with human forces, who bore the God within himself. The Mystery of Golgotha had to take place in order that the matter into which man has descended should be made fit, cleansed, purified, and hallowed in such a way as to enable the primal wisdom again to be understood. Humanity today must be brought to realize what the Mystery of Golgotha actually effected in this respect. What then was the real significance of the Event of Golgotha for mankind? How deeply did it penetrate into man's whole nature and existence?

We will let our mind's eye sweep across twelve centuries — from six hundred years before the event of Golgotha to six hundred years after it — and think of certain experiences that arose in the souls of men during this period. Truly, nothing greater or more significant can come before the discerning human soul than that stupendous occurrence of the gradual enlightenment of the Buddha, as it is preserved in the legend. He comes from a kingly environment. He is not born in a manger among simple shepherds. The emphasis, however, is not to be placed on this, but on the fact that he leaves this kingly environment and then encounters what he had not hitherto encountered: life in its diverse forms and manifestations. He comes upon a child, weak and ailing. Suffering is the child's lot in the existence it has entered through birth. The Buddha feels: birth is suffering. And again with all his sensitivity of soul the Buddha sees one who is diseased. This can be the lot of man when thirst for existence bears him into the earthly world — illness is suffering. The Buddha meets a man decrepit with the infirmities of old age. What is it that life imposes on man so that gradually he loses control of his limbs? Old age is suffering. And then the Buddha sees a corpse. Death stands before him with all the disintegration and destruction of life that are its accompaniment. Death is suffering. And through further observation of life the Buddha is led to the realization: To be separated from what we love is suffering; to be united with what we do not love is suffering; not to attain that for which we yearn is suffering.

The teaching of suffering rang with power and insistence through human hearts and human breasts. Men without number learned the great truth that freedom from suffering depends upon elimination of the thirst for existence, learned that they must strive to free themselves from earthly, physical existence, to pass beyond earthly incarnations, and that only the elimination of the thirst for existence can lead to redemption and release from suffering. Truly,a sublime goal of human evolution is presented to us here.

And now we will cast our mind's eye over twelve centuries, embracing the whole period from 600 B.C. to 600 A.D. One particular event stands out: in the middle of this period the Mystery of Golgotha took place. We will think of a single feature only from the times of the Buddha: the corpse, and what the Buddha experienced at the sight of it and then taught. Six hundred years after the Event of Golgotha the eyes of countless human souls turn to a Cross of wood on which hangs a corpse. But there issue from this corpse the impulses which permeate life with spirit, which make life victorious over death. This is the very antithesis of what the Buddha experienced at the sight of a corpse.

The Buddha had seen a corpse and had recognized from it the nothingness of life. Men who lived six hundred years after the Event of Golgotha looked up with fervent devotion to the corpse on the Cross. For them it was the token of life, and in their souls dawned the certainty that existence is not suffering, but leads across death into blessedness. Six hundred years after the Event of Golgotha the corpse of Christ Jesus on the Cross became the token of life, of the resurrection of life, the overcoming of death and of all suffering, just as six hundred years before the Mystery of Golgotha the corpse was the sign that suffering must be the lot of man driven into the physical world by the thirst for existence. Never was there a greater reversal in the whole course of human evolution.

If, six hundred years before our era, entrance into the physical augured suffering for man, how does the great truth that life is suffering present itself to the soul after the Mystery of Golgotha? How does it present itself to men who look with understanding at the Cross on Golgotha? Is birth, as the Buddha declared, suffering? Those who look with understanding at the Cross on Golgotha, and feel united with it, say to themselves: “Birth, after all, leads men to an Earth able from its own elements to provide a raiment for the Christ. Men will gladly tread this Earth upon which Christ has walked. Union with Christ kindles in the soul the power to find its way up into the spiritual worlds, brings the realization that birth is not suffering but the portal to the finding of the Redeemer, Who clothed Himself with the very same earthly substances which compose the bodily sheaths of a human being.”

Is illness suffering? No! — so said those who truly understood the Impulse of Golgotha — no, illness is not suffering. Even if men cannot yet understand what the spiritual life streaming in with Christ is in reality, in the future they will learn to understand it, and they will know that one who lets himself be permeated by the Christ Impulse, into whose innermost being the Christ Power draws, can overcome all illness through the strong healing forces he unfolds from within himself. For Christ is the great Healer of mankind. His Power embraces everything that out of the spiritual can unfold the healing force whereby illness can be overcome. Illness is not suffering. Illness is an opportunity to overcome an obstacle by man unfolding the Christ Power within himself.

