Thursday, October 31, 2013

The beings of the three spiritual hierarchies and human thinking, feeling, and willing. Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts #66, #67, #68


Rudolf Steiner:

66. The beings of the Third Hierarchy reveal themselves in the life which is unfolded as a spiritual background in human thinking. In the human activity of thought this life is concealed. If it worked on in its own essence in human thought, man could not attain to freedom. Where cosmic thought-activity ceases, human thought-activity begins.

67. The beings of the Second Hierarchy manifest themselves in a world-of-soul beyond humanity — a world of cosmic soul-activities, hidden from human feeling. This cosmic world-of-soul is ever creative in the background of human feeling. Out of the being of man it first creates the organism of feeling; only then can it bring feeling itself to life therein.

68. The beings of the First Hierarchy manifest themselves in spiritual creation beyond humanity — a cosmic world of spiritual being which indwells the human willing. This world of cosmic spirit experiences itself in creative action when man wills. It first creates the connection of man's being with the universe beyond humanity; only then does man himself become, through his organism of will, a freely willing being.

Rejoicing Always

Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?

She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.

She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.

Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.

O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.

For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.

They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.

For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.

The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.

By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.

By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.

My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.

I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:

That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.

The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.

I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.

When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.

Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:

While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.

When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:

When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:

When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:

Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;

Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.

Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.

Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.

Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.

But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars...

Proverbs 8:1--9:1



The words of Benedictus, from scene 7 of Rudolf Steiner’s Mystery Drama “The Portal of Initiation”:

You have been joined by destiny
together to unfold the powers
which are to serve the good in active work.
And while you journey on the path of soul,
wisdom itself will teach you
that the highest goal can be achieved
when souls will give each other spirit certainty,
will join together in faithfulness
for the healing of the world.
The spirit’s guidance has united you in knowledge;
so now unite yourselves for spirit work.
The rulers of this realm bestow on you,
through me, these words of strength:

Light’s weaving essence radiates
from person to person
to fill the world with truth.
Love’s blessing gives its warmth
to souls through souls
to work and weave the bliss of all the worlds.
And messengers of spirit
join human works of blessing
with purposes of worlds.
And when those who find themselves in others
join with each other
the light of spirit radiates through warmth of soul.



Washed in the Blood of the Lamb are We
Awash in a Sunburst 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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our Self and Our Destiny. Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts #62, #63, #64, #65


Rudolf Steiner:

62. In our sense-perceptions, the world of the senses bears on to the surface only a portion of the being that lies concealed in the depths of its waves beneath. Penetrative spiritual observation reveals within these depths the after-effects of what was done by souls of men in ages long gone by.

63. To ordinary self-observation the inner world of man reveals only a portion of that in the midst of which it stands. Intensified experience in consciousness shows it to be contained within a living spiritual reality.

64. The destiny of man reveals the workings not only of an external world, but of the man's own self.

65. The experiences of the human soul reveal not only a self but a world of the spirit, which the self can know by deeper spiritual knowledge as a world united with its own being.


"Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" by Wallace Stevens


Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the black bird.


I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.


The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.


A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.


I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.


Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.


O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?


I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.


When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.


At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.


He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.


The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.


It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Understanding of the Spirit; Conscious Experience of Destiny. Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts

Rudolf Steiner:

This week something will be given in the communications addressed to members in these columns which may serve to bring us to a further understanding of the weekly ‘Leading Thoughts.’
The understanding of anthroposophical truth can be furthered if the relation which exists between man and the world is constantly brought before the human soul.
When man turns his attention to the world into which he is born and out of which he dies, he is surrounded in the first place by the fullness of his sense-impressions. He forms thoughts about these sense-impressions.
In bringing the following to his consciousness: ‘I am forming thoughts about what my senses reveal to me as the world,’ he has already come to the point where he can contemplate himself. He can say to himself: In my thoughts ‘I’ live. The world gives me the opportunity of experiencing myself in thoughts. I find myself in my thoughts when I contemplate the world.
And continuing to reflect in this way, he ceases to be conscious of the world; he becomes conscious of the ‘I.’ He ceases to have the world before him; he begins to experience the self.
If the experience be reversed, and the attention directed to the inner life in which the world is mirrored, then those events emerge into consciousness which belong to our life's destiny, and in which our human self has flowed along from the point of time to which our memory goes back. In following up the events of his destiny, a man experiences his own existence.
In bringing this to his consciousness: ‘I with my own self have experienced something that destiny brought to me,’ a man has already come to the point where he will contemplate the world. He can say to himself: I was not alone in my fate; the world played a part in my experience. I willed this or that; the world streamed into my will. I find the world in my will when I experience this will in self-contemplation.
Continuing thus to enter into his own being, man ceases to be conscious of the self, he becomes conscious of the world; he ceases to experience himself, he becomes feelingly aware of the world.
‘I send my thoughts out into the world, there I find myself; I sink into myself, there I find the world.’ If a man experiences this strongly enough he is confronted with the great riddles of the World and Man.
For to have the feeling: I have taken endless pains to understand the world through thinking, and after all there is but myself in this thinking — this gives rise to the first great riddle. And to feel that one's own self is formed through destiny, yet to perceive in this process the onward flow of world-happenings — this presents the second riddle.
In the experience of this problem of Man and the World germinates the frame of mind in which man can so confront Anthroposophy that he receives from it in his inner being an impression which rouses his attention.
For Anthroposophy asserts that there is a spiritual experience which does not lose the world when thinking. One can also live in thought. Anthroposophy tells of an inward experience in which one does not lose the sense-world when thinking, but gains the spirit-world. Instead of penetrating into the ego in which the sense-world is felt to disappear, one penetrates into the spirit-world in which the ego feels established.
Anthroposophy shows, further, that there is an experience of destiny in which one does not lose the self. In fate, too, one can still feel oneself to be active. Anthroposophy points out, in the impartial, unegoistic observation of human destiny, an experience in which one learns to love the world and not only one's own existence. Instead of staring into the world which carries the ego on the waves of fortune and misfortune, one finds the ego which shapes its own fate voluntarily. Instead of striking against the world on which the ego is dashed to pieces, one penetrates into the self, which feels itself united with the course of events in the world.
Man's destiny comes to him from the world that is revealed to him by his senses. If then he finds his own activity in the working of his destiny, his real self rises up before him not only out of his inner being but out of the sense-world too.
If a person is able to feel, however faintly, how the spiritual part of the world appears in the self, and how the self proves to be working in the outer world of sense, he has already learned to understand Anthroposophy correctly. For he will then realize that in Anthroposophy it is possible to describe the spirit-world which the self can comprehend. And this will enable him to understand that in the sense-world the self can also be found — in a different way than by diving within. Anthroposophy finds the self by showing how the sense-world reveals to man not only sense-perceptions but also the after-effects of his life before birth and his former earthly lives.
Man can now gaze on the world perceptible to his senses and say: It contains not only color, sound, warmth; in it are active the experiences passed through by souls before their present earthly life. And he can look into himself and say: I find there not only my ego but, in addition, a spiritual world is revealed.
In an understanding of this kind, a person who really feels — who is not unmoved by — the great riddles of Man and the World can meet on a common ground with the initiate, who in accordance with his insight is obliged to speak of the outer world of the senses as manifesting not only sense-perceptions but also the impressions of what human souls have done in their life before birth and in past earthly lives, and who has to say of the world of the inner self that it reveals spiritual events which produce impressions and are as effective as the perceptions of the sense-world.
The would-be active members should consciously make themselves mediators between what the questioning human soul feels as the problems of Man and the Universe, and what the knowledge of the initiates has to recount, when it draws forth a past world out of the destiny of human beings, and when by strengthening the soul it opens up the perception of a spiritual world.
In this way, through the work of the would-be active members, the Anthroposophical Society may become a true preparatory school for the school of initiates. It was the intention of the Christmas Meeting to indicate this very forcibly; and one who truly understands what that Meeting meant will continue to point this out until sufficient understanding of it can bring the Society fresh tasks and possibilities again.
May the Leading Thoughts to be given in this number proceed, therefore, out of this spirit.


