Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"I am the true vine"

Ex Deo Nascimur         In Christo Morimur         Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus

John 15:1 - 16:3

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

These things I command you, that ye love one another.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.

If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.

He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

The Revelation of John: September 30, A.D. 395

From the notes of a listener to an Esoteric Lesson given by Rudolf Steiner on March 5, 1911 [102 years ago today]:

Two sayings are given to pupils in Rosicrucian schools to support them in their meditations: Beware of drowning in your esoteric striving. Beware of burning in the fire of your own ego.
There's an outer and an inner way to strive towards the spiritual.
Everything around us is like a veil, like a cover before the spiritual that we must punch through to get to the spiritual behind it. But in which direction? This cover surrounds us on all sides: above, below, front, back, right, and left. And inwardly, everything that we experience as joy, pain, etc., is like a veil, like fog that conceals the spiritual in us, and this spiritual is the same one that we find when we break through the outer cover.
So that mankind can evolve further and get into the spiritual there are always men from time to time who are more advanced than is permitted by the momentary stage of human development, and who have things to tell us about states of human evolution that reach far into the future. Such advanced beings must exist to lead men further. John, the writer of the Apocalypse, was such a man. When he wanted to write a revelation of the future, he told himself: If I write this book out of the whole surroundings in which I'm living here and now, it'll be influenced by the self that's in my body, since I'm connected with everything around and in me. I must free myself from all of this. He had to place himself on something like a rock that served him as a firm support, on which he didn't wobble and wasn't influenced by anything that surged around and in him. And he moved himself to the evening of September 30, 395 A.D., to the island of Patmos, as the Sun had already disappeared under the horizon, though its effect could still be felt, and as the Moon and stars appeared. The Virgin constellation was there in the western sky, irradiated by the last gleam of the Sun that had set, with the Moon under it. This picture is reproduced in one of the seals — the Virgin with the radiating Sun, and the Moon under her feet. Thus, all of these seals were produced out of deep mystical connections.
John broke through the cover that surrounds us in this one direction — that of Virgo. There are 12 of these signs. Seven of them are good — the ones reproduced in the seals; the other five are more or less dangerous. Just as John chose this particular point in time and space to become completely separated from himself and all temporal things around him, so a Rosicrucian pupil must acquire a firm foundation in himself. The best way to do this is to let theosophical teachings work on us. Our astral body and thereby our etheric body become expanded by listening to theosophical ideas. This is the effect on anyone who hears anything about theosophy. But the effect on those who are inclined toward theosophy is different than on those who aren't. The former feel the etheric body's expansion and fill it up with theosophical teachings, by accepting them. The other feel an emptiness in their etheric body through its expansion because they don't accept these ideas and so don't fill the expansion. Then doubt and skepticism arise through this emptiness. Whereas with the first men, it's like a pouring of oneself into the universe, which they can't let go too far, for they'll get a feeling of hollowness, of not feeling at home in these widths of space, like a fish that's taken out of water and can't live in air, because its organs haven't adapted themselves to this changed element. When a theosophist devotes himself to the teachings and his astral body expands evermore, he loses himself in this unfamiliar element. One must avoid drowning here. And this is possible if one studies theosophy seriously, takes it in, elaborates it, and grasps it with feeling, not just with thinking and will, but permeates it completely with feeling. One can only do this with great earnestness. One must gain a firm support within oneself — like John when he wanted to write the Apocalypse and he transported himself to the island of Patmos at sundown of September 30, 395.
The configuration of the Sun, Virgo, and Moon on that evening can be checked astronomically, and this was done. From this materialistic science draws the conclusion: Therefore the Apocalypse was written at that time. And then we're told that science has ascertained this. That's the way science ascertains things.
On the inner path one finds all the joys and sorrows, pains and blissfulness that live in us. But all of this is attached to our lower, perishable ego. This whole desire world surrounds us like a fog that covers the spiritual for us. It keeps us from seeing and noticing the spiritual. We must break through it to get to the spiritual. There are forces that approach an esoteric pupil to make this fog even denser. The fog gets even denser if we don't resist it. We must burn it to avoid burning in the fire of our passions. If we don't overcome this fog, if we don't resist its becoming ever denser through Luciferic and Ahrimanic forces, we're prisoners, as occultists say. There actually are men today who are born with great capacities and reach certain stages very quickly, but are then completely wrapped up in such a fog by the adversarial powers that they can't get out. One calls this occult imprisonment.
Our desire world consists entirely of egoism. And we can only overcome this egoism in deep humility. Which thought can lead us to an overcoming of egoism? The thought that we already spoke about yesterday in the exoteric lecture, the thought that we killed Christ. We're murderers, yes, that's what we are. We can transform this fact, but only if we let Paul's words live and become truth in us, “Not I, but Christ in me.” We shouldn't kill the divine in us through egoism, through our life of desires, etc., we should let Christ live in us. We should begin to carry out this easy and yet so difficult thing in us with shivering earnestness.
We arose from the divine: Ex Deo nascimur. We should take all suffering upon us willingly and patiently with the thought that we killed Christ; we should devote ourselves to him completely and die in him: In Christo morimur. Then we'll be reborn, reawakened through the Holy Spirit: Per Spiritum Sanctum reviviscimus. This verse sounds different exoterically than esoterically, but the difference is in only one word that's left out in the esoteric version. As we leave this word out and don't speak this word in shy reverence for what this word expresses, our feeling goes out to what is left unspoken in shy reverence.

Ex Deo nascimur

In … morimur

Per Spiritum Sanctum reviviscimus.

This tells us that man arose from the spiritual; that he was originally contained in the spirit:

In the spirit lay the germ of my body.

And the spirit has imprinted in my body

The eyes of sense,

That through them I may see
The lights of bodies.
And the spirit has imprinted in my body
Reason and sensation
And feeling and will,
That through them I may perceive bodies
And act upon them.
In the spirit lay the germ of my body.

In my body lies the germ of the spirit.

And I will incorporate into my spirit

The supersensible eyes

That through them I may behold the light of spirits.
And I will imprint in my spirit
Wisdom and power and love,
So that through me the spirits may act
And I become a self-conscious organ
Of their deeds.
In my body lies the germ of the spirit.

The Two Jesus Boys

The Gospel of Luke. Lecture 4 of 10.
Rudolf Steiner, Basel, September 18, 1909:

Sanctuaries of leadership in ancient Atlantis. The Nirmanakaya of Buddha and the Nathan Jesus child. The Adam soul before the Fall. The reincarnation of Zarathustra in the Solomon Jesus child.