Mankind must arrive at a similar understanding about the infirmities of age. The more the feebleness of our limbs increases, the more we can grow in the spirit, the more we can gain the mastery through the Christ Power indwelling us. Age is not suffering, for with every day that passes we grow into the spiritual world. So too, death is not suffering for it has been conquered in the Resurrection. Death has been conquered through the Event of Golgotha.

Can separation from what we love still be suffering? No! Souls permeated with the Christ Power know that love can forge links from soul to soul transcending all material obstacles, links in the spiritual that cannot be severed; and there is nothing either in the life between birth and death or between death and rebirth to which we cannot spiritually find the way through the Christ Impulse. If we permeate ourselves with the Christ Impulse, permanent separation from what we love is inconceivable. The Christ leads us to union with what we love.

Equally, to be united with what we do not love cannot be suffering because the Christ Impulse received into our souls teaches us to love all things in their due measure. The Christ Impulse shows us the way and, when we find this way, “to be united with what we do not love” can no longer be suffering; for there is nothing that we do not encompass with love. So too, if Christ is with us, “not to attain that for which we yearn” can no longer be suffering, for human feelings and desires are so purified and sublimated through the Christ Impulse that men can yearn only for what is their due. They no longer suffer because of what they are compelled to renounce; for if they must renounce anything, it is for the sake of purification, and the Christ Power enables them to feel it as such. Therefore renunciation is no longer suffering.

What, in essence, does the Event of Golgotha signify? It signifies the gradual elimination of the facts associated by the great Buddha with suffering. There is nothing that affects more deeply cosmic evolution or cosmic existence than the Event of Golgotha. Therefore we can also understand that its influence works on, with positive and momentous consequences for mankind of the future. Christ is the greatest of all the Avatars who have come down to the Earth, and when such a Being as the Christ in Jesus of Nazareth descends into earthly existence, this marks the beginning of a mysterious and supremely significant process. On a small scale it is the same in the spiritual world as when we sow a grain of corn in the Earth; it germinates and blade and ear spring from it, bearing innumerable grains which are replicas of the one grain of corn we laid into the soil. “Everything transient is but a semblance,” and in this multiplication of the grain of corn we can perceive an image, a semblance, of the spiritual world.

When the Mystery of Golgotha was accomplished, something happened to the etheric body and the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth. Through the Power of the indwelling Christ they were multiplied and ever since that time in the spiritual world many, many replicas of the astral body and etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth have been present — with great spiritual consequences.

A human individuality descending from spiritual heights into physical existence is clothed with an etheric body and an astral body. But when something is present in spiritual worlds such as the replicas of the etheric body and astral body of Jesus of Nazareth, a very special occurrence takes place in men whose karma permits it. After the Mystery of Golgotha, when the karma of a particular individuality allowed it, a replica of the etheric body or of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth was woven into him. This was so in the case of Augustine, for example, in the early part of our era. When this individuality came down from spiritual heights and clothed himself in an etheric body, a replica of the etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth was woven into his own etheric body. This individuality bore his own astral body and ego, but into his etheric body was woven a replica of the etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth.

And so the sheaths that had enveloped the Divine Man of Palestine were transmitted to other men, whose task it then was to carry forth the influence of this great impulse into the rest of humanity. It was because Augustine remained dependent upon his own ego and his own astral body that he was subject to all the doubt, all the vacillation and error which, since they emanated from these still imperfect members of his being, it was so difficult for him to overcome. All the experiences he endured were due to his mistaken judgment and the errors of his ego. But when he had wrestled through, when his etheric body began to operate, he came upon the forces woven into his etheric body from the replica of the etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth. And then he became the one who was able to proclaim to the West some of the great Mystery-truths.

There were many whom we recognize as the great bearers of Christianity in the West, whose mission was to spread Christianity during the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, on to the tenth, in whom the great Ideas could light up as examples. These were persons into whose etheric bodies a replica of the etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth had been woven. That was the reason why there could arise in them the great visions and prototypal Ideas which were then elaborated and given form by the great painters and sculptors.

How did the prototypes for these pictures that still delight us come into being? They came into being when through the inwoven replicas of the hallowed etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth there came to men of the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries of our era great illuminations of the truths of Christianity which made them independent of historical tradition. In addition to the content of Christ's teaching there had been woven into these men a replica of the etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth, and they needed no longer the historical tradition of the facts of Christianity; they knew through inner illumination that the Christ lives, because they bore within them part of the being of Jesus of Nazareth. They knew that Christ lives, just as Paul knew of Christ as living reality when He appeared to him in the spiritualized fire of heaven. Up till then, had Paul allowed himself to be converted by stories of the events in Palestine? No single one of the events of which he could have been told was able to make Saul into Paul; yet it was from Paul that the most powerful impulse for the outer spread of Christianity proceeded — from one who had remained unconvinced by narrations of events on the physical plane, but who became a believer through an occult event taking place in the spiritual world. It is a strange attitude to wish to have Christianity without the factor of spiritual illumination! For without Paul's spiritual illumination Christianity would never have spread through the world. The early spread of Christianity was due to a supersensible happening. So again, in later times, Christianity was propagated in the same way through those who were able to experience the Christ in inner illumination. It was the Christ of history, too, because they bore within them what had remained from the historical Christ and His sheaths.