The Four Seasons and the Four Platonic Virtues. Focus lecture for tomorrow's meeting of the Rudolf Steiner Study Circle

Diagram I

The cycle of the year; Michaelmas, the festival of human courage; the four Platonic Virtues

The Cycle of the Year as Breathing Process of the Earth. Lecture 5 of 5.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, April 4, 1923:

I should like to carry to a still wider horizon the reflections I have already made here concerning the relationship between man and the cycle of Nature which was formed in ancient times under the influence of the Mysteries, and to go into what was believed in those times with regard to all that one as man received from the cosmos through this cycle of Nature. You may have gathered from yesterday's lecture as well perhaps as from the recollection of much that I could still say about such matters during the past Christmas season, in the Goetheanum which has now been taken from us — you may have gathered that the cycle of the year in its phenomena was perceived, and indeed today can still be perceived, as a result of life, as something which in its external events is just as much the expression of a living being standing behind it as the actions of the human organism are the manifestations of a being, of the human soul itself.
Let us remind ourselves how, in midsummer, the time we know as St. John's, the people became aware under this ancient Mystery-influence of a certain relationship to their ego, an ego which they did not yet consider as exclusively their own, but which they viewed as resting still in the bosom of the divine-spiritual.
These people believed that by means of the ceremonies I have described, they approached their “I” at midsummer, although throughout the rest of the year it was hidden from them. Of course they thought of themselves as dwelling in their beings altogether in the bosom of the divine-spiritual; but they thought that during the other three-quarters of the year nothing was revealed to them of what belonged to them as their ego. Only in this one quarter, which reached its high point at St. John's, did the essential being of their own ego manifest itself to them as through a window opening out of the divine-spiritual world.
Now, this essence of the individual ego within the divine-spiritual world in which it revealed itself was by no means regarded in such a neutral, indifferent — one may even say phlegmatic — way as is the case today. When the “I” is spoken of today, a person is hardly likely to think of it as having any special connection either with this world or any other. Rather, he thinks of his “I” as a kind of point; what he does rays out from it and what he perceives rays in. But the feeling a person has today in regard to his “I” is of an altogether phlegmatic nature. We cannot really say that modern man even feels the “egoity” of his “I” — in spite of the fact that it is his ego; for anyone who wants to be honest cannot really claim that he is fond of his “I.” He is fond of his body; he is fond of his instincts; he may be fond of this or that experience. But the “I” is just a tiny word which is felt as a point in which all that has been indicated is more or less condensed. But in that period in which, after long preparations had been made, the approach to this “I” was undertaken ceremonially, each man was enabled in a certain sense to meet his “I” in the universe. Following this meeting, then, the “I” was perceived to be once more gradually withdrawing and leaving the human being alone with his bodily and soul nature, or as we would say today, with his physical-etheric-astral being. In that period man felt the “I” perceptively as having a real connection with the entire cosmos, with the whole world.
But what was felt above all else with regard to the relationship of this “I” to the world was not something “naturalistic,” to use the modern term; it was not something received as an external phenomenon. Rather, it was something which was deemed to be the very center of the most ancient moral conception of the world. Men did not expect great secrets of Nature to be revealed to them at this season. To be sure, such Nature secrets were spoken of, but man did not direct his attention primarily to them. Rather, he perceived through his feeling that above all he was to absorb into himself as moral impulse what is revealed at this time of midsummer when light and warmth reach their highest point.
This was the season man perceived as the time of divine-moral enlightenment. And what he wanted above all to obtain from the heavens as “answer” to the performances of music, poetry, and dancing that were carried on at this season, what he waited for, was that there should be revealed out of the heavens in all seriousness what they required of him morally.
And when all the ceremonies had been carried out that I described yesterday as belonging to the celebration of these festivals during the time of the Sun's sultry heat — if it sometimes happened that a powerful storm broke forth with thunder and lightning, then just in this outbreak of thunder and lightning men felt the moral admonition of the heavens to earthly humanity.
There are vestiges from this ancient time in conceptions such as that of Zeus as the god of thunder, armed with a thunderbolt. Something similar is linked with the German god Donar. This we have on one side. On the other side, man perceptively felt Nature, I might say, as warm, luminous, satisfied in itself. And he felt that this warming, luminous Nature as it was during the daytime remained also into the night time. Only he made a distinction, saying to himself: “During the day the air is filled with the warmth-element, with the light-element. In these elements of warmth and light there weave and live spiritual messengers through whom the higher divine beings want to make themselves known to men, want to endow them with moral impulses. But at night, when the higher spiritual beings withdraw, the messengers remain behind and reveal themselves in their own way.”
And thus it was that especially at midsummer people perceived the ruling and weaving of Nature in the summer nights, in the summer evenings. And what they felt then seemed to them to be a kind of summer dream which they experienced in reality; a summer dream through which they came especially near to the divine-spiritual; a summer dream by which they were convinced that every phenomenon of Nature was at the same time the moral utterance of the gods, but that all kinds of elemental beings were also active there who revealed themselves to men in their own way.
All the fanciful embellishment of the midsummer night's dream, of the St. John's night dream, is what remained later of the wondrous forms conjured by human imagination that wove through this midsummer time on the soul-spiritual level. This then, in all particulars, was taken to be a divine-spiritual moral revelation of the cosmos to man.
And so we may say that the conception underlying this was: at midsummer the divine-spiritual world revealed itself through moral impulses which were implanted in man as Enlightenment (see diagram). And what was felt in a quite special way at that time, what then worked upon man, was felt to be something super-human which played into the human order of things.

