Saturday, May 31, 2014

Spiritual Invincibility: What Michael Expects Of Us

The Altar of Humanity
The Solar Plexus : The Manipura Chakra : The Stronghold of Manu

Rudolf Steiner, from a lecture given September 28, 1923:

"This ability to rise to the point at which thoughts about spirit can grip us as powerfully as can anything in the physical world, this is Michael power. It is confidence in the ideas of spirit — given the capacity for receiving them at all — leading to the conviction: I have received a spiritual impulse, I give myself up to it, I become the instrument for its execution. First failure — never mind! Second failure — never mind! A hundred failures are of no consequence, for no failure is ever a decisive factor in judging the truth of a spiritual impulse whose effect has been inwardly understood and grasped. We have full confidence in a spiritual impulse, grasped at a certain point of time, only when we can say to ourself: My hundred failures can at most prove that the conditions for realizing the impulse are not given me in this incarnation; but that this impulse is right I can know from its own nature. And if I must wait a hundred incarnations for the power to realize this impulse, nothing but its own nature can convince me of the efficacy or impotence of any spiritual impulse. 

If you will imagine this thought developed in the human heart and soul as great confidence in spirit, if you will consider that man can cling firm as a rock to something he has seen to be spiritually victorious, something he refuses to relinquish in spite of all outer opposition, then you will have a conception of what the Michael power, the Michael being, really demands of us; for only then will you comprehend the nature of the great confidence in spirit. We may leave in abeyance some spiritual impulse or other, even for a whole incarnation; but once we have grasped it we must never waver in cherishing it within us, for only thus can we save it up for subsequent incarnations. And when confidence in spirit will in this way have established a frame of mind to which this spiritual substance appears as real as the ground under our feet — the ground without which we could not stand — then we shall have in our heart and soul a feeling of what Michael really expects of us."

"Why Should Not Old Men Be Mad?" by Yeats

Leonardo da Vinci, self-portrait

Why should not old men be mad?
Some have known a likely lad
That had a sound fly-fisher's wrist
Turn to a drunken journalist;
A girl that knew all Dante once
Live to bear children to a dunce;
A Helen of social welfare dream,
Climb on a wagonette to scream.
Some think it a matter of course that chance
Should starve good men and bad advance,
That if their neighbours figured plain,
As though upon a lighted screen,
No single story would they find
Of an unbroken happy mind,
A finish worthy of the start.
Young men know nothing of this sort,
Observant old men know it well;
And when they know what old books tell
And that no better can be had,
Know why an old man should be mad.

More Powerful Than Destiny

"If there is something more powerful than destiny, this must be the human being who bears his destiny unshaken." - Rudolf Steiner

"A Noiseless Patient Spider" by Walt Whitman

A noiseless patient spider, 
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood, isolated, 
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding, 
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself, 
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them. 

And you O my Soul where you stand, 
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space, 
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them, 
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold, 
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my Soul.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Earthly Freedom: The Pearl of Great Price

Rudolf Steiner:  "If we look back into pre-Christian times, and especially into those times which possess to a striking degree the characteristic qualities of pre-Christian life, we can feel how different was the whole outlook of men in those days. Not that a complete change took place in a single moment; nevertheless the Event of Golgotha did bring about an absolute separation of one phase in the evolution of mankind from another. The Event of Golgotha came at the end of a period of evolution during which men beheld, together with the world of the senses, also the spiritual. Incredible as it may appear to modern man it is a fact that in pre-Christian times men saw, together with the sense-perceptible, a spiritual reality. They did not see merely trees or merely plants, but together with the trees and together with the plants they saw something spiritual. But as the time of the Event of Golgotha drew near, the civilization that bore within it this power of vision was coming to an end. Something completely new was now to enter into the evolution of mankind. As long as man beholds the spiritual in the physical things all around him, he cannot have a consciousness which allows the impulse of freedom to quicken within it. The birth of the impulse of freedom is necessarily accompanied by a loss of this vision; man has to find himself deserted by the divine and spiritual when he looks out upon the external world. The impulse of freedom inevitably implies that, if man would again have vision of the spiritual, he must exert himself inwardly and draw it forth from the depths of his own soul."

The Road of Excess Leads to the Palace of Wisdom; or, Wisdom Is Crystallized Pain; or, Wisdom: The Pearl of Great Price

The Futility and Utility of Philosophy

"Imagine you have before you a reflective wall; it reflects back what is spread about the room--for example, a table. However, what you see is not the table, but rather the reflection of the table. Imagine you wanted to go into the reflection, take the table out, and put something in its place. You would not be able to do that, because you cannot put a plate or soup bowl on the reflected table. It is just as impossible to put a plate or a soup bowl on the reflected table as it is to derive the essence of the soul's immortality from what human beings experience on the phgysical plane and have around themselves in a waking state between birth and death. For the real soul is immortal. It is not its reflection, which we experience on the physical plane. Think about that.
Human beings yearn to know what is constantly hidden from them and which, while they are on the physical plane, shows them only a reflection. The philosophies of all ages have striven to draw reality out from the reflections; they have sought to prove immortality from reflections. They have taken on the duty, symbolically speaking, of fetching the table out of the reflection, putting it in the room, and placing plates and bowls upon it.
...Why should we take philosophy into consideration at all, since it concerns itself only with a futile effort of humanity?
But that is not how things are, not how things are at all! What we do when we immerse ourselves in what, from a certain point of view, is otherwise a futile struggle, is nonetheless something infinitely important, something that can be replaced with nothing else. Philosophy will perhaps always remain unfruitful as far as knowledge of the immortal nature of the soul, the spiritual world, and of the divine is concerned, but it will not remain unfruitful for the unfolding of certain human powers and the further development of certain human abilities. Just because philosophy as such proves unsuitable to reach the things I have mentioned--because it remains to a certain extent dull in relation to them--it strengthens the human soul all the more. And if it cannot deliver knowledge, it still--because it is a concentrated life of thought--prepares the soul to make itself suitable to penetrate the spiritual world. What we gain through the practice of philosophy raises us into the spiritual world more than anything else."

"...Just as an infant sucks nourishment from its mother's breast, so the human soul can suck the stuff of life for a new form of Earth experience--by knowing oneself within the spiritual order--from what spiritual science can open up for us."

--Rudolf Steiner, from a lecture given December 19, 1914 [from the lecture series "How to Achieve Existence in the World of Ideas," in Inner Reading and Inner Hearing, pp. 121-122, 131]

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Saint Paul and the Christ Impulse

Rudolf Steiner, April 2, 1920:

Ever since the early days of Christianity it has been the custom to draw a distinction between the festivals of Christmas and of Easter in that the Christmas festival has been made immovable, having been fixed at a point of time a few days after the 21st of December, the winter solstice, whereas the day of the Easter festival is determined by a particular constellation of the stars, a constellation of the stars which unites earth and man with the worlds beyond the earth. Tomorrow will be the first full moon of spring and upon this full moon will fall the rays of the springtime sun, for since the 21st of March the sun has been in the sign of spring. When, therefore, men on earth celebrate a Sunday — a day, that is, which should remind them of their connection with the sun-forces — when the Sunday comes that is the first after the full moon of spring, then is the time to keep the Easter festival. Easter is thus a movable festival. In order to determine the time of the Easter festival, note must be taken each year of the constellations in the heavens. 

