Wednesday, December 31, 2014
The conclusion of Rudolf Steiner's lecture given the evening of December 31, 1922 at the first Goetheanum, which was in the process of burning to the ground as this mantric verse was being spoken:
In Earth-activity draws near to me,
Given to me in substance-imaged form,
The heavenly being of the stars.
In willing I see them transformed with love.
In watery life stream into me,
Forming me through with power of substance-force,
The heavenly deeds of the stars.
In feeling I see them transformed with wisdom.
Es nahet mir im Erdenwirken,
In Stoffes Abbild mir gegeben,
Der Sterne Himmelswesen:
Ich seh' im Wollen sie sich liebend wandeln.
Es dringen in mich im Wasserleben,
In Stoffes Kraftgewalt mich bildend,
Der Sterne Himmelstaten:
Ich seh' im Fühlen sie sich weise wandeln.
Notes from a member of the audience written down after the lesson.
An Esoteric Lesson given by Rudolf Steiner in Hanover, December 31, 1911:
Today we'll ask ourselves what we learned through our exoteric study of theosophy. At least theoretically the answer will be that we've become aware that the whole world and our physical body is maya or illusion. At least we assume this theoretically, and it more or less remains a hypothesis for us. But when we begin an esoteric training this acceptance of a mere hypothesis should increasingly become a truth. We should become deeply aware that we don't really have a firm ground in which we can take root, that we only live on the surface of the foaming sea of life, that we never dive down into the real sea of reality, and that therefore we're always a plaything for illusions. Those who want to tread an esoteric path should and must arrive at this insight A certain feeling of despair, fear, and being abandoned will arise in most of us. The fear will be like that of someone standing at the edge of an abyss. Despair and forlornness will envelop a budding esotericist, because all the supports he thought he had in life will fall away from him like maya or illusion. His God seems to be torn away from him, because he only sees the false and delusive things in creation; this knowledge can make an atheist out of him.
And why must we tread this path, why must we look deep into the world of illusion, why have the Gods placed us in this unreal world? For they could have given us true reality instead of this play of life's wave on the surface. We'll see later that it's wise and good that the world is maya, illusion. If everything was true reality, we wouldn't look for truth and perfection any more. We couldn't develop any capacities, and since there wouldn't be anything wrong, no vices could exist. So we couldn't acquire virtues, we couldn't develop freely at all. Since we would always be living in the active, ruling Godhead, we'd never have an opportunity to freely dive down into the depths of reality, or to look for real knowledge. We would stop looking for God. “Looking for God” has a deep biblical meaning that one can only understand esoterically. After creating for six days, God rested on the seventh day. God had been active during the recapitulations of Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolution, and he rested on the seventh day, after the world had been created. Then God couldn't be found anymore out to the horizon of our earth evolution. He was invisible, and this is deeply significant.
What's really divine is hidden behind visible creation — that's the great truth that we must look for behind sensory illusion. And since the world is illusion, it gives us an opportunity to develop our I through all false maya so that we shall find reality and the Gods. And what path does estoteric training point out to us, what means does it give us so that we can arrive at a knowledge of higher worlds faster than a man in everyday life? It gives us certain concentration and meditation exercises through which the soul forces in us can be awakened and that would otherwise remain slumbering in us for a long time yet. I want to emphasize that a pupil shouldn't go on this path out of blind confidence in his teacher or out of a blind reverence for him, because that would be the completely wrong way. He should use his own intellect in everything he does, and he shouldn't let other people think for him. He should test everything, including what's connected with his exercises and meditation. When he's immersed in meditation, he shouldn't think that it has a suggestive effect, for that would be an entirely wrong assumption. They can't have a suggestive effect because they're put together in such a way that anyone can arrive at the imagination to which the exercises only point. Let's look at the meditation: In pure rays of light … What could have a suggestive effect here, since the content indicates something unreal? For anybody who says this knows that the Godhead can't be found in light rays. The exercise is like a symbol that stimulates us to create an imaginative picture while we try to immerse our soul in the Godhead of the world. We should let our own intellect speak and not act out of blind faith. It's better to remain in doubt until we arrive at a knowledge of the truth through our own efforts. Someday we'll get to that point.
And what's the other unavoidable experience one has by faithfully doing the exercises? It's a splitting of the personality.
A man will begin to feel as if something was accompanying him, something that thinks and hears with him and even speaks with him if he's inwardly weak. It's a second ego that emerges, a doppelganger that one has placed outside one. The more seriously someone treads the esoteric path, the more of his old man he places outside him, that is, he sheds one skin after another like a snake. These skins become like a second body, a doppelganger who never leaves one again for the rest of one's life. In the old Egyptian mysteries someone who had placed his double outside him was called a kha man. The double is chained to the kha man to constantly remind him what he was or still is. That's not always a pleasant feeling. But the awareness that he always has his double with him will remind him of his defects and that he should improve himself. He should constantly feel this presence, otherwise things would get dangerous, and because of his many high ideals and intentions, he would forget what his inner life and defects are. Under certain circumstances it could even endanger a high initiate's life if in spite of his high striving he would forget this double for even a moment. He could actually lose his physical body through death, somewhat like one who's concentrating on a sublime problem and forgets to pay attention to traffic and gets run over. The more the double appears the better it is for our development, for otherwise, we would be living under great delusions about ourself. For we can't see the progress we've made; only our teacher can. Let's recall the place in the story of creation where the Elohim had ascended to the Sun after they created man. It was only there that they could judge their work: “And the Elohim saw everything that they had made, and behold it was very good.” They had attained perfection and that's why they could judge their work.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Wisdom-wielding Spirit of Will,
Weaving the Spirit-Worlds throughout,
Working through Spirit-Beings,
Working in the depths of my being too:
Weld with the fire of thy Love
My inner being with thy light and strength,
That finding thee I may find myself.
— Rudolf Steiner
"The perceiving of the Idea in existing reality is the true communion of man." —Rudolf Steiner
"Truth blossoms only when self-knowledge, in full earnestness, puts down its roots deep in the human soul." — Rudolf Steiner
Jesus: Krishna, redeemed by Christ. Focus lecture for the January 29 meeting of The Olive Branch, a Rudolf Steiner Study Circle meeting at the Himalayan Institute since 2001
|"The return of the prodigal son" by Rembrandt|
The Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of Paul. Lecture 5 of 5.
A lecture given by Rudolf Steiner on New Year's Day, 1913:
During this course of lectures we have brought before our souls two remarkable documents of humanity, although necessarily described very briefly on account of the limited number of lectures; and we have seen what impulses had to flow into the evolution of mankind in order that these two significant documents, the sublime Gita and the Epistles of St. Paul, might come into existence. What is important for us to grasp is the essential difference between the whole spirit of the Gita and that of the Epistles of St. Paul. As we have already said: in the Gita we have the teachings that Krishna was able to give to his pupil Arjuna. Such teachings can only be given and should only be given to one person individually, for they are in reality exactly what they appear in the Gita: teachings of an intimate nature. On the other hand, it may be said that they are now within the reach of anyone, because they appear in the Gita. This naturally was not the case at the time the Gita was composed. They did not then reach all ears; they were then only communicated by word of mouth. In those old days teachers were careful to ascertain the maturity of the pupil to whom they were about to communicate such teachings; they always made sure of his being ready for them. In our time this is no longer possible as regards all the teachings and instructions which have in some way come openly to light. We are living in an age in which the spiritual life is in a certain sense public. Not that there is no longer any occult science in our day, but it cannot be considered occult simply because it is not printed or spread abroad. There is plenty of occult science even in our day. The scientific teaching of Fichte, for instance, although everyone can procure it in printed form, is really a secret teaching; and finally Hegel's philosophy is also a secret doctrine, for it is very little known and has indeed many reasons in it for remaining a secret teaching; and this is the case with many things in our day. The scientific teaching of Fichte and the philosophy of Hegel have a very simple method of remaining secret doctrine, in that they are written in such a way that most people do not understand them, and fall asleep if they read the first pages. In that way the subject itself remains a secret doctrine, and this is the case in our own age with a great deal which many people think they know. They do not know it; thus these things remain secret doctrine; and, in reality, such things as are to be found in the Gita also remain secret doctrine, although they may be made known in the widest circles by means of printing. For while one person who takes up the Gita today sees in it great and mighty revelations about the evolution of man's own inner being, another will only see in it an interesting poem; to him all the perceptions and feelings expressed in the Gita are mere trivialities. For let no one think that he has really made what is in the Gita his own, although he may be able to express in the words of the Gita itself what is contained in it, but which may itself be far removed from his comprehension. Thus the greatness of the subject itself is in many respects a protection against its becoming common. What is certain is that the teachings which are poetically worked out in the Gita are such that each one must follow, must experience, them for himself, if through them he wishes to rise in his soul and finally experience the meeting with the Lord of Yoga, with Krishna. It is therefore an individual matter; something which the great Teacher addresses to one individual alone.
It is a different thing when we consider the contents of the Epistles of St. Paul from this point of view. There we see that all is for the community, all is matter appealing to the many. For if we fix our attention upon the innermost core of the essence of the Krishna-teaching we must say: What one experiences through this teaching, one experiences for oneself alone, in the strictest seclusion of one's own soul, and one can only have the meeting with Krishna as a lonely soul-wanderer, after one has found the way back to the original revelations and experiences of mankind. That which Krishna can give must be given to each individual.
This is not the case with the revelation given to the world through the Christ Impulse. From the beginning the Christ Impulse was intended for all humanity, and the Mystery of Golgotha was not consummated as an act for the individual soul alone; but we must think of the whole of mankind from the very beginning to the very end of the Earth's evolution, and realize that what happened at Golgotha was for all humans. It is to the greatest possible extent a matter for the community in general. Therefore the style of the Epistles of St. Paul, apart from all that has already been characterized, must be quite different from the style of the sublime Gita.
Let us once more picture clearly the relationship between Krishna and Arjuna. He gives his pupil unequivocal directions as Lord of Yoga as to how he can rise in his soul in order to attain the vision of Krishna. Let us compare with this an especially pregnant passage in the Pauline Epistles, in which a community turns to St. Paul and asks him whether this or that was true, whether this could be considered as giving the right views about what he had taught. In the instructions which St. Paul gives we find a passage which may certainly be compared in greatness, even in artistic style, with what we find in the sublime Gita; but at the same time we find quite a different tone, we find everything spoken from quite a different soul-feeling. It is where St. Paul writes to the Corinthians of how the different human gifts to be found in a group of people must work in cooperation. To Arjuna, Krishna says “Thou must be so and so, thou must do this or that, then wilt thou rise stage by stage in thy soul-life.” To his Corinthians St. Paul says: “One of you has this gift, another that, a third another; and if these work harmoniously together, as do the members of the human body, the result is spiritually a whole which can be permeated with the Christ.” Thus through the subject itself St. Paul addresses himself to men who work together, that is to say, to a multitude; and he uses an important opportunity to do this: namely, when the gift of the so-called speaking with tongues comes under consideration.