The facts underlying the Gospels — particularly that of St. Luke — will become increasingly complicated as we proceed. I must therefore ask you to bear in mind, especially today, that as the lectures are given as a consecutive series, a single one, or even several, cannot be understood unless studied in connection with the rest. This applies particularly to the present lecture and the one to follow; so you must wait until tomorrow before asking how the various facts to be presented are connected with what has already been said on other occasions.
In the last lecture we heard that the Nirmanakaya of Buddha manifested itself to the world at the moment when, according to the writer of the Gospel of St. Luke, the proclamation was made to the shepherds. Buddhist conceptions that flowed into Christianity were thereby given to the world in a new form and were rejuvenated through the circumstance that the protective astral sheath of the Nathan Jesus-child — the sheath that is detached from the growing human being at puberty — was absorbed by the Nirmanakaya of Buddha and became one with it in the twelfth year of Jesus' life. From that moment onwards we have to do with a definite entity consisting of the Nirmanakaya (or spiritual body) of Buddha and the protective astral sheath that had been detached from the twelve-year-old Jesus-child.
In ordinary life, when the protective astral sheath is cast off in the course of development and the astral body is actually born, the sheath dissolves into the universal astral world. In the case of an average person of our time, the astral sheath would not be suitable for incorporation in a higher being such as Buddha in his Nirmanakaya. There was something very special about the astral sheath which was cast off at that time and through its union with the Nirmanakaya of Buddha rejuvenated the whole of Buddhism. In other words, a unique being must have been incarnated in the body of this Jesus-child — a being from whom proceeded the forces that were absorbed by the astral sheath and contained the rejuvenating power indicated in the lecture yesterday. It must have been no ordinary human being but a very special being who grew up in the Jesus-child from birth to the twelfth year and was able to infuse the rejuvenating forces into the discarded astral sheath.
To form an idea of how a child could possibly work upon his sheaths in a way differing from the normal, the facts must be approached by means of a comparison.
If we follow the life of the human being evolving under normal conditions from birth to later stages, to the twentieth, thirtieth, and fortieth years, we can perceive how the various forces that are present at birth in rudimentary form gradually make their appearance. The child grows both physically and spiritually; the forces of soul develop by degrees. (How this takes place can be read in my book The Education of the Child in the light of Anthroposophy.) Try to picture to yourselves how the forces of the mind and intellect develop in the child; how at the seventh, fourteenth, and twenty-first years certain powers not in operation before make their appearance or are forthcoming in greater strength. Try to imagine how this process takes place in the normal course of human life, and now suppose that we wish to make an experiment with life; we wish to make it possible for a young human being to develop in a way that is less normal and less in conformity with the customs of our present age. We wish to give him a special opportunity of grasping with a certain freshness, and not in the ordinary way, the material usually assimilated between the twelfth and eighteenth years, so that he does not absorb it as others do, but retains a kind of inventive power, continuing to work creatively upon it. Suppose we wish to make such a child into a specially creative human being. In that case we shall not allow him to grow up as other children normally do.
I say expressly that this is a hypothetical experiment only and is not meant to be immediately put into practice. I speak of it by way of comparison only and do not recommend it as an ideal of education! Thus supposedly we wish to train a human being to develop an especially creative turn of mind, not only keeping his thinking very alert but continuing, even at a later age, to unfold inventive powers. To begin with, we should have to keep such a child from learning what other children learn directly after the ages of six or seven; the usual school-subjects taught to other children would have to be withheld from him. Until his tenth or eleventh year he would as far as possible be kept at play and be taught very little in the way of ordinary school-subjects, so that at the age of nine he would probably still be unable to add up figures and at the age of eight still hardly able to read. Then we should have to begin at the age of eight or nine with all that a child usually learns when he is six or seven years old. Under these conditions the faculties of the human being develop quite differently and the soul makes something altogether different of what is imparted to it. Such a child would retain the forces of childhood (which are usually suppressed by current methods of education) until his tenth or eleventh year; he would tackle his lessons with a far greater activity of soul and have a much stronger grasp of the subjects. His faculties would thus become highly productive. It would be essential to keep such a child in a childlike state as long as possible, and then a clairvoyant would perceive that the astral sheath stripped off at puberty actually contains youthful, vigorous forces, very  different from those usually in evidence. This astral sheath could then be used by a being such as Buddha in his Nirmanakaya. Not only would a prolongation of the years of youth be achieved by such an experiment but certain childlike, youthful forces would be able to permeate the astral sheath, so that a being who were to descend from spiritual heights could be nourished and rejuvenated by these forces.
Nobody, however, should attempt to make this experiment; it is not an ideal for education. Certain things must still be left to the Gods. Gods can do this kind of thing, but not man. And if you hear of some personality destined to do creative work in a particular field that he seemed for a long time to be untalented and was for years considered a simpleton, that intelligence developed in him only much later — then you will know that the Gods instituted this experiment; they guarded the childhood of such a human being and made him fit to learn only at a later period what is learnt much earlier in normal life. This is especially the case when wide-awake children easily grasp stories told to them, yet when they go to school learn nothing at all. The Gods are making with them the experiment of which I have spoken.
Something of the kind — only on a far, far grander scale — had to happen in the case of the Jesus-child who was then to deliver to the Nirmanakaya of Buddha such an infinitely fertile astral sheath. (Here we come to a mysterious fact which everyone is free to believe or not to believe, but which may now be communicated to duly prepared Anthroposophists. Examine all the facts at your disposal in the Gospels or in history and you will find everything substantiated by the facts of the physical plane if you approach these facts in the right way and do not judge too precipitately. The occultist who presents facts of the higher worlds entrusts them to humanity; and if they come from the right source he can say: you may test them as severely as you like, but if you do so fairly, you will  find them all substantiated by what can be learnt in the physical world from documents and the findings of science.)
It was essential that there should be born of the parents spoken of in the Gospel of St. Luke a child who brought with him youthful forces of a very special kind and that these forces should be preserved in their pristine healthiness and vigor.
Under ordinary circumstances no child could have been found in whom the forces of childhood and youth were present in the state of freshness required at that time. In the whole range of humanity, if normal conditions alone had prevailed, nowhere could such an individuality, nowhere could parents have been found such as were necessary for an incarnation of that kind. Very special measures were essential. To understand this we must recall certain facts already known to us.
Present-day humanity can be traced back through various epochs to the primeval humanity of ancient Atlantis. Atlantean humanity in turn leads back to that of ancient Lemuria. Spiritual science is able to reveal facts concerning the evolution of humanity very different from those presented by external science, which can have recourse only to data of the material world. Spiritual science tells us that humanity passed through a stage of Graeco-Latin civilization, which was preceded by the Egypto-Chaldean, the ancient Persian, and the ancient Indian civilizations. Then we come to the great catastrophe which entirely changed the face of the Earth. Before that catastrophe a great continent stretched across the area now covered by the Atlantic Ocean: this was ancient Atlantis. The regions occupied today by the European, Asiatic, and African peoples were mostly still under water. Through the great Atlantean catastrophe the whole countenance of the Earth was changed. Humanity had for the most part settled in Atlantis and underwent evolution there. The constitution of the men of Atlantis was, of course, very different from that of men today.
When the time of the catastrophe drew near, the great clairvoyant leaders and priests, foreseeing what was to happen, guided men to the East, and also to the West. Those who were led to the West were the ancestors of the later American Indians. Our own progenitors too were among the old Atlanteans. The inhabitants of Atlantis were in their turn the descendants of an earlier and again very different humanity living on the continent of ancient Lemuria, between the present continents of Asia, Africa, and Australia. (You will find a detailed account in my book and I will now select the relevant facts only.)