Principles such as these were laid down at a time when traditions of wisdom were still current among mankind, traditions that originated from ancient atavistic clairvoyant faculties and gave man a knowledge far surpassing the knowledge that present-day science can offer. And such traditions were a means for bringing to expression man's connection with the worlds beyond the earth. They always point to something of supreme importance for the evolution mankind. 

The rigid point of time fixed for the Christmas festival indicates how closely that festival is bound up with the earthly, for its purpose is to remind us of the birth of the Man into whom the Christ Being afterwards entered. The Easter festival, on the other hand, is intended to remind us of an event whose significance lies not merely within the course of earth-evolution but within the whole world-order into which man has been placed. Therefore the time of the Easter festival must not be determined by ordinary earthly conditions; it is a time that can be ascertained only when man turns his thoughts to the worlds beyond the earth. 

And there is deeper meaning still in this plan of a movable time for the Easter festival. It indicates how through the Christ Impulse man is to be set free from the forces of earth-evolution pure and simple. For through knowledge of that which is beyond the earth, man is to become free of the evolution of the earth, and this truth is indicated in the manner of dating the Easter festival. It contains a call to man to lift himself up to the worlds beyond the earth; it contains a promise to man that in the course of world-history it shall be possible for him, through the working of the Christ Impulse, to become free of earthly conditions. 

To understand all that is implied in this manner of dating the Easter festival, it will be helpful to turn our minds to early secrets of the beginnings of Christianity, to some of those early mysteries which during a certain period of earthly evolution have become more and more veiled and hidden from the materialistic view of the world which arose at the beginning of the Fifth Post-Atlantean epoch and must now be vanquished and superseded. In order to see the whole matter in a true light it will be necessary first of all to consider the part played by the figure of St. Paul in the evolution of the Christ Impulse within the whole history of mankind. 

We should indeed remind ourselves again and again what a great event in the evolution of Christianity was the appearance of the figure of St. Paul. Paul had had abundant opportunity to inform himself, by external observation, of the events in Palestine that were associated with the personality of Jesus. All that came to his notice in this way in the physical world left Paul unconvinced; when these events in Palestine had come to an end in the physical sense, Paul was still an antagonist of Christianity. He became the Apostle of the Christians only after the event at Damascus, after he had experienced the very Being of the Christ in an extra-earthly, supersensible manner. Thus Paul was a man who could not be persuaded of the meaning of the Christ Impulse by evidence of the physical senses, but who could be convinced only by a supersensible experience. And the supersensible experience that came to him cut deeply into his life — so deeply indeed, that from that moment he became another man. Nay, more: he became an Initiate. 

Paul was well prepared for such an experience. He was thoroughly acquainted with the secrets of the religion of the Jews; he was familiar with their knowledge and their conception of the world. He was thus well equipped to judge of the nature of the event that befell him at Damascus and to have a right view and understanding of it. The writings of Paul, as we know them, convey only a weak reflection of all that he experienced inwardly. But even so, when he speaks of the event of Damascus we can discern that he speaks as one who through this event attained knowledge of cosmic happenings lying behind the veil of the world of sense. From the very manner in which he speaks it is plain that he is fully able to understand the difference between the supersensible world and the world of sense. 

When, even externally, we compare the life of Paul with the earthly experience of Christ Jesus, we discover a strange and astounding fact which becomes intelligible to us only when with the help of spiritual science we are able to survey the whole evolution of mankind in a particular aspect. I have often drawn attention to the great difference in the development of the human soul in the several epochs. I have shown you how man has changed in the course of evolution through the Indian, Persian, Egypto-Chaldean, Greco-Latin epochs, on to our own time. When we look back into the ancient past we find that man remained capable of organic physical development until an advanced age. The parallelism between the development of the soul and the development of the body continued until an advanced age of life; it is a parallelism that we can recognize now only in the three stages marked by the change of teeth, puberty, and the beginning of the twenties. As far as outward appearance goes, mankind has lost the experience of such transitions in later life. In very ancient Indian times, however, men experienced a parallelism between the development of soul and of body up to the fiftieth year of life, in Persian and Egyptian times up to the fortieth year, and in Greco-Latin times up to the thirty-fifth year. In ordinary consciousness, we experience a like parallelism only up to the twenty-seventh year and it is not easy to detect even for so long as that. Now the Christ Impulse entered into the evolution of mankind at a time when men — especially those of the Greek and Latin races — experienced this parallelism as late as into the thirtieth year. And Christ Jesus lived His days of physical earthly life for just so long as the duration of the span of life which ran in a parallelism between the physical organization and the organization of soul and spirit. Then, in relation to earthly life, He passed through the gate of death.What this passage through the gate of death means can be understood only from the point of view of spiritual science; it can be understood only when we are able to look into supersensible worlds. For the passage through the gate of death is not an event that can be grasped by any thinking concerned entirely with the world of sense. 

As physical man, Paul was of about the same age as Christ Jesus Himself. The time that Christ Jesus spent in His work on earth, Paul spent as an anti-Christian. And the second half of his life was determined entirely by what came to him from supersensible experiences. In this second half of his life he had supersensible experience of what men at that time could no longer receive in the second half of life through sense-experience, because the parallelism between soul-and-spirit development and physical development was not experienced beyond the thirty-fifth year of life. And the Event of Golgotha came before Paul in such a way that he received, by direct illumination, the understanding once possessed by men in an atavistic way through primeval wisdom, and which they can now again acquire through spiritual science. This understanding came to Paul in order that he might be the one to arouse in men a realization of what had happened for mankind through the working of the Christ Impulse. 

For about the same length of time that Christ had walked the earth did Paul continue to live upon earth — that is, until about his sixty-seventh or sixty-eighth year. This time was spent in carrying the teaching of Christianity into earth-evolution. The parallelism between the life of Christ Jesus and the life of Paul is a remarkable one. The life of Christ Jesus was completely filled with the presence and Being of the Christ. Paul had such a strong after-experience (acquired through Initiation) of this event that he was able to be the one to bring to mankind true and fitting ideas about Christianity — and to do so for a period of time corresponding very nearly to that of the life of Christ Jesus on earth. There is a great deal to be learned from a study of the connection between the life lived by Christ Jesus for the sake of the earthly evolution of mankind and the teaching given by Paul concerning the Christ Being. To see this connection aright would mean a very great deal for us; only it is necessary to realize that the connection is a direct result of the supersensible experience undergone by Paul. 

When modern theology goes so far as to explain the event at Damascus as a kind of illusion, as a kind of hallucination, then it is only a proof that in our day even theology has succumbed to materialism. Even theology has no longer any knowledge of the nature of the supersensible world, and entirely fails to recognize man's need to understand the supersensible world before he can have any true comprehension of Christianity.