What is this speaking with tongues that we find spoken of in St. Paul's Epistles? It is neither more nor less than a survival of old spiritual gifts, which, in a renewed way, but with full human consciousness, confront us again at the present time. For when, among our initiation methods, we speak of Inspiration, it is understood that a man who attains to Inspiration in our age does so with a clear consciousness; just as he brings a clear consciousness to bear upon his powers of understanding and his sensory realizations. But in olden times this was different; then such a man spoke as an instrument of high spiritual beings who made use of his organs to express higher things through his speech. He might sometimes say things which he himself could not understand at all. Thus revelations from the spiritual worlds were given which were not necessarily understood by him who was used as an instrument — and just that was the case in Corinth. The situation had there arisen of a number of persons having this gift of tongues. They were then able to make this or that prediction from the spiritual worlds. Now, when a man possesses such gifts everything he is able to reveal by their means is under all circumstances a revelation from the spiritual world, yet it may nevertheless be the case that one man may say this and another that, for spiritual sources are manifold, One may be inspired from one source and another from another, and thus it may happen that the revelations do not correspond. Complete harmony can be found only when these worlds are entered in full consciousness. Therefore St. Paul gives the following admonition: “Some there are who can speak with tongues, others who can interpret the words spoken. They should work together as do the right and left hands, and we should not only listen to those who speak with tongues but also to those who have not that gift but who can expound and understand what someone is able to bring down from the spiritual sphere.” Here again St. Paul was urging the question of a community which might be founded through the united working of men. In connection with this very speaking with tongues St. Paul gave that address which, as I have said, is in certain respects so wonderful that in its might it may well compare, though in a different way, with the revelations of the Gita. He says (1 Cor. 12:3-31): “As regards the spiritually gifted brethren, I will not leave you without instructions. You know that in the time of your heathendom it was to dumb idols that you were blindly led by desire. Wherefore I make clear to you: that just as little as one speaking in the Spirit of God says: Accursed be Jesus; so little can a man call Him Lord but through the Holy Spirit. Now there are diversities of gracious gifts, but there is one Spirit. There are diversities in the guidance of mankind, but there is one Lord. There are differences in the force which individual men possess; but there is one God Who works in all these forces. But to every man is given the manifestation of the Spirit, as much as he can profit by it. So to one is given the word of prophecy, to another the word of knowledge; others are spirits who live in faith; again others have the gift of healing, others the gift of prophecy, others have the gift of seeing into men's characters, others that of speaking different tongues, and to others again is given the interpretation of tongues; but in all these worketh one and the same Spirit, apportioning to each one what is due to him. For as the body is one and hath many members, yet all the members together form one body, so also is it with Christ. For through the Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether Jew or Greek, bond or free, and have all been imbued with one spirit; so also the body is not made of one but of many members. If the foot were to say: Because I am not the hand therefore I do not belong to the body, it would nonetheless belong to it. And if the ear were to say: Because I am not the eye I do not belong to the body, nonetheless does it belong to the body. If the whole body were only an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were a sense of hearing, where would be the power of smell? But now hath God set each one of the members in the body where it seemed good to Him. If there were only one member, where would the body be? But now there are truly many members, but there is only one body. The eye may not say to the hand: I do not require thee! nor the head to the feet: I have no need of you; rather those which appear to be the feeble members of the body are necessary, and those which we consider mean prove themselves to be especially important. God has put the body together and has recognized the importance of the unimportant members that there should be no division in the body, but that all the members should work harmoniously together and should care for one another. And if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it, and if one member prosper, all the members rejoice with it. But ye,” said St. Paul to his Corinthians, “are the Body of Christ, and are severally the members thereof. And some God hath set in the community as apostles, others as prophets, a third part as teachers, a fourth as miraculous healers, a fifth for other activities in helping, a sixth for the administration of the community, and a seventh He set aside to speak with tongues. Shall all men be prophets, shall all men be apostles, shall all be teachers, all healers, shall all speak with tongues, or shall all interpret? Therefore it is right for all the gifts to work together, but the more numerous they are the better.”
Then Paul speaks of the force that can prevail in the individual but also in the community, and that holds all the separate members together, as the strength of the body holds the separate members of the body together. Krishna says nothing more beautiful to one man than St. Paul spoke to humanity in its different members. Then he speaks of the Christ Power, which holds the different members together just as the body holds its different members together; and the force that can live in one individual as the life-force in every one of his limbs, and yet lives also in a whole community; that is described by St. Paul in powerful words: “Nevertheless I will show you,” says he, “the way that is higher than all else. If I could speak with tongues of men of or angels and have not love, my speech is but as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal; and if I could prophesy and reveal all secrets and communicate all the knowledge in the world, and if I had all the faith that could remove mountains themselves and had not love, it would all be nothing. And if I distributed every spiritual gift, yea, if I gave my body itself to be burnt, but were lacking in love, it would all be in vain. Love endures ever. Love is kind. Love knows not envy. Love knows not boasting, knows not pride. Love injures not what is decorous, seeks not her own advantage, does not let herself be provoked, bears no one any malice, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices only in truth. Love envelops all, streams through all beliefs, hopes all things, practices toleration everywhere. Love, if it exists, can never be lost. Prophesies vanish when they are fulfilled; what is spoken with tongues ceases when it can no longer speak to human hearts; what is known ceases when the subject of knowledge is exhausted; for we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away with. When I was a child I spoke as a child, I felt as a child; when I became a man, the world of childhood was past. Now we only see dark outlines in a mirror, but then we shall see the spirit face to face; now is my knowledge in part, but then I shall know completely, even as I myself am known. Now abides Faith, the certainty of Hope, and Love; but Love is the greatest of these, hence Love is above all. For if you could have all spiritual gifts, whoever himself understands prophecy must also strive after love; for whoever speaks with tongues speaks not among men, he speaks among Gods. No one understands him, because in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” We see how St. Paul understands the nature of speaking with tongues. His meaning is: The speaker with tongues is transported into the spiritual worlds; he speaks among Gods. Whoever prophesies speaks to men to build up, to warn, to comfort; he who speaks with tongues, to a certain extent satisfies himself; he who prophesies builds up the community. If you all attain to speaking with tongues, it is yet more important that you should prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, for he who speaks with tongues must first understand his own speaking, in order that the community should do so. Supposing that I came to you as a speaker with tongues; of what use should I be to you if I did not tell you what my speaking signifies as prophecy, teaching, and revelation? My speaking would be like a flute or a zither of which one could not clearly distinguish the sounds. How could one distinguish the playing of either the zither or of the flute if they did not give forth distinct sounds? And if the trumpet gave forth an indistinct sound, who would arm himself to battle? So it is with you; if you cannot connect a distinct language with the tongue-speaking, it is all merely spoken into the air.
All this shows us that the different spiritual gifts must be divided among the community, and that the members as individuals must work together. With this we come to the point at which the revelation of Paul, through the moment in human evolution in which it appears, must differ absolutely from that of Krishna. The Krishna revelation is directed to one individual, but in reality applies to every man if he is ripe to tread the upward path prescribed to him by the Lord of Yoga; we are more and more reminded of the primeval ages of mankind, to which we always, according to the Krishna teaching, return in spirit. At that time men were less individualized; one could assume that for each man the same teaching and directions would be suitable. St. Paul confronted mankind when individuals were becoming differentiated, when they really had to become differentiated, each one with his special capacity, his own special gift. One could then no longer reckon on being able to pour the same thing into each different soul; one had then to point to that which is invisible and rules over all. This, which lives in no man as a separate individual, although it may be within each one, is the Christ Impulse. The Christ Impulse, again, is something like a new group soul of humanity, but one that must be consciously sought for by men.
To make this clearer, let us picture to ourselves how, for instance, a number of Krishna students are to be distinguished in the spiritual worlds from a number of those who have been moved in the deepest part of their being by the Christ Impulse. The Krishna pupils have every one of them been stirred by one and the same impulse, which has been given them by the Lord of Yoga. In spiritual life each one of these is like the other. The same instructions have been given to them all. But those who have been moved by the Christ Impulse are each, when disembodied and in the spiritual world, possessed of their own particular individuality, their own distinct spiritual forces. Therefore even in the spiritual world one man may go in one direction and one in another; and the leader of both, the One Who pours Himself into the soul of each one, no matter how individualized he may be, is the Christ, Who is in the soul of each one and at the same time soars above them all. So we still have a differentiated community even when the souls are discarnate; while the souls of the Krishna pupils, when they have received instructions from the Lord of Yoga, are as one unit. The object of human evolution, however, is that souls should become more and more differentiated.
Therefore it was necessary that Krishna should speak in a different way. He really speaks to his pupils just as he does in the Gita. But St. Paul must speak differently. He really speaks to each individual, and it is a question of individual development whether, according to the degree of his maturity, a man remains at a certain stage of his incarnation at a standstill in exoteric life, or whether he is able to enter the esoteric life and raise himself into esoteric Christianity. We can go further and further in the Christian life and attain the utmost esoteric heights; but we must start from something different from what we start from in the Krishna teaching. In the Krishna teaching you start from the point you have reached as man, and raise the soul individually, as a separate being; in Christianity, before you attempt to go further along the path you must have gained a connection with the Christ Impulse, feeling in the first place that this transcends all else. The spiritual path to Krishna can only be trodden by one who receives instructions from Krishna; the spiritual path to Christ can be trodden by anyone, for Christ brought the mystery for all men who feel drawn toward it. That, however, is something external, accomplished on the physical plane; the first step is, therefore, taken on the physical plane. That is the essential thing.
Truly one need not, if one looks into the world-historical importance of the Christ Impulse, begin by belonging to this or that Christian denomination; on the contrary one can, just in our time, even start from an anti-Christian standpoint, or from one of indifference toward Christ. Yet if one goes deeply into the spiritual life of our own age, examining the contradictions and follies of materialism, perhaps one may genuinely be led to Christ even though to begin with one may not have belonged to any particular creed. Therefore when it is said outside our circle that we are starting from a peculiar Christian denomination, this must be regarded as a special calumny; for it is not a matter of starting from any denomination, but that in response to the demands of the spiritual life itself, everyone, be he Muslim or Buddhist, Jew or Hindu, or Christian, shall be able to understand the Christ Impulse in its whole significance for the evolution of mankind. This desire we can see deeply penetrating the whole view and presentation of St. Paul, and in this respect he is absolutely the one who sets the tone for the first proclamation of the Christ Impulse to the world.