In the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries replicas of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth were woven into other human beings when their karma so permitted and they were sufficiently mature. Francis of Assisi, Elisabeth of Thüringen, for example, and others too, bore within them a replica of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth. Without this knowledge, the lives of Francis of Assisi and Elisabeth of Thüringen are unintelligible to us. Everything that seems so strange today in the life of Francis of Assisi is because the ‘I’ was the human ‘I’ of that individuality; but the humility, the devoutness, and the fervor we so admire in him are due to the fact that a replica of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth was woven into his own astral body. And it was so in the case of many other personalities living at that time. When we know this, they become examples for us. How can anyone who really studies the matter understand the life of Elisabeth of Thüringen if he does not know that a replica of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth was woven into her? And very many were called in this way by the onworking Christ Power to bear this mighty Impulse forward to posterity.

But there was something else, too, which was preserved for still later time: namely, innumerable replicas of the ‘I’ of Jesus of Nazareth. True, his original higher ‘I’ had departed from the three sheaths when the Christ drew into them; but a replica, exalted yet further as a result of the Christ-indwelling, remained present, and this replica of the ‘I’ of Jesus of Nazareth was multiplied many times. This replica of the ‘I’ of Jesus of Nazareth is present to this day in the spiritual world. Moreover it can be found, together with the glory of the Christ Power and Christ Impulse it bears within it, by men who are sufficiently mature.

Now, the outer, physical expression for the ‘I’ is the blood. This is a great mystery; but there have always been men who knew of it and were aware that replicas of the ‘I’ of Jesus of Nazareth are present in the spiritual world. There have always been men whose task it was, through the centuries since the Event of Golgotha, to ensure in secret that humanity gradually matures, so that there may be human beings who are fit to receive the replicas of the ‘I’ of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, just as there were persons who received replicas of his etheric body and astral body. To this end it was necessary to discover the secret of how, in the quietude of a profound mystery, this ‘I’ might be preserved until the appropriate moment in the evolution of the Earth and of humanity. With this aim a Brotherhood of Initiates who preserved the secret was founded: the Brotherhood of the Holy Grail. They were the guardians of this secret. This Fellowship has always existed. It is said that its originator took the chalice used by Christ Jesus at the Last Supper and in it caught the blood flowing from the wounds of the Redeemer on the Cross. He gathered the blood, the expression of the ‘I,’ in this chalice — the Holy Grail. And the chalice with the blood of the Redeemer, with the secret of the replica of the ‘I’ of Christ-Jesus, was preserved in a holy place, in the Brotherhood of those who through their attainments and their Initiation are the Brothers of the Holy Grail.

The time has come today when these secrets may be made known, when through a spiritual life the hearts of men can become mature enough to understand this great Mystery. If souls allow spiritual science to kindle understanding of such secrets they become fit to recognize in that Holy Chalice the Mystery of the Christ-‘I,’ the eternal ‘I’ which every human ‘I’ can become. The secret is a reality — only men must allow themselves to be summoned through spiritual science to understand this, in order that as they contemplate the Holy Grail, the Christ-‘I’ may be received into their being. To this end they must understand and accept what has come to pass as fact, as reality.

But when men are better prepared to receive the Christ Ego, then it will pour in greater and greater fullness into their souls. They will then evolve to the level where stood Christ Jesus, their great Example. Then for the first time they will learn to understand the sense in which Christ Jesus is the Great Example for humanity. And having understood this, men will begin to realize in the innermost core of their being that the certainty of life's eternity springs from the corpse hanging on the wood of the Cross of Golgotha. Those who are inspired and permeated by the Christ-‘I’, the Christians of future time, will understand something else as well — something that hitherto has been known only to those who reached enlightenment. They will understand not only the Christ Who has passed through death but the triumphant Christ of the Apocalypse, resurrected in the spiritual fire, the Christ Whose coming has already been predicted. The Easter festival can always be for us a symbol of the Risen One, a link reaching over from Christ on the Cross to the Christ triumphant, risen and glorified, to the One Who lifts all men with Him to the right hand of the Father.