It is good that we should confess today, in all sincerity, how difficult it is to find our way into the ideas presented in the Gospels and in the Epistles of Paul — ideas that are so totally different from those to which we are accustomed. For the most part we have ceased to concern ourselves at all with such ideas. But it is a fact that a man who is completely given up to the habits and ways of thought of the present day is far from being able to form the right ideas when he reads the words of Paul. Many present-day theologians put a materialistic interpretation upon the event of Damascus, even trying to disprove and deny the actual Resurrection of Christ Jesus — while professing at the time to be true Christians. Such persons themselves bear testimony that they have no intention of applying knowledge of the supersensible to the essence of Christianity or to the event of the appearance of Christ Jesus in earthly evolution. The very fact that the figure of Paul stands at the summit of Christian tradition — the figure, that is, of one who acquired an understanding of Christianity through supersensible experience — is like a challenge to man to possess himself of supersensible knowledge. It is like a declaration that Christianity cannot possibly be comprehended without having recourse to knowledge that has its source in the supersensible. It is essential that we should see in Paul a man who had been initiated into supersensible, cosmic happenings; it is essential to see in this light what he labored so hard to bring to mankind. 

Let us try in the language of the present day to place before our minds one of the things that seemed to Paul, as an Initiate, to be of peculiar significance. 

Paul regarded it of supreme importance to make clear to men how through the Christ Impulse an entirely new way of relating themselves to cosmic evolution had come to them. He felt it essential to declare that that period of the evolution of the world which carried within it the experiences of the heathen of older times had run its course; it was finished for man. New experiences were now here for the human soul; they needed only to be perceived. 

When Paul spoke in this way, he was pointing to the mighty Event which made such a deep incision into the evolution of man on earth; and indeed if we would understand history as it truly is, we must come back again and again to this Event. If we look back into pre-Christian times, and especially into those times which possess to a striking degree the characteristic qualities of pre-Christian life, we can feel how different was the whole outlook of men in those days. Not that a complete change took place in a single moment; nevertheless the Event of Golgotha did bring about an absolute separation of one phase in the evolution of mankind from another. The Event of Golgotha came at the end of a period of evolution during which men beheld, together with the world of the senses, also the spiritual. Incredible as it may appear to modern man it is a fact that in pre-Christian times men saw, together with the sense-perceptible, a spiritual reality. They did not see merely trees or merely plants, but together with the trees and together with the plants they saw something spiritual. But as the time of the Event of Golgotha drew near, the civilization that bore within it this power of vision was coming to an end. Something completely new was now to enter into the evolution of mankind. As long as man beholds the spiritual in the physical things all around him, he cannot have a consciousness which allows the impulse of freedom to quicken within it. The birth of the impulse of freedom is necessarily accompanied by a loss of this vision; man has to find himself deserted by the divine and spiritual when he looks out upon the external world. The impulse of freedom inevitably implies that, if man would again have vision of the spiritual, he must exert himself inwardly and draw it forth from the depths of his own soul. 

This is what Paul wanted to reveal to men. He told them how in ancient times, when men were only the race of Adam, they had no need to draw forth an active experience from the depths of their own being before they could behold the divine and spiritual. The divine and spiritual came to them in elemental form, with everything that lived in the air and on earth. But mankind had gradually to lose this living communion with the divine and spiritual in all the phenomena of the world of sense. A time had to come when man must perforce lift himself up to the divine and spiritual by an active strengthening of his own inner life. He had to learn to understand the words: “My kingdom is not of this world.” He was not to be allowed to go on receiving a divine and spiritual reality that came forth to meet him from all sense-phenomena. He had to find the way to a divine and spiritual kingdom that could be reached only by inward struggle and inward development. 

People interpret Paul today in such a trivial manner! Again and again they show an inclination to translate what he said into the language of this materialistic age. So trivial is their interpretation of him that one is liable to be dubbed fantastic when one puts forward such a view as the following concerning the content of his message. And yet it is absolutely true. 

Paul saw what a great crisis it was for the world that the ancient vision, which was at one and the same time a sense-vision and a spiritual vision, was fading away and disappearing, and that another vision of the spiritual was now to dawn for man in a new kingdom of light, a vision which he must acquire for himself by his own inner initiative and which is not immediately present for him in the vision of the senses. Paul knew from his own supersensible experience in Initiation that ever since the Resurrection Christ Jesus has been united with earth-evolution. But he also knew that, although Christ Jesus is present, He can be found by man only through the awakening of an inner power of vision, not through any mere beholding with the senses. Should any man think he can reach the Christ with the mere vision of the senses, Paul knew that he must be giving himself up to delusions, he must be mistaking some demon for the Christ. 

This was what Paul was continually emphasizing to those of his hearers who were able to understand it: that the old spiritual vision brings no approach to Christ, that with this old vision one can only mistake some elemental being for the Christ. Therefore Paul exerted all his power to bring men out of the habit of looking to the spirits of air and of earth. In earlier times men had been familiar with elemental spirits, and necessarily so, for in those times they still possessed atavistic faculties with which to behold them. But now these faculties could not rightly be possessed by man. On the other hand, Paul never wearied of exhorting men to develop within themselves a force whereby they might learn to understand what it was that had taken place, namely, an entirely new impulse, an entirely new Being had entered earth-evolution. “Christ will come again to you,” he said, “if you will only find the way out of your purely physical vision of the earth. Christ will come again to you, for He is there. Through the working of the Event of Golgotha, He is there. But you must find Him; He must come again for you.” 

This is what Paul proclaimed, and in a language which at the time had quite another spiritual ring than has the mere echo left us in our translation. It sounded quite different then. Paul sought continually to awaken in man the conviction that if he would understand Christ, he must develop a new kind of vision; the vision that suffices for the world of sense is not enough. Today, mankind has only come so far as to speak of the contrast between an external, sense-derived science and faith. Modern theology is ready to admit of the former that it is complicated, that it is real and objective, that it requires to be learned; of faith it will allow no such thing. It is repeatedly emphasized that faith ought to make appeal to what is utterly childlike in man, to that in man which does not need to be learned. 

Such is the attitude of mind which rejects the event of Damascus as unreal, preferring to regard it as a kind of hallucination that befell Paul. If, however, the event of Damascus was a mere hallucination — or I might just as well say, if the event of Damascus was what a great number of modern theologians would have it to be — then we ought also to have the courage to say: Away with Christianity! For Christianity has brought with it a belief that is absurd and senseless. 