As we have described how Sankhya philosophy concerns itself with the changing forms, with that which appertains to Prakriti, we may also say that St. Paul, in all that underlies his profound Epistles, deals with Purusha, that which pertains to the soul. What the soul is to become, the destiny of the soul, how throughout the whole evolution of mankind it evolves in manifold ways, concerning all this St. Paul gives us quite definite and profound conclusions.
There is a fundamental difference between what Eastern thought was still able to give us and what we find at once with such wonderful clearness in St. Paul. We pointed out yesterday that, according to Krishna, everything depended on man's finding his way out of the changing forms. But Prakriti remains outside, as something foreign to the soul. All the striving in this Eastern method of development and even in the Eastern initiation tends to free one from material existence, from that which is spread outside in nature; for that, according to the Veda philosophy, is merely maya. Everything external is maya, and to be free from maya is Yoga. We have pointed out how in the Gita it is expected of man that he shall become free from all he does and accomplishes, from what he wills and thinks, from what he likes and enjoys, and in his soul shall triumph over everything external. The work that man accomplishes should equally fall away from him, and thus resting within himself, he shall find satisfaction. Thus he who wishes to develop according to the Krishna teaching aspires to become something like a Paramahansa, that is to say, a high initiate who leaves all material existence behind him, who triumphs over all he has himself accomplished by his actions in this world of sense, and lives a purely spiritual existence, having so overcome what belongs to the senses that he no longer thirsts for reincarnation, that he has nothing more to do with what filled his life and at which he worked in this sense-world. Thus it is the issuing forth from this maya, the triumphing over it, which meets us everywhere in the Gita.
With St. Paul it is not so. If he had met with these Eastern teachings, something in the depth of his soul would have caused the following words to come forth: “Yes, thou wishest to rise above all that surrounds thee outside, from that also which thou formerly accomplished there! Dost thou wish to leave all that behind thee? Is not then all that the work of God, is not everything above which thou wishest to lift thyself created by the Divine Spirit? In despising that, art thou not despising the work of God? Does not the revelation of God's Spirit dwell everywhere within it? Didst thou not at first seek to represent God in thine own work, in love and faith and devotion, and now desirest thou to triumph over what is the work of God?”
It would be well, my dear friends, if we were to inscribe these words of St. Paul — which though unspoken were felt in the depths of his soul — deeply into our own souls; for they express an important part of what we know as Western revelation. In the Pauline sense, we too speak of the maya which surrounds us. We certainly say: We are surrounded by maya. But we also say: Is there not spiritual revelation in this maya, is it not all divine spiritual work? Is it not blasphemy to fail to understand that there is divine spiritual work in all things?
Now arises the other question: Why is that maya there? Why do we see maya around us? The West does not stop at the question as to whether all is maya: it inquires as to the wherefore of maya. Then follows an answer that leads us into the center of the soul — into Purusha. Because the soul once came under the power of Lucifer it sees everything through the veil of maya and spreads the veil of maya over everything. Is it the fault of objectivity that we see maya? No. To us as souls objectivity would appear in all its truth if we had not come under the power of Lucifer. It only appears to us as maya because we are not capable of seeing down into the foundations of what is spread out there. That comes from the soul's having come under the power of Lucifer; it is not the fault of the Gods, it is the fault of our own soul. Thou, O soul, hast made the world a maya to thyself, because thou hast fallen into the power of Lucifer.
From the highest spiritual grasp of this formula, down to the words of Goethe: “The senses do not deceive, but the judgment deceives,” is one straight line. The Philistines and zealots may fight against Goethe and his Christianity as much as they like; he might nevertheless say that he is one of the most Christian of men, for in the depths of his being he thought as a Christian, even in that very formula: “The senses do not deceive, but the judgment deceives.” It is the soul's own fault that what it sees appears as maya and not as truth. So that which in Orientalism appears simply as an act of the Gods themselves is diverted into the depths of the human soul, where the great struggle with Lucifer takes place.
Thus Orientalism, if we consider it aright, is in a certain sense materialism, in that it does not recognize the spirituality of maya, and wishes to rise above matter. That which pulses through the Epistles of St. Paul is a doctrine of the soul, although only existing in germ and therefore capable of being so mistaken and misunderstood as in our Tamas-time, but it will in the future be visibly spread out over the whole Earth. This, concerning the peculiar nature of maya, will have to be understood; for only then can one understand the full depth of that which is the object of the progress of human evolution. Then only does one understand what St. Paul means when he speaks of the first Adam, who succumbed to Lucifer in his soul, and who was therefore more and more entangled in matter — which means nothing else than this: ensnared in a false experiencing of matter. As God's creation, external matter is good: what takes place there is good. But what the soul experiences in the course of human evolution became more and more evil, because in the beginning the soul fell into the power of Lucifer.
Therefore St. Paul called Christ the Second Adam, for He came into the world untempted by Lucifer, and therefore He can be a guide and friend to men's souls, who can lead them away from Lucifer, that is, into the right relationship to Him. St. Paul could not tell mankind at that time all that he as an initiate knew; but if we allow his Epistles to work on us we shall see that there is more in their depths than they express externally. That is because St. Paul spoke to a community, and had to reckon with the understanding of that community. That is why in certain of his Epistles there seem to be absolute contradictions. But one who can plunge down into the depths finds everywhere the impulse of the Christ Being.
Let us here remember, my dear friends, how we ourselves have represented the coming into existence of the Mystery of Golgotha. As time went on we recognized that there were two different stories of the youth, of Christ Jesus, in the Gospel of St. Matthew and that of St. Luke, because in reality there are two Jesus boys in question. We have seen that externally — after the flesh, according to St. Paul, which means through physical descent — both Jesus boys descended from the stock of David; that one came from the line of Nathan and the other from that of Solomon; that thus there were two Jesus boys born at about the same time. In the one Jesus child, that of St. Matthew's Gospel, we find Zarathustra reincarnated: and we have emphatically stated that in the other Jesus child, the one described by St. Luke, there was no such human ego as is usually to be found, and certainly not as the one existing in the other Jesus child, in whom lived such a highly evolved ego as that of Zarathustra. In the Luke Jesus there actually lives that part of man that has not entered into human evolution on the Earth. [See also Steiner's The Spiritual Guidance of Mankind; The Gospel of St. Luke; The Gospel of St. Matthew.]
It is rather difficult to form a right conception of this, but we must just try to think how, so to speak, the soul that was incarnated in Adam, he who may be described as Adam in the sense of my book Occult Science, succumbed to Lucifer's temptation, symbolically described in the Bible as the Fall of Man in Paradise. We must picture this. Then we must picture further that side by side with that human soul nature which incarnated in Adam's body there was a human part, a human being, that remained behind and did not then incarnate, that did not enter a physical body, but remained “pure soul.” You need only now picture how, before a physical man arose in the evolution of humanity, there was one soul, which then divided itself into two parts. The one part, the one descendant of the common soul, incarnated in Adam and thus entered into the line of incarnations, succumbed to Lucifer, and so on. As to the other soul, the sister-soul, as it were, the wise rulers of the world saw beforehand that it would not be good that this too should be embodied; it was kept back in the soul world; it did not therefore take part in the incarnations of humanity, but was kept back. With this soul none but the initiates of the Mysteries had intercourse.
During the evolution preceding the Mystery of Golgotha this soul did not, therefore, take into itself the experience of an ego, for this can only be obtained by incarnating in a human body. Nonetheless, it had all the wisdom that could have been attained through the Saturn, Sun, and Moon periods, it possessed all the love of which a human soul is capable. This soul remained blameless, as it were, of all the guilt that a man can acquire in the course of his incarnations in human evolution. It could not be met with as a human being externally; but it could be perceived by the old clairvoyants, and was recognized by them; they encountered it, so to say, in the Mysteries. Thus, here we have a soul, one might say, that was within, but yet above, the evolution of mankind, that could at first only be perceived in the spirit; a pre-man, a true super-man.
It was this soul which, instead of an ego, was incarnated in the Jesus child of St. Luke's Gospel. You will remember the lectures at Basle; this fact was already given out there. We have therefore to do with a soul that is only ego-like, one that naturally acts as an ego when it permeates the body of Jesus, but which in all it displays is yet quite different from an ordinary ego. I have already mentioned the fact that the boy of St. Luke's Gospel spoke a language understood by his mother as soon as he came into the world, and other facts of similar nature were to he observed in him.
Then we know that the Matthew Jesus, in whom lived the Zarathustra ego, grew up until his twelfth year, and the Luke child also grew up, possessing no particular human knowledge or science, but bearing the divine wisdom and the divine power of sacrifice within him. Thus the Luke Jesus grew up not being particularly gifted for what can be learnt externally. We know further that the body of the Matthew Jesus was forsaken by the Zarathustra ego, and that in the twelfth year of the Luke Jesus his body was taken possession of by that same Zarathustra ego. That is the moment referred to when it is related of the twelve-year-old Jesus of Luke's Gospel that when his parents lost him he stood teaching before the wise men of the Temple.
We know further that this Luke Jesus bore the Zarathustra ego within him up to his thirtieth year; that the Zarathustra ego then left the body of the Luke Jesus, and all its sheaths were taken possession of by Christ, a superhuman being of the higher Hierarchies, Who only could live in a human body at all inasmuch as a body was offered Him which had first been permeated up to its twelfth year with the pre-human Wisdom-forces, and the pre-human divine Love-forces, and was then permeated through and through by all that the Zarathustra ego had acquired through many incarnations by means of initiation. In no other way, perhaps, could one so well obtain the right respect, the right reverence — in short, the right feeling altogether — for the Christ Being as by trying to understand what sort of a body was needed for this Christ Ego to be able to enter humanity at all.
Many people consider that in this presentation, given out of the holy Mysteries of the newer age about the Christ Being, He is thus made to appear less intimate and human than the Christ Jesus so many have honored in the way in which He is generally represented — familiar, near to man, incarnate in an ordinary human body in which nothing like a Zarathustra ego lived. It is brought as a reproach against our teaching that Christ Jesus is here represented as composed of forces drawn from all regions of the cosmos.
Such reproaches proceed only from the indolence of human perception and human feeling which is unwilling to raise itself to the true heights of perception and feeling. The greatest of all must be so grasped by us that our souls have to make the supremest possible efforts to attain the inner intensity of perception and feeling necessary to bring the Greatest, the Highest, at all near to our soul. Our first feelings will thus be raised higher still, if we do but consider them in this light.