When we look back in the akashic chronicle to very ancient times the most wonderful corroboration is forthcoming of what is to be read in the Bible and other religious texts; indeed, it is only then that we learn to understand their contents in the right way. The reference in the Bible to a single pair of human beings, Adam and Eve, from whom all humanity has descended, was a problem with which men in the mid-nineteenth century were deeply preoccupied from the scientific standpoint. The akashic chronicle reveals that the Earth is of immense antiquity and that even the Lemurian epoch was preceded by another. We learn from the book Occult Science that the Earth is the re-embodiment of the earlier planetary embodiments of Old Moon, Old Sun, and Old Saturn. We learn too that the Earth, in the course of its gradual evolution, was destined to add the ego, the fourth principle of human nature, to the other three bodies which had been developed during the previous embodiments: the physical body (in rudimentary form) on Old Saturn, the etheric body on Old Sun, the astral body on Old Moon. Everything that preceded the Lemurian epoch was merely preparation for the Earth's mission. During the Lemurian epoch man assumed a form that made it possible for him to develop his fourth principle, the ego. At that time the first seed began to form for the development of an ego in the other three principles. Hence we can say that the changes which took place on Earth enabled man to become the bearer of an ego. Before the Lemurian epoch the Earth was also inhabited, but by human beings who as yet bore no ego within them. They consisted of the principles that had been brought over from their former development during the planetary evolutions of Old Saturn, Old Sun, and Old Moon. These human beings consisted of physical body, etheric body, astral body. We know of the processes in the universe which led to the next stage in man's evolution. At the beginning of its present embodiment the Earth was united with Sun and Moon; then the Sun separated off, leaving behind a planetary body comprising the present Earth and Moon. If the Earth had remained united with the Moon, man's whole make-up would have become hard and ligneous, would have shrivelled. In order to avert this it was necessary for all the Moon-substances and beings to be cast out. Thereby the human form was rescued from the danger of hardening and it became possible for man to assume his present structure. It was only after the separation of the Moon that the possibility arose for him to become the bearer of an ego. This did not, of course, take place all at once. After the Sun had slowly separated and while the Moon was still contained within the Earth, certain conditions arose which prevented the further evolution of mankind; physical matter became increasingly dense and a process of hardening had, in fact, already begun. Human souls — they were then at a lower stage of development — were passing through incarnations, through successive embodiments; in other words, man's in-most being left his outer form and passed through a spiritual world in order then to reappear in a new incarnation. But before the separation of the Moon a difficult period occurred in the evolution of the Earth. Certain human souls who, having left their bodies, were living in the spiritual world, wanted to descend again to the Earth; but the human substance now to be found there was too hard and ligneous to enable them to incarnate. A time came when souls wishing to descend found it impossible to incarnate again because the earthly bodies were  unsuitable for them. Only the very strongest souls were able to master the hardened matter sufficiently to incarnate on the Earth; the others were obliged to withdraw again into the spiritual world. There were periods before the separation of the Moon when these conditions prevailed. The number of strong souls able to conquer matter and populate the Earth became steadily less, with the result that prior to the Lemurian epoch there was a period when wide areas of the Earth were barren and the population less and less numerous, because souls desiring to descend could find no suitable bodies.
What happened to these souls? They were transported to the other planets which had formed meanwhile out of the universal substance. Certain souls were transported to Saturn, others to Jupiter, Mars, Venus, or Mercury. There was a period when only the very strongest souls were able to come to the Earth during its great winter. The weaker souls had to be taken into the guardianship of the other planets of our solar system.
During the Lemurian epoch there was actually a time when it may be said — with approximate accuracy at any rate — that there was a single couple in existence, one main pair (Haupt-paar) which had retained sufficient strength to master the stubborn substance and to incarnate on the Earth, to ‘hold out’ as it were through the period when the Moon was separating from the Earth. This separation made it possible again for human substance to be refined and rendered suitable to receive the weaker souls; the descendants of this one main pair were therefore able to live in more pliable substance than had been available before the separation of the Moon. Then, by degrees, all the souls returned to the Earth from Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, and Saturn; and through propagation the souls gradually returning to the Earth from the planets constituted the descendants of the first main pair.
Thus the Earth was re-peopled. And during the latter part of the Lemurian until far into the Atlantean epoch, an ever-increasing number of souls descended, having waited on the other planets until a time came when they were able to incarnate in earthly bodies. In this way the Earth was re-populated and the Atlantean peoples came into existence, guided by the Atlantean initiates in the ‘Oracles’.
In ancient Atlantis there were great sanctuaries where initiates worked. These sanctuaries were organized in such a way that one might be called the ‘Mars Oracle’, another the ‘Jupiter Oracle’, another the ‘Saturn Oracle,’ and so on. The variety of these Oracle-sanctuaries was due to the differences among human beings. For those souls who had waited on Mars, instruction and guidance were provided in the Mars Oracles; for those who had waited on Jupiter, in the Jupiter Oracles, and so on. Only a few chosen pupils could be instructed in the great Sun Oracle. These were the most direct descendants of the main pair who had lived through the Earth's critical period — the strong, ancestral couple called in the Bible ‘Adam and Eve’. There we find something that tallies exactly with the facts revealed by the akashic chronicle, so that the Bible is substantiated even where its content seems improbable.
At the head of the Sun Oracle, to which the other Oracles were subordinate, was the greatest of the Atlantean initiates, the Sun initiate, who was also the ‘Manu’, the leader of the Atlantean peoples. When the time of the great catastrophe was approaching, the Manu assumed the task of leading to the East those whom he found suitable for his mission — which was to establish a starting-point for the civilizations of the post-Atlantean epoch. This initiate gathered around him men who always included the most direct descendants of ‘Adam and Eve’, the first ancestral pair who had survived the Earth's winter. These men were brought up and trained in the immediate environment of the great initiate. The whole of the teaching imparted to them was organized in such a way that at the appropriate point of time in evolution it was always possible for the right influences to be sent forth from the sanctuary led by the Manu, the initiate of the Sun Oracle. Let us suppose that at a certain point in evolution a rejuvenation of civilization was necessary; traditions preserved in humanity had become antiquated and required a new impetus; a new culture needed to be inaugurated. Provision for this had to be made — and was actually made, in many different ways — in the sanctuary under the great initiate of the Sun Oracle.
During the first period of the post-Atlantean epoch, men specially prepared were sent to one place or another in order to carry into the world, as the result of their careful training, what might be required by the people concerned. This Oracle sanctuary, which was situated in a hidden region of Asia, never failed to provide for the right influence to be exercised upon the particular civilizations.
Five to six centuries after the advent of the great Buddha there dawned a very crucial time. Buddhism had become in need of rejuvenation. The mature and sublime conceptions taught by Buddha needed to pass through a fountain of youth in order that they might be revealed to mankind in a new form, filled with fresh, rejuvenating forces. Very special forces had to be provided for humanity. These forces were not to be found in any single individual who had worked in the world outside. Whoever works for the world wears out his strength, and this wearing out of strength simply means ‘growing old’. Civilization after civilization arose at various points of time: first, the ancient Indian, then the ancient Persian, then the Egypto-Chaldean, and so on; great and notable leaders of humanity were at all times present — leaders who devoted their highest and best forces to humanity and its progress. The Holy Rishis, Zarathustra who was the inaugurator of the Persian civilization, Hermes, Moses, the leaders of Chaldean culture — all devoted their forces to the same end. By virtue of their achievements they were the best leaders for their times. Think of some personality in ancient India: he incarnated again and again, reappeared in this or that incarnation, in the Persian, in the Egypto-Chaldean epoch — and his soul became more and more mature; he rose to stages of greater maturity but thereby lost the fresh force of youth. A man may be capable of momentous achievements when he has become a mature soul as the result of efforts made in the course of many incarnations — but his soul has aged. He may be able to give splendid teaching, he may achieve a great deal for humanity, but he would have had to sacrifice his youthful freshness and vigor while thus evolving to higher stages.
Let us take one of the greatest individualities who have worked in the course of human evolution: Zarathustra. It was he who brought the sublime message of the Sun Spirit from the profoundest depths of the spiritual world to the humanity of his time; it was he who directed the souls of men to the great Spirit who later appeared as Christ; it was he who proclaimed: ‘In the Sun lives Ahura Mazdao, and He will come to the Earth!’ Zarathustra spoke words of immense significance concerning Ahura Mazdao. Only his profound spiritual knowledge and highly developed clairvoyance could behold that being of whom the Holy Rishis said that He, ‘Vishva Karman’, dwelt beyond their sphere. This was the same being whom Zarathustra called ‘Ahura Mazdao’ and whose significance for humanity he proclaimed. A spirit of great maturity lived in the body of Zarathustra, even in the days when he founded the ancient Persian civilization.
We can well imagine that this individuality rose to higher and higher stages during his subsequent incarnations, becoming more and more mature, more and more capable of the greatest sacrifices on behalf of humanity. Those of you who have heard other lectures of mine will know that Zarathustra gave up his astral body to Hermes, the leader of the Egyptian civilization, and his etheric body to Moses, the leader of the Hebrews. Such deeds can be accomplished only by a soul of very advanced development. Zarathustra was then reborn in Chaldea six hundred years before our era (at the time of Buddha in India) and worked there as the great teacher ‘Nazarathos’ or ‘Zaratas’, who was also the teacher of Pythagoras. All this was within the power of the former leader and inaugurator of the ancient Persian civilization. Since the days of ancient Persia he had become more and more mature, but when Buddhism needed rejuvenation this task was not within his powers, as you will understand from the foregoing. It was not possible for him to provide youthful forces, developed under childlike conditions until puberty, which could then be given over to the Nirmanakaya of Buddha. Precisely because he had reached such a high stage of development it would not have been possible for Zarathustra to develop as a child at the beginning of our era in such a way that the required results would have been forthcoming. Were we to review all the individualities whose powers were unfolded at that time, we should find no single one capable of furnishing, in his twelfth year, such forces as were needed for the rejuvenation of Buddhism. Zarathustra was a great and unique individuality, an altogether exceptional case. Yet not even Zarathustra himself could have ensouled the body of Jesus up to the time of puberty in such a way as to enable the discarded astral sheath to unite with the Nirmanakaya of Buddha. Whence, then, came the great vivifying, vitalizing power of the Nathan Jesus child?