This would be the necessary outcome of the teaching of modern theology, if only people took it — first of all, seriously, and secondly, with courage. As a matter of fact they do neither. They shrink from having nothing but a merely external, sense-given science, and yet at the same time they deny the real, inner impulse of the event of Damascus, while still professing to hold fast to Christianity! It is precisely in such things that the soul-and-spirit sickness of our age comes to clearest expression; for a deep inner lack of truth is here laid bare. Truth would be obliged to confess: Either the event of Damascus was a reality, an event that can be placed in the realm of reality, then Christianity has meaning; or it was what it is asserted to be by modern theology, which wants always to associate itself with modern science; then Christianity has no meaning. It is important that people should face such conclusions, for there is no doubt we live in an age of severe testing. Through man's becoming inwardly untrue in regard to the very matters that are most sacred for him — for he ought no longer to call what he has ‘Christianity’ — through this, a tendency to untruth, often unconscious but no less destructive on that account, has taken hold of mankind. That is the real reason for the existence of this tendency. That is why this tendency to untruth is so closely interwoven with the events that will inevitably lead to decadence in the whole cultural life of Europe, unless men bethink themselves in time and turn to spiritual knowledge. 

And if we would turn to spiritual knowledge, it is emphatically not enough in these days to rest content with looking at life in any superficial way; it is absolutely essential for us to take things in all their depth of meaning and to be ready to contemplate the necessity of mighty changes in our own time. 

Again and again we must ask: What is a festival such as that of Easter for the greater part of mankind? It may be said of a very many people that when they are in the circle of their friends who still want to gather together to keep the festival, all their thinking about Easter runs along the lines of old habits of thought; they use the old words, they go on uttering them more or less automatically, they make the same renunciation in the same formula to which they have long been accustomed. But have we any right today to utter this renunciation, when we can observe on every hand a distinct unwillingness to take part in the great change that is so necessary in our own time? Are we justified in using the words of Paul: “Not I, but Christ in me!” when we show so little inclination to examine into what it is that has brought such great unhappiness to mankind in the modern age? Should it not go together with the Easter festival that we set out to gain a clear idea of the destiny that has befallen mankind and of what it is that alone can lead us out of the catastrophe — namely, supersensible knowledge? If the Easter festival, whose whole significance depends upon supersensible knowledge — for knowledge of the senses can never explain the Resurrection of Christ Jesus — if this Easter festival is to be taken seriously, is it not essential that men should bethink themselves how a supersensible character can be brought again into the human faculty of knowledge? Should not this be the thought that rises up in men's minds today: All the lying and deception in modern culture is due to the fact that we ourselves are no longer in earnest about what we recognize as the sacred festivals of the year? 

We keep Easter, the festival of Resurrection, but in our materialistic outlook we have long ago ceased caring whether or not we have a real understanding of the Resurrection. We set ourselves at enmity with the truth and we try to find all manner of ingenious ways of accepting the cosmic jest — for indeed it would be, or rather it is a jest that man should keep the festival of the Resurrection and at the same time put his whole faith in modern science which obviously can never make appeal to such a Resurrection. Materialism and the keeping of Easter — these are two things that cannot possibly belong together; they cannot possibly exist side by side. And the materialism of modern theology — that too is incompatible with the Easter festival. In our own time a book entitled “The Essence of Christianity” has been written by an eminent theologian of Central Europe, and is accounted of outstanding importance. Yet throughout this work we find evidence of a desire not to take seriously the fact of the Resurrection of Christ Jesus. There you have a true symptom of the times! 

Men must learn to feel these things deeply in their hearts. We shall never find a way out of our present troubles unless we develop understanding of the enmity cherished by the modern materialistically minded man towards the truth, unless we learn to see through things like this, for they are of very great significance in life today. 

During the Fifth Post-Atlantean epoch a new tendency has been at work, a tendency towards a scientific knowledge that is adapted to the power of human reason and judgment; and now it is time that this should go further and develop into a knowledge of the supersensible world. For the Event of Golgotha is an event that falls absolutely within the supersensible world. And the event of Damascus, as Paul experienced it, is an event that can be understood only out of supersensible ideas. On the understanding of this event depends whether one can in very truth feel something of the Christ Impulse, or whether one cannot. The man of the present day is faced with a severe test when he asks himself: In the time that has been christened ‘Easter,’ how do I stand to supersensible knowledge? For Easter should remind man, by the very way its date is determined, to look up from the earthly to what is beyond the earth. The man of modern times has left himself no more outlook into what is beyond the earth than at most that which is given him in mathematics and mechanics, and now in spectro-analysis. These sciences are the groundwork upon which he tries to build up his knowledge concerning all that is beyond the earth. He no longer feels that he is himself united with those worlds, and that the Christ descended thence when He entered into the personality of Jesus. 

Let me beg you to give these thoughts, which are so pertinent to our present problems, your full and earnest attention. I have often pointed out what a fine spiritual nature such as Herman Grimm must needs think of the Kant-Laplace theory. It is true, the theory has undergone some modification in our day; nevertheless in all essentials it is still the prevailing theory of the universe. It is said that the solar system has come out of a primeval nebula, and in the course of mighty changes undergone by the nebula and its densifications, plants, animals, and also man have come into being. And carrying the theory further, a time will come when everything on the earth will have found its grave and when ideals and works of culture will no longer send their voice out into the universe, when the earth itself will fall like a bit of slag into the sun; and then, in a still later time, the sun will burn itself out and be scattered in the All, not merely burying, but annihilating everything that is now being made and done by man. 

Such a view of the ordering of the world must inevitably arise in a time when man wants to grasp that which is beyond the earth with mathematical and mechanical knowledge alone. In a world in which he merely calculates or investigates qualities of the sun with the spectroscope — in such a world we shall never find the realm whence Christ came down to unite Himself with the life of the earth! There are people today who, because they cannot get clarity into their thoughts, prefer not to let themselves be troubled with thought at all, and go on repeating the words they have learned from the Gospels and from the Epistles of St. Paul, simply repeating by rote what they have learned, never stopping to think whether it is compatible with the view of the evolution of the earth and man that they acquire elsewhere. But that is the deep inward untruth of our time: men slink away into some comfortable dark corner instead of bringing together in their thought the things that essentially belong together. They want to raise a mist before their eyes so that they may not need to ‘think together’ the things that belong together. They raise a mist before their eyes when they keep a festival like Easter and are at the same time very far indeed from forming any true idea of the Resurrection of which they speak; for a true idea of it can only be formed with spiritual and supersensible knowledge. 

The only possible way in these days for man to unite a right feeling with Easter is for him to direct his thought in this connection to the world-catastrophe of his own time. For in very deed a world-catastrophe is upon us. I do not mean merely the catastrophe that happened in the recent years of the war, but I refer to that world-catastrophe which consists in the fact that men have lost all idea of the connection of the earthly with that which is beyond the earth. The time has come when man must realize with full and clear consciousness that supersensible knowledge has now to arise out of the grave of the materialistic outlook. For together with supersensible knowledge will arise the knowledge of Christ Jesus. In point of fact, man has no other symbol that fits the Easter festival than this — that mankind has brought upon itself the doom of being crucified upon the cross of its own materialism. But man must do something himself before there arises from the grave of human materialism all that can come from supersensible knowledge. 