And so the Easter symbol points us to the vista of the whole future of the Earth, to the future of the evolution of humanity, and is for us a guarantee that men who are Christ-inspired will be transformed from Saul-men into Paul-men and will behold with increasing clarity a spiritual fire. For it is indeed true that as the Christ was revealed in advance to Moses and to those who were with him, in the material fire of the thorn-bush and of the lightning on Sinai, so He will be revealed to us in a spiritualized fire of the future. He is with us always, until the end of the world, and He will appear in the spiritual fire to those who have allowed their eyes to be enlightened through the Event of Golgotha. Men will behold Him in the spiritual fire. They beheld Him, to begin with, in a different form; they will behold Him for the first time in His true form, in a spiritual fire.

But because the Christ penetrated so deeply into Earth-existence — right into the physical bony structure — the power which built His sheaths out of the elements of the Earth so purified and hallowed this physical substance that it can never become what in their sorrow the Eastern sages feared: that the Enlightened One of the future, the Maitreya Buddha, would not find on the Earth men capable of understanding him because they had sunk so deeply into matter. Christ was led to Golgotha in order that He might lift matter again to spiritual heights, in order that the fire might not be extinguished in matter, but be spiritualized. The primal wisdom will again be intelligible to men when they themselves are spiritualized — the primal wisdom which, in the spiritual world, was the source of their being. And so the Maitreya Buddha will find understanding on the Earth — which would not otherwise have been possible — when men have attained deeper insight. We understand far better what we learnt in our youth when tests in life have matured us, and we can look back upon it all at a later time. Mankind will understand the primal wisdom through being able to look back upon it in the Christ-light streaming from the event of Golgotha.

And now — how can the uncorrupted remains of Kashiapa be rescued, and whither will they be transported? It was said: the Maitreya Buddha will appear, touch these remains with his right hand, and the corpse will be transported in fire. In the fire made manifest to Paul on the road to Damascus we have to see the miraculous, spiritualized fire in which the body of Kashiapa will be enshrined. This fire will rescue for future times all that was great and noble in the past. In the spiritualized fire in which the Christ appeared to Paul, the body of Kashiapa, untouched by corruption, will be saved through the Maitreya Buddha. Thus we shall see the greatness, the splendor, and the wisdom of all the past stream into what mankind has become through the Event of Golgotha.

A resurrection of the Earth-Spirit itself, a redemption of humanity — this is what lies before us in the symbol of the Easter bells. To everyone who understood it, this symbol was an inspiration of how through the Easter Mystery man climbs to spiritual heights. It is not without meaning that Faust is called back by the Easter bells from the brink of death to a new life which leads him to the great moment when, blinded and facing death, he cries: “But in my inmost spirit all is light.” Now he can make his way up into the spiritual worlds where the ennobled elements of humanity are in safe keeping.

In the purified spirituality that has poured over the Earth and into humanity through the Mystery of Golgotha, everything that has existed in the past is rescued, purified, sustained: just as one day, when the Maitreya Buddha appears, the uncorrupted body of Kashiapa, the great sage of the East, will be purified in the miraculous fire, in the Christ-light which was revealed to Paul on the road to Damascus.


13 ways of looking at my guru. The 13th among the 12: Humanus

Rudolf Steiner

The name of him whom Providence has chosen
That wondrous things on Earth he should achieve,
Whom I may often praise, though ne'er sufficing,
Whose destiny we scarcely can believe,
His name — it is Humanus, Saint and wise one,
The best of men whom I did e'er perceive:
By origin another name he bears,
Which with illustrious ancestors he shares.

                --from "The Mysteries" by Goethe

Friday, March 29, 2013

"Descent into the Depths of the Earth" by Judith von Halle

"I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes unto the Father except through me." — John 14:6

"The descent through the earth layers by the spiritual pupil on his path of initiation follows in the footsteps of the Representative of Humanity. The latter penetrated the depts of the earth for humanity at the turning point of time. The Trinitarian being of God sent the Son God into a mortal human body out of inexpressible love for humanity, so that, by passing through death, He could penetrate into the realm of earth. Through this penetration of the earth realm, both the human race and the earth itself were to be given two seeds of redemption: on the one hand, the 'renewal' of the 'phantom' of the human body implanted in us as potential on Saturn--in other words the archetype of the physical body cleansed of the destructive influences of the adversaries; the resurrection body through which the human spirit could be prevented from succumbing to the death of matter. And on the other, the seed for the earth to become a future sun, through the fact that the Christ Sun left His cosmic dwelling and descended to the very core of the earth body.