We know one other thing besides. We know how we have to understand the words of the Gospel: “Divine forces are being revealed in the Heights, and peace will spread among men of goodwill.” We know that this message of peace and love resounded when the Luke Jesus appeared, because Buddha intermingled with the astral body of the Luke Jesus; Buddha, who had already lived in a being who went through his last incarnation as Gautama Buddha and had risen to complete spirituality. So that in the astral body of the Luke Jesus, Buddha revealed himself, as he had progressed up to the occurrence of the Mystery of Golgotha on Earth.
Thus we have the Being of Christ Jesus presented before us in a way only now possible to mankind from the basis of occult science. St. Paul, although an initiate, was compelled to speak in concepts more easily understood at that time; he could not then have assumed a humanity able to understand such concepts as we have brought before your hearts today. His inspiration, however, was derived from his initiation, which came about as an act of grace. Because he did not attain this through regular schooling in the old Mysteries, but by grace on the road to Damascus when the risen Christ appeared to him, therefore I call this initiation one brought about by grace. But he experienced this Damascus Vision in such a way that by means of it he knew that He Who arose in the Mystery of Golgotha lives in the sphere of this Earth and has been attached to it since that Event. He recognized the risen Christ. From that time on he proclaimed Him.
Why was he able to see Him in the particular way he did? At this point we must enter somewhat into the nature of such a vision, such a manifestation, as that of Damascus: for it was a vision, a manifestation, of a quite peculiar kind. Only those people who never wish to learn anything of occult facts consider all visions as being of one kind. They will not distinguish such an occurrence as the vision of St. Paul from many other visions such as appeared to the saints later. What really was the reason that St. Paul could recognize Christ as he did when He appeared to him on the way to Damascus? Why did the certain conviction come to him that this was the risen Christ? This question leads us back to another one: What was necessary in order that the whole Christ Being should be able completely to enter into Jesus of Nazareth, at the baptism by John in the Jordan? Now, we have just said what was necessary to prepare the body into which the Christ Being could descend. But what was necessary in order that the Arisen One could appear in such a densified soul form as he appeared in to St. Paul? What, then, so to speak, was that halo of light in which Christ appeared to St. Paul before Damascus? What was it? Whence was it taken?
If we wish to answer these questions, my dear friends, we must add a few finishing touches to what I have already said. I have told you that there was, as it were, a sister-soul to the Adam-soul, to that soul which entered into the sequence of human generations. This sister-soul remained in the soul world. It was this sister-soul that was incarnated in the Luke Jesus.
But it was not then incarnated for the first time in a human body in the strictest sense of the words: it had already been once incarnated prophetically. This soul had already been made use of formerly as a messenger of the holy Mysteries; it was, so to say, cherished and cultivated in the Mysteries, and was sent whenever anything specially important to man was taking place; but it could only appear as a vision in the etheric body, and could only be perceived, strictly speaking, as long as the old clairvoyance remained. In earlier ages that still existed. Therefore this old sister-soul of Adam had no need at that time to descend as far as the physical body in order to be seen. So it actually appeared on Earth repeatedly in human evolution: sent forth by the impulses of the Mysteries at all times when important things were to take place in the evolution of the Earth; but it did not require to incarnate in ancient times, because clairvoyance was there.
The first time it needed to incarnate was when the old clairvoyance was to be overcome through the transition of human evolution from the third to the fourth post-Atlantean age, of which we spoke yesterday. Then, by way of compensation, it took on an incarnation, in order to be able to express itself at the time when clairvoyance no longer existed. The only time this sister-soul of Adam was compelled to appear and to become physically visible, it was incorporated, so to speak, in Krishna; and then it was incorporated again in the Luke Jesus.
So now we can understand how it was that Krishna spoke in such a superhuman manner, why he is the best teacher for the human ego, why he represents, so to speak, a victory over the ego, why he appears so psychically sublime. It is because he appears as human being at that sublime moment which we brought before our souls in the lecture before last, as Man not yet descended into human incarnations. He then appears again, to be embodied in the Luke Jesus.
Hence that perfection that came about when the most significant world-conceptions of Asia, the ego of Zarathustra and the spirit of Krishna, were united in the twelve-year-old Jesus described by St. Luke. He who spoke to the learned men in the Temple was therefore not only Zarathustra speaking as an ego, but one who spoke from those sources from which Krishna at one time drew Yoga; he spoke of Yoga raised a stage higher; he united himself with the Krishna force, with Krishna himself, in order to continue to grow until his thirtieth year. Then only have we that complete, perfected body which could be taken possession of by the Christ. Thus do the spiritual currents of humanity flow together. So that in what happened at the Mystery of Golgotha we really have a cooperation of the most important leaders of mankind, a synthesis of spirit-life.
When St. Paul had his vision before Damascus, He Who appeared to him then was the Christ. The halo of light in which Christ was enveloped was Krishna. And because Christ has taken Krishna for His own soul-covering through which He then works on further, therefore in the light which shone there, in Christ Himself, there is all that was once upon a time contained in the sublime Gita. We find much of that old Krishna-teaching, although scattered about, in the New Testament revelations.
This old Krishna-teaching has on that account become a personal matter to the whole of mankind, because Christ is not as such a human ego belonging to mankind, but to the Higher Hierarchies. Thus Christ belongs also to those times when man was not yet separated from that which now surrounds him as material existence, and which is veiled to him in maya through his own Luciferic temptation. If we glance back over the whole of evolution we shall find that in those olden times there was not yet that strict division between the spiritual and the material; material was then still spiritual, and the spiritual — if we may say so — still manifested itself externally. Thus because in the Christ Impulse something entered into mankind which completely prevented such a strict separation as we find in Sankhya philosophy between Purusha and Prakriti, Christ becomes the Leader of men out of themselves and toward the divine creation.
Must we then say that we must unconditionally give up maya now that we recognize that it seems to be given us through our own fault? No, for that would be blaspheming the spirit in the world; that would be assigning to matter properties which we ourselves have imposed upon it with the veil of maya. Let us rather hope that when we have overcome in ourselves that which caused matter to become maya, we may again be reconciled with the world.
For do we not hear resounding out of the world around us that it is a creation of the Elohim, and that on the last day of creation they considered: And behold, all was very good? That would be the karma to be fulfilled if there were nothing but Krishna-teaching (for there is nothing in the world that does not fulfil its karma). If in all eternity there had been only the teaching of Krishna, then the material existence which surrounds us, the manifestation of God of which the Elohim at the starting-point of evolution said: “Behold all was very good,” would encounter the judgment of men: “It is not good, I must abandon it!” The judgment of man would be placed above the judgment of God. We must learn to understand the words which stand as a mystery at the outset of evolution; we must not set the judgment of man above the judgment of God. If all and everything that could cling to us in the way of guilt were to fall away from us, and yet that one fault remained, that we slandered the work of the Elohim, the Earth-karma would have to be fulfilled; in the future everything would have to fall upon us and karma would have to fulfil itself thus.
In order that this should not happen, Christ appeared in the world, so to reconcile us with the world that we may learn to overcome Lucifer's tempting forces, and learn to penetrate the veil; that we may see the divine revelation in its true form; that we may find the Christ as the Reconciler, Who will lead us to the true form of the divine revelation, so that through Him we may learn to understand the primeval words: “And behold, it is very good.” In order that we may learn to ascribe to ourselves that which we may never again dare to ascribe to the world, we need Christ; for if all our other sins could be taken away from us, yet this sin could be removed only by Him. This, transformed into a moral feeling, is a newer side of the Christ Impulse. It shows us at the same time why the necessity arose for the Christ Impulse as the higher soul to envelop itself in the Krishna Impulse.
An exposition such as I have given you in this course, my dear friends, should not be taken as mere theory, merely as a number of thoughts and ideas to be absorbed; it should be taken as a sort of New Year's gift, a gift which should influence our New Year, and from now on it should work as that which we can perceive through the understanding of the Christ Impulse, in so far as this helps us to understand the words of the Elohim, which resound down to us from the starting point, from the very primeval beginning, of the creation of our Earth.
And look upon the intention of this course at the same time as the starting point of our Anthroposophical spiritual stream. This must be Anthroposophical because by means of it it will be more and more recognized how man can in himself attain to self-knowledge. He cannot yet attain to complete self-knowledge, not yet can Anthropos attain to knowledge of Anthropos, man to the knowledge of man, so long as this man can consider what he has to carry out in his own soul as an affair to be played out between him and external nature. That the world should appear to us to be immersed in matter is a thing the Gods have prepared for us, it is an affair of our own souls, a question of higher self-knowledge; it is something that man must himself recognize in his own manhood, it is a question of Anthroposophy, by means of which we can come to the perception of what theosophy may become to mankind.
It should be a feeling of the greatest modesty which impels a man to belong to the Anthroposophical movement; a modesty which says: If I want to spring over that which is an affair of the human soul and to take at once the highest step into the divine, humility may very easily vanish from me, and pride step in, in its place; vanity may easily install itself. May the Anthroposophical Society also be a starting point in this higher moral sphere; above all, may it avoid all that has so easily crept into the theosophical movement in the way of pride, vanity, ambition, and want of earnestness in receiving that which is the highest Wisdom. May the Anthroposophical Society avoid all this because from its very starting point it has already considered that the settlement with maya is an affair for the human soul itself.
One should feel that the Anthroposophical Society ought to be the result of the profoundest human modesty. For out of this modesty should well up deep earnestness as regards the sacred truths into which it will penetrate if we betake ourselves into this sphere of the supersensible, of the spiritual. Let us therefore understand the adoption of the name “Anthroposophical Society” in true modesty, in true humility, saying to ourselves: Let all that remains of that pride and lack of modesty, vanity, ambition, and untruthfulness that played a part under the name of Theosophy be eradicated, if now, under the sign and device of modesty, we begin humbly to look up to the Gods and divine wisdom, and on the other hand dutifully to study man and human wisdom, if we reverently approach Spiritual Science and dutifully devote ourselves to Anthroposophy.
This Anthroposophy will lead to the divine and to the Gods if by its help we learn in the highest sense to look humbly and truthfully into our own selves and see how we must struggle against all maya and error through self-training and the severest self-discipline. Then, as written on a bronze tablet, may there stand above us the word: Anthroposophy! Let that be an exhortation to us, that above all we should seek through it to acquire self-knowledge, modesty, and in this way endeavor to erect a building founded upon truth, for truth can only blossom if self-knowledge lays hold of the human soul in deep earnestness.
What is the origin of all vanity, of all untruth? The want of self-knowledge. From what alone can truth spring, from what can true reverence for divine worlds and divine wisdom alone come? From true self-knowledge, self-training, self-discipline. Therefore may that which shall stream and pulsate through the Anthroposophical movement serve that purpose.