The very striving after supersensible knowledge is itself an Easter deed, it is something which gives man the right once more to keep Easter. Look up to the full moon and feel how the full moon is connected with man in its phenomena, and how the reflection of the sun is connected with the moon, and then meditate on the need today to go in search of a true self-knowledge which can show forth man as a reflection of the supersensible. If man knows himself to be a reflection of the supersensible, if he recognizes how he is formed and constituted out of the supersensible, then he will also find the way to come to the supersensible. At bottom, it is arrogance and pride that find expression in the materialistic view of the world. It is human pride, manifesting in a strange way! Man does not want to be a reflection of the divine and spiritual, he wants to be merely the highest of the animals. There he is the highest. But the point is, among what sort of beings is he the highest? This pride leads man to recognize nothing beyond himself. If the natural scientific outlook on the world were to be true to itself, it would have the mission of impressing this fact again and again upon man: You are the highest of all the beings of which you can form an idea. The ultimate consequences of the point of view that sets out to be strictly scientific are such as to make a man turn pale when they show him on what kind of moral groundwork they are based — all unconscious though he may be of it. The truth is, we are today living in a time when Christ Jesus is being crucified in a very special sense. He is being put to death in the field of knowledge. And until men come to see how the present way of knowledge, clinging as it does to the senses and to them alone, is nothing but a grave of knowledge out of which a resurrection must take place — until they see this, they will not be able to lift themselves up to experiences in thought and feeling that partake of a true Easter character. 

This is the thought that we should carry in our hearts and minds today. We still have with us the tradition of an Easter festival that is supposed to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring. The tradition we have, but the right to celebrate such a festival — that we have not, who live in present-day civilization. 

How can we acquire this right again? We must take the thought of Christ Jesus lying in the grave, of Christ Jesus Who at Easter time vanquishes the stone that has been rolled over His grave — we must take this thought and unite it with the other thought which I have indicated. For the soul of man should feel the purely external, mechanistic knowledge like a tombstone rolled upon him; and he must exert himself to overcome the pressure of this knowledge, he must find the possibility, not to make confession of his faith in the words: “Not I, but the fully developed animal in me,” but to have the right to say: “Not I, but Christ in me.” 

It is related of a learned English scientist [T. H. Huxley] that he said he would rather believe that he had by his own force worked his way up little by little from the ape stage to his present height as man than that he had descended from a once ‘divine’ height, as his opponent, who could not give credence to the ideas of natural science, appeared to have done. 

Such things only serve to show how urgent it is to find the way from the confession of faith: “Not I, but the fully developed animal in me,” to that other confession of faith: “Not I, but Christ in me.” We must strive to understand this word of Paul. Not until then will it be possible for the true Easter message to rise up from the depths of our hearts and souls and enter into our consciousness. 


Double Duty

Rudolf Steiner:  "May our way to the spiritual through anthroposophy be at one and the same time the way to Christ through the spirit."

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Goal of Yoga: Pentecost. Focus lecture for this evening's meeting of The Olive Branch, a Rudolf Steiner Study Circle