It came from the Mother Lodge of humanity directed by the sublime Sun initiate, the Manu. A great individualized power [eine grosse individuelle Kraft] had there been nurtured and fostered. This individualized power, this ‘individuality’, was then sent down into the child born of the parents called ‘Joseph’ and ‘Mary’ in the Gospel of St. Luke. Who was this being?
To answer this question we must go back to the time before the Luciferic influence had penetrated into the astral body of man. This influence approached humanity at the time when the ancestral human couple were living on the Earth. This ancestral couple had been strong enough to master human substance and to incarnate, but had not been strong enough to resist the Luciferic influence. The effects of the influence extended into the astral bodies of this couple too, with the consequence that it was impossible to allow all the forces that were in ‘Adam and Eve’ to be transmitted to their descendants. The physical body had necessarily to be transmitted through the generations, but the leadership of humanity held back a portion of the etheric body. This was expressed by saying: ‘Men have eaten of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil’ — that is to say, they have partaken of the Luciferic influence; but it was also said: ‘The possibility of eating also of the Tree of Life must now be taken from them.’ This means that certain of the forces of the etheric body were kept back and did not pass on to the descendants. Thus after the Fall, certain forces were no longer in ‘Adam’, and the still guiltless part of his being was nurtured and fostered in the great Mother Lodge of humanity. This was, so to speak, the Adam soul as yet untouched by human guilt, not yet entangled in what had actually caused the ‘Fall’ of man. These pristine forces of the Adam individuality were preserved; they were there and were then led as a provisional ego’ to the child born to Joseph and Mary. Thus in his early years this Jesus child bore within him the power of the original progenitor of earthly humanity.
This soul had remained young in the truest sense. It had not been led through incarnations but had been kept at a very early stage — like the child in our hypothetical educational experiment. Who, then, was the being in the child born to Joseph and Mary of the Nathan line? The progenitor of humanity, the ‘old Adam’ as a ‘new Adam!’ This secret was known to St. Paul and lies behind his words. And St. Luke, the writer of the Gospel — who was a pupil of St. Paul — knew it too. For this reason he speaks of it in a special way. He knew that a very definite process was necessary in order that this spiritual substance might be led down to humanity; he knew that a blood relationship reaching back to ‘Adam’ was necessary. Hence for Joseph he shows a lineage reaching back to Adam, who issued directly from the spiritual world and in the words of the Gospel was a ‘son of God’. The sequence of generations is traced back to God himself.
A mystery of great significance is contained in the genealogical chapter of St. Luke's Gospel, namely that homogeneous blood had to flow through the generations and unbroken sequence be maintained until the last descendant, in order that the spirit too might he led down to the descendants when the time was fulfilled. And so this infinitely youthful being was united with the body born of Joseph and Mary of the Nathan line — a being untouched by earthly destinies, a young soul whose powers, if we wanted to discover their origin, would have to be traced back to ancient Lemuria. This being alone was strong enough to penetrate into the astral sheath and, when this sheath was detached, to pass over to it the forces it needed in order to establish a living union with the Nirmanakaya of Buddha.
We may therefore ask: What is actually described to us in the Gospel of St. Luke when it speaks of Jesus of Nazareth?
In the first place it describes a human being whose physical body, in respect of blood kinship, is to be traced back to Adam — to the times when, in the period of devastation on the Earth, humanity was saved through an ancestral pair. It further describes the incarnation of a soul who had waited the longest before incarnating. In the Nathan Jesus child there was present the Adam soul as it was before the Fall — the soul which had waited longest. We may therefore say, fantastic as it will seem to modern humanity, that the individuality who had been led into the Jesus child by the great Mother Lodge had not only descended from the physically oldest generations of mankind but was also, in a sense, the incarnation of the very first member of humanity.
We know now who was presented in the temple and shown to Simeon, and who, according to St. Luke, was the ‘Son of God’. St. Luke was not speaking of the present human being but was testifying that this was the reincarnation of a being who was the earliest blood ancestor of all the generations.
And now to summarize what has been said. In the fifth–sixth century before our era there lived in India the great Bodhisattva whose mission it was to bring to humanity truths that were gradually to arise in humanity itself. He gave the impulse for this and thereby became Buddha. Hence he does not again appear in an earthly body; he appears in the Nirmanakaya, the ‘Body of Transformation’, but only as far as the etheric-astral world. The shepherds, being for the moment clairvoyant, see him in the form of the angelic host, for they are meant to behold in vision what is being announced to them. In his Nirmanakaya the Buddha inclines over the child born to Joseph and Mary of the Nathan line — for a very special purpose.
What the Buddha had been able to bring to humanity needed to be present in a mature form; it was difficult to understand, for it came from great spiritual heights. If what Buddha had achieved hitherto was to become universally fruitful, it was necessary for an entirely fresh and youthful force to flow into it. He had to draw this force from the Earth by inclining over a human child from whom he could receive all the youthful forces from the astral sheath when it was detached. Such a child had been born from the line of generations — a child whose lineage the one who best understood it could trace back to the ancestor of humanity, back to the young soul of humanity during the Lemurian age, a child to whom he (St. Luke) could point as the reincarnated ‘new Adam’. This child, whose soul was the mother-soul of humanity — a soul kept young through the ages — lived in such a way that all his youthful forces rayed into the astral body, and when the astral sheath was detached it rose upwards and united with the Nirmanakaya of Buddha.
These facts do not, however, include everything that helps us to understand the wonderful Event of Palestine; they present one aspect only. We now know who was born in Bethlehem when Joseph and Mary travelled thither from Nazareth, and we know whose coming had been announced to the shepherds; but that is not all. Much that is strange and significant took place at the beginning of our era in order to bring about the greatest Event in the evolution of humanity. For a better understanding of what gradually led up to that Event, we must still consider the following.
In the ancient Hebrew people there was a line of generations descending from David. We learn from the Bible that David had two sons, Solomon and Nathan. Thus two lines of descent, the ‘Solomon line’ and the ‘Nathan line,’ stemmed from David. Leaving aside the intermediate members, we can say: At the beginning of our era, descendants both of the Solomon line and of the Nathan line of the House of David were living in Palestine. In Nazareth there lived a man named ‘Joseph’, a descendant of the Nathan line; he had a wife, ‘Mary’. And in Bethlehem there lived a descendant of the Solomon line, also named ‘Joseph’. It is not in the least surprising that there were two men of David's lineage named Joseph and that each was married to a Mary, as the Bible says. Thus at the beginning of our era there were two couples in Palestine, both bearing the names of ‘Joseph’ and ‘Mary’. The Bethlehem couple traced back its origin to the ‘Solomon’ or kingly line of the House of David, and the other (the Nazareth couple) to the ‘Nathan’ or priestly line. To this latter couple (of the Nathan line) was born the child described to you yesterday and today. This child provided an astral sheath that could eventually be absorbed into the Nirmanakaya of Buddha. At the time when the child was due to be born, this couple of the Nathan lineage journeyed from Nazareth to Bethlehem, as St. Luke relates — ‘to be taxed’. The genealogical table is given in his Gospel.
The other couple did not originally reside in Nazareth, but in Bethlehem; this is related by the writer of the Gospel of St. Matthew. This couple of the Solomon line also had a child named ‘Jesus’. In the body of this child too a great Individuality was living, but the child had a different task to fulfill. The wisdom of the world is indeed profound! It was not the function of this child to impart fresh forces of youth to the astral sheath; his mission was to bring to humanity that which only a mature soul can bring. Under the guidance of all the powers concerned, this child was able to be the reincarnation of the individuality who had once taught the mysteries of Ahura Mazdao to men in ancient Persia; who had once given up his astral body to Hermes and his etheric body to Moses, and who had appeared again as Zarathas or Nazarathos, the great teacher of Pythagoras in ancient Chaldea. This individuality was none other than Zarathustra. The ego of Zarathustra was reincarnated in the child of whom the Gospel of St. Matthew relates that he was born of a couple named Joseph and Mary who descended from the kingly or Solomon line of the House of David and resided, originally, in Bethlehem.
Thus we find one part of the truth presented in the Gospel of St. Matthew and the other part in that of St. Luke. Both accounts must be taken literally, for truth is complex. We know now who was born from the priestly line of the House of David. But we know too that from the kingly line there was born the individuality who had once worked in ancient Persia as Zarathustra and had inaugurated the ‘kingly’ or ‘magic’ science of the ancient Persian kingdom. Thus the two individualities lived side by side: the young Adam individuality in the child of the priestly line of the House of David, and the Zarathustra individuality in the child of the kingly line. How and why all this took place, and how evolution was further guided — of this we shall say more tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Today is Michaelmas!