Diagram I

From his inner participation in the festivities celebrated in that time, man knew that he was lifted up above himself as he then was into the super-human, and that the Deity grasped the hand that man as it were reached toward him at this season. Everything that man believed to be divine-spiritual within him he ascribed to the revelations of this season of St. John's.
When the summer came to an end and autumn approached, when the leaves were withered and the seeds had ripened, when, that is, the full luxurious life of summer had faded and the trees become bare, then, because the insights of the Mysteries had flowed into all these perceptions, man felt: “The divine-spiritual world is withdrawing again from man.” He notices how he is directed back to himself; he is in a certain sense growing out of the spiritual into Nature.
Thus man felt this “living-into” the autumn as a “living-out-from” the spiritual, as a living into Nature. The tree leaves became mineralized; the seeds dried up and mineralized. Everything inclined in a certain way toward the death of Nature's year.
In being thus interwoven with what was becoming mineral on the Earth and around the Earth, man felt that he himself was becoming woven together with Nature. For in that period man still stood closer in his inner experience to what was going on outside. And he also thought,about, he pondered in his mind about, how he experienced his being woven-together with Nature. His whole thinking took on this character. If we want to express in our language today what man felt when autumn came, we should have to say the following — I beg you, however, to realize that I am using present-day words, and that in those days man would not have been able to speak thus, for then everything rested on perceptive feeling and was not characterized through thinking — but if we want to speak in modern terms we shall have to say: With his particular trend of thinking, with his feeling way of perceiving, the human being experienced the transition from summer to autumn in such a way that he found in it a passing from spirit-knowledge to Nature-knowledge (see diagram). Toward autumn man felt that he was no longer in a time of spirit-knowledge but that autumn required of him that he should learn to know Nature. Thus at the autumn equinox we have, instead of moral impulse, knowledge of Nature, coming to know Nature.
The human being began to reflect about Nature. At this time also he began to take into account the fact that he was a creature, a being within the cosmos. In that time it would have been considered folly to present Nature-knowledge in its existing form to man during the summer. The purpose of summer is to bring man into relation with the spiritual in the world. With the arrival of what we today call the Michaelmas season, people said to themselves: “By everything that man perceives about him in the woods, in the trees, in the plants, he is stimulated to pursue nature-knowledge.” It was the season in which men were to occupy themselves above all with acquiring knowledge, with reflection. And indeed it was also the time when outer circumstances of life made this possible. Human life thus proceeded from Enlightenment to Knowledge. It was the right season for knowledge, for ever-increasing cognition.
When the pupils of the Mysteries received their instruction from the teachers, they were given certain mottoes, of which we find adaptations in the maxims of the Greek sages. The “seven maxims” of the Seven Wise Men of Greece are, however, not actually those which originated in the primeval Mysteries.
In the very earliest Mysteries there was a saying associated with midsummer: “Receive the Light” (see diagram). By “Light,” spiritual wisdom was meant. It designated that within which the human being's own “I” shone.
For autumn (see diagram), the motto imprinted in the Mysteries as an admonition pointing to what should be carried on by the souls was: “Look around thee.”
Now there approached the next development of the year, and with it, what man felt within himself to be connected of itself with this year. The season of winter approached. We come to midwinter (see diagram), which includes our Christmas time. Just as the human being in midsummer felt himself lifted out above himself to the divine-spiritual existence of the cosmos, so he felt himself in midwinter to be unfolding downward below himself. He felt as if the forces of the Earth were washing around him and carrying him along. He felt as though his will nature, his instincts and impulses, were infiltrated and permeated by gravity, by the force of destruction and other forces that are in the Earth. In these ancient times people did not feel winter as we feel it, that it merely gets cold and we have to put on warm boots, for example, in order not to get chilled. Rather, a man of that ancient time felt what was coming up out of the Earth as something that united itself with his own being. In contrast to the sultry, light-filled element, he felt what came up then in winter as a frosty element. We feel the chilliness today, too, because it is connected with the corporeality; but ancient man felt within his soul as a phenomenon accompanying the cold: darkness and gloom. He felt somewhat as if all around him, wherever he went, darkness rose up out of the Earth and enveloped him in a kind of cloud — only up to the middle of his body, to be sure, but this is the way he felt.
And he said to himself — again I have to describe it in more modern words — man said to himself: “During the height of summer I stand face to face with Enlightenment; then the heavenly, the super-terrestrial, streams down into the earthly world. But now the earthly is streaming upward.” — Man already perceived and experienced something of the earthly during the autumnal equinox. But what he perceived and felt then of earthly nature was in conformity in a certain sense with his own nature; it was still connected with him. We might say: “At the time of the autumn equinox man felt in his Gemuet, in his realm of feeling, all that had to do with Nature. But now, in winter, he felt as though the Earth were laying claim to him, as if he were ensnared in his will nature by the forces of the Earth. He felt this to be the denial of the moral world order. He felt that together with the blackness that enveloped him like a cloud, forces opposed to the moral world order were ensnaring him. He felt the darkness rise up out of the Earth like a serpent and wind him about. But at the same time he was also aware of something quite different.”
Already during autumn he had felt something stirring within him that we today call intellect. Whereas in summer the intellect evaporates and there enters from outside a wisdom-filled moral element, during autumn the intellect is consolidated. The human being approaches evil but his intellect consolidates. Man felt an actual serpent-like manifestation in midwinter, but at the same time the solidification, the strengthening of shrewdness, of the reflective element, of all that made him sly and cunning and incited him to follow the principle of utility in life. All this he was aware of in this way. And just as in autumn the knowledge of nature gradually emerged, so in midwinter the Temptation of Hell approached the human being, the Temptation on the part of Evil. Thus he was aware of this. So when we write here: “Moral impulse, Knowledge of Nature” (see diagram), here (at midwinter) we must write “Temptation through Evil.”
This was just the time in which man had to develop what in any case was within him by way of Nature: everything associated with the intellect, slyness, cunning, all that was directed toward the utilitarian. This, man was to overcome through Temperance (Besonnenheit).* This was the season then in which man had to develop — not an open sense for wisdom, which in accordance with the ancient Mystery wisdom had been required of him during the time of Enlightenment, but something else. Just in that season in which evil revealed itself as we have indicated, man could experience in a fitting way resistance to evil: he was to become self-controlled (besonnen — see preceding footnote). Above all else at the season of change which he passed through in moving on from Enlightenment to Cognition, from Knowledge of Spirit to Knowledge of Nature, he was to progress from Nature knowledge to the contemplation of Evil (see diagram, arrow on left). This is the way it was understood.

* The third of the cardinal or “Platonic” virtues, called in Greek Sophrosyne, in English, Temperance or moderation, in German is Besonnenheit. According to Steiner, Besonnenheit is “enfilling one's impulses with the degree of consciousness possible.” “A man who rules his impulses through reflective thinking, feeling, and perceiving is a man who is ‘besonnen.’” (From Das Raetsel des Menschen, 6th August, 1916). See also Spiritual Foundation of Morality by Steiner.

And in giving instructions to the pupils of the Mysteries which could become mottoes, the teachers said to them — just as at midsummer they had said: “Receive the Light,” and in autumn “Look around you” — now in midwinter it was said: “Beware of Evil.” And it was expected that through “Temperance,” through this guarding of oneself against evil, men would come to a kind of self-knowledge which would lead them to realize how they had deviated from the moral impulses in the course of the year.
Deviation from the moral impulses through the contemplation of evil, its overcoming through moderation — this was to come to man's consciousness just in the time following midwinter. Hence in this ancient wisdom all sorts of things were undertaken that induced men to atone for what they recognized as deviations from the moral impulses they had received through Enlightenment. With this, we approach spring, the spring equinox (see diagram).
And just as here (see diagram: midsummer, autumn, midwinter) we have Enlightenment, Cognition, Temperance, so for the spring equinox we have what was perceived as the activity of repentance. And in place of Cognition, and correspondingly, Temptation through Evil, there now entered something which we could call the Return — the reversion — to man's higher nature through Repentance. Where we have written here (see diagram: midsummer, autumn, winter): Enlightenment, Cognition, Temperance, here we must write: Return to Human Nature.
If you look back once more to what was in the depths of winter the Temptation by Evil, you will have to say: At that time man felt as though he were lowered into the abysmal deeps of the Earth; he felt himself entrapped by Earth's darkness. Just as during the height of summer man was in a sense torn out of himself, his soul-nature being then lifted up above him, so now, in order not to be ensnared by Evil during the winter, his soul-being made itself inwardly free.
Through this there existed, during the depths of winter, I might say a counter-image to what was present during the height of summer. At midsummer the phenomena of Nature spoke in a spiritual way. People sought especially in the thunder and the lightning for what the heavens had to say. They looked at the phenomena of Nature, but what they sought in these phenomena was a spiritual language. Even in small things, they sought at St. John's-tide the spiritual message of the elemental beings, but they looked for it outside themselves. They dreamed in a certain sense outside the human being. During the depths of winter, however, people sank into themselves and dreamed within their own being. To the extent that they tore themselves loose from the entanglement of the Earth, that is, whenever they could free their soul-element, they dreamed within their own being. Of this there has remained what is connected with the visions, with the inner beholding, of the Thirteen Nights following the winter solstice. Everywhere recollections have remained of these ancient times. You can look on the Norwegian Song of Olaf [Åsteson]* as a later development of what existed quite extensively in ancient times.

* Because of Rudolf Steiner's lectures referring to “The Dream Song of Olaf Åsteson” (December 26, 1911 and January 7, 1913), this unique poem of initiation experience has been translated into English.

Then the springtime drew near. In our time the situation has shifted somewhat; in those days spring was closer to winter, and the whole year was viewed as being divided into three periods. Things were compressed. Nevertheless what I am sharing with you here was taught in its turn. Thus, just as at midsummer they said: “Receive the light;” and in autumn, at Michaelmas: “Look around you”; just as at midwinter, at the time that we celebrate Christmas, they said: “Beware of the Evil,” so for the time of return they had a saying which was then thought to have effect only at this time: “Know thyself” — placing it in exact polarity to the Knowledge of Nature.
“Beware of the Evil” could also be expressed: “Beware, draw back from Earth's darkness.” But this they did not say. Whereas during midsummer men accepted the external natural phenomenon of light as Wisdom, that is, at midsummer they spoke in a certain way in accordance with Nature, they would never have put the motto for winter into the sentence: “Beware of the darkness” — for they expressed rather the moral interpretation: “Beware of Evil.”
Echoes of these festivals have persisted everywhere, so far as they have been understood. Naturally everything was changed when the great Event of Golgotha entered in.
It was in the season of the deepest human temptation, in winter, that the birth of Jesus occurred. The birth of Jesus took place in the very time when man was in the grip of the Earth powers, when he had plunged down, as it were, into the abysses of the Earth. Among the legends associated with the birth of Jesus, you will even find one which says that Jesus came into the world in a cave, thus hinting at something that was perceived as wisdom in the most ancient Mysteries, namely, that there the human being can find what he has to seek in spite of being held fast by the dark element of the Earth, which at the same time holds the reason for his falling prey to Evil.
It is in accord with all of this, too, that the time of Repentance is ascribed to the season when spring is approaching.
The understanding for the midsummer festival has quite naturally disappeared to a still greater extent than that for the other side of the year's course. For the more materialism overtook mankind, the less people felt themselves drawn to anything such as Enlightenment.
And what is of quite special importance to present-day humanity is precisely that time which leads on from Enlightenment, of which man still remains unconscious, toward the season of autumn. Here lies the point where man, who indeed has to enter into knowledge of nature, should grasp in the nature-knowledge a picture, a reflection, of a knowledge of divine spirits. For this there is no better festival of remembrance than Michaelmas.
If this is celebrated in the right way, it must follow that mankind everywhere will take hold of the question: How is spirit knowledge to be found in the glorified nature-knowledge of the present? How can man transform nature-knowledge so that out of what the human being possesses as the fruits of this nature-knowledge, spirit knowledge will arise? In other words, how is that to be overcome which, if it were to run its course on its own, would entrap man in the subhuman?
A turnaround must take place. The Michael festival must take on a particular meaning. This meaning emerges when one can perceive the following: Natural science has led man to recognize one side of world evolution — for example, that out of lower animal organisms higher, more perfect, ones have evolved in the course of time, right up to man; or, to take another example, that during the development of the embryo in the mother's body the human being passes through the animal forms one after the other. That, however, is only one side. The other side is what comes before our souls when we say to ourselves: “Man had to evolve out of his original divine-human beginning.” If this (see drawing) indicates the original human condition (lighter shading), then man had to evolve out of it to his present state of unfoldment. First, he had gradually to push out of himself the lower animals, then, stage by stage what exists as higher animal forms. He overcame all this, separated it out, thrust it aside (darker shading). In this way he has come to what was originally predestined for him.

Diagram II

It is the same in his embryonic development. The human being rejects, each in its turn, everything that he is not to be. We do not, however, derive the real import of present-day nature-knowledge from this fact. What then is the import of modern nature-knowledge? It lies in the sentence: You behold in what nature-knowledge shows you that which you need to exclude from knowledge of man.
What does this imply? It implies that man must study natural science. Why? When he looks into a microscope he knows what is not spirit. When he looks through a telescope into the far spaces of the universe, there is revealed to him what spirit is not. When he makes some sort of experiment in the physics or chemistry laboratory, what is not spirit is revealed to him. Everything that is not spirit is manifest to him in its pure form.
In ancient times when men beheld what is today nature, they still saw the spirit shining through it. Today we have to study nature in order to be able to say: “All that is not spirit.” It is all winter wisdom. What pertains to summer wisdom must take a different form. In order that man may be spurred toward the spirit, may get an impulse toward the spirit, he must learn to know the unspiritual, the anti-spiritual. And man must be sensible of things that no one as yet admits today. For example, everyone says today: “If I have some sort of tiny living creature too small to be seen with the naked eye and I put it under a microscope, it will be enlarged for me so that I can see it.” — Then, however, one must conceive: “This size is illusory. I have increased the size of the creature, and I no longer have it. I have a phantom. What I am seeing is not a reality. I have put a lie in place of the truth!” — This is of course madness from the present-day point of view, but it is precisely the truth.
If we will only realize that natural science is needed in order from this counter-image of the truth to receive the impulse toward the truth, then the force will be developed which can be symbolically indicated in the overcoming of the Dragon by Michael.
But something else is connected with this which already stands in the annals in what I might call a spiritual way. It stands there in such a form, however, that when man no longer had any true feeling for what lives in the year's changing seasons, he related the whole thing instead to the human being. What leads to “Enlightenment” was replaced by the concept of “Wisdom” [called “Prudence” in English practice]; then what leads to “Knowledge” was replaced by the concept of “Courage” [“Fortitude”]; “Temperance” stayed the same; and what corresponded to “Repentance” was replaced by the concept “Justice.”
Here you have the four Platonic concepts of virtue: Wisdom [Prudence], Fortitude, Temperance, Justice. What man had formerly received from the life of the year in its course was now taken into man himself. It will come into consideration just in connection with the Michaelmas festival, however, that there will have to be a festival in honor of human courage, of the human manifestation of the courage of Michael. For what is it that holds man back today from spirit-knowledge? — Lack of soul courage, not to say soul cowardice. Man wants to receive everything passively, wants to set himself down in front of the world as if it were a movie, and wants to let the microscope and the telescope tell him everything. He does not want to temper the instrument of his own spirit, of his own soul, by activity. He does not care to be a follower of Michael. This requires inner courage. This inner courage must have its festival in Michaelmas. Then from the Festival of Courage, from the festival of the inwardly courageous human soul, there will ray out what will give the other festivals of the year also the right content.
We must in fact continue the path further; we must take into human nature what was formerly outside. Man is no longer in such a position that he could develop the knowledge of Nature only in autumn. It is already so that in man today things lie one within the other, for only in this way can he unfold his freedom. Yet it nevertheless holds true that the celebrating of festivals, I might say in a transformed sense, is again becoming necessary.
If the festivals were formerly festivals of giving by the divine to the earthly, if man at the festivals formerly received the gifts of the heavenly powers directly, so today, when man has his capacities within himself, the metamorphosis of the festival-thought consists in the festivals now being festivals of remembrance or admonition.* In them man inscribes into his soul what he is to consummate within himself.

* Feste der Erinnerungen (a plural form). Erinnerung has two shades of meaning. One is “recollection” or “remembrance”; the other “admonition” or “reminder.” Both elements seem to apply in this passage.