Ex Deo Nascimur        In Christo Morimur        Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, June 4, 1924:
When we consider how karma works we always have to bear in mind that the human ego, which is the essential being of man, the inmost being of man, has as it were three instruments through which it is able to live and express itself in the world. These are the physical body, the etheric body, and the astral body. Man really carries the physical, etheric, and astral bodies with him through the world, but he himself is not in any one of these bodies. In the truest sense he is the ego; and it is the ego which both suffers and creates karma.
Now the point is to gain an understanding of the relationship between man as the ego-being and these three instrumental forms — if I may call them so: the physical, etheric, and astral bodies. This will give us the foundation for an understanding of the essence of karma. We shall gain a fruitful point of view for the study of the physical, the etheric, and the astral in man in relation to karma if we consider the following.
The physical as we behold it in the mineral kingdom, the etheric as we find it working in the plant kingdom, and the astral as we find it working in the animal kingdom — all these are to be found in the environment of man here on Earth. In the cosmos surrounding the Earth we have that universe into which, if I may so describe it, the Earth extends on all sides. Man can feel a certain relationship between what takes place on the Earth and what takes place in the cosmic environment. But when we come to Spiritual Science we have to ask: Is this relationship really so commonplace as the present-day scientific conception of the world imagines? This modern scientific conception of the world examines the physical qualities of everything on the Earth, living and lifeless. It also investigates the stars, the Sun, the Moon, etc.; and it discovers — indeed it is particularly proud of the discovery — that these heavenly bodies are fundamentally of the same nature as the Earth.
Such a conception can only result from a form of knowledge which at no point comes to a real grasp of man himself — a knowledge which takes hold only of what is external to man. The moment, however, we really take hold of man as he stands within the Universe, we become able to discover the relationships between the several instrumental members of man's nature — the physical body, the etheric body, and the astral body — and the corresponding entities, the corresponding realities of being, in the Cosmos.
In regard to the etheric body of man, we find spread out in the Cosmos the universal Ether. The etheric body of man has a definite human shape, definite forms of movement within it, and so on. These, it is true, are different in the cosmic Ether. Nevertheless the cosmic Ether is fundamentally of like nature with what we find in the human etheric body. In the same way we can speak of a similarity between what is found in the human astral body and a certain astral principle that works through all things and all beings out in the far-spread Universe.
Here we come to something of extraordinary importance, something which in its true nature is quite foreign to the human being of today. Let us take our start from this. (A drawing is made on the blackboard). We have, first, the Earth; and on the Earth we have Man, with his etheric body. Then in the Earth's environment we have the cosmic Ether — the cosmic Ether which is of the same nature as the etheric in man. In man we also have the astral body. In the cosmic environment too there is Astrality. Where are we to find this cosmic Astrality? Where is it? It is indeed to be found, but we must first discover — what it is in the Cosmos that betrays the presence of cosmic Astrality; what it is that reveals it. Somewhere or other is the Astrality. Is this Astrality in the Cosmos quite invisible and imperceptible, or is it, after all, in some way perceptible to us?
In itself, of course, the Ether too is imperceptible for our physical senses. If I may put it so, when you are looking at a small fragment of Ether, you see nothing with your physical senses, you simply see through it. The Ether is like an empty nothingness to you. But when you regard the etheric environment as a totality, you behold the blue sky, of which we also say that it is not really there but that you are gazing into empty space. Now the reason why you see the blue of the sky is that you are actually perceiving the end of the Ether. Thus you behold the Ether as the blue of the heavens. The perception of the blue sky is really and truly a perception of the Ether. We may therefore say: In that we perceive the blue of the sky we are perceiving the universal Ether that surrounds us.
At first contact, we see through the Ether. It allows us to do so; and yet, it makes itself perceptible in the blue heavens. Hence the existence for human perception of the blue of the sky is expressed in that we say: The Ether itself, though imperceptible, yet rises to the level of perceptibility by reason of the great majesty with which it stands there in the Universe, revealing its presence, making itself known in the blue of the vast expanse.
Physical science theorizes materialistically about the blue of the sky; and for physical science it is indeed very difficult to reach any intelligent conclusion on this point, for the simple reason that it is bound to admit that where we see the blue of the sky there is nothing physical. Nevertheless men spin out the most elaborate theories to explain how the rays of light are reflected and refracted in a peculiar way so as to call forth this blue of the sky. In reality, it is here that the supersensible world begins already to hold sway. In the Cosmos the Supersensible does indeed become visible to us. We have only to discover where and how it becomes visible. The Ether becomes perceptible to us through the blue of the sky.
But now, somewhere there is also present the astral element of the Cosmos. In the blue sky the Ether peers through, as it were, into the realms of sense. Where then does the Astrality in the Cosmos peer through into the realms of perceptibility? The answer, my dear friends, is this.
Every star that we see glittering in the heavens is in reality a gate of entry for the Astral. Wherever the stars are twinkling and glittering in towards us, there glitters and shines the Astral. Look at the starry heavens in their manifold variety; in one part the stars are gathered into heaps and clusters, or in another they are scattered far apart. In all this wonderful configuration of radiant light, the invisible and super-sensible astral body of the Cosmos makes itself visible to us.
For this reason we must not consider the world of stars unspiritually. To look up to the world of stars and speak of worlds of burning gases is just as though — forgive the apparent absurdity of the comparison, but it is precisely true — it is just as though someone who loves you were gently stroking you, holding the fingers a little apart, and you were then to say that it feels like so many little ribbons being drawn across your cheek. It is no more untrue that little ribbons are laid across your cheek when someone strokes you, than that there exist up there in the heavens those material entities of which modern physics tells. It is the astral body of the Universe which is perpetually wielding its influences — like the gently stroking fingers — on the etheric organism of the Cosmos. The etheric Cosmos is organized for very long duration; it is for this reason that a star has its quality of fixity, representing a perpetual influence on the cosmic Ether by the astral Universe. It lasts far longer than the stroking of your cheek. But in the Cosmos things do last longer, for there we are dealing with gigantic measures. Thus in the starry heavens that we perceive, we actually behold an expression of the soul-life of the cosmic astral world.
In this way an immense, unfathomable life, yet, at the same time, a soul-life, a real and actual life of the soul, is brought into the Cosmos. Think how dead the Cosmos appears to us when we look into the far spaces and see nothing but burning gaseous bodies. Think how living it all becomes when we know that the stars are an expression of the love with which the astral Cosmos works upon the etheric Cosmos — for this is to express it with perfect truth. Think then of those mysterious processes when certain stars suddenly light up at certain times — processes which have only been explained to us by means of physical hypotheses that do not lead to any real understanding. Stars that were not there before, light up for a time, and disappear again. Thus in the Cosmos too there is a “stroking” of shorter duration. For it is true indeed that in epochs when divine beings desire to work in an especial way from the astral world into the etheric, we behold new stars light up and fade away again.
We ourselves in our own astral body have feelings of delight and comfort in the most varied ways. In like manner in the Cosmos, through the cosmic astral body, we have the varied configuration of the starry heavens. No wonder that an ancient science, instinctively clairvoyant, describes this third member of our human organism as the “astral” or “starry” body, seeing that it is of like nature with that which reveals itself to us in the stars.
It is only the Ego that we do not find revealed in the cosmic environment. Why is this? We shall find the reason if we consider how this human Ego manifests here on the Earth, in a world that is in reality threefold: physical, etheric, and astral. The Ego of man, as it appears within the Universe, is ever and again a repetition of former lives on Earth; and again and again it finds itself in the life between death and a new birth. But when we observe the Ego in its life between death and a new birth, we perceive that the Etheric which we have here in the cosmic environment of the Earth has no significance for the human Ego. The etheric body is laid aside soon after death. It is only the astral world, that shines in towards us through the stars, that has significance for the Ego in the life between death and a new birth. And in that world which glistens in towards us through the stars, in that world there live the beings of the higher hierarchies with whom man forms his karma between death and a new birth.
Indeed, when we follow this Ego in its successive evolutions through lives between birth and death and between death and a new birth, we cannot remain within the world of space at all. For two successive earthly lives cannot be within the same space. They cannot be within that Universe which is dependent on spatial co-existence. Here therefore we go right out of space and enter into time. This is actually so. We go out of space and come into the pure flow of time when we contemplate the Ego in its successive lives on Earth.