The mission of the divine Son therefore lay in enabling the human being and the earth to evolve together in a reciprocal and mutually attuned way, so that the spiritualization of human nature goes hand in hand with spiritualization of the earth body. In future, therefore, the human being will be able to develop further in his physically spiritualized form on a correspondingly spiritualized earth body. Our further--which means higher--evolution, and with it the transformation of the earth, have been assigned to our free will since the Mystery of Golgotha. That this higher evolution can occur at all is due to Christ's sacrifice.

Yet in order to transform and enliven both the earth body and our own physical nature, the Christ being had to permeate all the layers of the earth and reach its innermost core, its center point. The deeper one descends into the earth, the further one returns to the deposits of its past evolution--or, rather, to the primal sources of its creation. This means that at the core of the earth the deposits from Saturn evolution can be found. As the Saturn state of our earth planet arose, the seed of the earth body was planted; equally, on Old Saturn, the germ of the physical human body was created. To transform and renew both these, the Christ being thererfore had to penetrate to the very core of the earth."

--Judith von Halle, Descent into the Depths of the Earth on the Anthroposophic Path of Schooling, pp. 72-75


Spiritual Bells of Easter: Part 1 of 2. The Macrocosmic and the Microcosmic Fire. The Spiritualization of the Breath and of the Blood.

Rudolf Steiner, April 10, 1909:

Goethe, one of the most inspired spirits of the modern age, has indicated in moving words the power of the Easter bells. In the figure of Faust he places before us the representative of aspiring humanity, who has reached the bourn of earthly existence; and he shows us how the Easter tidings, the light kindled by the Easter Festival, are able, in the heart even of one who is seeking death, to vanquish the thoughts and the power of death.

As Goethe portrays it, the inner impulse given by the Easter tidings has streamed through the whole evolution of mankind. And when in a none too distant future men understand through deepened spiritual insight how the festivals are meant to link the soul with all that lives and weaves in the great universe, they will feel that the soul, expanding in a new way during these days at the beginning of spring, comes to realize that the wellsprings of spiritual life can deliver us from material life, from the constriction of an existence fettered to matter.

It is precisely at the time of Easter that man's soul can become imbued with the unshakable conviction that in the innermost core of man's being lies a fount of eternal, divine existence, a fount of strength which enables us to break free from bondage to matter and, without losing our identity, to become one with the fountainhead of cosmic existence. To this inner fount we can penetrate at all times through higher knowledge. The Easter festival is an outer sign of this deep experience within the reach of man, an outer sign of the deepest Christian Mystery. And so at Easter today the outer festival and its tokens are like a symbol of what at the beginning of their earthly evolution men could discover and know only in the secrecy of the Mysteries. Wherever the peoples of the Earth celebrated the festival now called Easter — and it was celebrated far and wide among ancient peoples — it was proclaimed from the Mysteries, awakening everywhere the feeling — indeed the conviction — that life in the spirit can be victorious over death in matter. But whatever was thus instilled into the human soul in olden times had to be proclaimed from the depths of the Mysteries.

The progress of human evolution, however, has brought it about that more and more of the secrets guarded in the sanctuaries are now coming to light, that the wisdom of the Mysteries is now emerging to become the common possession of all mankind. Let us devote our studies today and tomorrow to an endeavor to show how this feeling, this inner conviction, forces its way outwards from the depths of primeval knowledge into ever-widening circles. Today we will look back into the past in order to be able to describe tomorrow what is felt about this festival at the present time. As Easter is the festival of the resurrection of the spirit of man and of mankind, we must come together with inner earnestness before we can hope to advance to a wisdom that in a certain sense leads to the very peak of spiritual-scientific understanding.

Our Christian festival of Easter is only one of the forms of the Easter festival of humanity in general. What the wise men of old were able to say out of their strongest, deepest convictions, out of the very ground of wisdom, about life overcoming death — this was woven into the symbolism of the Easter festival. In the utterances of these wise men we shall everywhere find the foundation for an understanding of the Easter festival, the festival of the resurrection of the Spirit.