Rudolf Steiner: "One who understands how to observe such things knows what a great change took place in the last third of the nineteenth century with respect to the life of human thought. Before that time man could only feel how thoughts formed themselves in his own being; from the time indicated he is able to raise himself above his own being; he can turn his mind to the spiritual; he there meets Michael, who proves his ancient kinship with everything connected with thought. He liberates thought from the sphere of the head; he clears the way for it to the heart; he enkindles enthusiasm in the feelings, so that the human mind can be filled with devotion for all that can be experienced in the light of thought.
    The Age of Michael has dawned. Hearts are beginning to have thoughts; spiritual fervor is now proceeding not merely from mystical obscurity but from souls clarified by thought. To understand this means to receive Michael into the heart. Thoughts which at the present time strive to grasp the spiritual must originate in hearts which beat for Michael as the fiery Prince of Thought in the universe."

Springing from powers of the Sun,
Radiant spirit-powers, blessing all worlds!
For Michael's garment of rays
You are predestined by Divine Thought.

He, the Christ messenger, reveals in you--
Bearing humankind aloft--the sacred will of worlds.
You, the radiant beings of ether worlds,
Bear the Christ-Word to human beings.

Thus shall the herald of Christ appear
To the thirstily waiting souls
To whom your Word of Light shines forth
In the cosmic age of the Spirit Human Being.

You, the disciples of spirit knowledge,
Take Michael's beckoning wisdom;
Take the Word of Love of the Will of Worlds
Into your soul's aspiring, fervently!

"Love" by George Herbert

    Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
    Guilty of dust and sin.
    But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
    From my first entrance in,
    Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
    If I lack'd anything.
    'A guest,' I answer'd, 'worthy to be here:'
    Love said, 'You shall be he.'
    'I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
    I cannot look on Thee.'
    Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
    'Who made the eyes but I?'
    'Truth, Lord; but I have marr'd them: let my shame
    Go where it doth deserve.'
    'And know you not,' says Love, 'Who bore the blame?'
    'My dear, then I will serve.'
    'You must sit down,' says Love, 'and taste my meat.'
    So I did sit and eat.

Feeling is blunted will

"What is a feeling in reality? A feeling is very closely related to will. I may even say that will is only the accomplished feeling, and feeling is will in reserve. Will which does not yet express itself, which remains behind in the soul, that is feeling: feeling is like blunted will. On this account the nature of feeling will not be understood until the nature of will has been thoroughly grasped." — Rudolf Steiner

Buddhism raised to a higher level and rejuvenated: The Gospel of Luke

The Gospel of Luke. Lecture 3 of 10.

Rudolf Steiner, Basel, September 17, 1909:

Whoever turns to the Gospel of St. Luke will, to begin with, only be able to feel dimly something of what it contains; but an inkling will then dawn on him that whole worlds, vast spiritual worlds, are revealed by this Gospel. After what was said in the last lecture this will be obvious to us, for as we heard, spiritual research shows how the Buddhistic world-conception, with everything it was able to give to mankind, flowed into the Gospel of St. Luke. It may truly be said that Buddhism radiates from this Gospel, but in a special form, comprehensible to the simplest and most unsophisticated mind.
As could be gathered from the last lecture and will become particularly clear today, to understand Buddhism as presented to the world in the teachings of the great Buddha demands the application of lofty conceptions and an ascent to the pure, ethereal heights of the spirit; a very great deal of preparation is required to grasp the essence of Buddhism. Its spiritual substance is contained in the Gospel of St. Luke in a form that can influence everyone who recognizes concepts and ideas that are essential for humanity. This will be readily understood when we get to the root of the mystery underlying the Gospel of St. Luke. Not only are the spiritual attainments of Buddhism presented to us through this Gospel: they come before us in an even nobler form, as though raised to a level higher than when they were a gift to humanity in India some six hundred years before our era.
In the lecture yesterday we spoke of Buddhism as the purest teaching of compassion and love; from the place in the world where Buddha worked a gospel of love and compassion streamed into the whole spiritual evolution of the Earth. The gospel of love and compassion lives in the true Buddhist when his own heart feels the suffering confronting him in the outer world from all living creatures. There we encounter Buddhistic love and compassion in the fullest sense of the words; but from the Gospel of St. Luke there streams to us something that is more than this all-embracing love and compassion. It might be described as the translation of love and compassion into deed. Compassion in the highest sense of the word is the ideal of the Buddhist; the aim of one who lives according to the message of the Gospel of St. Luke is to unfold love that acts. The true Buddhist can himself share in the sufferings of the sick; from the Gospel of St. Luke comes the call to take active steps to do whatever is possible to bring about healing. Buddhism helps us to understand everything that stirs the human soul; the Gospel of St. Luke calls upon us to abstain from passing judgment, to do more than is done to us, to give more than we receive! Although in this Gospel there is the purest, most genuine Buddhism, love translated into deed must be regarded as a progression, a sublimation, of Buddhism.
This aspect of Christianity — Buddhism raised to a higher level — could be truly described only by one possessed of the heart and disposition of the writer of the Gospel of St. Luke. It was eminently possible for him to portray Christ Jesus as the healer of body and soul because having himself worked as a physician he was able to write in the way that appealed so deeply to the hearts of men. That he recorded what he had to say about Christ Jesus from the standpoint of a physician will become more and more apparent as we penetrate into the depths of the Gospel.
But something else strikes us when we consider what an impression this Gospel can make upon even the most childlike natures. The lofty teachings of Buddhism, to understand which mature intelligence is required, appear to us in the Gospel of St. Luke as though rejuvenated, as though born anew from a fountain of youth. Buddhism is a fruit on the tree of humanity, and when we find it again in this Gospel it seems to be like a rejuvenation of what it had previously been. It is only possible to understand this rejuvenation by paying close attention to the great Buddha's teachings themselves and discerning with spiritual eyes the powers working in Buddha's soul.
In the first place it must be remembered that the Buddha had been a Bodhisattva, that is to say, a very lofty being able to gaze deeply into the mysteries of existence. As a Bodhisattva, the Buddha had participated in the evolution of humanity throughout the ages. When in the epoch following Atlantis the first post-Atlantean civilization was established and promoted, Buddha was already present as Bodhisattva and, acting as an intermediary, conveyed to humankind from the spiritual worlds the teachings indicated in the lecture yesterday. He had been present in Atlantean and even in Lemurian times. And because he had reached such a high stage of development he was also able, during the twenty-nine years of his final existence as Bodhisattva, from his birth to the moment when he became Buddha, to recollect stage by stage all the communities in which he had lived before incarnating for the last time in India. He could look back upon his participation in the labors of humanity, upon his existence in the divine-spiritual worlds in order that he might bring down from there what it was his mission to impart to mankind. It was indicated yesterday that even an individuality of this lofty rank must live through again, briefly at any rate, what he has already learnt. Thus Buddha describes how while still a Bodhisattva he gradually rose to higher stages of consciousness, how his spiritual vision became ever more perfect and his enlightenment complete.
We are told how he described to his disciples the path his soul had traversed and how he was able by degrees to recollect his experiences in the past. He spoke to them somewhat as follows. ‘There was a time, O ye monks, when an all-pervading light appeared to me from the spiritual world, but as yet I could distinguish nothing in it — neither forms, nor pictures: my enlightenment was not yet pure enough. Then I began to see not only the light, but single pictures, single forms, within the light; but I could not distinguish what these forms and pictures denoted: my enlightenment was not yet pure enough. Then I began to realize that spiritual beings were expressing themselves in these forms and pictures; but again I could not distinguish to what kingdoms of the spiritual world these beings belonged: my enlightenment was not yet pure enough. Then I learnt to know to which of the various kingdoms of the spiritual world these several beings belonged; but I could not yet distinguish through what actions they had acquired their place in the spiritual realms, nor what was their condition of soul: for my enlightenment was not yet pure enough. Then came the time when I could discern through what actions these spiritual beings had acquired their place in the spiritual realms, and what was their condition of soul; but I could not yet distinguish with which particular spiritual beings I myself had lived in former times, nor how I was related to them: for my enlightenment was not yet pure enough. Then came the time when I was able to know that I was together with certain beings in particular epochs and was related to them in this way or in that: I knew what my previous lives had been. Now my enlightenment was pure!’
In this way Buddha indicated to his disciples how he had gradually worked his way to knowledge which, although he had already attained it in an earlier epoch, had nevertheless to be freshly acquired in accordance with the conditions prevailing in each successive incarnation. In Buddha's case this knowledge had necessarily to be in a form in keeping with his complete descent into a physical human body. If we enter into these things with the right feeling we shall get an inkling of the greatness and significance of the individuality who incarnated at that time in the king's son of the family of Sakya. Buddha knew that the world he himself could again experience and behold would be inaccessible to men's ordinary faculty of vision in the immediate present and future. Only initiates — and Buddha himself was an initiate — could gaze into the spiritual world; for normal humanity this was no longer possible. Inherited remains of the old clairvoyance had become increasingly rare. But Buddha had not come to speak to men only of what initiates had to say; his primary mission was to convey to them knowledge of the forces that must flow out of the human soul itself. Hence he could not speak only of the fruits of his own enlightenment, but he said to himself: ‘I must speak to men of what they can attain through the higher development of their own inner nature and of the faculties belonging to this epoch.'
In the course of Earth evolution men will gradually come to recognize the content of Buddha's teaching as something that their own reason, their own soul, tells them. But long, long ages will have to pass before all men are mature enough to produce out of their own souls what Buddha was the first to bring to expression in the form of pure knowledge. For to develop certain faculties in later ages is not the same as to bring them forth for the first time from the depths of the human soul. Let us take another example. Today even the young are able to assimilate the principles of logic and unfold logical thinking. Logical thinking is now one of the general faculties possessed by man and developed from his own inner nature. But it was in Aristotle, the great Greek thinker, that this faculty first arose from a human soul. There is a difference between bringing forth something for the first time from the soul and bringing it forth after it has already been developing for a period in humanity.
Buddha's message to men was among the very greatest of teachings and will remain so for long, long ages. Hence the soul of a Bodhisattva, the soul of one enlightened to such a supreme degree, was needed in order that this teaching should for the first time become a living power in a human being. Only the highest degree of enlightenment could enable the soul to give birth to what was to become a universal endowment of mankind — namely, the lofty doctrine of compassion and love. Buddha's message had to be presented in words familiar to the humanity of that time, especially to the people of his homeland. Reference has already been made to the fact that at the time of Buddha the Sankhya and Yoga philosophies were being taught in India. From them were derived the terminologies and concepts in use at the time. Anyone who brought a new message had necessarily to use current parlance, and Buddha too clothed what was living within him in concepts familiar to his contemporaries. True, he recast these concepts into completely new forms, but he was obliged to use them. The principle of all evolution must be that the future is based on the past. And so Buddha clothed his sublime wisdom in expressions customary in the Indian teachings of that time.
We must now try to picture what Buddha experienced during the seven-day period of his ‘Enlightenment’ under the Bodhi-tree. This teaching was to become the deepest, most intimate concern of mankind. Let us therefore try to conceive, even if with thoughts only approximately adequate, what profound experiences were undergone by Buddha under the Bodhi tree and then came to expression in his soul.
He might have said that there were times in the ancient past when many human beings were dimly clairvoyant and that in an even more distant past this was the case with everyone. What does it mean — to be ‘dimly clairvoyant’, or ‘clairvoyant’? To be clairvoyant means to be able to use the organs of the etheric body. When a man is able to use the organs of his astral body only he can, it is true, inwardly feel and experience profound mysteries, but there can be no actual vision. Clairvoyance cannot arise until what is experienced in the astral body makes its ‘impress’ in the etheric body. Even the old, dim clairvoyance originated from the fact that in the etheric body, which had not yet passed completely into the physical body, there were organs which it was still possible for ancient humanity to use. What, therefore, was it that men lost in the course of time? They lost the capacity to use the organs of the etheric body! They were obliged to make use of the external organs of the physical body only, experiencing in the astral body, in the form of thoughts, feelings, and mental pictures, what the physical body transmitted. All this passed through the soul of the great Buddha as the expression of what he experienced. He said to himself: ‘Men have lost the capacity to use the organs of their etheric bodies. They experience in their astral bodies what they learn from the outer world through the instrumentality of their physical bodies.’
Buddha now concerned himself with this significant question: ‘When the eye perceives the color red, when the ear hears a sound, a tone, when the sense of taste has received some impression, under normal conditions these impressions become concepts and ideas, are inwardly experienced in the astral body. If they were experienced in this way alone they could not, in normal circumstances, be accompanied by pain and suffering. Were man simply to abandon himself to the impressions of the outer world as the latter with its light, colors, sounds, and so forth, affects his senses, he would pass through the world without experiencing pain and suffering from the impressions made upon him. Only under certain conditions can pain and suffering be experienced by man.’
Hence the great Buddha sought to discover the conditions under which man experiences pain, suffering, cares, and afflictions. When and why do the impressions of the outer world become fraught with suffering? Then he said to himself: Looking back into ancient times it is revealed that in men's earlier incarnations on the Earth certain beings worked into their astral bodies from two sides. In the course of incarnations through the epochs of Lemuria and Atlantis the Luciferic beings penetrated into human nature, and their influences took actual effect in the human astral body. Then, from the Atlantean epoch onwards, man was also worked upon by beings under the leadership of Ahriman. Thus in the course of his earlier incarnations man was subjected to the influences of both the Luciferic and Ahrimanic beings. Had these beings not worked upon him he could have acquired neither freedom nor the capacity to distinguish between good and evil, nor free will. From a higher point of view, therefore, it is fortunate that these influences were exercised upon him, although it is true that in a certain respect they led him from divine-spiritual heights more deeply into material existence than he would otherwise have descended.
The great Buddha could therefore say that man bears within himself influences due to the invasion of Lucifer on the one side and Ahriman on the other. These influences have remained with him from earlier incarnations. When, with his old clairvoyance, man was still able to gaze into the spiritual world, he perceived the influences of Lucifer and Ahriman and could clearly distinguish them. He could say: This particular influence comes from Lucifer, this other from Ahriman. And inasmuch as with his vision of the astral world he perceived the harmful influences of Lucifer and Ahriman, he could reckon with and protect himself from them. He knew too, how he had come into contact with these beings. There was a time — so said Buddha — when men knew whence came the influences they had borne within themselves from incarnation to incarnation since bygone ages. But with the loss of the old clairvoyance this knowledge was also lost; man is now ignorant of the influences that have worked upon his soul through the series of incarnations. The earlier clairvoyant knowledge has been replaced by ignorance. Darkness now envelops man; he cannot perceive whence come these influences of Lucifer and Ahriman, but they are there within him! He has within him something of which he knows nothing. It would be folly to deny the reality and effectiveness of something that exists even though people are ignorant of it. The influences that have penetrated into man from incarnation to incarnation are working in him. They are there and they work through his whole life — only he is unaware of them!
What effect have these influences in man? Although he cannot actually recognize them for what they are, he feels them; there is a power within him that is the expression of what has continued from incarnation to incarnation and has entered into his present form of existence. These forces, the nature of which man cannot recognize, are represented by his desire for external life, for experience in the world, by his thirst and craving for life. Thus the ancient Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences work within man as the thirst, the craving, for existence. This ‘thirst for existence’ continues from incarnation to incarnation. This, in effect, is what the great Buddha said. But to his intimate pupils he gave more detailed explanations.
How he presented what he thus felt can be understood only if there has been a certain preparation through Anthroposophy. We know that when a man dies his astral body and his ego leave the physical and etheric bodies. Then he has before him, for a certain time, the great memory-tableau of his last life in the form of a vast picture. The main part of his etheric body is then cast off as a second corpse and something like an extract or essence of this etheric body remains; he bears this extract with him through the periods of Kamaloka and Devachan and brings it back again into his next incarnation. While he is in Kamaloka there is inscribed into this life-extract everything he has experienced through his deeds, everything that has been incurred in the way of human karma and for which he has to make compensation. All this unites with the extract of the etheric body which passes on from one incarnation to another, and man brings it with him when he again comes into existence through birth. The term in Oriental literature for what we call ‘etheric body’ is ‘Linga Sharira’. Thus it is an extract of Linga Sharira that man takes with him from incarnation to incarnation.
Buddha was able to say: At birth, the human being brings with him, in his Linga Sharira, everything it contains from his former incarnations; it is inscribed there everything of which man, in the present epoch, knows nothing and over which spreads the darkness of ignorance, although it asserts itself as the ‘thirst for existence’, the ‘craving for life’. In what is called the ‘craving for life’ Buddha saw everything that comes from previous incarnations and drives man to long avidly for enjoyment in the world, so that he does not merely move though the world of colors, tones, and other impressions, but yearns for this world. This force exists in man from previous incarnations. Buddha's pupils called it ‘Samskara’. Buddha spoke to his intimate pupils to the following effect. — What is characteristic of man is his ignorance, his ‘non-perception’ of something very significant that is in him. Because of this ignorance, this non-perception, everything that confronts man from the Luciferic and Ahrimanic beings and to which he might otherwise adopt an effective attitude is transformed into the ‘thirst for existence’, into slumbering forces which rumble darkly within him from previous incarnations. Man's present thinking has developed from ‘Samskara’ and this is why, in the present cycle of human evolution, nobody is able, without further effort, to think objectively.
Mark well the fine distinction made clear by Buddha to his pupils: the distinction between objective thinking, which has nothing but the object in view, and thinking influenced by the forces arising from the Linga Sharira. Consider how you acquire your ‘opinions’ about things; ask yourselves how much you acquire from these things because they please you and how much because you observe them objectively. Everything acquired as an apparent truth not as the result of objective thinking but because old inclinations have been brought from previous incarnations — all this, according to Buddha, forms an ‘inner organ of thought’. This organ of thought comprises the sum-total of what a man thinks because certain experiences in former incarnations remain in his Linga Sharira as a residue. Buddha saw in the inner being of man a kind of inner organ of thought formed from Samskara, and he said: ‘It is this thought-substance that forms in man what is called his ‘present individuality’ — in Buddhism, ‘Name and Form’, or ‘Kamarupa’. ‘Ahankara’ is the term used in another philosophy.
Buddha spoke to his pupils somewhat as follows. In primeval times, when men were still clairvoyant and beheld the world lying behind physical existence, they all, in a certain sense, saw the same, for the objective world is the same for everyone. But when the darkness of ignorance spread over the world, each man brought with him individual capacities which distinguished him from his fellows. This made him into a being best described as having a particular form of soul. Each human being had a name which distinguished him from another — each had an ‘Ahankara’. What is thus created in man's inner nature under the influence of what he has brought with him from former incarnations and accounts for his ‘Name and Form’, his individuality — this builds in him, from within outwards, Manas and the five sense-organs, the so-called ‘six organs’.
Note well that Buddha did not say: ‘The eye is merely formed from within outwards’; but he said: ‘Something that was in Linga Sharira and has been brought over from previous stages of existence is membered into the eye.’ Hence the eye does not see with pure, unclouded vision; it would look into the world of outer existence quite differently if it were not inwardly permeated with the residue of earlier stages of existence. Hence the ear does not hear with full clarity, but everything is dimmed by this residue. The result is that there is mingled into all things the desire to see this or that, to hear this or that, to taste or perceive in one way or another. Into everything man encounters in the present cycle of existence there is insinuated what has remained from earlier incarnations as ‘desire’. If this element of desire were absent — so said Buddha — man would look out into the world as a divine being; he would let the world work upon him and no longer desire anything more than is granted to him, nor wish his knowledge to exceed what was bestowed upon him by the divine powers; he would make no distinction between himself and the outer world, but would feel himself membered into it. He feels himself separated from the rest of the world only because he craves for more and different enjoyment than the world voluntarily offers him. This leads to the consciousness that he is different from the world. If he were satisfied with what is in the world he would not distinguish himself from it; he would feel his own existence continuing in the outer world. He would never experience what is called ‘contact’ with the outer world, for, not being separate from it, he could not come into ‘contact’ with it. The forming of the ‘six organs’ was responsible for the gradual establishment of ‘contact with the outer world’; contact gave rise to feeling, and feeling to the urge to cling to the outer world. But it is because man tries to cling to the outer world that pain, suffering, cares, and afflictions arise.
This is what Buddha taught his pupils regarding the ‘inner man’ as the cause of pain, suffering, cares, and afflictions. It was a delicately woven, sublime theory — but a theory that sprang directly from life, for an ‘Enlightened One’ had experienced it as a profound truth concerning the humanity of his time. Having guided humanity as Bodhisattva for thousands and thousands of years in accordance with the principles of love and compassion, there dawned in him, when he became Buddha, knowledge of the true nature and the causes of suffering. He was able to know why man suffers, and explained this to his intimate disciples. And when his development was so advanced that he could experience the very essence and meaning of human existence in the present cycle of evolution, he summarized it all in the famous sermon at Benares with which he inaugurated his work as Buddha. There he presented in a popular form what he had previously communicated to his disciples in a more intimate way.
He spoke somewhat as follows. — Whoever knows the causes of human existence realizes that life, as it is, must be fraught with suffering. The first teaching I have to give you concerns suffering in the world. The second teaching concerns the causes of suffering. Wherein do these causes lie? They lie in the fact that the thirst for existence insinuates itself into man from what has remained in him from previous incarnations.Thirst for existence is the cause of suffering. The third teaching concerns the question: How is suffering eliminated from the world? By eliminating its cause; by extinguishing the thirst for existence proceeding from ignorance! Men have lost their former clairvoyant knowledge, have become ignorant, and it is this ignorance that conceals the spiritual world from them. Ignorance is to blame for the thirst for existence, and this in turn is the cause of suffering and pain, cares and afflictions. Thirst for existence must disappear from the world if suffering is to disappear. The old knowledge has passed away from the world; men can no longer use the organs of the etheric body. But a new knowledge is now possible, the knowledge acquired when man immerses himself completely in what his astral body, thanks to its deepest forces, can give him, and with the help of what his outer sense-organs enable him to observe in the external physical world. What is thus kindled in the deepest forces of the astral body and is developed with the cooperation of the physical body — although not actually derived from it — this alone can help man to begin with, and give him knowledge; for this knowledge is at first bestowed upon him as a gift. It was to this effect that Buddha spoke in his great inaugural sermon.
He knew that he must transmit to humanity the kind of knowledge that is attainable through the highest development of the forces of the astral body. Hence he had to teach that through deep and penetrating understanding of the forces of the astral body man acquires knowledge that is both appropriate and possible for him but is at the same time untouched by influences from earlier incarnations. Buddha wished to impart to men a kind of knowledge that has nothing to do with what slumbers in the darkness of ignorance within the human soul as Samskara. Such knowledge is acquired by waking to life all the forces contained in the astral body in one incarnation. ‘The cause of suffering in the world’ — so said Buddha — ‘is that something of which man knows nothing has remained behind from earlier incarnations. This legacy from earlier incarnations is the cause of man's ignorance concerning the world; it is the cause of his suffering and pain. But when he becomes conscious of the nature of the forces in his astral body he can, if he will, acquire a knowledge that has remained independent of all influences from earlier times — a knowledge that is his very own!’
This was the knowledge that the great Buddha wished to impart to men, and he did so in the form of what is known as the ‘Eightfold Path’. There he indicates the capacities and qualities which man must develop in order to attain, in the present cycle of human evolution, knowledge that is uninfluenced by the ever-recurring births. Thus by the power he had himself acquired, Buddha raised his soul to the heights attainable by means of the strongest forces of the astral body, and in the ‘Eightfold Path’ he showed humanity the way to a kind of knowledge uninfluenced by Samskara. He described the path as follows. —
Man attains this kind of knowledge about the world when he acquires a right view of things, a view that has nothing to do with sympathy or antipathy or preference of any sort. He must strive as best he can to acquire the right view of each thing, purely according to what presents itself to him outwardly. That is the first principle: the right view of things. Secondly, man must become independent of what has remained from earlier incarnations; he must also endeavor to judge in accordance with his right view of a thing and not be swayed by any other influences. Thus right judgment is the second principle. The third is that he must strive to give true expression to what he desires to communicate to the world, having first acquired the right view and right judgment of it; not only his words but every manifestation of his being must express his own right view — that and that alone. This is right speech. The fourth principle is that man must strive to act not according to his sympathies and antipathies, not according to the dark forces of Samskara within him, but in such a way that he lets his right view, right judgment, and right speech become deed. This is right action. The fifth principle enabling a man to liberate himself from what is within him is that he should acquire the right vocation and station in the world. We may best understand what Buddha meant by this if we remember how many people are dissatisfied with the tasks devolving upon them, believing that some other position would be more advantageous. But a man should be able to derive from the situation into which he is born or into which fate has placed him the best that is possible, i.e. to acquire the right ‘occupation’ or ‘vocation’. Whoever finds no satisfaction in the situation in which he is placed will not be able to derive from it the power to unfold right activity in the world. This is what Buddha called right vocation. The sixth principle is that a man should make increasing efforts to ensure that what he acquires through right views, right judgment, and so forth shall become habit in him. He is born into the world with certain habits. A child gives evidence of this or that inclination or habit. But man's endeavors should be directed not toward retaining the habits proceeding from Samskara but toward acquiring those that gradually become his own as the result of right views, right judgment, right speech, and so on. These are the right habits. The seventh principle is that a man should bring order into his life through not invariably forgetting yesterday when he has to act today. He would never accomplish anything if he had to learn his skills anew each time. He must strive to develop recollectedness, mindfulness, regarding everything in his life. He must always turn to account what he has already learnt, he must link the present with the past. Thus along the Eightfold Path man must acquire right mindfulness in the sense of Buddha's teaching. The eighth quality is acquired when, without partiality for one view or another and without being influenced by any element remaining in him from former incarnations, he surrenders himself with pure devotion to the things of the world, immerses himself in them and lets them alone speak to him. This is right contemplation.
This is the Eightfold Path, of which Buddha said to his disciples that if followed it would gradually lead to the extinction of the thirst for existence with its attendant suffering, and impart to the soul something that brings liberation from elements enslaving it from past lives.
We have now been able to grasp something of the spirit and origin of Buddhism. We know too what significance lies in the fact that the Bodhisattva of old became Buddha. The Bodhisattva had always allowed everything connected with his mission to flow into humanity. In very ancient times, before Buddha came into the world, men were not able to apply even their inner forces in such a way that they themselves could have developed the attributes of the Eightfold Path. Influences flowing from the spiritual world were necessary to make this possible, and it was the Bodhisattva of old who enabled these influences to stream down upon mankind. It was therefore an event of unique significance when this Bodhisattva became Buddha and now gave forth in the form of teaching what in earlier times he had caused to flow down upon men from above. He had now brought into the world a physical body able to unfold out of itself forces that formerly could flow down from higher realms only. The first body of this kind was brought into the world by Gautama Buddha. Everything he had formerly caused to flow down from above became reality in the physical world at that time. It is a happening of great and far-reaching importance for the whole of Earth evolution when forces that have streamed down upon humanity from epoch to epoch are present one day in the bodily nature of a human being on Earth. A power that can pass over into all men is then engendered.
In the body of Gautama Buddha lie the causes enabling men in all ages to develop in their own being the powers of the Eightfold Path. Buddha's existence ensured for men the possibility of right thinking! And whatever comes to pass in the future in this respect, until the principles of the Eightfold Path become reality in the whole of mankind, will all be thanks to that existence. What Buddha bore within himself he surrendered to men for their spiritual nourishment.
Generally speaking, no science today perceives these significant facts in the evolution of humanity, but they are often presented in simple fairy-tales and legends. I have emphasized more than once that fairy-tales and legends are often wiser and more truly ‘scientific’ than our objective science itself. In its depths the human soul has always sensed a certain truth connected with the nature of a being such as a Bodhisattva: that, to begin with, something streams down from above, then becomes by degrees a possession of the soul and thereafter rays back again into the cosmos from the soul itself. Men who were able to feel the significance of this either dimly or clearly said to themselves: like the rays of the Sun from the heavens, so did the Bodhisattva once ray down upon the Earth the forces of the doctrine of compassion and love, the forces developed through the principles of the Eightfold Path. But then the Bodhisattva descended into a human body and surrendered to men the power that was once his own possession. This power now lives in humanity and streams back into the cosmos, as the rays of the Sun are reflected back in the Moon's light. This was felt to be of special significance in regions where it was customary to express such a truth in the form of a fairytale or legend. Thus the following remarkable legend was narrated in the regions where the Bodhisattva appeared.
Once upon a time the Buddha lived as a hare. It was an age when other creatures of many different species were looking for food, but it had all been consumed. The plant food which the hare itself could eat was not suitable for carnivorous creatures. The hare, who was in reality the Buddha, saw a Brahman passing by and resolved to sacrifice himself in order to provide food. At that moment the God appeared and saw the noble deed. A chasm opened and swallowed the hare. Then the God took a tincture and drew the picture of the hare on the moon. And since that time the picture of Buddha as the hare is to be seen on the face of the Moon. In the West we do not speak of the ‘hare in the Moon’ but of the ‘man in the Moon’.
A Kalmuck fairy-tale expresses this still more cogently. In the Moon lives a hare; it came there because once upon a time the Buddha sacrificed himself and the Earth-Spirit drew the picture of the hare on the Moon. This expresses the great truth of the Bodhisattva becoming Buddha and sacrificing the substance of his very being to mankind for nourishment, so that his forces now ray out into the world from the hearts of men.
Of a being such as the Bodhisattva who became Buddha, we said — and this is the teaching of all who know: When a being passes through this stage he has had his last incarnation on the Earth, for his whole nature is contained within a human body. Such a being never again incarnates in this sense. Hence when the Buddha became aware of the significance of his present existence he could say: ‘This is my last incarnation; I shall not again incarnate on the Earth!’ — It would however be erroneous to think that such a being then withdraws altogether from Earth-existence. True, he does not enter directly into a physical body, but he assumes another body — of an astral or etheric nature — and so continues to send his influences into the world. The way in which such a being who has passed through the last incarnation belonging to his own destiny continues to work in the world may be understood by thinking of the following facts.
An ordinary human being, consisting of physical body, etheric body, astral body, and ego, can be permeated by such a being. It is possible for a being of this rank, who no longer descends into a physical body but still has an astral body, to be membered into the astral body of another human being. This man may well become a personality of importance, for the forces of a being who has already passed through his last incarnation on the Earth are now working in him. Thus an astral being unites with the astral nature of some individual on the Earth. Such a union may take place in a most complicated way. When the Buddha appeared to the shepherds in the picture of the ‘heavenly host’ he was not in a physical body but in an astral body. He had assumed a body in which he could still send his influences to the Earth. Thus in the case of a being who has become a Buddha we distinguish three bodies:
1. The body he has before he attains Buddhahood, when he is still working from above as a Bodhisattva; it is a body that does not contain in itself all the powers at his command; he still lives in spiritual heights and is linked with his earlier mission as was the Bodhisattva before his mission became the Buddha's mission. As long as such a being is living in a body of this nature, his body is called a ‘Dharmakaya’;
2. The body which such a being builds as his own and through which he brings to expression, in the physical body, everything he has within him. This body is called the ‘body of perfection’, ‘Sambhogakaya’.
3. The body which such a being assumes after he has passed through the stage of perfection and can work from above in the way described. This body is called a Nirmanakaya’.
We can therefore say that the ‘Nirmanakaya’ of Buddha appeared to the shepherds in the picture of the angelic host. Buddha appeared in the radiance of his Nirmanakaya and revealed himself in this way to the shepherds. But he was to find further ways of working into the events in Palestine at this crucial point of time.
To understand this we must briefly recall what is known to us from other lectures about the nature of man. Spiritual science speaks of several ‘births’. At what is called ‘physical birth’ the human being strips off, as it were, the maternal physical sheath; at the seventh year he strips off the etheric sheath which envelops him until the change of teeth just as the maternal physical sheath enveloped him until physical birth. At puberty — about the fourteenth or fifteenth year in the modern epoch — the human being strips off the astral sheath that is around him until then. It is not until the seventh year that the human etheric body is born outwardly as a free body; the astral body is born at puberty, when the outer astral sheath is cast off.
Let us now consider what it is that is discarded at puberty. In Palestine and the neighboring regions this point of time occurs normally at about the twelfth year — rather earlier than in lands farther to the West. In the ordinary way, this protective astral sheath is cast off and given over to the outer astral world. In the case of the child who descended from the priestly line of the House of David, however, something different happened. At the age of twelve the astral sheath was cast off but did not dissolve in the universal astral world. Just as it was, as the protective astral sheath of the young boy, with all the vitalizing forces that had streamed into it between the change of teeth and puberty, it now united with the Nirmanakaya of Buddha. The spiritual body that had once appeared to the shepherds as the radiant angelic host united with the astral sheath released from the twelve-year-old Jesus, united with all the forces through which the freshness of youth is maintained during the period between the second dentition and puberty. The Nirmanakaya which shone upon the Nathan Jesus-child from birth onwards united with the astral sheath detached from this child at puberty; it became one with this sheath and was thereby rejuvenated. Through this rejuvenation, what Buddha had formerly given to the world could be manifest again in the Jesus-child. Hence the boy was able to speak with all the simplicity of childhood about the lofty teachings of compassion and love to which we have referred today. When Jesus was found in the temple he was speaking in a way that astonished those around him because he was enveloped by the Nirmanakaya of Buddha, refreshed as from a fountain of youth by the boy's astral sheath.
These are facts which can become known to the spiritual investigator and which the writer of the Gospel of St. Luke has indicated in the remarkable scene when a sudden change came over the twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple. We must grasp what it was that had happened and then we shall understand why the boy no longer spoke as he had formerly been wont to speak. It so happened that at this very time, King Kanisha of Tibet summoned a Synod in India and proclaimed ancient Buddhism to be the orthodox religion. But in the meantime Buddha himself had advanced! He had absorbed the forces of the protective astral sheath of the Jesus-child and was thereby able to speak in a new way to the hearts and souls of men.
The Gospel of St. Luke contains Buddhism in a new form, as though springing from a fountain of youth; hence it expresses the religion of compassion and love in a form comprehensible to the simplest souls. We can read what the writer of the Gospel of St. Luke has woven into the text of his Gospel, but still more is contained in its depths. Only part of what appertains to the scene of Jesus in the temple could be described today,and even greater depths of this mystery have still to be explained. Light will then be shed upon the earlier as well as upon the later years of the life of Jesus of Nazareth.