Now consider this, my dear friends. In space, time is still present, of course, but within this world of space we have no means of experiencing time in itself. We always have to experience time through space and spatial processes. For example, if you wish to experience time, you look at the clock, or, if you will, at the course of the Sun. What do you see? You see the various positions of the hands of the clock or of the Sun. You see something that is spatial. Through the fact that the positions of the hands or of the Sun are changed, through the fact that spatial things are present to you as changing, you gain some idea of time. But of time itself there is really nothing in this spatial perception. There are only varied spatial configurations, varied positions of the hands of the clock, varied positions of the Sun. You only experience time itself when you come into the sphere of the soul's experience. There you do really experience time, but there you also go out of space. There, time is a reality, but within the earthly world of space, time is no reality. What, then, must happen to us, if we would go out of the space in which we live between birth and death and enter into the spacelessness in which we live between death and a new birth? What must we do? The answer is this: We must die!
We must take these words in their exact and deep meaning. On Earth we experience time only through space — through points in space, through the positions of spatial things. On Earth we do not experience time in its reality at all. Once you grasp this, you will say: “Really to enter into time we must go out of space, we must put away all things spatial.” You can also express it in other words, for it is really nothing else than — to die. It means, in very deed and truth: to die.
Let us now turn our eyes to this cosmic world that encircles the Earth — this cosmic world to which we are akin both through our etheric body and also through our astral body — and let us look at the spiritual in this cosmic world. There have indeed been nations and human societies who have had regard only to the spiritual that is to be found within our earthly world of space. Such peoples were unable to have any thoughts about repeated lives on Earth. Thoughts about repeated lives on Earth were possessed only by those human beings and groups that were able to conceive time in its pure essence, time in its spaceless character. But if we consider this earthly world together with its cosmic environment, or, to put it briefly, all that we speak of as the Cosmos, the Universe; and if we behold the spiritual manifest in it, we are then apprehending something of which it can be said that it had to be present in order that we might enter into our existence as earthly human beings; it had to be there.
Unfathomable depths are really contained in this simple conception — that all that to which I have just referred had to exist in order that we as earthly human beings might enter this earthly life. Infinite depths are revealed when we really grasp the spiritual aspect of all that is thus put before us. If we conceive this Spiritual in its completeness as a self-contained whole, if we consider it in its own purity and essence, then we have a conception of what was called “God” by those peoples who limited their outlook to the world of space alone.
These peoples — at any rate in their wisdom-teachings — had come to feel: The Cosmos is woven through and through by a divine element that is at work in it, and we can distinguish from this divine element in the Cosmos that which is present, on the Earth in our immediate environment as the physical world. We can also distinguish that which, in this cosmic, divine-spiritual world reveals itself as the Etheric, namely that which gazes down upon us in the blue of the sky. We can distinguish as the Astral in this divine world that which gazes down upon us in the configuration of the starry heavens.
If we enter as fully as possible into the situation as we stand here, within the Universe, as human beings on this Earth, we shall say to ourselves: “We as human beings have a physical body: where, then, is the Physical in the Universe?” Here I am returning to something which I have already pointed out. The physical science of today expects to find everything which is on the Earth existing also in the Universe. But the physical organization itself is not to be found in the Universe at all. Man has in the first place his physical organization: then in addition he has the etheric and the astral. The Universe on the other hand begins with the Etheric. Out there in the Cosmos the Physical is nowhere to be found. The Physical exists only on the Earth, and it is but empty fancy and imagination to speak of anything physical in the far Universe. In the Universe there is the Etheric and the Astral.
There is also a third element within the Universe which we have yet to speak about in this present lecture, for the Cosmos too is threefold. But the threefoldness of the Cosmos, apart from the Earth, is different from the threefoldness of the Cosmos in which we include the Earth.
Let these feelings enter into our earthly consciousness: the perceiving of the Physical in our immediate earthly dwelling-place; the feeling of the Etheric, which is both on the Earth and in the Universe; the beholding of the Astral, glistening down to the Earth from the stars, and most intensely of all from the Sun-star. Then, when we consider all these things and place before our souls the majesty of this world-conception, we can well understand how in ancient times, when with the old instinctive clairvoyance men did not think so abstractly but were still able to feel the majesty of a great conception, they were led to realize: “A thought so majestic as this cannot be conceived perpetually in all its fullness. We must take hold of it at one special time, allowing it to work on the soul in its full, unfathomable glory. It will then work on in the inner depths of our human being, without being spoilt and corrupted by our surface consciousness.” — If we consider by what means the old instinctive clairvoyance gave expression to such a feeling, then out of all that combined to give truth to this thought in mankind in olden time there remains to us today the institution of the Christmas Festival.
On Christmas Night, man, as he stands here upon the Earth with his physical, his etheric, and his astral bodies, feels himself to be related to the threefold Cosmos, which appears to him in its Etheric nature, shining so majestically, and with the magic wonder of the night in the blue of the heavens; while face to face with him is the Astral of the Universe, in the stars that glitter in towards the Earth. As he realizes how the holiness of this cosmic environment is related to that which is on the Earth itself, he feels that he himself with his own Ego has been transplanted from the Cosmos into this world of Space. And now he may gaze upon the Christmas Mystery — the new-born Child, the Representative of Humanity on Earth, who, inasmuch as he is entering into childhood, is born into this world of Space. In the fullness and majesty of this Christmas thought, as he gazes on the Child that is born on Christmas Night, he exclaims: “Ex Deo Nascimur — I am born out of the Divine, the Divine that weaves and surges through the world of Space.”
When a man has felt this, when he has permeated himself through and through with it, then he may also recall what Anthroposophy has revealed to us about the meaning of the Earth. The Child on whom we are gazing is the outer sheath of That which is now born into Space. But whence is He born, that He might be brought to birth in the world of Space? According to what we have explained today, it can only be from Time. From out of Time the Child is born.
If we then follow out the life of this Child and His permeation by the Spirit of the Christ-Being, we come to realize that this Being, this Christ-Being, comes from the Sun. Then we shall look up to the Sun, and say to ourselves: “As I look up to the Sun, I must behold in the sunshine Time, which in the world of Space is hidden. Within the Sun is Time, and from out of the Time that weaves and works within the Sun, Christ came forth, came out into Space, on to the Earth.”
What have we then in Christ on Earth? In Christ on Earth we have That which coming from beyond Space, from outside of Space, unites with the Earth.
I want you to realize how our conception of the Universe changes, in comparison with the ordinary present-day conception when we really enter into all that has come before our souls this evening. There in the Universe we have the Sun, with all that there appears to us to be immediately connected with it — all that is contained in the blue of the heavens, in the world of the stars. At another point in the Universe we have the Earth with humanity. When we look up from the Earth to the Sun, we are at the same time looking into the flow of Time.
Now from this there follows something of great significance. Man only looks up to the Sun in the right way (even if it be but in his mind) when, as he gazes upwards, he forgets Space and considers Time alone. For in truth, the Sun does not only radiate light, it radiates Space itself, and when we are looking into the Sun we are looking out of Space into the world of Time. The Sun is the unique star that it is because when we gaze into the Sun we are looking out of Space. And from that world, outside of Space, Christ came to men. At the time when Christianity was founded by Christ on Earth, man had been all too long restricted to the mere Ex Deo Nascimur, he had become altogether bound up in it, he had become a Space-being pure and simple. The reason why it is so hard for us to understand the traditions of primeval epochs when we go back to them with the consciousness of present-day civilization is that they always had in mind Space, and not the world of Time. They regarded the world of Time only as an appendage of the world of Space.
Christ came to bring the element of Time again to men, and when the human heart, the human soul, the human spirit unite themselves with Christ, then man receives once more the stream of Time that flows from Eternity to Eternity. What else can we human beings do when we die, i.e. when we go out of the world of Space, than hold fast to Him who gives Time back to us again? At the Mystery of Golgotha man had become to so great an extent a being of Space that Time was lost to him. Christ brought Time back again to men.