For these reasons this particular course of lectures has been given at the starting point of the Anthroposophical movement, and it should prove that there is no question of narrowness, but that precisely through our movement we can extend our horizon over those distances which comprise Eastern thought also.
But let us take this humbly in self-educative anthroposophical fashion, by creating the will within us to discipline and train ourselves. If Anthroposophy, my dear friends, be taken up among you in this way, it will then lead to a beneficial end and will attain a goal that can extend to each individual and every human society for their welfare.
So let these words be spoken which shall be the last of this course of lectures, but something of which perhaps many in the coming days will take away with them in their souls, so that it may bear fruit within our Anthroposophical movement, within which you, my dear friends, have, so to speak, met together for the first time. May we ever so meet together in the sign of Anthroposophy that we have the right to call upon words with which we shall now conclude, words of humility and of self-knowledge, which we should now at this moment place as an ideal before our souls.
|"He must increase; I must decrease." — John 3:30|
|Ex Deo Nascimur In Christo Morimur Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus|
Monday, December 29, 2014
I gaze into the world
In which the sun is shining,
In which the stars are sparkling,
In which the stones repose,
Where living plants are growing,
Where sentient beasts are living,
Where human souls on Earth
Give dwelling to the Spirit.
I gaze into my soul
That lives within my being.
The World Creator weaves
In sun light and in soul light,
In world space there without,
In soul depths here withiin.
To thee, Creator Spirit,
I will now turn my heart
To ask that strength and blessing
For learning and for work
May grow within my inmost being.
— Rudolf Steiner
|"The perceiving of the Idea in existing reality is the true communion of man." Rudolf Steiner|
"Rudolf Steiner ... said: 'People on Earth have all kinds of religions, but all these religions have one thing in common: that man looks up to higher beings, the gods, and worships them. But these higher beings, the gods, also have a religion: they too look up to something in awe and reverence. What is this religion of the gods? What is it that the gods revere? It is man. Man is the religion of the gods.'
What did Rudolf Steiner mean with this strange statement which almost sounds like blasphemy? It does not mean that the higher beings, who are far superior to us in wisdom and power, look up in reverence to you or to me — or to any individual human soul. What the gods look up to is the ideal human being ...
It is for the sake of this ultimate end, for the sake of this perfect man, that the whole universe and all there is in it has come into existence, it is for the sake of that perfect man at the end of time that the whole world has been created. In the Bhagavad Gita, the holy book of the Hindus, the hero Arjuna is given a vision of this ideal and is overwhelmed by it.
Every human soul is on a pilgrimage to this distant goal, to this ideal of human perfection. But there was a time in the evolution of mankind when there was the danger that souls would be turned away from the path to perfect man and lose all connection with the true aim of evolution. That is when Christ came into the physical world and lived in a human body, so as to keep mankind on the right path towards the ideal that is the religion of the gods. And so Christ has united himself with this great ideal of mankind, with the perfect human being. He has become one with the ideal to which all human souls strive."
— Charles Kovacs, The Spiritual Background to Christian Festivals, "Christmas," pp. 72-74.
Related post: "Jesus: Krishna, redeemed by Christ":
Krishna = Jesus = Atman = Spirit Man = the Alpha and the Omega = the achetype, the seed, of the future Jupiter ["the powers of the perfect human being at one with the Christ Spirit" —Kovacs, p. 74]
Rudolf Steiner, Christmas Day, 1922:
The Stars once once spoke to Man.
It is World Destiny they are silent now.
To be aware of this silence
Can become pain for Earthly Man.
But in the deepening silence
There grows and ripens
What Man speaks to the Stars.
To be aware of this speaking
Can become Strength for Spirit Man.
|"He must increase; I must decrease." — John 3:30|
The Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of Paul. Lecture 4 of 5.
Rudolf Steiner, December 31, 1912:
At the beginning of yesterday's lecture I pointed out how different are the impressions received by the soul when, on the one hand, it allows the well-balanced, calm, passionless, emotionless, truly wise nature of the Bhagavad Gita to work upon it, and on the other hand that which holds sway in the Epistles of St. Paul. In many respects these give the impression of being permeated by personal emotions, personal views and points of view, by a certain — for the whole collective evolution of man on Earth — agitating sense of propagandism; they are even choleric, sometimes stormy. If we allow the manner in which the spiritual content of both is expressed to work upon us, we have in the Gita something so perfect, expressed in such a wonderful, artistically rounded way, that one could not well imagine a greater perfection of expression, revealed poetically and yet so philosophically. In the Epistles of St. Paul, on the other hand, we often find what one might call an awkwardness of expression, so that on account of this, which sometimes approaches clumsiness, it is extremely difficult to extract their deep meaning.
Yet it is nevertheless true that that which relates to Christianity in the Epistles of St. Paul is the keynote for its development, just as the union of the world-conceptions of the East is the keynote of the Gita. In the Epistles of St. Paul we find the significant basic truths of Christianity as to the Resurrection, the significance of what is called Faith as compared with the Law, of the influence of grace, of the life of Christ in the soul or in the human consciousness, and many other things; we find all these presented in such a way that any presentation of Christianity must always be based on these Pauline Epistles. Everything in them refers to Christianity, as everything in the Gita refers to the great truths as to liberating oneself from works, to the freeing of oneself from the immediate life of action, in order to devote oneself to contemplation, to the meditation of the soul, to the upward penetration of the soul into spiritual heights, to the purification of the soul; in short, according to the meaning of the Gita, to the union with Krishna.
All that has just been described makes a comparison of these two spiritual revelations extremely difficult, and anyone who merely makes an external comparison will doubtless be compelled to place the Bhagavad Gita, in its purity, calm, and wisdom, higher than the Epistles of St. Paul. But what is a person who makes such an outward comparison actually doing? He is like a man who, having before him a fully grown plant, with a beautiful blossom, and beside it the seed of a plant, were to say: “When I look at the plant with its beautiful, fully developed blossom, I see that it is much more beautiful than the insignificant, invisible seed.” Yet it might be that out of that seed lying beside the plant with the beautiful blossom a still more beautiful plant with a still more beautiful blossom might some day spring forth. It is really no proper comparison to compare two things to be found side by side, such as a fully developed plant and a quite undeveloped seed; and thus it is if one compares the Bhagavad Gita with the Epistles of St. Paul. In the Bhagavad Gita we have before us something like the ripest fruit, the most wonderful and beautiful representation of a long human evolution, which had grown up during thousands of years, and in the Epistles of St. Paul we have before us the germ of something completely new which must grow greater and greater, and which we can only grasp in all its full significance if we look upon it as germinal, and hold prophetically before us what it will some day become, when thousands and thousands of years of evolution shall have flowed into the future and that which is planted as a germ in the Pauline Epistles shall have grown riper and riper. Only if we bear this in mind can we make a proper comparison.
It then also becomes clear that that which is someday to become great and which is first to be found in invisible form from the depths of Christianity in the Pauline Epistles had once to pour forth in chaotic fashion from the human soul. Thus things must be represented in a different way by one who is considering the significance on the one hand of the Bhagavad Gita and on the other of the Pauline Epistles for the whole collective evolution of man on Earth, from the way they can be depicted by another person who can only judge of the complete works as regards their beauty and wisdom and inner perfection of form.
If we wish to draw a comparison between the different views of life which appear in the Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of St. Paul, we must first inquire: What is the chief point in question? The point in question is that in all we are able to survey historically of the two views of life, what we are chiefly concerned with is the drawing down of the ego into the evolution of mankind.
If we trace the ego through the evolution of mankind, we can say that in the pre-Christian times it was still dependent, it was still, as it were, rooted in concealed depths of the soul, it had not yet acquired the possibility of developing itself. Development of an individual character only became possible when into that ego was thrown, as it were, the impulse which we describe as the Christ-Impulse. That which since the Mystery of Golgotha may be within the human ego and which is expressed in the words of St. Paul: “Not I, but Christ in me,” that could not formerly be within it. But in the ages when there was already an approach to the Christ-Impulse — in the last thousand years before the Mystery of Golgotha — that which was about to take place through the introduction of the Christ-Impulse into the human soul was slowly prepared, particularly in such a way as that expressed in the act of Krishna. That which, after the Mystery of Golgotha, a man had to look for as the Christ-Impulse in himself, which he had to find in the Pauline sense: “Not I, but Christ in me,” that he had, before the Mystery of Golgotha, to look for outside, he had to look for it coming to him as a revelation from cosmic distances.
The further we go back into the ages, the more brilliant, the more impulsive was the revelation from without. We may therefore say: In the ages before the Mystery of Golgotha a certain revelation came to mankind like sunshine falling upon an object from without. Just as the light falls upon this object, so did the light of the spiritual Sun fall from without upon the soul of man, and enlightened it.
After the Mystery of Golgotha we can speak of that which works in the soul as Christ-Impulse, as the spiritual sunlight, as though we saw a self-illumined body before us radiating its light from within. If we look at it thus, the fact of the Mystery of Golgotha becomes a significant boundary line in human evolution. We can represent the whole connection symbolically. If we take this circle (Diagram 1) as representing the human soul, we may say that the spiritual light streams in from without from all sides into this human soul. Then comes the Mystery of Golgotha, after which the soul possesses the Christ-Impulse in itself and radiates forth that which is contained in the Christ-Impulse (Diagram 2).
Just as a drop which is illumined from all sides radiates and reflects this illumination, so does the soul appear before the Christ-Impulse. As a flame which is alight within and radiates forth its light, thus does the soul appear after the Mystery of Golgotha, if it has been able to receive the Christ-Impulse.
Bearing this in mind we can express this whole relation by means of the terms we have learnt in Sankhya philosophy. We may say: If we direct our spiritual eye to a soul which, before the Mystery of Golgotha, is irradiated from all sides by the light of the spirit, and we see the whole connection of this spirit which pours in upon the soul from all sides radiating to us in its spirituality, the whole then appears to us in what the Sankhya philosophy describes as the Sattva condition. On the other hand, if we contemplate a soul after the Mystery of Golgotha had been accomplished, looking at it from outside as it were, with the spiritual eye, it seems as though the spiritual light were hidden away in its innermost depths and as if the soul-nature concealed it. The spiritual light appears to us as though veiled by the soul-substance, that spiritual light which, since the Mystery of Golgotha, is contained in the Christ-Impulse.
Do we not perceive this verified up to our own age, indeed especially in our own age, with regard to all that man experiences externally? Observe a man today, see what he has to occupy himself with as regards his external knowledge and his occupation; and try to compare with this how the Christ-Impulse lives in man, as if hidden in his inmost being, like a yet tiny, feeble flame, veiled by the rest of the soul's contents. That is Tamas as compared with the pre-Christian state, which latter, as regards the relation of soul and spirit, was the Sattva-state.