A beautiful and profound Eastern legend runs as follows: The great Teacher of the East, Shakyamuni, the Buddha, has endowed the regions of the East with his profound wisdom, which, drawn from the fountainhead of spiritual existence, glowed with infinite blessing through the hearts of men. Primal wisdom flowing from divine-spiritual worlds brought blessing to human hearts in times when men were still able to gaze into the spiritual world. This has been saved by Shakyamuni for a later humanity. Shakyamuni had a great pupil, and whereas the other pupils grasped to a greater or lesser extent the all-embracing wisdom taught by the Buddha, Kashiapa — such was the name of the pupil — grasped it fully. He was one of those most deeply initiated into these teachings, one of the most significant followers of the Buddha. The legend tells that when Kashiapa came to the point of death and on account of his mature wisdom was ready to pass into Nirvana, he made his way to a steep mountain and hid himself in a cave. After his death his body did not decay but remained intact. Only the Initiates know of this secret and of the hidden place where the incorruptible body of the great Initiate rests. But the Buddha foretold that one day in the future his great successor, the Maitreya Buddha, the new great Teacher and Leader of mankind, would come, and reaching the supreme height of existence to be attained during earthly life, would seek out the cave of Kashiapa and touch with his right hand the incorruptible body of the Enlightened One. Whereupon a miraculous fire would stream down from heaven and in this fire the incorruptible body of Kashiapa, the Enlightened One, would be lifted from earthly into spiritual existence.

Such is the great Eastern legend — unintelligible, perhaps, in some respects, to the West. This legend speaks, too, of a resurrection, of a transportation from earthly existence, an overcoming of death, achieved in such a way that the Earth's forces of corruption have no effect upon the purified body of Kashiapa. Thus when the great Initiate comes and touches this body with his hand, it will be carried up by the miraculous fire into the heavenly spheres.

It is just where this legend deviates from the content of the Western, Christian account of Easter that there lies the possibility of reaching a deeper understanding of the Easter festival. Such a legend enshrines an ancient wisdom that can only gradually be approached. We may ask: Why does not Kashiapa, like the Redeemer in the Christian account of Easter, achieve victory over death after three days? Why does the incorruptible body of the Eastern Initiate wait for long ages before being transported by the miraculous fire into the heavenly heights?

We hear today no more than echoes of the depths here contained. Only by degrees can we gain some inkling of the wisdom expressed in legends as profound as this one. We must remain in reverent awe at a distance and learn through these solemn festivals gradually to look upwards to the heights of wisdom. Nor should we aspire immediately to apprehend with our prosaic intellect what such legends contain. True understanding will be attained only if we approach these truths with adequate, sufficiently mature perceptions and feelings, in order, ultimately, to grasp them with inner fire and warmth.

For present-day humanity, two truths stand like mighty beacons on the horizon of the Spirit, two inwardly allied tokens of reality. They are two focal points for men who seek the spiritual at the present stage of evolution. The first beacon is the burning thorn-bush, and the second the fire which amid lighting and thunder appeared to Moses on Sinai and through which the proclamation is made to him: I am the I am.

Who is the spiritual Being Who then announced Himself to Moses in the two manifestations?

Those who understand the tidings of Christianity in the spiritual sense also understand the words which make known the identity of the Being Who appeared to Moses in the burning thorn-bush, and afterwards on Sinai amid lighting and thunder when the Ten Commandments were given. The writer of the Gospel of St. John himself indicates that Christ Jesus had been foretold by Moses [John 5:45-46], by pointing to the passages telling of how the Power, which was later called Christ, made Himself known in the burning thorn-bush and then in fire on Sinai. It was Christ and none other Who says of Himself to Moses: I am the I am.

The God Who appeared later on in a human body and Who fulfilled the Mystery of Golgotha wielded earlier an invisible sway, announcing Himself in the element of fire in nature. The message of the Old Testament and of the New Testament is understood only when it is realized that the God heralded by Moses is the Christ Who was one day to come among men. Thus the God Who is to bring redemption to mankind announces Himself not in a human form but in the fire-element of nature, in which He is manifest. The same Being Who appeared visibly in the events in Palestine held sway through all the ages of antiquity, and His divine Being is revealed in many diverse forms.

We look back to the Old Testament and we ask ourselves: “Who was it, in reality, whom the ancient Hebrews worshipped? Who was their God?” Those who belonged to the Hebrew Mysteries knew that it was Christ Whom they worshipped; they recognized Christ as the One Who spoke the words: “Say to my people: I am the I am.” But even if this were not known, the fact that during our cycle of evolution God announced Himself in fire would be sufficiently indicative to enable one who gazes into the deep secrets of nature to realize that the God Who proclaimed Himself in the burning thorn-bush and on Sinai is the same God Who came down from spiritual heights into a human body in order to fulfil the Mystery of Golgotha. For there is a mysterious connection between the fire kindled in the external world by the elements of nature and the warmth pervading our blood. Spiritual science constantly emphasizes that man is a microcosm of the great world, the macrocosm. Truly understood, therefore, processes which take place within the human being must correspond with processes in the universe outside. We must be able to find the outer process corresponding to every inner process. To understand what this means we shall have to penetrate into deep regions of spiritual science, for we come here to the fringe of a profound secret, of a momentous truth which gives the answer to the question: What is it in the great universe that corresponds to the mysterious origin of human thought?