And thus again it will be best to have as the most strongly working festival of admonition and remembrance this festival with which autumn begins, the Michaelmas festival, for at the same time all Nature is speaking in meaningful cosmic language. The trees are becoming bare; the leaves are withering. The creatures, which all summer long have fluttered through the air, as butterflies, or have filled the air with their hum, as beetles, begin to withdraw; many animals fall into their winter sleep. Everything becomes paralyzed. Nature, which through her own activity has helped man during spring and summer — Nature, which has worked in man during spring and summer, herself withdraws. Man is referred back to himself. What must now awaken when Nature forsakes him is courage of soul. Once more we are shown how what we can conceive as a Michael festival must be a festival of soul-courage, of soul-strength, of soul-activity.
This is what will gradually give to the festival thought the character of remembrance or admonition, qualities already suggested in a monumental saying by which it was indicated that for all future time what previously had been festivals of gifts will become, or should become, festivals of remembrance. These monumental words, which must be the basis of all festival thoughts, also for those which will arise again — this monumental saying is: “This do in remembrance of Me.” That is the festival thought which is turned toward the memory-aspect.
Just as the other thought that lies in the Christ-Impulse must work on livingly, must reform itself and not be allowed simply to remain as a dead product toward which we look back, so must this thought also work on further, kindling perceptive feeling and thought, and we must understand that the festivals must continue in spite of the fact that man is changing, but that because of this the festivals also must go through metamorphoses.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Saint Francis and Buddha (and Saint Paul); the spiritual foundation of morality; the Platonic Virtues. Bonus lecture for Wednesday's meeting of the Rudolf Steiner Study Circle

The Spiritual Foundation of Morality. Lecture 2 of 3.
Rudolf Steiner, May 29, 1912:
I remarked yesterday that what we have to say on the subject of anthroposophical moral principles and impulses will be based upon facts, and for this reason we brought forward a few facts in which moral impulses are pre-eminently exhibited.
It is, indeed, most striking and illuminating that in the case of a personality such as Francis of Assisi mighty moral impulses must have been active in order that he could perform his deeds. What sort of deeds were they? They were such that what they reveal is moral in the very highest sense of the word. Francis of Assisi was surrounded by people afflicted with very serious diseases for which the rest of the world at that time knew no cure. Moral impulses were so powerful in him that many lepers through him were given spiritual aid and great comfort. It is true that many could gain no more — but there were many others who by their faith and trust attained a stage when the moral impulses and forces which poured forth from Francis of Assisi had even a healing, health-giving effect.
In order to penetrate still more deeply into the question whence do moral impulses come, we must inquire in the case of such an exceptional personality as Francis of Assisi as to how he could develop them, and what had really happened in his case. We shall have to look more deeply if we want to understand what was active in the soul of this outstanding human being.
Let us go back to the ancient civilization of India. In that civilization there were certain divisions of the people; they were divided into four castes, the highest of them being the Brahmins, who cultivated wisdom. The separation of the castes in ancient India was so strict that, for example, the sacred books might only be read by the Brahmins and not by members of the other castes. The members of the second caste, the Warrior caste, were only allowed to hear the teachings contained in the Vedas or in the epitome of the Vedas — the Vedanta. The Brahmins alone were allowed to explain any passage from the Vedas or have an opinion as to their meaning and it was strictly forbidden for all other people to have any opinion on the treasure of wisdom which was contained in the sacred books. The second caste consisted of those who had to cultivate the profession of war and the administration of the country. Then there was a third caste which had to foster trades, and a fourth, a laboring caste. And last of all, an utterly despised part of the population, the Pariahs, who were looked down upon so much that a Brahmin felt he was contaminated if he so much as stepped upon the shadow thrown by such a one. He even had to perform certain rites of purification if he had touched the shadow of such an outcast as a Pariah was considered to be. Thus we see how the whole nation was divided into four recognized castes and one that was absolutely unrecognized. Though these regulations may now be considered severe they were most strictly observed in ancient India. Even at the time of the Graeco-Latin civilization in Europe, no one belonging to the Warrior caste in India would have ventured to have his own independent opinion about what was in the sacred books, the Vedas. Now, how could such divisions as these have arisen among mankind? It is certainly remarkable that we should find these castes exactly in the most outstanding people of human antiquity and in the very people who had wandered over to Asia from Atlantis at a comparatively early date and also precisely those among whom were preserved the greatest wisdom and treasures of knowledge from the old Atlantean epoch. This seems very remarkable, and how can we understand it? It almost seems as if it contradicted all the wisdom and goodness in the order of the universe, in the guidance of the world, that one caste, one group of people, should be separated off, who alone were to preserve what was looked upon as the highest possessions and that the others should be destined from the very beginning, by the mere fact of their birth, to occupy subordinate positions.
This can only be understood by an examination into the secrets of existence. Development is only possible through differentiation, through organization; and if all men had wished to arrive at the degree of wisdom reached in the Brahmin caste not a single one would have been able to achieve it. If all human beings do not attain to the highest wisdom, one may not say that it is a contradiction of the divine regulation of the world, for this would have no more sense than if someone were to demand of the infinitely wise and infinitely mighty Deity that He should make a triangle with four angles. No god could make a triangle other than with three angles. That which is ordered and determined inwardly in spirit must also be observed by the divine regulation of the world, and just as the laws concerning the limits of space are strict — for example, that a triangle can only have three angles — so also it is a strict law that development must come about through differentiation, that certain groups of people must be separated in order that a particular quality of human nature can be developed. To this end the others must be excluded for a time. This is not only a law for development of mankind, it is a law for the whole of evolution.
Consider the human form. You will at once admit that the most valuable parts in the human form are the bones of the head. But by what means could these particular bones become bones of the head and envelop the higher organ, the brain? As far as the rudiments are concerned, each bone that man possesses could become skull bone, but in order that a few of the bones of the whole skeleton could reach this height of development and become bones of the forehead or of the back part of the head, the hip bones or the joints had to stop at a lower stage of development — for the hip bones or the joints have within them the possibility of becoming skull bones, just as much as those which actually have done so. It is the same everywhere throughout the world. Progress is only possible in evolution through one remaining behind and another pushing forward, even beyond a certain point of development. In India the Brahmins passed beyond a certain average of development, but on the other hand the lower castes remained behind it.
When the Atlantean catastrophe took place, great bodies of people gradually wandered from Atlantis, that ancient continent which lay where the Atlantic Ocean is today, toward the East, and peopled the continents now known as Europe, Asia, and Africa. We shall not at present consider the few who went westward, whose descendants were found in America by its discoverers. When the Atlantean catastrophe took place, the body of people which then migrated toward the East did not consist merely of the four castes which settled down in India and there gradually differentiated themselves, but there were seven castes, and the four which appeared in India were the four higher castes. Besides the fifth, which was completely despised and which in India formed, as it were, an intermediate body of the population, besides these Pariahs there were other castes which did not accompany them as far as India, but remained behind in various parts of Europe, Asia Minor, and especially Africa. Only the more highly developed castes reached India, and those who remained in Europe had entirely different qualities.
Indeed, one can only understand what took place later in Europe when one knows that the more advanced sections of humanity in those days reached Asia, and that in Europe, forming the main body of the population left behind, were those who furnished the possibility for very special incarnations. If we wish to understand the special incarnations of souls in the most ancient European times in the general mass of the population, we must take into account a remarkable event which took place in the Atlantean epoch. At a certain stage in Atlantean development great secrets of existence were betrayed; these were great truths concerning life, which are of infinitely greater importance than all those to which post-Atlantean humanity has since attained. It was essential that this knowledge should have been limited to small circles, but owing to the violation of the Mysteries, great bodies of the Atlantean population became possessed of occult knowledge for which they were not yet ripe. In consequence of this, their souls were at that time driven, as one might say, into a condition which was a moral descent, so that there remained on the path of goodness and virtue only those who later went over to Asia.
You must not, however, imagine that the whole population of Europe consisted only of people in whose souls were individuals who through being misled in the Atlantean epoch had suffered a moral downfall. Here and there in this European population were others who during the great emigration to Asia had remained behind to act as leaders. Thus all over Europe, Asia Minor, and Africa there were people who simply belonged to castes or races providing the requisite conditions for misguided souls to live in their bodies and there were also other better and more highly developed souls who remained behind to guide those who did not go on to Asia.
The best places for these souls who had to assume the leadership at that time — in the age in which the Indian and Persian civilizations developed — were the more northerly parts of Europe, the regions where the oldest Mysteries of Europe have flourished. Now they had a kind of protective arrangement as regards what had previously taken place in old Atlantis. In Atlantis temptation came to the souls described through wisdom, Mysteries, and occult truths being given them for which they were not ready. Therefore in the European Mysteries the treasures of wisdom had to be guarded and protected all the more. For this reason the true leaders in Europe in post-Atlantean times withdrew themselves entirely, and they preserved what they had received as a strict secret.
We may say that in Europe also there were persons who might be compared with the Brahmins of Asia, but these European Brahmins were not outwardly known as such by anyone. In the strictest sense of the word they kept the sacred secrets absolutely secluded in the Mysteries, that there might be no repetition of what had once taken place in the Atlantean epoch among the souls whom they were now leading onwards. Only through wisdom being protected and most carefully guarded did it come about that these souls were able to uplift themselves; for differentiation does not take place in such a way that a certain portion of humanity is destined from the beginning to take a lower rank than another, but that which is made lower at a certain time is to develop higher again at another period. But the conditions must be formed for this end to be attainable. Hence it came about that in Europe there were souls who had fallen into temptation and had become immoral, but they were now guided according to wisdom which proceeded from deeply hidden sources.
Now, the other castes who had gone to India had also left members behind in Europe. The members of the second Indian caste — the Warrior caste — were those who then chiefly attained to power in Europe. Where the wise teachers — that is, those who corresponded to the Indian Brahmins — entirely withdrew, and gave their counsels from hidden sanctuaries, the Warriors came out among the people, in order to improve and uplift them according to the counsels of those ancient European priests. It was this second caste that wielded the greatest power in Europe in primeval times, but in their way of life they were guided by the wise teachers who remained hidden. Thus it came about that the leading personalities in Europe were those who shone by virtue of the qualities of which we spoke yesterday — valor and bravery. Whereas in India wisdom was held in the highest esteem and the Brahmins were revered because they explained the sacred writing, in Europe bravery and valor were the most valued, and the people only knew of the divine Mysteries through those who were filled with valor and bravery. The civilization of Europe continued under these influences for thousands of years, and gradually souls were improved and uplifted. In Europe, where souls existed who were the successors of the people who had undergone temptation, no real appreciation of the caste system of India could develop. The souls were mingled and interwoven. A division, a differentiation into castes such as existed in India did not arise. The division was rather between those who guided in an upper class, who acted as leaders in various directions, and the class that was led. The latter consisted principally of souls who had to struggle upward.
When we look for the souls which gradually struggled upward out of this lower class, and which from being tempted developed higher, we find them chiefly in a part of the European population of which modern history tells but little. Century after century this people developed in order to rise to a higher stage, to recover again, as it were, from the heavy setback the souls had received in the Atlantean epoch. In Asia there was a continuation in the progress of civilization; in Europe, on the other hand, there was a change from the former moral collapse into a gradual moral improvement.
The people in Europe remained in this condition for a long time, and improvement only came about through the existence of a strong impulse in these souls to imitate that which they saw before them. Those who lived and worked among the people as the braver among them were looked up to as ideals and patterns, as leaders or chiefs; they were those who were called Fürsten (princes) and were imitated by the people at large. Thus the morality of the whole of Europe was raised through those souls mingling as leaders among the people.
Thereby something else became necessary in European development. If we wish to understand this, we must distinguish between the development of a single soul and that of a whole race. The two must not be confused. A human soul can develop in such a way that in one incarnation it embodies itself in a particular race. If in this race it gains certain qualities, it may re-embody itself in a later incarnation in an entirely different one; so that we may find incarnated in Europe at the present day souls which in a previous incarnation were embodied in India, Japan, or China. The souls do not by any means remain in the same race, for soul development is quite different from race development, which goes its peaceful way forward.
In ancient times souls who were unable to go over into the Asiatic races were transposed into European ones, and were obliged to incarnate again and again in them. But as they became better and better, this led to their gradually passing on into the higher races; and souls which were previously embodied in quite subordinate races developed to a higher stage, and were able later to reincarnate in the bodily successors of the leading population of Europe. These bodily successors of the leading population multiplied, and as these souls increased in number in this direction, they became more numerous than they originally were. After having progressed and improved, they incarnated in the leading population of Europe, and the development then took place in such a way that, on the whole, as a physical race, the bodily forms in which the most ancient European population had originally incarnated died out; the souls forsook the bodies which were formed in a certain way, and which then died out. The offspring of the lower races decreased in number while the higher increased, until gradually the lowest classes of the European population completely died out. This is a definite process, which we must grasp. The souls develop further, the bodies die out. For this reason we must be careful to distinguish between soul development and race development. The souls reappear in the bodies belonging to higher races; the lower race bodies die out. A process such as this does not take place without effect. When over large areas something disappears, as it were, it does not disappear into nothing, but it dissolves and then exists in a different form. When in ancient times the worst part of the population of which I have just now spoken died out, the whole region became gradually inhabited by demons, representing the products of dissolution, the products of the putrefaction of that which had died out.
Thus the whole of Europe and Asia Minor were filled with the spiritualized products of putrefaction from the worst part of the population which had died out. These demons of putrefaction endured for a long time, and later they acted upon mankind. It came about that these demons of putrefaction which were incorporated in the spiritual atmosphere, as it were, gained influence upon human beings and affected them in such a way that their feelings were permeated by them. The effect may be seen from the following example: —When at a later date, at the time of the Migration of the Peoples, great bodies of people came over from Asia to Europe, among them came Attila with his hordes. His invasion was the cause of great terror to many of those who lived in Europe, and through this state of terror people laid themselves open to the demoniacal influences still persisting. Gradually through these demoniacal beings there developed — as a consequence of the terror produced by the hordes coming over from Asia — that which appeared as leprosy, the epidemic disease of the Middle Ages. This disease was nothing else than the consequence of the state of terror and fear experienced by the people at that time. But the terror and fear could only lead to this result in the souls which had been exposed to the demoniacal forces of former times.
I have now described to you why it was possible for people to be laid hold of by a disease — which was later practically exterminated in Europe — and why it was so widespread at the time we mentioned in our last lecture. In Europe the peoples which had to die out because they had not developed upwards became extinct, but the after-effect was seen in the form of diseases which attacked mankind. The disease we have mentioned, leprosy, is thus seen to be the result of spiritual and psychic causes.
This whole condition was now to be counteracted. Further development could only come about if that which has just been described was entirely removed from Europe. An example of how it was taken away was described in the last lecture, where we showed that while, on the one hand, the after-effects of what was unmoral existed as demons of disease, on the other hand, strong moral impulses appeared, as in Francis of Assisi. Through his possession of strong moral impulses he gathered others around him who acted also in the same way as he, although in a lesser degree. Really there were very many who at that time worked as he did, but this activity did not last very long.
Now how had such a soul-power come into Francis of Assisi? As we are not gathered together to study external science but to understand human morality from its spiritual and occult foundations, we must examine a few occult or spiritual truths. Let us inquire: Whence really came such a soul as that of Francis of Assisi? We can only understand such a soul as this if we investigate it a little, if we take the trouble to find what was hidden in its depths.
I must remind you that the old division into castes in India really received its first blow, its first shock, through Buddhism, for among many other things which Buddhism introduced into Asiatic life was the idea that it did not recognize the division into castes as something justifiable; that as far as it was possible in Asia it recognized the power of each human being to attain to the highest possible to man. We know too that this was only possible through the pre-eminently great and mighty individuality of Buddha. We also know that Buddha became a Buddha in the incarnation of which we are usually told, and that in the earlier part of his life he was a Bodhisattva, which represents the stage next below Buddhahood. Through the fact that this son of King Suddodana, in the twenty-ninth year of his life, experienced and felt deeply in himself the great truth of life and sorrow, he had attained the greatness to announce in Asia the teaching known as Buddhism.
Connected with this development of the Bodhisattva up to Buddha, there was something else of which we must not lose sight, namely, the fact that the individuality which had passed through many incarnations as a Bodhisattva and then risen to the rank of Buddha, when it became Buddha had to dwell for the last time in a physical body on Earth. Thus he who is raised from Bodhisattva to Buddha enters into an incarnation which for him is the last. From this time onwards, such an individuality only works down from spiritual heights; he still works, but only spiritually. Thus we now have the fact that the individuality of Buddha has only worked down from spiritual heights since the fifth century before Christ.
But Buddhism continued. It was able to influence in a certain way not only Asiatic life, but the spiritual life of the whole of the then known world. You know how Buddhism spread in Asia. You know how great is the number of its followers there. But in a more hidden and veiled form it also spread into the mental life of Europe; and we have particularly to point out that the portion of the great teaching of Buddha relating to the equality of man was especially acceptable to the population of Europe, because this population was not arranged on the plan of caste divisions but rather upon the idea of the equality of all human beings. On the shores of the Black Sea there existed an occult school which lasted far into the Christian era. This school was guided by certain human beings who set themselves as their highest ideal that part of the teaching of Buddha which we have just described, and through their having taken into themselves the Christian impulse along with it, were able in the early centuries of Christianity to throw new light upon what Buddha had given to humanity. If I were to describe to you this occult school on the Black Seas as the occultist or spiritual investigator sees it — and you will understand me best if I do this — I must do it in the following manner:
People who, to begin with, had external teachers in the physical world came together there. They were instructed in the doctrines and principles which had proceeded from Buddhism, but these were permeated by the impulses which came into the world through Christianity. Then, after the pupils had been sufficiently prepared, they were brought to where the deeper forces lying within them, the deeper forces of wisdom, could be brought forth, so that they were led to clairvoyant vision of the spiritual world and were able to see into the spiritual worlds. The first thing attained by the pupils of this occult school was, for example, the recognition of those who no longer descended to the physical plane. But this they could only do after they had been accustomed to it by the teachers incarnated in the physical body. In this way they came to know Buddha. Thus, these occult pupils learned to know Buddha face to face, if one may so speak of his spiritual being. In this way he continued to work spiritually in the occult pupils, and thus his power worked down to the physical plane, although he himself no longer descended to physical embodiment in the physical world.
Now, the pupils in this occult school were grouped according to their maturity into two unequal divisions, and only the more advanced were chosen for the smaller division. Most of these pupils were able to become so clairvoyant that they came in touch with a being who strove with all his might to bring his impulses through to the physical world, and although he himself did not descend into this world they learned all the secrets of Buddha and all that he wished to have accomplished. Most of these pupils remained as such, clairvoyants, but there were some who, in addition to the qualities of knowledge and of psychic clairvoyance, had developed the spiritual element to a remarkable degree, which cannot be separated from a certain humility, a certain highly evolved capacity for devotion. These, then, attained to where they could receive the Christ impulse in an advanced degree precisely in this occult school. They could also become clairvoyant in such a way that they became the specially chosen followers of Saint Paul and received the Christ impulse directly in life.
Thus from this school proceeded two groups, as it were: one group which possessed the impulse to carry the teaching of Buddha everywhere, although his name was not mentioned in connection with it, and a second group which, in addition, received the Christ impulse. Now, the difference between these two kinds did not appear very strongly in that particular incarnation, it only appeared in the next. The pupils who had not received the Christ impulse but who had only gained the Buddha impulse, became the teachers of the equality and brotherhood of man; on the other hand the pupils who had also received the Christ impulse, in the next incarnation were such that this Christ impulse worked up further so that not only could they teach (and they did not consider this their chief task) but they worked more especially through their moral power.
One such pupil of the occult school on the Black Sea was born in his next incarnation as Francis of Assisi. No wonder, then, that in him there was the wisdom which he had received, the knowledge of the brotherhood of mankind, of the equality of all men, of the necessity to love all men equally — no wonder that this teaching pulsated through his soul, and also that his soul was permeated and strengthened by the Christ impulse.
Now, how did this Christ impulse work further in his next incarnation? It acted in such a way that when in his next incarnation Francis of Assisi was transposed into a community in which the old demons of diseases were especially active — this Christ-impulse approached the evil substance of the disease-demons through him, and absorbed it into itself, thus removing it from mankind. Before this, however, the Christ impulse incorporated itself in this substance in such a way that it first became visible to Francis of Assisi in the vision in which he saw the palace when he was called upon to take upon himself the burden of poverty. The Christ impulse had here revived in him and streamed forth from him, and laid hold of these disease-demons. His moral forces thereby became so strong that they could take away the harmful spiritual substances which had produced the disease. It was through this alone that the power was produced to bring to a higher development what I have described to you as the after-effect of the old Atlantean element, to purify Europe from these substances and sweep them away from the Earth.
Consider the life of Francis of Assisi; notice what a remarkable course it took. He was born in the year 1182. We know that the first years of the life of a human being are devoted principally to the development of the physical body. In the physical body is developed chiefly that which comes to light through external heredity. Hence there appeared in him first of all that which originated through external heredity from the European population. These qualities gradually came out, as his etheric body developed from the seventh to the fourteenth year, like any other human being. In this etheric body appeared primarily that quality which as the Christ impulse had worked directly in him in the mysteries on the Black Sea. From his fourteenth year, at the dawn of his astral life, the Christ power became particularly active within him, in such a way that there entered into his astral body that which had been in connection with the atmosphere of the Earth since the Mystery of Golgotha. For Francis of Assisi was a personality who was permeated by the external power of Christ, owing to his having sought for the Christ power, in his previous incarnation, in that particular place of initiation where it was to be found.
Thus we see how differentiations act in humanity, for differentiation must come about. For that which by earlier events has been thrust down to a lower condition is raised up once more through special events in the course of human development. On another occasion a particularly important uplifting took place in the evolution of humanity, one which exoterically will always be incomprehensible; for this reason people have really ceased to reflect upon, it, but esoterically it can be fully explained. There were some who had developed very quickly from the strata of the Western population, who had gradually wrestled their way up from the lowest rungs of the ladder, but who had not risen very high in intellectual development, but had remained comparatively humble and simple men, chosen ones as it were, who could only be uplifted at a certain time by a mighty impulse which reflected itself in them; these were those who are described as the twelve Apostles of Jesus. They were the cast-off extract of the lower castes which did not reach India. From them had to be taken the substance for the disciples of Christ Jesus.*
[We are not here referring to previous or succeeding incarnations of the individualities of the Apostles, but solely to the physical ancestry of the bodies in which the personalities of the Apostles were incarnated. The succession of incarnations and the physical line of heredity must always be distinguished.]
Thus we have discovered the source of the moral power in that chosen personality, Francis of Assisi. Do not say that taking ordinary human rules into consideration it would be too much to expect a person to realize the ideals manifested in Francis of Assisi. Certainly what I have said was not with the intention of recommending anyone to become a Francis of Assisi. One only wished to point out by means of a striking example how moral power enters man, whence it can spring and how it must be understood as something quite special, something that was originally present in man. But from the whole spirit of what I have said up to now you may gather one thing with regard to other forces in human evolution, namely, that humanity has first gone through a descent and has now undertaken an ascent again.
If we go back in human evolution we pass through the post-Atlantean epoch to the Atlantean catastrophe, then into the Atlantean epoch, and then further back to the Lemurian epoch. When we then arrive at the starting point of earthly humanity we come to a time when man, not only as regards his spiritual qualities, was much closer to the Deity, when he first developed not only out of the spiritual life, but also out of morality. So that at the beginning of earthly evolution we do not find unmorality but morality. Morality is a divine gift which was given to man in the beginning; it was part of the original content in human nature, just as spiritual power was in human nature before man's deepest descent. Fundamentally, a great part of what is unmoral came into humanity in the manner we have described, namely, by the betrayal of the higher Mysteries in the ancient Atlantean epoch.
Thus morality is something about which we cannot say that it has only developed gradually in humanity: it is something which lies at the bottom of the human soul, something which has only been submerged by the later civilizations. When we look at the matter in the right light we cannot even say that unmorality came into the world through folly; it came into the world through the secrets of wisdom being disclosed to persons who were not sufficiently mature to receive them. It was through this that people were tempted; they succumbed, and then degenerated. Therefore in order that they might rise it was above all necessary that something should occur which would sweep away from the human soul all that is contrary to moral impulses. Let us put this in a somewhat different form.
Let us suppose we have before us a criminal, a man whom we call especially unmoral: on no account must we think that this unmoral man is devoid of moral impulses. They are in him and we shall find them if we delve down to the bottom of his soul. There is no human soul — with the exception of black magicians, with whom we are not now concerned — in which there is not the foundation of what is morally good. If a person is wicked it is because that which has originated in the course of time as spiritual error overlies moral goodness. Human nature is not bad; originally it was really good. The concrete observation of human nature shows us that in its deepest being it is good, and that it was through spiritual errors that man deviated from the moral path. Therefore moral errors must in course of time once more be made good in man. Not only must the mistakes be made good but their results as well, for where evil has such mighty after-effects that demons of disease have been produced, super-moral forces such as were in Francis of Assisi must be also active.
The foundation for the improvement of a human being always consists in taking away his spiritual error. And what is necessary to this end? Gather together what I have told you into a fundamental feeling; let the facts speak to you, let them speak to your feelings and perceptions, and try to gather them together into one fundamental feeling, and then you will say: What is the attitude which a man needs to hold regarding his fellow man? It is that he needs the belief in the original goodness of humanity as a whole, and of each single human being in particular. That is the first thing we must say if we wish to speak at all in words concerning morality: that something immeasurably good lies at the bottom of human nature. That is what Francis of Assisi realized; and when he was approached by some of those stricken with the horrible disease we have described, as a good Christian of that day he said somewhat as follows: “A disease such as this is in a certain way the consequence of sin; but as sin is in the first instance spiritual error and disease the result, it must therefore be removed by a mighty opposing power.” Hence Francis of Assisi saw by the sinner how, in a certain way, the punishment of sin manifests itself externally; but he also saw the good in human nature, he saw what lies at the bottom of each human being as divine spiritual forces. That which distinguished Francis of Assisi most was his sublime faith in the goodness lying in each human being, even in one who was being punished.
This made it possible for the contrary power to appear in his soul, and this is the power of love which gives and helps morally, and indeed even heals. And no one, if he really develops the belief in the original goodness of human nature into an active impulse, can arrive at anything else than to love human nature as such.
It is primarily these two fundamental impulses which are able to found a truly moral life. First, the belief in the divine at the bottom of every human soul, and secondly, the boundless love of man which springs from this belief. For it was only this measureless love which could bring Francis of Assisi to the sick, the crippled, and those stricken with leprosy. A third thing which may be added, and is necessarily built upon these two foundations, is that a person who has a firm belief in the goodness of the human soul, and who loves human nature, cannot do otherwise than admit that what we see proceeding from the cooperation of the originally good foundation of the human soul with practical love, justifies a perspective for the future which may be expressed in the fact that every single soul, even though it may have descended far from the height of spiritual life, can be led back again to this spiritual life. This third impulse implies the hope for each human soul that it can find the way back again to the Divine-Spiritual.
We may say that Francis of Assisi heard these three things expressed very very often; they were continually in his mind during his initiation in the Mysteries of Colchis, on the Black Sea. And we may also say that in the life he had to lead as Francis of Assisi he preached very little about faith or love, but was himself their embodiment. Faith did not work, hope did not work; one must indeed have them, but only love is effective. It stands in the center, and it is that which, in that single incarnation of Francis of Assisi, really carried the actual development of humanity forward in the moral sense toward the divine.
How did this love — which we know was the result of his initiation in the Colchis Mysteries — develop in St. Francis? We have seen that in him appeared the knightly virtues of the ancient European spirit. He was a valiant boy. Valor, bravery, was transformed in his individuality, which was permeated by the Christ impulse, into active practical love. We see the old valor, the old bravery, resurrected once more in the love manifested in Francis of Assisi. The ancient valor transposed into the spiritual, bravery transposed into the spiritual, is love.
It is interesting to see how very much of what has just been said corresponds also to the external historical course of human evolution. Let us go back a few centuries into the pre-Christian era. Among the people who have given the principal name to the fourth post-Atlantean age, the Greeks, we find the philosopher Plato. Among other things, Plato wrote about morals, about the virtues of man. By the way in which he wrote, we can recognize that he was reticent concerning the highest things, the actual secrets, but what he felt able to say he put into the mouth of Socrates. Now, in a period of European culture in which the Christ impulse had not yet worked, Plato described the highest virtues he recognized, namely, the virtues which the Greeks looked upon as those which a moral man ought to have above all things. He described first of all three virtues, and a fourth with which we shall later become acquainted. The first was “Wisdom.” Wisdom, as such, Plato looked upon as virtue. This is justified, for in the most varied directions we have found that wisdom lies at the foundation of moral life. In India the wisdom of the Brahmins lay at the foundation of human life. In Europe this was indeed withdrawn into the background, but it existed in the Norse Mysteries, where the European Brahmins had to make good again that which had been spoiled through the betrayal in the old Atlantean epoch. Wisdom stands behind all morality, as we shall see in our next lecture. Plato also described, in the manner corresponding to the Mysteries, as the second virtue: “Valor” — that which we meet with in the population of Europe. As the third virtue he described Temperance or “Moderation” — that is, the opposite of the passionate cultivation of the lower human impulses. These are the three chief Platonic virtues: Wisdom, Valor or Bravery, and Moderation or Temperance, the curbing of the sensual impulses active in man. Finally, the harmonious balancing of these three virtues Plato describes as a fourth virtue, which he calls “Justice.”
Here is described, by one of the most eminent European minds of pre-Christian times, what were looked upon at that time as the most important qualities in human nature. Valor, bravery, is in the European population permeated by the Christ impulse and by what we call “ I ” or the ego. Bravery, which in Plato appears as virtue, is here spiritualized and thereby becomes love. The most important thing is that we should see how moral impulses come into the human race, how that which formerly existed in the form we have described becomes something entirely different. Now, without disparagement to Christian morality we cannot describe as the only virtues wisdom, temperance, valor, and justice, for we might receive the reply: “If you had all these and yet you had not love you would never enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Let us bear in mind the time when, as we have seen, there was poured out into humanity an impulse, a current, of such a nature that wisdom and bravery were spiritualized and reappeared as love. But we shall go still further into the question as to how wisdom, moderation or temperance, and justice have been developed, and thereby will appear what is the particular moral mission of the Anthroposophical Movement in the present day.