What part, therefore, in this sense does the Mystery of Golgotha play in the evolution of mankind? As regards the revelation of the spirit, it transforms the Sattva into the Tamas state. By means of it mankind moves forward, but it undergoes a deep fall, one may say, not through the Mystery of Golgotha, but through itself. The Mystery of Golgotha causes the flame to grow greater and greater: but the reason the flame appears in the soul as only a very small one — whereas before a mighty light poured in on it from all sides — is that progressing human nature is sinking deeper and deeper into darkness.
It is not, therefore the fault of the Mystery of Golgotha that the human soul, as regards the spirit, is in the Tamas condition, for the Mystery of Golgotha will bring it to pass in the distant future that out of the Tamas condition a Sattva condition will again come about, which will then be set aflame from within. Between the Sattva and the Tamas condition there is, according to Sankhya philosophy, the Rajas condition; and this is described as being that time in human evolution in which falls the Mystery of Golgotha. Humanity itself, as regards the manifestation of the Spirit, went along the path from light into darkness, from the Sattva into the Tamas condition, just during the thousand years which surrounded the Mystery of Golgotha.
If we look more closely into this evolution, we may say: If we take the line A B as the time of the evolution of mankind, up to about the eighth or seventh century before the Mystery of Golgotha, all human civilization was then in the Sattva condition.
7th Century B.C. 15th, 16th Century A.D.
Chald-Egypt. Graeco-Latin Period. Our own age.
Then began the age in which occurred the Mystery of Golgotha, followed by our own age some fifteen or sixteen centuries after the Mystery of Golgotha. Then quite definitely begins the Tamas age — but it is a period of transition. If we wish to use our customary designations, we have the first age — which, in a sense, as regards certain spiritual revelations, still belongs to the Sattva condition — occurring at the same epoch as that which we call the Chaldean-Egyptian, that which is the Rajas-condition is the Graeco-Latin, and that which is in the Tamas condition is our own age. We know, too, that what is called the Chaldean-Egyptian age is the third of the Post-Atlantean conditions, the Graeco-Latin the fourth, and our own the fifth. It was therefore necessary, one might say, in accordance with the plan of the evolution of mankind, that between the third and fourth Post-Atlantean epochs there should occur a deadening, as it were, of external revelation. How was mankind really prepared for the blazing up of the Christ-Impulse? How did this preparation really occur?
If we want to make quite clear to ourselves the difference between the spiritual conditions of mankind in the third epoch of humanity — the Chaldean-Egyptian — and the following epochs, we must say: In this third age in all these countries, in Egypt as well as in Chaldea, and also in India, there still was in humanity the remains of the old clairvoyant power: that is to say, man not only saw the worlds around him with the assistance of his senses and of the understanding connected with the brain, but he could also still see the surrounding world with the organs of his etheric body, at any rate, under certain conditions, between sleeping and waking.
If we wish to picture to ourselves a man of that epoch, we can only do so by saying: To those men a perception of nature and of the world such as we have through our senses and the understanding bound up with the brain was only one of the conditions which they experienced. In those conditions they gained as yet no knowledge, but merely, as it were, gazed at things and let them work, side by side in space and one after another in time. If these men wanted to acquire knowledge they had to enter a condition, not artificially produced as in our time, but occurring naturally, as if of itself, in which their deeper-lying forces, the forces of their etheric bodies, operated for producing knowledge. Out of knowledge such as this came forth all that appears as the wonderful knowledge of the Sankhya philosophy; from such a contemplation also went forth all that has come down to us in the Veda — although that belongs to a still earlier age.
Thus the man of that time acquired knowledge by putting himself or allowing himself to be put into another condition. He had so to say his everyday condition, in which he saw with his eyes, heard with his ears, and followed things with his ordinary understanding; but this seeing, hearing, and understanding he only made use of when occupied in external practical business. It would never have occurred to him to make use of these capacities for the acquiring of knowledge. In order to acquire knowledge and perception he made use of what came to him in that other condition in which he brought into activity the deepest forces of his being.
We can therefore think of man in those old times as having, so to say, an everyday body, and within that everyday body his finer spiritual body, his Sunday body, if I may use such a comparison. With his everyday body he did his everyday work, and with his Sunday body — which was woven of the etheric body alone — he perceived and perfected his science. One would be justified in saying that a man of that olden time would be astonished that we in our day hew out our knowledge by means of our everyday body, and never put on our Sunday body when we wish to learn something about the world.
Well, how did such a man experience all these conditions? The experiencing of these was such that when a man perceived by means of his deeper forces, when he was in that state of perception in which, for instance, he studied Sankhya philosophy, he did not then feel as does the man of today, who, when he wishes to acquire knowledge must exert his reason and think with his head. He, when he acquired knowledge, felt himself to be in his etheric body, which was certainly least developed in what today is the physical head, but was more pronounced in the other parts; man thought much more by means of the other parts of his etheric body. The etheric body of the head is the least perfect part of it. A man felt, so to say, that he thought with his etheric body; he felt himself, when thinking, lifted out of his physical body; but at such moments of learning, of creative knowledge, he felt something more besides; he felt that he was in reality one with the Earth. When he took off his everyday body and put on his Sunday body, he felt as though forces passed through his whole being; as though forces passed through his legs and feet and united him to the Earth, just as the forces which pass through our hands and arms unite them with our body. He began to feel himself a member of the Earth. On the one hand, he felt that he thought and knew in his etheric body, and on the other he felt himself no longer a separate man, but a member of the Earth. He felt his being growing into the Earth. Thus the whole inner manner of experiencing altered when a man drew on his Sunday body and prepared himself for knowledge. What, then, had to happen in order that this old age — the third — should so completely cease, and the new age — the fourth — should come in? If we wish to understand what had to happen then, it would be well to try to feel our way a little into the old method of description.
A man who in that olden time experienced what I have just described would say: “The serpent has become active within me.” His being lengthened out into the Earth; he no longer felt his physical body as the really active part of him; he felt as though he stretched out a serpent-like continuation of himself into the Earth and the head was that which projected out of the Earth. And he felt this serpent being to be the thinker. We might draw the man's being thus: his etheric body passing into the Earth, elongated into a serpent-body and, while outside the Earth as physical man, he was stretched down into the Earth during the time of perceiving and knowing, and thought with his etheric body.
“The serpent is active within me,” said he. To perceive was therefore in the olden time something like this: “I rouse the serpent within me to a state of activity; I feel my serpent-nature.” What had to happen so that the new age should come in, that the new method of perceiving should come about? It had to be no longer possible for those moments to occur in which man felt his being extended down into the Earth through his legs and feet; besides which, perception had to die out in his etheric body and pass over to the physical head. If you can rightly picture this passing over of the old perception into the new, you will say: a good expression for this transition would be: “I am wounded in the feet, but with my own body I tread under foot the head of the serpent,” that is to say, the serpent with its head ceases to be the instrument of thought. The physical body, and especially the physical brain, kills the serpent, and the serpent revenges itself by taking away from one the feeling of belonging to the Earth. It bites one in the heel.
At such times of transition from one form of human experience into another, that which comes, as it were, from the old epoch comes into conflict with that which is coming in the new epoch; for these things are still really contemporaneous. The father is still in existence long after the son's life has begun, although the son is descended from the father. The attributes of the fourth epoch, the Graeco-Latin, were there, but those of the third, the Egyptian-Chaldean epoch, still stirred and moved in men and in nations. These attributes naturally became intermingled in the course of evolution, but that which thus appears as the newly arisen, and that which comes, as it were, out of the olden times, continue to live contemporaneously, but can no longer understand each other properly. The old does not understand the new. The new must protect itself against the old, must defend its life against it; that is to say, the new is there, but the ancestors with their attributes belonging to the old epoch still work in their descendants, the ancestors who have taken no part in the new. Thus we may describe the transition from the third epoch of humanity to the fourth.
There had therefore to be a hero, as we might say — a leader of humanity who, in a significant manner, first represents this process of the killing of the serpent, of being wounded by it; while he had at the same time to struggle against that which was certainly related to him, but which with its attributes still shone into the new age from the old. In the advance of mankind, one person must first experience the whole greatness of that which later all generations experience.
Who was the hero who crushed the head of the serpent, who struggled against that which was important in the third epoch? Who was he who guided mankind out of the old Sattva-time into the new Tamas-time? That was Krishna — and how could this be more clearly shown than by the Eastern legend in which Krishna is represented as being a son of the Gods, a son of Mahadeva and Devaki, who entered the world surrounded by miracles (that betokens that he brings in something new), and who, if I may carry my example further, leads men to look for wisdom in their everyday body, and who crushes their Sunday body — the serpent; who has to defend himself against that which projects into the new age from his kindred. Such a one is something new, something miraculous.
Hence the legend relates how the child Krishna, even at his birth, was surrounded by miracles, and that Kansa, the brother of his mother, wished to take the life of the child. In the uncle of the child Krishna we see the continuance of the old, and Krishna has to defend himself against him; for Krishna had to bring in the new, that which kills the third epoch and does away with the old conditions for the external evolution of mankind. He had to defend himself against Kansa, the inhabitant of the old Sattva age; and among the most remarkable of the miracles with which Krishna is surrounded, the legend relates that the mighty serpent Kali twined round him, but that he was able to tread the head of the serpent under foot, though it wounded his heel. Here we have something of which we may say the legend directly reproduces an occult fact. That is what legends do; only we ought not to seek an external explanation, but should grasp the legend aright, in the true light of knowledge, in order to understand it.
Krishna is the hero of the setting third post-Atlantean epoch of humanity. The legend relates further that Krishna appeared at the end of the third cosmic epoch. It all corresponds when rightly understood. Krishna is therefore he who kills out the old perception, who drives it into the darkness. This he does in his external phenomena; he reduces to a state of darkness that which as Sattva-knowledge was formerly possessed by mankind. Now, how is he represented in the Bhagavad Gita? He is there represented as giving to a single individual, as if in compensation for what he has taken away from him, guidance as to how through Yoga he can rise to that which was then lost to normal mankind. Thus to the world Krishna appears as the killer of the old Sattva-knowledge, while at the same time we see him at the end of the Gita as the Lord of Yoga, who is again to lead us up to the knowledge which had been abandoned; the knowledge belonging to the old ages, which we can only attain when we have overcome and conquered that which we now put on externally as an everyday dress; when we return once more to the old spiritual condition. That was the twofold deed of Krishna, He acted as a world-historical hero, in that he crushed the head of the serpent of the old knowledge and compelled man to re-enter the physical body, in which alone the ego could be won as free and independent ego, whereas formerly all that made man an ego streamed in from outside. Thus he was a worldwide historical hero. Then to the individual he was the one who for the times of devotion, of meditation, of inner finding, gave back that which had at one time been lost. That it is which we meet with in such a grand form in the Gita, which at the end of our last lecture we allowed to work upon our souls, and which Arjuna meets as his own being seen externally; seen without beginning and without end — outspread over all space.
If we observe this condition more clearly we come to a place in the Gita which, if we have already been amazed at the great and mighty contents of the Gita, must infinitely extend our admiration. We come to a passage which, to the man of the present day, must certainly appear incomprehensible; wherein Krishna reveals to Arjuna the nature of the Avayata-tree, of the Fig-tree, by telling him that in this tree the roots grow upwards and the branches downwards; where Krishna further says that the single leaves of this tree are the leaves of the Veda book, which, put together, yield the Veda knowledge. That is a singular passage in the Gita. What does it signify, this pointing to the great Tree of Life, whose roots have an upward direction, and the branches a downward direction, and whose leaves give the contents of the Veda? We must just transport ourselves back into the old knowledge, and try and understand how it worked. The man of today only has, so to say, his present knowledge, communicated to him through his physical organs. The old knowledge was acquired as we have just described, in the body which was still etheric — not that the whole man was etheric, but knowledge was acquired through the part of the etheric body which was within the physical body. Through this organism, through the organization of the etheric body, the old knowledge was acquired.
Just imagine vividly that you, when in the etheric body, could perceive by means of the serpent. There was something then present in the world which to the man of the present day is no longer there. Certainly the man of today can realize much of what surrounds him when he puts himself into relation with nature; but just think of him when he is observing the world: there is one thing he does not perceive, and that is his brain. No man can see his own brain when he is observing; neither can any man see his own spine. This impossibility ceases as soon as one observes with the etheric body. A new object then appears which one does not otherwise see — one perceives one's own nervous system. Certainly it does not appear as the present-day anatomist sees it. It does not appear as it does to such a man; it appears in such a way that one feels: “Yes! There thou art, in thy etheric nature.” One then looks upwards and sees how the nerves, which go through all the organs, are collected together up there in the brain. That produces the feeling: “That is a tree of which the roots go upwards, and the branches stretch down into all the members.” That in reality is not felt as being of the same small size as we are inside our skin: it is felt as being a mighty cosmic tree. The roots stretch far out into the distances of space and the branches extend downwards. One feels oneself to be a serpent, and one sees one's nervous system objectified, one feels that it is like a tree which sends its roots far out into the distance of space and the branches of which go downwards. Remember what I have said in former lectures, that man is, in a sense, an inverted plant. All that you have learnt must be recalled and put together, in order to understand such a thing as this wonderful passage in the Bhagavad Gita. We are then astonished at the old wisdom, which must today, by means of new methods, be called forth from the depths of occultism. We then experience what this tree brings to light. We experience in its leaves that which grows upon it: the Veda knowledge, which streams in on us from without.
The wonderful picture of the Gita stands out clearly before us: the tree with its roots going upwards, and its branches going downwards, with its leaves full of knowledge, and man himself as the serpent round the tree. You may perhaps have seen this picture, or have come across the picture of the Tree of Life with the serpent; everything is of significance when one considers these old things. Here we have the tree with the upward-growing roots, and the downward-turning branches; one feels that it goes in an opposite direction to the Paradise-tree. That has its deep meaning: for the tree of Paradise is placed at the beginning of the other evolution, that which through the old Hebrew antiquity passes on into Christianity. Thus in this place we are given an indication of the whole nature of that old knowledge, and when Krishna distinctly says to his pupil Arjuna: “Renunciation is the power which makes this tree visible to mankind,” we are shown how man returns to that old knowledge when he renounces everything acquired by him in the further course of evolution, which we described yesterday. That it is which is given as something grand and glorious by Krishna to his only individual pupil Arjuna as a payment on account, while he has to take it from the whole of humanity for the everyday use of civilization. That is the being of Krishna.
What then must that become which Krishna gives to his single individual pupil? It must become Sattva wisdom; and the better he is able to give him this Sattva wisdom, the wiser, clearer, calmer, and more passionless will it be, but it will be an old revealed wisdom, something which approaches mankind from without in such a wonderful way in the words which the Sublime One, that is to say, Krishna Himself, speaks, and in those in which the single individual pupil makes reply. Thus Krishna becomes the Lord of Yoga, who leads us back to the ancient wisdom of mankind, and who always endeavors to overcome that which, even in the age of the Sattva, concealed the spirit from the soul, who wishes to bring before his pupil the spirit in its ancient purity, as it was before it descended into substance. Thus in the spirit only does Krishna appear to us in that mutual conversation between Krishna and his pupil to which we referred yesterday.
Thus we have brought before our souls the end of that epoch which was the last one of the ages of the old spirituality, that spirituality that we can so follow that we see its full and complete spiritual light at its beginning, and then its descent into matter in order that man should find his ego, his independence. And when the spiritual light had descended as far as the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, there was then a sort of reciprocal relationship, a Rajas relationship, between the spirit and the more external soul-part. In this epoch occurred the Mystery of Golgotha.
Could we describe this epoch as belonging to the Sattva-condition? No! For then we should not be describing just what belonged to that epoch! If anyone describes it correctly, as belonging to the Rajas-age — making use of that expression of Sankhya philosophy — he must describe it according to Rajas, not in terms of purity and clearness, but in a personal sense, as aroused to anger about this, or that, and so on. Thus would one have to describe it, and thus did St. Paul portray it, in the sense of its relation to Rajas. If you feel the throbbing of many a saying in the Epistles to the Thessalonians, to the Corinthians, or to the Romans, you will become aware of something akin to rage, something often like a personal characteristic pulsating in the Epistles of St. Paul, wrenching itself away from the Rajas-condition — that is the style and character of these Epistles. They had to appear thus; whereas the Bhagavad Gita had to come forth clear and free from the personal because it was the finest blossom of the dying epoch, which, however, gave one individual a compensation for that which was going under, and led him back into the heights of spiritual life. Krishna had to give the finest spiritual blossoms to his own pupil, because he was to kill out the old knowledge of mankind, to crush the head of the serpent. This Sattva-condition went under of itself, it was no longer there; and anyone in the Rajas age who spoke of the Sattva-condition spoke only of that which was old. He who placed himself at the beginning of the newer age had to speak in accordance with what was decisive for that time. Personality had drawn into human nature because human nature had found the way to seek knowledge through the organs and instruments of the physical body. In the Pauline Epistles the personal element speaks; that is why a personality thunders against all that draws in as the darkness of the material; with words of wrath he thunders forth, for words of wrath often thunder forth in the Epistles of St. Paul. That is why the Epistles of St. Paul cannot be given in the strictly limited lines, in the sharply defined, wise clearness of the Bhagavad Gita.
The Bhagavad Gita can speak in words full of wisdom because it describes how man may free himself from external activity, and raise himself in triumph to the spirit, how he may become one with Krishna. It could also describe in words full of wisdom the path of Yoga, which leads to the greatest heights of the soul. But that which came into the world as something new, the victory of the spirit over that which merely pertains to the soul within, that could at first only be described out of the Rajas-condition; and he who first described it in a manner significant for the history of mankind does so full of enthusiasm, in such a way that one knows he took part in it himself, that he himself trembled before the revelation of the Christ-Impulse. The personal had then come to him, he was confronted for the first time with that which was to work on for thousands of years into the future, it came to him in such a way that all the forces of his soul had to take a personal part in it. Therefore he does not describe in philosophic concepts, full of wisdom, such as occur in the Bhagavad Gita, but describes what he has to describe as the resurrection of Christ as something in which man is directly and personally concerned.
Was it not to become personal experience? Was not Christianity to draw into what is most intimately personal, warm it through and through, and fill it with life? Truly he who described the Christ-Event for the first time could only do so as a personal experience. We can see how in the Gita the chief emphasis is laid upon the ascent through Yoga into spiritual heights; the rest is only touched upon in passing. Why is this? Because Krishna only gives his instructions to one particular pupil and does not concern himself with what other people outside in the world feel as to their connection with the spiritual. Therefore Krishna describes what his pupil must become, that he must grow higher and higher, and become more and more spiritual. That description leads to riper and riper conditions of the soul, and hence to more and more impressive pictures of beauty. Hence also it is the case that only at the end do we meet with the antagonism between the demoniacal and the spiritual, and it confirms the beauty of the ascent into the soul-life; only at the conclusion do we see the contrast between those who are demoniacal and those who are spiritual. All those people out of whom only the material speaks, who live in the material, who believe that all comes to an end with death, are demoniacal. But that is only mentioned by way of enlightenment, it is nothing with which the great teacher is really concerned: he is before all concerned with the spiritualizing of the human soul. Yoga may only speak of that which is opposed to Yoga as a side-issue.
St. Paul is, above all, concerned with the whole of humanity, that humanity which is in fact in the oncoming age of darkness. He has to turn his attention to all that this age of darkness brings about in human life; he must contrast the dark life, common to all, with that which is the Christ-Impulse, and which is first to spring up as a tiny plant in the human soul. We can see it appearing in St. Paul as he points over and over again to all sorts of vice, all sorts of materialism, which must be combated through what he has to give. What he is able to give is at first a mere flickering in the human soul, which can only acquire power through the enthusiasm which lies behind his words, and which appears in triumphant words as the manifestation of feeling through personality.
Thus the presentations of the Gita and of the Pauline Epistles are far removed from each other; in the clearness of the Gita the descriptions are impersonal, while St. Paul had to work the personal into his words. It is that which on the one hand gives the style and tone to the Gita, and on the other to the Pauline Epistles; we meet it in both works — almost, one might, say in every line. Something can only attain artistic perfection when it has acquired the necessary ripeness; at the beginning of its development it always appears as more or less chaotic.
Why is all this so? This question is answered if we turn to the wonderful beginning of the Gita. We have already described it; we have seen the hosts of the kindred facing each other in battle, one warrior facing another, yet both conqueror and conquered are related to one another by blood. The time we are considering is that of the transition from the old blood-relationship, to which belongs the power of clairvoyance, to that of the differentiation and mingling of blood, which is the characteristic of our modern times. We are confronted with a transformation of the outer bodily nature of man and of the perception which necessarily accompanies this.
Another kind of mingling of blood, a new significance of blood, now enters into the evolution of mankind. If we wish to study the transition from that old epoch to the new — I would remind you of my little pamphlet The Occult Significance of Blood — we must say that the clairvoyance of olden times depended upon the fact that the blood was, so to say, kept in the tribe, whereas the new age proceeded from the mixing of blood, by which clairvoyance was killed, and the new perception arose which is connected with the physical body. The beginning of the Gita points to something external, to something connected with man's bodily form. It is with these external changes of form that Sankhya philosophy is mostly concerned; in a sense it leaves in the background that which belongs to the soul, as we have pointed out. The souls in their multiplicity are simply behind the forms. In Sankhya philosophy we have found a kind of plurality; we have compared it with the Leibnitz philosophy of more modern times.
If we can think ourselves into the soul of a Sankhya philosopher, we can imagine his saying: “My soul expresses itself in the Sattva or in the Rajas or in the Tamas condition with respect to the forms of the external body.” But this philosopher studies the forms. These forms alter, and one of the most remarkable changes is that which expresses itself in the different use made of the etheric body, or through the transition as regards blood-relationship we have just described. We have then an external change of form. The soul itself is not in the least affected by that with which Sankhya philosophy concerns itself. The external changes of form are quite sufficient to enable us to consider what takes place in the transition from the old Sattva age to that of the new Rajas, on the borders of which stands Krishna. It is the external changes of form which come into consideration there.
Outer changes of form always come into consideration at the time of the change of the ages. But the changes of form took place in a different way during the transition from the Persian to the Egyptian epoch from what they did in that from the Egyptian to the Graeco-Latin; still an external change of form did take place. In yet another manner took place the transition from the Ancient Indian to the Persian, but there too there was an external change of form. Indeed it was simply a change of form which occurred when the passing-over from the old Atlantis itself into the post-Atlantean ages took place. A change of form — and we could follow this by holding fast to the designations of the Sankhya philosophy: we can follow it simply by saying: The soul goes through its experiences within these forms, but the soul itself is not altered thereby; Purusha remains undisturbed. Thus we have a particular sort of transformation which can be described by Sankhya philosophy according to its own conceptions.
But behind this transforming there is Purusha, the individual part of the soul of every man. The Sankhya philosophy only says of this that there is an individual soul-part which is related through the three Gunas — Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas — with external form. But this soul-part is not itself affected by the external forms: Purusha is behind them all and we are directed to the soul itself; a continual indication of the soul itself is what meets us in the teaching of Krishna, in what he as Lord of Yoga teaches. Yes, certainly — but the nature of this soul is not given us in the way of knowledge. Directions as to how to develop the soul is the highest we are shown: alteration of the external forms; no change in the soul itself, only an introductory note.
This first suggestion we discover in the following way: If man is to rise through Yoga from the ordinary stages of the soul to the higher, he must free himself from external works, he must emancipate himself more and more from outer works, from what he does and perceives externally; he must become a “looker-on” at himself. His soul then assumes an inner freedom and raises itself triumphantly over what is external. That is the case with the ordinary man, but with one who is initiated and becomes clairvoyant the case does not remain thus; he is not confronted with external substance, for that in itself is maya. It only becomes a reality to him who makes use of his own inner instruments. What takes the place of substance? If we observe the old initiation we meet with the following: Whereas man in everyday life is confronted with substance, with Prakriti — the soul which through Yoga has developed itself by initiation has to fight against the world of the Asuras, the world of the demoniacal. Substance is what offers resistance; the Asuras, the powers of darkness, become enemies. But all that is as yet a mere suggestion; we perceive it as something peeping out of the soul, so to say; we begin to feel that which pertains to the soul. For the soul will only begin to realize itself as spiritual when it begins to fight the battle against the demons, the Asuras.
In our language we should describe this battle — which, however, we only meet with in miniature — as something which becomes perceptible in the form of spirits, when substance appears in spirituality. We thus perceive in miniature that which we know as the battle of the soul when it enters upon initiation, the battle with Ahriman. But when we look upon it as a battle of this kind, we are then in the innermost part of the soul, and what were formerly material spirits grow into something gigantic; the soul is then confronted with the mighty foe. Soul then stands up against soul: the individual soul in universal space is confronted with the realm of Ahriman. It is the lowest stage of Ahriman's kingdom with which one fights in Yoga; but now when we look at this as the battle of the soul with the powers of Ahriman, with Ahriman's kingdom, he himself stands before us. Sankhya philosophy recognizes this relationship of the soul to external substance, in which the latter has the upper hand, as the condition of Tamas. The initiate who has entered initiation by means of Yoga is not only in this Tamas state, but also in battle with certain demoniacal powers, into which substance transforms itself before his sight. In this same sense the soul, when it is in the condition not only of being confronted with the spiritual in substance but with the purely spiritual, is face to face with Ahriman. According to Sankhya philosophy, spirit and matter are in balance in the Rajas condition: they sway to and fro, first matter is above, then spirit; at one time matter weighs down the scales, then spirit. If this condition is to lead to initiation it must lead in the sense of the old Yoga to a direct overcoming of Rajas, and lead into Sattva. To us it does not yet lead into Sattva, but to the commencement of another battle: the battle with what is Luciferic.
And now the course of our considerations leads us to Purusha, which is only hinted at in Sankhya philosophy. Not only do we hint at it, we place it right in the midst of the field of the battle against Ahriman and Lucifer: one soul-nature wars against another. In Sankhya philosophy Purusha is seen in immense perspective; but if we enter more deeply into that which plays its part in the nature of the soul, not as yet distinguished between Ahriman and Lucifer, then in Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas we only find the relation of the soul to material substance. But considering the matter in our own sense, we have the soul in its full activity, fighting and struggling between Ahriman and Lucifer.
That is something which in its full greatness can only be considered through Christianity. According to the old Sankhya teaching Purusha remains still undisturbed: it describes the condition which arises when Purusha clothes itself in Prakriti. We enter the Christian age and in that which underlies esoteric Christianity we penetrate into Purusha itself, and describe this by taking the trinity into consideration: the soul, the Ahrimanic, and the Luciferic. We now grasp the inner relationship of the soul itself in its struggles. That which had to come was to be found in the transition in the fourth epoch, that transition which is marked through the Mystery of Golgotha. For what took place then? That which occurred in the transition from the third to the fourth epoch was something which can be described as a mere change of form; but now it is something which can only be described by the transition from Prakriti into Purusha itself, which must be so characterized that we say: “We feel how completely Purusha has emancipated itself from Prakriti; we feel that in our innermost being.”
Man is not only torn away from the ties of blood but also from Prakriti, from everything external, and must inwardly have done with it. Then comes the Christ-Impulse. That is, however, the greatest transition which could take place in the whole evolution of the Earth. It is then no longer merely a question of what might be the conditions of the soul in relation to matter — in Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas — for the soul no longer has merely to overcome Tamas and Rajas to raise itself above them in Yoga, but has to fight against Ahriman and Lucifer, for it is now left to itself. Hence the necessity to confront that which is presented to us in that mighty poem the Bhagavad Gita — that which was necessary for the old times — with that which is necessary for the new.
That sublime Song, the Bhagavad Gita, shows us this conflict. There we are shown the human soul. It dwells in its bodily part, in its sheaths. These sheaths can be described. They are that which is in a constant state of changing form. The soul in its ordinary life lives in a state of entanglement, in Prakriti. In Yoga it frees itself from that which envelops it, it overcomes that in which it is enwrapped, and enters the spiritual sphere, when it is quite free from its coverings.
Let us compare with this that which Christianity, the Mystery of Golgotha, first brought. It is not here sufficient that the soul should merely make itself free. For if the soul should free itself through Yoga, it would attain to the vision of Krishna. He would appear in all his might before it — but as he was before Ahriman and Lucifer obtained their full power. Therefore a kind divinity still conceals the fact that beside Krishna — who then becomes visible in the sublime way described in our last lecture — on his left and on his right there stand Ahriman and Lucifer. With the old clairvoyance that was still possible, because man had not yet descended into matter; but now it can no longer be the case. If the soul were now only to go through Yoga it would meet Ahriman and Lucifer and would have to enter into battle with them. It can only take its place beside Krishna when it has that ally Who fights Ahriman and Lucifer; Tamas and Rajas would not suffice. That ally, however, is Christ. Thus we see how that which is of a bodily nature freed itself from the body— or one might also say, that which is bodily darkened itself within the body, at the time when Krishna, the Hero, appeared. But, on the other hand, we see that which is still more stupendous: the soul abandoned to itself and face to face with something which is only visible in its own domain in the age in which the Mystery of Golgotha occurred.
I can well imagine, my dear friends, someone saying: “Well, what could be more wonderful than when the highest ideal of man, the perfection of mankind, is placed before our eyes in the form of Krishna!” There can be something higher — and that it is which must stand by our side and permeate us when we have to gain this humanity not merely against Tamas and Rajas but against the powers of the spirit. That is the Christ. So it is the want of capacity to see something greater still, if one is determined to see in Krishna the highest of all.
The preponderating force of the Christ-Impulse as compared with the Krishna-Impulse is expressed in the fact that in the latter we have incarnated in the whole human nature of Krishna the Being which was incarnated in him. Krishna was born, and grew up, as the son of Vasudeva; but in his whole manhood was incorporated, incarnated, that highest human impulse which we recognize as Krishna. That other Impulse, which must stand by our side when we have to confront Lucifer and Ahriman (which confrontation is only now beginning, for all such things, for instance, as are represented in our Mystery Dramas will be understood psychically by future generations), that other Impulse must be one for which mankind as such is at first too small, an Impulse which cannot immediately dwell even in a body such as one which Zarathustra can inhabit, but can only dwell in it when that body itself has attained the height of its development, when it has reached its thirtieth year. Thus the Christ-Impulse does not fill a whole life, but only the ripest period of a human life. That is why the Christ-Impulse lived only for three years in the body of Jesus. The more exalted height of the Christ-Impulse is expressed in the fact that it could not live immediately in a human body, as did Krishna from his birth up.
We shall have to speak further of the overwhelming greatness of the Christ-Impulse as compared with the Krishna-Impulse and how this is to be seen. But from what has already been characterized you can both see and feel that, as a matter of fact, the relation between the great Gita and the Epistles of St. Paul could be none other; that the whole presentation of the Gita being the ripe fruit of much, much earlier times may therefore be complete in itself; while the Epistles of St. Paul, being the first seeds of a future — certainly more perfect, more all-embracing — world-epoch, must necessarily be far more incomplete.
Thus one who represents how the world runs its course must recognize, it is true, the great imperfections of the Pauline Epistles as compared with the Gita — the very, very significant imperfections — they must not be disguised — but he must also understand the reason those imperfections have to be there.