In a very real sense, man is the only thinking being on the Earth. Thoughts are kindled in him in a way that applies to no other being belonging to the Earth, and through his thoughts he experiences a world which leads him beyond and above the Earth. What is it that kindles thoughts in us, what process is taking place when the simplest or the most sublime thought flashes through us? — When thoughts flow through our soul, two forces are working together in us — our astral body and our Ego. The physical expression of the Ego, the ‘I,’ is the blood; the physical expression of the astral body is the life of the nervous system. Thoughts would never hash through the soul if there were no interplay between Ego and astral body, coming to expression in the interplay between the blood and the nerves. It will seem strange to science in time to come that the science of our day should look for the origin of thought in the nervous system alone. For thought does not originate only in the nerves. It is in the living interplay between the blood and the nerves, and only there, that we have to look for the process which gives rise to thoughts. When our blood (our inner fire) and our nervous system (our inner air) are in this interplay, thought flashes through the soul.

Now the genesis of thought within the soul corresponds, in the cosmos, to rolling thunder. When the fiery lightning is generated in the air, when fire and air interact to produce thunder, this is the macrocosmic event corresponding to the process by which the fire of the blood and the play of the nervous system discharge themselves in the inner thunder which, gently, peacefully, outwardly imperceptible, it is true, rings out in the thought. Lightning in the clouds corresponds, within us, to the warmth of our blood, and the air in the universe, together with the elements it contains, corresponds to the life pervading our nervous system. And just as lightning in the action and reaction of the elements gives rise to thunder, so the action and reaction of blood and nerves produces the thought that flashes through the soul. Looking out into the world around us, we see the flashing lightning in the formations of the air, and we hear the rolling thunder ... and then, looking within the soul, we feel the inner warmth pulsating in our blood and the life pervading our nervous system; then we become aware of the thought flashing through us, and we say: “The two are one.”

It is really and truly so. The thunder rolling in the heavens is not a physical-material phenomenon only. Materialistic mythology alone regards it as such. To one who sees the spiritual weaving and surging through material existence it is truth and reality when, looking upwards, men see the lightning, hear the thunder, and say to themselves: Now the Godhead is thinking in the fire, announcing Himself to us. — This is the invisible God Who weaves and surges through the universe, Whose warmth is in the lightning, Whose nerves are in the air, Whose thoughts are in the rolling thunder. This is the God Who spoke to Moses in the burning thorn-bush and on Sinai in the fiery lightning.

Fire and air in the macrocosm are, in man the microcosm, blood and nerves. As you have lightning and thunder in the macrocosm, so you have thoughts arising within the human being. And the God seen and heard by Moses in the burning thorn-bush, Who spoke to him in the fiery lightning on Sinai, was present as the Christ in the blood of Jesus of Nazareth. Christ, descending into a human form, was manifest in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. In that He thought as a man in a human body, He became the great Prototype of the future evolution of humanity.

Thus the two poles of human evolution meet: the macrocosmic God announces Himself on Sinai in the thunder and fiery lightning; and the same God, incarnate in the Man of Palestine, appears in microcosmic form. The sublime mysteries of the life of mankind are derived from the deepest wisdom. They are truth in all profundity, not invented legends. But so profound is their truth that we need all the means open to spiritual science to unveil the secrets bound up with that truth.

Let us now consider what the impulse was that was received by mankind through its great Prototype, through the Being Who descended and united Himself with the microcosmic images of the elements in a human body — through the Christ Being.

Let us look back once again to the knowledge proclaimed by ancient peoples. Right back into the remote past of the Post-Atlantean epoch, all the ancient peoples knew how human evolution takes its course. All the Mystery Schools proclaimed, as spiritual science proclaims again today, that man consists of four members — physical body, etheric body, astral body, and Ego, the ‘I’ — and that he can rise to higher stages of existence when, through the activity of his ‘I’, he himself transforms the astral body into Spirit-Self (Manas), the etheric body into Life-Spirit (Buddhi), and the physical body into Spirit-Man (Atman). Little by little this physical body, in all its members, must be permeated so deeply with spirit during our earthly life that that which gives man his true being as man — the instreaming of the Divine Breath — is itself spiritualized. It is because the spiritualization of the physical body begins with the spiritualization of the breath that the transformed, spiritualized physical body is called Atma or Atman (Atem [German] (breath) = Atman). The Old Testament says that at the beginning of his earthly existence man received the Breath of Life, and all ancient wisdom sees in the Breath of Life that which man must gradually spiritualize. All ancient views of the world saw the great Ideal to be striven for in Atman: that the breath should become divine to such a degree that man is permeated by the very breath of the Spirit.

But still more must be spiritualized in man. When his whole physical body is spiritualized, not only the breath but also that which is constantly renewed through the breath — the blood, the expression of the ‘I’ — must be spiritualized. The blood must be laid hold of by a force that impels it to the spiritual. Christianity has added to the Mysteries of antiquity the Mysteries of the blood, the fire that is enclosed within man. The ancient Mysteries said: Man on the Rarth, living in an earthly frame, has descended from spiritual heights into physical, material corporeality. He has lost what constitutes his spiritual nature and has clothed himself in physical corporeality. But he must return again to spirituality, he must cast aside the physical sheaths and rise into a spiritual existence.

As long as the ‘I’ of man, with its physical expression in the blood, was not seized by an impulse to be found on the Earth, the religions could not teach of the force of self-redemption in the human ‘I’. So they describe how the great spiritual Beings, the Avatars, descend and incarnate in human bodies from time to time when men are in need of help. They are Beings who for the purpose of their own development need not come down into a human body, for their own human stage of evolution had been completed in an earlier world-cycle. They descend in order to help mankind. Thus when help was needed, the great God Vishnu descended into earthly existence. One of the embodiments of Vishnu — namely, Krishna — speaks of Himself, saying unambiguously what the nature of an Avatar is. He Himself declares who He is, in the Divine Song, the Bhagavad Gita. There we find the sublime words spoken by Krishna in Whom Vishnu lives as an Avatar:

“I am the Spirit of creation, its beginning, its middle and its end; among the stars I am the Sun, among the elements — fire; among the seas — the cosmic ocean; among the serpents — the eternal serpent. I am the ground of the worlds.”

The all-powerful Divinity can be proclaimed in no more beautiful or more sublime words than these. The Godhead seen by Moses in the element of fire, Who not only weaves and surges through the world as a macrocosmic Divinity, is to be found, too, within man. Therefore in all beings who bear the human countenance, Krishna lives as the great Ideal to which the innermost essence of man develops from within. And when, as was the goal of ancient wisdom, man's breath can be spiritualized through the impulse given by the Mystery of Golgotha — this is the redemption that is achieved by what now lives within ourselves. All the Avatars have brought redemption to mankind through power from above, through what has streamed down through them from spiritual heights to the Earth. But the Avatar Christ has redeemed mankind through what He gathered out of the forces of mankind itself, and He has shown us how the forces of redemption, the forces whereby the Spirit becomes victor over matter, can be found in ourselves.

Thus, although through the spiritualization of his breath he had made his body incorruptible, even Kashiapa with his supreme enlightenment could not yet find complete redemption. The incorruptible body must wait in the secret cave until it is drawn forth by the Maitreya Buddha. Only when the ‘I’ has spiritualized the physical body to such a degree that the Christ Impulse streams into the physical body is the miraculous cosmic fire no longer needed for redemption; for redemption is now brought about by the fire quickened in man's own inner being, in the blood. Thus the radiance streaming from the Mystery of Golgotha is also able to shed light on a legend as wonderful and profound as that of Kashiapa.

To begin with, we find the world obscure and full of riddles; we may compare it with a dark room containing many splendid objects which at first we cannot see. But if we kindle a light the objects in the room are revealed in all their splendor. So it can be for a man who strives after wisdom. To begin with he strives in darkness. As he looks into the world of the past and of the future he gazes into darkness. But when the light that streams from Golgotha is kindled, everything in the most distant past and on into the farthest future is illumined. Far everything material is born out of the Spirit, and out of matter the Spirit will again be resurrected. The purpose of a festival such as Easter, connected as it is with cosmic happenings, is to give expression to this certainty. If men are clear as to what they can achieve through spiritual science — that the soul, recognizing the secrets of existence, can find the way to the secrets of the universe through festivals containing symbolism as full of meaning as that of Easter — then the soul will realize something of what it means to live no longer within its own narrow, personal existence, but to live with all that gleams in the stars, shines in the Sun, and is living reality in the universe. The soul will feel itself expanding into the universe, becoming more and more filled with Spirit.

Resurrection from individual human life to the life of the universe — this is the call that echoes in our hearts from the spiritual bells of Easter. And when we hear these bells, all doubt of the reality of the spiritual world will vanish from us and the certainty will dawn that no material death can harm us at all. For we are caught up again into life in the Spirit when we understand the message of the spiritual bells of Easter.