If, then, in going forth from the world of Space, men would not die in their souls as well as in their bodies, they must die in Christ. We can still be human beings of Space, and say: Ex Deo Nascimur, and we can look to the Child who comes forth from Time into Space, that he may unite Christ with humanity. But since the Mystery of Golgotha we cannot conceive of death, the bound of our earthly life, without this thought: “We must die in Christ.” Otherwise we shall pay for our loss of Time with the loss of Christ Himself, and, banished from Him, remain held spellbound. We must fill ourselves with the Mystery of Golgotha. In addition to the Ex Deo Nascimur we must find the In Christo Morimur. We must bring forth the Easter thought in addition to the Christmas thought. Thus the Ex Deo Nascimur lets the Christmas thought appear before our souls, and in the In Christo Morimur the Easter thought.
We can now say: On the Earth man has his three bodies: the physical, the etheric, and the astral. The Etheric and Astral are also out there in the Cosmos, but the Physical is only to be found on the Earth. Out in the Cosmos there is no Physical. Thus we must say: On the Earth — physical, etheric, astral. In the Cosmos — no physical, but only the etheric and the astral.
Yet the Cosmos too is threefold, for what the Cosmos lacks at the lowest level, it adds above. In the Cosmos the Etheric is the lowest: on the Earth the Physical is the lowest. On Earth the Astral is the highest; in the Cosmos the highest is that of which man has today only the beginnings — that out of which his Spirit-Self will one day be woven. We may therefore say: In the Cosmos there is, as the third, the highest element, the Spirit-Selfhood [Manas].
Now we see the stars as expressions of something real. I compared their action to a gentle stroking. The Spirit-Selfhood that is behind them is indeed the Being that lovingly strokes — only in this case it is not a single Being but the whole world of the Hierarchies. I gaze upon a man and see his form; I look at his eyes and see them shining towards me; I hear his voice; it is the utterance of the human being. In the same way I gaze up into the far spaces of the world, I look upon the stars. They are the utterance of the Hierarchies — the living utterance of the Hierarchies, kindling astral feeling. I gaze into the blue depths of the firmament and perceive in it the outward revelation of the etheric body which is the lowest member of the whole world of the Hierarchies.
Now we may draw near to a still further realization. We look out into the far Cosmos which goes out beyond earthly reality, even as the Earth with its physical substance and forces goes down beneath cosmic reality. As in the Physical the Earth has a sub-cosmic element, so in Spirit-Selfhood the Cosmos has a super-earthly element.
Physical science speaks of a movement of the Sun; and it can do so, for within the spatial picture of the Cosmos which surrounds us we perceive by certain phenomena that the Sun is in movement. But that is only an image of the true Sun-movement — an image cast into Space. If we are speaking of the real Sun it is nonsense to say that the Sun moves in Space; for Space itself is being radiated out by the Sun. The Sun not only radiates light; the Sun creates Space itself. And the movement of the Sun is only a spatial movement within this created Space. Outside of Space it is a movement in Time, What seems apparent to us — namely, that the Sun is speeding on towards the constellation of Hercules — is only a spatial image of the Time-evolution of the Sun-Being.
To His intimate disciples Christ spoke these words: “Behold the life of the Earth; it is related to the life of the Cosmos. When you look out on the Earth and the surrounding Cosmos, it is the Father whose life permeates this Universe. The Father-God is the God of Space. But I make known to you that I have come to you from the Sun, from Time — Time that receives man only when he dies. I have brought you myself from out of Time. If you receive me, you receive Time, and you will not be held spellbound in Space. But you find the transition from the one trinity — Physical, Etheric, and Astral — to the other trinity, which leads from the Etheric and Astral to Spirit-Selfhood. Spirit-Selfhood is not to be found in the earthly world, just as the Earthly-Physical is not to be found in the Cosmos. But I bring you the message of it, for I am from the Sun.”
The Sun has indeed a threefold aspect. If one lives within the Sun and looks down from the Sun to the Earth, one beholds the Physical, Etheric, and Astral. One may also gaze on that which is within the Sun itself. Then one still sees the Physical so long as one remembers the Earth or gazes down towards the Earth. But if one looks away from the Earth one beholds on the other side the Spirit-Selfhood. Thus one swings backwards and forwards between the Physical and the nature of the Spirit-Self. Only the Etheric and Astral in between are permanent. As you look out into the great Universe, the Earthly vanishes away, and you have the Etheric, the Astral, and the Spirit-Selfhood. This is what you behold when you come into the Sun-Time between death and a new birth.
Let us now imagine first of all the inner mood of a man's soul to be such that he shuts himself up entirely within this Earth-existence. He can still feel the Divine, for out of the Divine he is born: Ex Deo Nascimur. Then let us imagine him no longer shutting himself up within the mere world of Space, but receiving the Christ who came from the world of Time into the world of Space, who brought Time itself into earthly Space. If a man does this, then in Death he will overcome Death. Ex Deo Nascimur. In Christo Morimur. But Christ Himself brings the message that when Space is overcome and one has learned to recognize the Sun as the creator of Space, when one feels oneself transplanted through Christ into the Sun, into the living Sun, then the earthly Physical vanishes and only the Etheric and the Astral are there. Now the Etheric comes to life, not as the blue of the sky, but as the lilac-red gleaming radiance of the Cosmos, and forth from the reddish light the stars no longer twinkle down upon us but gently touch us with their loving effluence.
If a man really enters into all this, he can have the experience of himself, standing here upon the Earth, the Physical put aside, but the Etheric still with him, streaming through and out of him in the lilac-reddish light. No longer now are the stars glimmering points of light; they are radiations of love like the caressing hand of a human being. As we feel all this — the divine within ourselves, the divine cosmic fire flaming forth from within us as the very being of man; ourselves within the Etheric world and experiencing the living expression of the Spirit in the Astral cosmic radiance — there bursts forth within us the inner awakening of the creative radiance of Spirit, which is man's high calling in the Universe.
When those to whom Christ revealed these things had let the revelation sink deep into their being, then the moment came when they experienced the working of this mighty concept, in the fiery tongues of Pentecost. At first they felt the falling away, the discarding of the earthly-Physical as death. But then the feeling came; This is not death, but in place of the Physical of the Earth, there now dawns upon us the Spirit-Selfhood of the Universe. “Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus.”
Thus may we regard the threefold nature of the one half of the year. We have the Christmas thought — Ex Deo Nascimur; the Easter thought — In Christo Morimur; and the Whitsun thought — Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus.
There remains the other half of the year. If we understand that too, there dawns on us the other aspect of our human life. If we understand the relationship of the physical to the soul of man and to the superphysical — which contains the true freedom of which man is to become a partaker on the Earth — then in the interconnection of the Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun festivals we understand the human freedom on Earth. As we understand man from out of these three thoughts — the Christmas thought, the Easter thought, and the Whitsun thought — and as we let this kindle in us the desire to understand the remaining portions of the year, there arises the other half of human life which I indicated when I said: “Gaze upon this human destiny; the Hierarchies appear behind it — the working and weaving of the Hierarchies.” It is wonderful to look truly into the destiny of a human being, for behind it stands the whole world of the Hierarchies.
It is indeed the language of the stars which sounds towards us from the thoughts of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide; from the Christmas thought, inasmuch as the Earth is a star within the Universe; from the Easter thought, inasmuch as the most radiant of stars, the Sun, gives us his gifts of grace; and from the Whitsun thought, inasmuch as that which lies hidden beyond the stars lights into the soul, and lights forth again from the soul in the fiery tongues of Pentecost.
Enter into all this, my dear friends! I have told you of the Father, the Bearer of the Christmas thought, who sends the Son that through him the Easter thought may be fulfilled; I have told you further how the Son brings the message of the Spirit, so that in the thought of Whitsun man's life on Earth may be completed in its threefold being. Meditate this through, ponder it well; then for all the descriptive foundations I have already given you for an understanding of karma, you will gain a right foundation of inner feeling.
Try to let the Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun thoughts, in the way I have expressed them to you today, work deeply and truly into your human feeling, and when we meet again after the journey which I must undertake this Whitsuntide for the Course on Agriculture — when we come together again, bring this feeling with you, my dear friends. For this feeling should live on in you as the warm and fiery thought of Pentecost. Then we shall be able to go further in our study of karma; your power of understanding will be fertilized by what the Whitsun thought contains.
Just as once upon a time at the first Whitsun Festival something shone forth from each one of the disciples, so the thought of Pentecost should now become alive again for our anthroposophical understanding. Something must light up and shine forth from our souls. Therefore it is as a Whitsun feeling, to prepare you for the further continuation of our thoughts on karma, which are related to the other half of the year, that I have given you what I have said today about the inner connections of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide.