Sunday, July 31, 2016

Courage, the greatest of all virtues

"Courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other."  — Samuel Johnson

Joan of Arc
"To have courage for whatever comes in life — everything lies in that."
— Saint Teresa of Avila

Spirit Triumphant! Flame through the weakness of faltering, fainthearted souls! Burn up egoism, kindle compassion, so that selflessness, the lifestream of humanity, may flow as the wellspring of spiritual rebirth!  — Rudolf Steiner

Frederick Douglass
"It is not light that is needed, but fire."

Rudolf Steiner:  "As a spiritual-scientific researcher today, the strength of your courage will be more important than your intellectuality. Spiritual-scientific research is fundamentally a moral task, because it is a moral fall that has to be overcome and set aside."

Rudolf Steiner: "There will have to be a festival in honor of human courage, of the human manifestation of the courage of Michael. For what is it that holds man back today from spirit-knowledge? — Lack of soul courage, not to say soul cowardice. Man wants to receive everything passively, wants to set himself down in front of the world as if it were a movie, and wants to let the microscope and the telescope tell him everything. He does not want to temper the instrument of his own spirit, of his own soul, by activity. He does not care to be a follower of Michael. This requires inner courage. This inner courage must have its festival in Michaelmas. Then from the Festival of Courage, from the festival of the inwardly courageous human soul, there will ray out what will give the other festivals of the year also the right content." 

Ephesians 6:10-18

What it comes to in the end is this: Let the intense strength of his might flow through those who want to serve the Lord. Put on the full armor of God that you may resist the well-aimed attacks of the Adversary. For our part is not to fight against powers of flesh and blood, but against spirit beings, mighty in the stream of time, against spirit beings, powerful in the molding of earth’s substance, against the cosmic powers whose darkness rules the present time, against beings who, in the spiritual worlds, are themselves the powers of evil.
Therefore courageously take up the armor of God, that you can resist the evil on the day when it unfolds its greatest strength. You should stand firm, following everything through to the very end. Stand fast, girded about the loins with truth. Put on the breastplate of the higher life which fulfills our human destiny. Shoe your feet with preparedness to spread the message of peace that comes from the angels. In all your deeds continually hold to your heart’s vision of Christ’s presence, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. Take into your thoughts the certainty of the coming world-healing, that it protect you as with a helmet, and grasp the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God which you utter.
May this armor cover you in all your supplications and prayers; may your inmost heart light up in spirit in your prayers. To this end direct your spirit strength in all your efforts of soul and in your intercessions for all who would know Christ’s healing power.

O Spirit of God: fill my I,
Fill my I within my soul,
On my soul bestow a strengthening force,
Strengthening force too for my heart,
For my heart that seeks union with you,
Seeks union with deepest longing,
Deepest longing for good health,
For good health and strong courage,
Strong courage that streams through my body,
Streams as precious divine gift,
Divine gift from you, O Spirit of God,
O Spirit of God: fill my I.

—Rudolf Steiner

O Gottesgeist, erfülle mich,
Erfülle mich in meiner Seele,
Meiner Seele schenke Stärkekraft,
Stärkekraft auch meinem Herzen,
Meinem Herzen das dich sucht,
Sucht durch tiefe Sehnsucht,
Tiefe Sehnsucht nach Gesundheit,
Nach Gesundheit und Starkmut,
Starkmut der durch meine Glieder strömt,
Strömt wie edles Gottgeschenk,
Gottheschenk von dir, O Gottesgeist,
O Gottesgeist, erfülle mich.

I bear within me peace;
Within myself I bear forces to make me strong.
With the warmth of these forces I shall be imbued.
With the power of my will I shall be filled.
And then I shall feel
How peacefulness pours through all my being
As I strengthen myself
To find peace as strength within myself
Through steadfast inner striving.

— Rudolf Steiner, Verse for the Esoteric School

Related post:

Above All Else: Courage

Frederick Douglass
"It is not light that is needed, but fire."

Rudolf Steiner:  "As a spiritual-scientific researcher today, the strength of your courage will be more important than your intellectuality. Spiritual-scientific research is fundamentally a moral task, because it is a moral fall that has to be overcome and set aside."

The Christ, the Holy Bodhisattva Spirit, and Manichaeism

The East in the Light of the West. Lecture 9 of 9

Rudolf Steiner, August 31, 1909:

The facts stated at the end of the last lecture cannot but be somewhat unintelligible to persons who encounter them for the first time, for they belong to the secrets of numbers. And the secrets of numbers are those which are in a comparative sense the most difficult to master.

It has been stated that there is a certain relation between the numbers seven and twelve, and that this relation has something to do with time and space. Now this profound mystery can, gradually, be understood by everybody, but it must necessarily remain a mere statement to the kind of cognition which today is alone recognized as such. It has to be elucidated, explained. An understanding of the ‘machinery’ of the world may be reached, as I have already indicated, by distinguishing between conditions which are essentially those of space and conditions which belong essentially to time. We understand the world which surrounds us primarily in terms of space and time; but if we do not confine ourselves to speaking of time and space in an abstract sense and endeavor to understand how conditions are regulated in time and how the different beings in space are related to each other, we find a thread leading on the one side through the complicated relations of time, and on the other through the complex conditions of space.

In the first place we observe the course of world events in the light of spiritual science. We look back at earlier incarnations of man, of races and civilizations, as well as of the Earth itself. We build up within ourselves an idea of what will happen in the future, i.e. in time. And we shall always see our way if we judge of evolution in time from a framework built up by means of the number seven. We must not build and speculate and attribute all kinds of meanings to the number seven; we must only pursue the facts from the point of view of the number seven. In the first place this number seven is only a means of facilitating our task.

Take, for instance, a man whose spiritual vision is so far opened that he can examine data of the Akashic Records of the past. He may use the number seven as a guide and realize that what runs its course in time is built up on the basis of the number seven; that which repeats itself in various forms can very well be analyzed by using the number seven as a foundation and proceeding from this as a basis.

In this sense it is right to say that since the Earth goes through various embodiments we have to look for its seven incarnations; Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan. Because human civilizations pass through seven incarnations we must seek their connections by once more using the number seven as a basis. Let us for instance consider the civilizations in post-Atlantean times. The old Indian is the first, the second is the old Persian, the third the Chaldaic-Egyptian, the fourth the Graeco-Latin, the fifth our own, and we are expecting two more, the sixth and seventh, to succeed our own.

We can also find our way in the study of the karma of an individual by trying to look at his three former incarnations. By starting with the incarnation of a man of the present day and looking back at his three former incarnations it is possible to draw certain conclusions concerning his next three incarnations. The three former and the present incarnation plus the three following make seven again. Seven is a clue for everything that happens in time.

On the other hand the number twelve is a clue for all things that co-exist in space. Science, which at the same time was wisdom, was always conscious of this. It said: ‘It is possible to find the right way by connecting the spatial relationship of everything that occurs upon the Earth with twelve permanent points in space — the twelve signs of the Zodiac in the cosmos.’ These are the twelve basic points with which everything in space is connected. This declaration was not an arbitrary yield of human thinking; but the power of thought in those early times had learned from reality and so ascertained the fact that space was best understood when it was divided into twelve constituent parts, thus making the number twelve a clue for all spatial relations. But where the question of changes came in, that is to say in the time element, the seven planets were given as a clue by a still older science. Seven is here the clue.

Now how does this apply to the evolution of human life? We have said that up to the point of time in human evolution characterized by the advent of the Christ-impulse, it is a fact that when a man looked into his inner being, when he sought the way to the world of the Gods through the veil of his inner being, he entered — to use a collective name — the Luciferic world. This too was the path upon which, in those olden times, man sought for wisdom, upon which he sought to acquire a higher knowledge concerning the world than he could find behind the covering of the external sense world. His quest consisted in sinking down into his inner world; for in this world the intuitions and inspirations of moral and ethical life originated, even as the intuitions of conscience arose there. And of course all other intuitions and inspirations which pertain to the moral nature, to that which belongs to the soul, arose out of that soul world.

Hence those lofty individualities who were the leaders of mankind in ancient times had of necessity first to contact the inner life of a man if they wanted to give instruction upon that which belongs to the highest in humanity. The Holy Rishis had to contact the soul life of man, his inner being, that is, as did all the great teachers of humanity in older civilizations. But the soul life of man belongs to time; it runs its course in time. That which surrounds us externally groups itself in space; that which runs its course inwardly, groups itself in time. Hence everything which is to speak to the inner being of man must use the clue of the number seven. How can we best understand a being with a message for the inner life of man? How, for instance, can we best understand those beings with their fundamentally individual characteristics whom we call the Holy Rishis? By relating them to soul life which runs its course in time.

Hence in those ancient epochs wherein the great sages spoke, one question above all was asked: ‘Whence have they descended?’ Just as we might ask a son ‘Who are your father and mother?’ — so ancestry, the time element, was then the subject of inquiry. On meeting a wise man the primary concern was: ‘Whence does he come?’ Who was the being who preceded him? What is his descent? Whose son is he? Therefore in speaking about the Luciferic world, the number seven had to be taken as basic, and the interest was whose child it was who was speaking to the human soul. We speak of the children of Lucifer in this sense when we speak of those who in olden times taught of the spiritual world lying hidden behind the veil of soul life, behind that which belongs to time.

But the Christ comes under a different category altogether. The Christ did not descend to Earth by the path of time. The Christ came to the Earth at a certain point of time, but from outside, from space. Zarathustra saw Him when he directed his gaze to the Sun, and spoke of Him as Ahura Mazdao. To the spiritual vision of man in space Ahura Mazdao came nearer and nearer until He descended and became Man. Here therefore the interest lies in the approach through space, not in the time sequence. The approach through space, this advent of the Christ out of the infinitude of space down to our Earth, has an eternal and not a temporary value. With this is connected the fact that Christ's work upon Earth is not carried on only under the conditions of time. He does not bring to the Earth anything corresponding to the relationships between father and child, or mother and child, which exist under time conditions, but He brings into the world something which goes on side by side, which co-exists. Brothers live side by side, they co-exist. Parents, children and grandchildren live after one another in time, and the conditions of time express their individual relation to each other. But the Christ as the Spirit of Space brings a spatial element into the civilization of the Earth. What Christ brings is the co-existence of men in space, a condition of increasing community of soul regardless of time conditions.

The mission of the Earth planet in our cosmic system is to bring love into the world. In olden days the task of the Earth was to bring in love with the help of time. Inasmuch as through the conditions of ancestry and descent the blood poured itself from generation to generation, from father to child and grandchildren, those who were connected through time were ipso facto those who loved each other. Family connections, blood relationships, the descending stream of blood through the generations following each other in time, provided the foundation of love in the olden times. And the cases where love took on more of a moral character were also rooted in the conditions of time. Men loved their ancestors, those who had preceded them in time.

Through Christ there came the love of soul to soul, so that that which is side by side, which co-exists in space, enters a relationship which was at first represented by brothers and sisters living side by side and at the same time — the relationship of brother love which one human soul is intended to bear toward another in space. Here the condition of co-existent life in space begins to acquire its special significance.

Hence in the olden times it was natural to speak of those who were connected by the rule of the number seven: the seven Rishis, and the seven Sages. But Christ is surrounded by twelve Apostles, in whom we see the prototypes of man living side by side, co-existing in space. And this love, which independently of successive ages is to encompass all that exists side by side in space, will enter social life on Earth through the Christ principle. To love what is around us with brother love, that is to follow Christ. If, therefore, we speak in the olden times of the children of Lucifer, the Christ principle is the impulse which causes us to say: ‘Christ is the firstborn of many brethren.’ And the brotherhood relationship to Christ, the feeling oneself drawn not as to a father but as to a brother, whom one loves as an elder brother, but nevertheless as a brother, is the fundamental relationship which men have learned to assume in consequence of the descent of the Christ principle upon the Earth.

These of course are only instances which illustrate and make clear, although they do not prove, the relation between the numbers seven and twelve. The more, therefore, that the Christ influence shines down into the world, the more allusion is made to the nature and reality of things by grouping them in twelves, as for instance the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve Apostles, and so on. In this connection the number twelve has a mystical and secret meaning as regards the evolution of the Earth.

This may be termed the external aspect, the outer view, of the great change which took place in the Earth evolution through the infusion of the Christ principle. We might speak at great length about the relation of the number seven to the number twelve and have to leave much that concerns the deep mysteries of our universe still incomprehensible. If what has been said in elucidation of the numbers seven and twelve be taken as clues to the relationships existing in time and in space, we shall be able to penetrate more and more deeply into the secrets of the universe. But for all of us this relation between the numbers seven and twelve should, in the first place, be one which apart from everything else indicates how profoundly momentous the Christ event was for the world, and how necessary it is thenceforth to seek another numerical clue if we are to find our way in it.

But there is also an inner relationship of space and time which I can only indicate here in bare outline with which the numbers twelve and seven have something to do. And my illustration shall be made as was usual in the mysteries when the relations of twelve to seven in the cosmos was being portrayed. It has been said that if we do not consider universal space in an abstract sense, but really relate Earth conditions to universal space, we must refer those Earth conditions to the circle described by the twelve essential points of the Zodiac, viz. Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces. These twelve points of the Zodiac were not alone the real and veritable world symbols for the very oldest divine spiritual beings, but the symbols themselves were thought to correspond, in a certain sense, with reality. Even when the Earth was embodied as old Saturn, the forces issuing from these twelve directions were at work upon that ancient planet; so they were later on the old Sun, and on the old Moon, and are now and will continue to be in the future.

Therefore they have as it were the nature of permanence, they are far more sublime than that which arises and passes away within our Earth existence. That which is symbolized by the twelve signs of the Zodiac is infinitely higher than that which is transformed in the evolutionary course of our planet from old Saturn to old Sun and from that to old Moon and so on. Planetary existence arises and passes away, but the Zodiac is ever there. What is symbolized by the points of the Zodiac is more sublime than what upon our Earth plays its part as the opposition between good and evil.

In an early lecture I called your attention to the fact that on penetrating into the astral realm we enter a world of change — where something which from one point of view works for good may from another point of view appear as evil. These differences between good and evil have their meaning in evolution and seven is the key number. That which is the symbol of Gods in the twelve points in space, in the twelve points of permanence, is above good and evil. Out in space we have to seek for the symbols of those divine-spiritual beings which, considered in themselves and without reference to their effects upon our earthly sphere, are beyond the differences between good and evil.

But now let us conceive that which becomes our Earth beginning to be active. That can only happen by a division as it were coming to pass in the permanent deities and that which takes place entering into a different relation to these gods of permanence, who are divided into two spheres, into a sphere of good and a sphere of evil. In themselves neither is good nor evil; but inasmuch as it influences the evolution of the Earth it is sometimes good, sometimes evil; so that all that belongs to the one may be described as the sphere of goodness, and that which belongs to the other, as the sphere of evil.

In order to obtain the correct conception we must consider the civilizations of the post-Atlantean era, which had gone through the old Indian, the old Persian, the Chaldaic-Egyptian civilizations, and which will also go through the civilizations which are to follow these, up to the next great catastrophe and beyond it. If we inquire where is there a truer image of what runs through the whole evolution of mankind than can be found in sense perception or in human intellect, we must turn to occult science and ask what is that which is to be discovered in the spiritual world, and which moves more or less as a continuous spiritual stream through all these seven civilizations. In the wisdom of the East a word has been formed for that which runs through all these civilizations; it is — if one considers its real nature — not an abstraction, but something concrete — it is a Being. And if we wish to describe this Being more intimately, of whom in reality all other beings — whether the seven holy Rishis or even higher beings who do not descend into physical incarnation — are the messengers, we may designate it by a name which has rightly been used by the East. Every revelation and all the wisdom in the world can be traced back finally to this one source, the source of primeval wisdom, under the dominion of a Being who evolves on through each and all the above-named civilizations of the post-Atlantean era, who appears in each epoch in one form or another, but who is always One Being, the bearer of the wisdom which has appeared in the most varied guises.

When I described in the last lecture how the holy Rishis breathed in this wisdom and took it in concretely, this soul of the light which was spread abroad externally and was breathed in as light-wisdom by the holy Rishis was the outflowing of that sublime — I cannot go into this fully here — we must understand that what only belongs in minor degree to the sphere of goodness must also be called good. As soon as that which in the spiritual world (which as I have said is permanent, eternal, having nothing to do with time) passes into time, it divides itself into good and evil. Of the twelve points of permanence there remain belonging to the good, the five actually within the sphere of good and the two on the border, making seven. Therefore we speak of seven as remaining over from the twelve. When we wish to speak of that which is good and which acts as our guide in time, we must speak of seven wise men, of seven Rishis, for this corresponds to reality. Hence also comes the conception that seven signs of the Zodiac belong to the world of light, to the upper world, and that the lower five beginning with Scorpio belong to the world of darkness.

This is only a mere indication serving to show that space, when it forsakes its sphere of eternity and takes into itself created things which run their course in time, is divided into good and evil; and in bringing out the good, seven is raised out of the twelve; seven then becomes the true number for temporal conditions. For truths which belong to time, we must take the number seven as our clue; the remainder, the number five, would lead us into error. That is the inner meaning of these things.

Do not at the moment imagine that this is very difficult to understand, but realize rather that the world is very profound and that there must be things whose meaning is very hard to fathom.

Christ came into the world to sit down even with publicans and sinners. He came in order to take up that which would otherwise have had to be cast out of the world process. In the story of Oedipus the same thing had to be cast out that in the Christ-life was gathered up as a leaven, as was corroborated by the story of Judas. Just as new bread must be leavened with a small portion of the old, if it is to rise and spread, so the new world must take in a leaven made of something which came out of evil. Hence Judas, who had been cast out from every place, who had even made himself impossible at the court of Pilate, could be admitted where the Christ was working, He Who came to heal the world in such a way that the seven could be changed into the twelve and that which had been represented by the number seven might henceforth be represented by the number twelve. The number twelve is in the first instance represented to us by the twelve brothers of Christ, by the twelve disciples.

This must serve as a slight indication of the profound change that thus came into our whole Earth evolution. It is possible to elucidate the significance of the Christ-principle, and of its entrance into the evolution of the Earth, from many different points of view, and what has just been touched upon is one of them.

Now let us once more place before our souls that which is a consequence of all that has gone before. It is felt and recognized by spiritual science wherever it is truly cultivated that with Christ something very special entered into the evolution of the Earth. Wherever true spiritual science is studied, it is felt and recognized that there is one thing which runs through all the Beings of whom we are now speaking. And what we then described as their wisdom had poured down in other ages (for instance, in that quite different conception which was expressed in the old Persian epoch) from the same one Being, who is the great teacher of all civilizations. The Being who was the teacher of the holy Rishis, of Zarathustra, of Hermes — the Being whom we may designate as the Great Teacher, who in the different ages manifests Himself in the most various ways — the Being who, as is natural, at first remains entirely concealed from external vision — is designated, by means of an expression borrowed from the East, as the totality of the Bodhisattvas. The Christian conception would designate it the Holy Spirit.

The Bodhisattva is a Being who passes through all civilizations, who can manifest Himself to mankind in various ways. Such is the Spirit of the Bodhisattvas. All the ages have looked up to the Bodhisattvas. The holy Rishis, Zarathustra, Hermes, and Moses looked up to them — it matters not how they named the Being in whom they perceived the embodiment of the Bodhisattva principle. The Bodhisattva can be given this one name, ‘the Great Teacher,’ and to him those individuals looked who wished to receive and could receive the teachings of the post-Atlantean era.

This Bodhisattva Spirit of the post-Atlantean era has taken human form many times, but one such interests us in particular. A Bodhisattva took on that radiant human form of the Being of Gautama Buddha — it does not for the moment concern us in what other fashion he was also manifest. And it signified an advance of this Bodhisattva when it was no longer necessary for him to remain in the upper spiritual realms, when his development in the spiritual worlds was such that he could master his physical corporeality to the extent of becoming man as Buddha. A Bodhisattva advancing in human existence is Buddha. The Buddha is one of the human incarnations of the all-embracing Wisdom figures underlying the evolution of the Earth. In the Buddha we have the incarnation of that Great Teacher who may be called the essence of wisdom itself. The Buddha is the Bodhisattva who has become an Earth being.

And it is unnecessary to believe that a Bodhisattva incarnated in only the Buddha; for one of the Bodhisattvas has incarnated either wholly or in part in other human personalities. Such incarnations are not all similar; it must be quite clear that just as a Bodhisattva lived in the etheric body of Gautama Buddha, so such a one also lived in the members of other human individuals; and because the being of that Bodhisattva who inherited the astral body of Zarathustra streamed into the members of other individualities, for instance Hermes, we may — but only if we understand the matter in this sense — call other individualities who also are great teachers an incarnation of a Bodhisattva. It is permissible to speak of ever-recurring incarnations of the Bodhisattva, but we must understand that behind all the men in whom the incarnation took place the Bodhisattva stood as a part of that Being who is the personified All-Wisdom of our world.

In this sense, then, we gaze upon the Wisdom-element which in olden times was imparted to mankind from the Luciferic worlds. When we gaze upon this we are looking at the Bodhisattvas.

Now, in post-Atlantean evolution there is a Being who is fundamentally different from a Bodhisattva and not to be confused with the latter, although this Being of Whom we are here speaking was once incarnate in a human individuality who at the same time received the inpouring of the Bodhisattva-Buddha being. Because a man once lived in whom the Christ incarnated and because at the same time the radiations of the Bodhisattva entered this human individuality, we must not take the essential thing in this incarnation to be the embodiment of the Bodhisattva in the personality who was Jesus of Nazareth. During the last three years the Christ principle was predominant, and the Christ principle and the Bodhisattva principle are fundamentally different.

How can we instance this difference? It is exceedingly important for us to know whereby the Christ, Who was once incarnate in a human body — only once, never before and never after — could so incarnate. Since that time He can be reached by the path which leads to the inner essence of the human soul; before then He was accessible if the gaze, as was the case with Zarathustra, was directed outward. Wherein, then, does the difference consist between the Christ, between that Being to whom we must ascribe such a central position, and a Bodhisattva?

It consists in this, that the Bodhisattva is the Great Teacher, the incarnation of wisdom, which pervades all the civilizations, which incarnates in many different ways; but the Christ is not only a teacher — that is the essential point — Christ is not only a teacher of men. He is a Being whom we can best understand if we expand to the sphere where in dazzling spiritual heights we can find Him as an Object of Initiation and where we may compare Him with other spiritual beings. There are regions of spiritual life where, freed of all the dust of Earth, we may find the sublime Bodhisattva Being in his spiritual essence and where we may find the Christ stripped of all that He became on the Earth or in its vicinity. There we find the origin of humanity, the source whence all life proceeds: the primeval, spiritual source. We find not only one Bodhisattva, but a series of Bodhisattvas.

Even as there is a Bodhisattva who underlies our seven successive civilizations, so there was a Bodhisattva underlying the Atlantean civilizations, and so on. We find in these spiritual heights a series of Bodhisattvas, who were, for their age, the great teachers and instructors not only of mankind but also of those beings who do not descend into the region of physical life. We find them there as the great teachers; there they gather that which they are to teach — and in their midst is One Being Who is great not only because He teaches, and that is the Christ. He is not alone great because He teaches; rather is He a Being Who works upon the Bodhisattvas who surround Him by manifesting Himself to them. He is seen by the Bodhisattvas and He reveals His Glory to them. The Bodhisattvas are what they are through being great teachers; the Christ is to the world what He is through His own Being, through His own Essence. He needs only to be seen, and the manifestation of His own Being needs only to be reflected in His surroundings, for the teachings to spring forth. He is not only a Teacher — He is Life, a Life that pours itself into the other beings, who then become teachers.

The Bodhisattvas are mighty teachers because from their spiritual heights they enjoy the bliss of being able to see Christ. And when in the course of the evolution of our Earth we find incarnations of the Bodhisattvas, we speak of great teachers of mankind, because the Bodhisattva principle is the most essential in them. The Christ does not only teach; we learn of Christ in order to understand Him, in order to recognize what He is. Christ is more an object than a subject of learning. The difference between Christ and the Bodhisattvas is that He is to the world what He is because the world is blessed by the sight of Him. The Bodhisattvas are to the world what they are because they are great teachers.

Therefore if we wish to look up to the living Being, the life-source, of our Earth, we must look at the incarnation in which was embodied not a Bodhisattva (in which this fact was the most important feature of the incarnation) but a Being who did not Himself leave any teaching behind, but who gathered around Him those who spread Gospels and teachings concerning Him over the whole world. The point of prime importance is that no document exists written by Christ Himself, but that teachers surround Him and speak about Him, so that He is the object and not the subject of the teaching. It is a remarkable circumstance and one of utmost importance with reference to the Christ event that nothing has been received from Him Himself, but that others have written about His Being.

It is therefore not to be wondered at that we are told we can find all the teachings of Christ in other faiths also; for Christ is in nowise merely a teacher. He is a Being who desires to be understood as a Being; He does not wish to sink into us only through His teachings, but through His life. We may gather together all the teachings in the world that are accessible to us, and we shall even then not have sufficient to enable us to understand the Christ. If men of the present day cannot turn directly to the Bodhisattvas, and with the spiritual eyes of the Bodhisattvas look up to Christ, then they must learn from these Bodhisattvas what can eventually make Christ comprehensible.

If therefore we wish not only to become participant in Christ, but to understand Him, we must not only look at what Christ has done for us, but we must learn of all the teachers of West and of East, and we must account it a holy thing to become familiar with the teachings of the whole known world; we must devote ourselves to the sacred task of understanding the Christ in His completeness by means of the highest teaching.

Now, the mysteries always make appropriate preparation for the corresponding duty of mankind. Every age has its special task; and every age has to receive the truth in the particular form needed by that epoch. Truth in its present form could not have been given to the old Indian, or to the old Persian. The truth had to be given to them in the form suitable to their capacities of perception. Therefore in the age which owing to its other characteristics was best suited to receive the Christ upon Earth — that is to say, the fourth or Graeco-Latin epoch — the truth about Christ and about the world connected with Him was brought to mankind in a form adapted for humanity of that time.

To believe that in the age following directly on the Christ-manifestation the whole truth about the Christ was already known is to be in complete ignorance concerning the progress of the human race. He who believes only the teaching of the first centuries after the Christ event, who considers that which was written and recorded then to be the only true Christian teaching, knows nothing of human progress; he does not know that the greatest teacher of the first Christian centuries could tell him no more about Christ than the people of that time were able to assimilate. And because the men of the first Christian centuries were preeminently such as had descended the deepest into the physical world, their understanding permitted them to take in comparatively little of the highest teaching concerning Christ. The majority of the early Christians could understand but little about the Christ Being.

We know that in old Indian times men possessed a high degree of clairvoyance in consequence of the relation of the etheric body to the other members; but the time had not then come for this vision to perceive the Christ as anything other than Vishva-karman — a Spirit in distant regions beyond the sense-world. In the time of the old Persian civilization it was first possible dimly to sense the Christ behind the physical Sun. And so it went on. It was possible for Moses to perceive the Christ, as Jehovah, in thunder and lightning that is quite near the Earth. And in the person of Jesus of Nazareth the Christ was seen incarnated as man. This is the manner of human progress; in old India wisdom was absorbed through the etheric body, in the old Persian period through the astral body, in the Chaldaic-Egyptian period through the sentient soul, in the Graeco-Latin period through that which we call the intellectual soul. The intellectual soul is bound to the world of sense. Therefore it lost the vision of that which extends far, far beyond the sense-world.

Accordingly in the first post-Christian centuries little more of existence was seen than that which lies between birth and death, and that which directly follows as the nearest spiritual region. Nothing was known of that which passes through many incarnations. This was due to the condition of human understanding. Only one part of the life cycle could be made intelligible: man's life on Earth, and the fragment of spiritual life which follows it. That, therefore, is what we find described for the mass of the people.

But that was not to continue. The outlook of man had to be prepared for an excursion beyond this part of his understanding. Preparation had to be made for a gradual revival of the all-embracing wisdom which man was able to enjoy in the time of Hermes, of Moses, of Zarathustra, and of the old Rishis, as well as for offering us the possibility of an ever increasing understanding of Christ. Christ had to come into the world just at a time when the means of understanding were most contracted. The way had to be opened for the revival of the ancient wisdom during the ages to come and for placing it gradually in the service of the understanding of Christ.

This could only be accomplished by the creation of Mystery wisdom. Those men who came over into and beyond Europe from old Atlantis brought with them great wisdom. In old Atlantis the majority of the people were instinctively clairvoyant; they could see into spiritual realms. This clairvoyance could not develop further; and withdrew perforce into separate personalities in the West. It was guided there by a Being who once upon a time lived in deepest concealment, withdrawn behind those who had already forsaken the world and who were pupils of the great initiates. This Being had remained behind in order to preserve for later ages what was brought over from old Atlantis. Among the great initiates who had founded mystery places in the West for the preservation of the old Atlantean wisdom, a wisdom that entered deeply into all the secrets of the physical body, was the great Skythianos, as he was called in the Middle Ages. And anyone who knows the nature of the European mysteries knows that Skythianos is the name given to one of the greatest initiates of the Earth.

But there also lived in the world for a long, long time the Being which in a spiritual sense we may describe as the Bodhisattva. This Bodhisattva was the same Being who after completing its task in the West was incarnated in Gautama Buddha about six hundred years before our era. This exalted Being, who as Teacher had by that time withdrawn more toward the East, was a second great Teacher, a second great Keeper of the Seal of the wisdom of mankind. There was also a third individuality destined to greatness of whom we have spoken in various lectures. [We are here speaking of these Beings in the spirit in which they were understood by older conceptions of the world, justified today from the standpoint of spiritual science.] It is he who was the teacher of the old Persians: the great Zarathustra. The three great spiritual Beings and individualities known to us under the names of Zarathustra, Gautama Buddha, and Skythianos are, as it were, incarnations of Bodhisattvas. That which lived in them was not the Christ.

Mankind had now to be given time to experience in itself the advent of Christ, Who had formerly made Himself manifest to Moses upon Mount Sinai; Jehovah was the same Being as Christ, though wearing another form. Time had to be allowed to mankind in which to prepare to receive the Christ. That occurred in the epoch in which the comprehension for such things reached the nadir. But preparation had to be made, in order that understanding and wisdom should again grow greater and greater; and this was part of Christ's mission on Earth.

There is a fourth individuality named in history behind whom, for those who have the proper comprehension, much lies hidden — an individuality still higher and more powerful than Skythianos, than Buddha, or than Zarathustra. This individuality is Manes, and those who see more in Manichaeism than is usually the case know him to be a very high messenger of Christ. It is said that a few centuries after Christ had lived on the Earth there was held one of the greatest assemblies of the spiritual world connected with the Earth that ever took place, and that there Manes gathered round him three mighty personalities of the fourth century after Christ. In this figurative description a most significant fact in connection with spiritual development is expressed. Manes called these persons together to consult with them as to the means of reintroducing the wisdom that had lived throughout the changing times of the post-Atlantean age and of causing it to unfold more and more gloriously in the future.

Who were the personalities brought together by Manes in that memorable assembly? (It should be remembered that such an event can only be witnessed by spiritual sight.) He called together the personality in whom Skythianos lived at that time, and also the physical reflection of the Buddha who had then appeared again, and the erstwhile Zarathustra who was wearing a physical body at that time. Around Manes was this council, himself in the center and around him Skythianos, Buddha, and Zarathustra. And in that council a plan was agreed upon for causing all the wisdom of the Bodhisattvas of the post-Atlantean time to flow more and more strongly into the future of mankind; and the plan of the future evolution of the civilizations of the Earth then decided upon was adhered to and carried over into the European mysteries of the Rose Cross. These particular mysteries have always been connected with the individualities of Skythianos, of Buddha, and of Zarathustra. They were the teachers in the schools of the Rose Cross; teachers who gave their wisdom to the Earth as a gift, in order that through it the Christ Being might be understood.

Hence in all spiritual Rosicrucian schools the deepest reverence is paid to these old initiates who preserved the primeval wisdom of Atlantis; to the reincarnated Skythianos, in whom was seen the great and honored Bodhisattva of the West; to the temporarily incarnated reflection of the Buddha, who also was honored as one of the Bodhisattvas; and finally to Zarathustra, the reincarnated Zarathustra. These were looked up to as the great Teachers of the European Initiates. Such presentations must not be taken in the sense of external history, although they elucidate the historical course of events better than any external description could do.

Let me illustrate this statement by saying that there is hardly to be found a single country in the Middle Ages in which a certain legend was not everywhere current, though at that time no one in Europe knew anything of Gautama Buddha, and the tradition of Gautama Buddha had been completely lost. Yet the following story was related (it is to be found in many books of the Middle Ages and is one of the widely disseminated stories of that period): Once upon a time there was a King in India to whom a son was born called Josaphat. Extraordinary things were prophesied about this child when he was born. His father therefore especially guarded him; he was only to know what was most precious, he was to dwell in perfect happiness, he was not to become acquainted with pain and sorrow or with the misfortunes of life. He was protected from everything of that sort. It happened, however, that Josaphat one day went out of the palace and passed in succession a sick man, a leper, an aged man, and a corpse — so runs the tale. He returned deeply moved into the king's palace and chanced upon a man whose soul was filled with the secrets of Christianity and whose name was Balaam; Balaam converted Josaphat, and this Josaphat who had experienced all this became a Christian.

It is not necessary to bring the Akashic records to our aid in order to interpret this legend, since ordinary philology suffices to reveal the origin of the name Josaphat. Josaphat is derived from an old word Joaphat; Joaphat again from Joadosaph; Joadosaph from Juadosaph, which is identical with Budhasaph — both these last forms are Arabic — and Budhasaph is the same name as Bodhisattva. So the European occult teaching not only knows the Bodhisattva, it also knows, if it can decipher the name of Josaphat, the meaning of that word. This cultivation of occult knowledge in the West by means of legends contained the fact that there was a time when the being who lived in Gautama Buddha became a Christian. Whether this be a matter of knowledge or no, it is none the less true. Just as belated traditions may exist, as men may believe today that which was believed thousands of years ago, and which has been propagated by means of tradition — so they may also believe that it accords with the laws of the higher worlds for Gautama Buddha to have remained the same as he was six hundred years before our era. But it is not so. He has ascended, he has evolved, and in the true Rosicrucian teachings the knowledge of this fact has been preserved in the form of the above legend.

Within the spiritual life of Europe we find him who was the bearer of the Christ: Zarathas or Nazarathos — the original Zarathustra — appearing again from time to time; in the same way we meet with Skythianos again, and the third great pupil of Manes, Buddha, as he was after he had taken part in the experiences of later ages.

Thus the European who had some knowledge of initiation looked into the changing ages and kept his gaze fixed on the true figures of the Great Teachers. He knew of Zarathas, of Buddha, of Skythianos — he knew that through them wisdom was pouring into the civilization of the future — wisdom which had always proceeded from the Bodhisattvas and which must be used in order to promote understanding of the greatest treasure of all comprehension: the Christ, Who is fundamentally a completely different Being from the Bodhisattvas and Whom we can understand only by gathering together all the wisdom of the Bodhisattvas. Therefore in the spiritual wisdom of Europe there is a synthesis of all the teachings that have been given to the world through the three great pupils of Manes and by Manes himself. Even though men may not have understood Manes, a time will come when European civilization will take such form that there will be a feeling for what is connected with the names of Skythianos, Buddha, and Zarathustra. They give to mankind the material whose study will teach us to understand Christ, and through them our understanding of Him will grow more and more complete.

The Middle Ages certainly showed a strange form of reverence and worship to Skythianos, to Buddha, and to Zarathustra when their names began to percolate through; in certain communities of the Christian religion anyone who wished to be taken for a true Christian had to utter the formula: ‘I curse Skythianos, I curse Buddha, I curse Zarathas!’ But what it was then thought necessary to curse will become the center for those who will best make Christ comprehensible to man, a central point to which mankind will look up as it did to the great Bodhisattvas through whom the Christ will be understood.

Today mankind can at the most bring two things to these teachings of the Rose Cross — two things which may indicate a beginning of the power and greatness that will appear in the future in the form of the understanding of Christianity. Spiritual science of today will be the means of making one such beginning, by bringing the teachings of Skythianos, of Zarathustra, of Gautama Buddha to the world again, not in their old but in an absolutely new form, accessible to investigation from out of its very nature. The elements of what we learn from these three great Teachers must be embodied into civilization.

From Buddha, Christianity had to learn the teachings of reincarnation and of karma, but in the older religion they are to be found in an ancient guise, unsuited to modern times. Why are the teachings of reincarnation and of karma flowing into Christianity today? Because the initiates have learned to understand them in a modern sense, just as Buddha himself after his fashion understood them — and Buddha was the great teacher of reincarnation. In the same way we shall attain to an understanding of Skythianos, whose teaching deals not only with the reincarnation of men but with the powers which rule from eternity to eternity. So shall the central Being of the world, the Christ, be ever more and more understood.

In this way the teachings of the initiates gradually flow into humanity. The spiritual scientist of today can only bring two things in as elementary beginnings compared to what must come about in the future spiritual evolution of mankind. The first element will be that which sinks into our innermost being in the form of the Christ-life; and the second will be an increasingly comprehensive understanding of the Christ by the aid of spiritual cosmology. The Christ-life in the inmost heart, and an understanding of the world which leads to an understanding of Christ — these are the two elements.

We may begin today, for we are only on the threshold of these things, by having the right feeling. We meet together for the purpose of cultivating right feeling about the spiritual world and all that is born out of it, as well as right feeling towards man. And as we cultivate this right feeling we gradually make our spiritual forces capable of receiving the Christ into our innermost being; for the higher and nobler our feelings become, the more nobly can Christ live within us. We make a beginning by teaching the elementary truths of our Earth evolution, by seeking that which we owe originally to Skythianos, Zarathustra, and Buddha and by accepting it as they teach it in our age, in the form they themselves know it, their evolution having progressed to our present age. We have reached a point in civilization now where the elementary teachings of initiation are beginning to be disclosed.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

From Buddha to Christ. Manu and the seven rishis of ancient India; Zarathustra, Hermes, and Moses; Pythagoras

A lecture given by Rudolf Steiner at the International Congress of the Federation of European Sections of the Theosophical Society in Budapest, May 31, 1909:

I do not wish to offer you here an observation about the philosophy of religion or a treatise on literary history, nor do I wish to give you a scientific lecture about the subject matter. I simply want to tell you what Spiritual Science or occultism have to say about such great individualities as Buddha and Christ — more precisely, what knowledge they can offer from the vantage point of Rosicrucian occultism.

In a lecture intended for more advanced theosophists, I presume you will permit me to speak more intimately of such truths. I shall present to you broad outlines, and I will incorporate certain details into them. Rosicrucian occultism presents one of the great principles of occult theosophical investigation, from which spiritual life should flow into our hearts. Even though the goals and ideals of theosophy can also be found outside the Theosophical Society, there is nevertheless a difference in the means employed by anyone seriously trying to struggle for the attainment and right application of knowledge and truth, for occult investigation can and must flow directly into life.

Allow me to illustrate this point with a trivial example. The human soul is like a stove that does not need to be persuaded to heat a room, because heating is its function. The stove does this on its own, provided we put wood into it and light it. It could be objected that the appearance of the wood does not suggest to us that it can generate heat, and yet it does precisely that. By putting some firewood, the appearance of which is so different from the stove, into it and lighting it, we bring warmth into our house. Similarly, by getting used to spiritual scientific concepts, we also become accustomed to our ability to make judgments and to orient ourselves freely in this world. It is not our task to preach ideals but rather to provide human souls with the fuel that can generate spiritual wisdom, genuine brotherliness, and true humanity. To realize this is our goal.

What we designate as the Rosicrucian stream arose in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries when the spiritual stream of Christianity was already obscured since it had taken on an external form. At a time when Christianity in the outer world increasingly was taking on an external form and when its true original meaning had faded, Rosicrucianism received the task to cultivate ancient wisdom and to preserve the treasures of primordial wisdom. In the outside world, wherever people deemed only external forms and hardened dogmas to be important, they abjured and cursed anything that was venerated in the mysteries as the highest and holiest truths. One frequently heard the words: “I curse Skythianos; I curse Boddha; I curse Zarathas.” These are the three names that were venerated in greatest secrecy in the mysteries and in the Rosicrucian mystery schools as sacred names of the masters.

Zarathas is the same individual as Zarathustra — not the Zarathustra known to history, but the exalted individual who founded ancient Persian culture and who was the teacher in the occult schools of that time. Skythianos was a highly developed individual of ancient times. In one of his subsequent incarnations he led the occult schools of Central Asia, and later he also became the teacher of esoteric schools in Europe. Boddha and Buddha are one and the same person.

In order to understand what an initiate felt when he heard these three names and in order to gain some idea of what they could give him, we have to go back in human evolution and examine the character of Rosicrucian occultism more closely. Let us gain an understanding through listening and through looking back into the past. There have always been highly advanced personalities who stood out from the masses and to whom average people looked up in reverence as one would to high ideals. To look up to the individuals who had reached such a lofty stage of wisdom and intellectual power had the effect of animating the average person's moral sense and vital energies. Even today the forces of these lofty spirits flow into our finer bodies.

Let us look back into the past to all the spiritual individualities of whom I want to speak to you, all the way back to the ancient Indian culture. If we went further back in human evolution to the remote age of Atlantis and its end, this would lead us to the event that separates us from an even more ancient epoch of humanity where our souls led lives greatly different from the ones they lead in our present physical bodies. However, rather than dealing in detail with a description of life and culture in those ancient times, let us today be content to illuminate the answer to the question: How was humanity guided in ancient times, and where did the forces that influenced it come from?

When a seer whose spiritual eye is opened so that he knows how to read the fine script of the Akasha Chronicle looks back into the spiritual worlds, he discovers the sites from which the culture and all spiritual life of those times emanated. Our souls can discover the sites where the masters and their disciples assembled in the mystery schools of that time. There were many such Mystery Centers on the ancient Atlantean continent, and they differed from those of today and were given a different name. They were not just churches and not just schools, but rather a combination of both. Those who searched for truth could find both religion and wisdom in the mystery schools; here, religion and wisdom were one. Using a modern word, we can characterize the concept of those cultic centers, the mystery schools, by the term “Atlantean Oracles.” This is the name given to them by the European mystery schools, but originally they were called something entirely different.

In the Atlantean Oracles and their centers of wisdom, spiritual life was differentiated in the same way that external knowledge and the areas of trade and professions are subdivided in external life today. There were various branches of spiritual investigation and occult wisdom in ancient Atlantis, but everything in those times depended on different conditions. Wisdom varied from one oracle to another according to the capacities of the human beings and their external environment. A connection existed between certain human capacities and certain planets — that is, certain mystical occult capacities were connected with special planets. Therefore, on the Atlantean continent we should distinguish between oracles of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

Our present capacities, too, developed out of the cosmos, as did our Earth, and they are in each case tied to different planets and their influences. On Atlantis, people who were suited to develop this or that cognitive capacity were chosen from the population and assigned to one of the seven oracles. Of the seven oracles, which were named after the seven planets in ancient Atlantis, the Sun Oracle stood out from all the others, but next to it the Vulcan Oracle prepared itself in secrecy for its future task.

Each of these oracles had emanated from the cosmos according to its capacity, but there was one center in which the capacities of all seven oracles flowed together, and it was here that the wisdom of the seven oracles in Atlantis coalesced. The adepts of this center, of the Holy Sun Oracle, had been initiated into the mystery and service of what we today know as the Sun. We should not forget that the physical Sun is only the external expression or physiognomy — the body and garment — of the spiritual life of the exalted Sun-Being.

All of you have heard of the time when the Sun separated from the Earth, and along with the physical Sun those beings abandoned the earthly arena who had advanced through the human state and, therefore, could no longer use the Earth for their development. After the Moon too had left, the Earth was able to realize its destination of becoming the abode of humanity. If the Sun alone had influenced the Earth, the latter would have gone through such a rapid development that human beings would have become old soon after birth. By contrast, if our Earth had been only under the influence of the Moon, human beings would have been stiffened and become mummies. Development would have been too slow, and their bodies would have reached a state of rigidity and lignification. However, through a wise guiding force, Sun and Moon maintained a balance in the external influence they exert on the Earth; and this enabled Earth and human beings to develop at a speed suitable to them. The beings of Mars, Mercury, Venus, and so on, who did not need the forces that had left with the Moon and Earth for their development, departed with the Sun to take up their own abode. Yet they continued to be connected with the Earth and sent their beneficial forces down to it in the sunlight.

During the ancient Atlantean epoch, the adepts of the Sun Oracle had been initiated into the deeds of this lofty Sun-Being. The Great Initiate who was the leader of this highest oracle had been initiated in the most comprehensive ways into these mysteries. The entire ancient Atlantean and, as we shall see, also the post-Atlantean culture proceeded from him. The “Manu,” as this leader of the Sun Oracle was called — although the name doesn't really matter all that much — did not choose the main representatives of the post-Atlantean culture from among the so-called scholars and scientists, nor from the clairvoyants and Magi of that time. The people who were endowed with spiritual and psychic knowledge and who in those days were approximately comparable to the scientists and scholars of our time were not considered suitable by him; rather, plain people who had begun gradually to lose the clairvoyant faculty were chosen. Our present state of consciousness began to develop only at the end of the Atlantean epoch. That was the time when the old clairvoyant consciousness was waning, gradually giving way to a full consciousness of self, to the ability to address the “I” in oneself. The great Manu gathered about him those who were able to function intellectually, not the clairvoyants and Magi but those who absorbed and developed the rudiments of arithmetic. They were the despised who knew nothing in the opinion of the leading people, and in this they were not unlike the theosophists today. Yet it was they with whom the great Manu journeyed to the sanctuary in Asia from which the post-Atlantean culture was to emanate.

Disregarding America for this purpose, let us say that Europe, Asia, and Africa have all been populated by the descendants of the ancient Atlanteans who had moved to these continents under Manu's leadership. This initiate of the Sun Oracle now had to take care that the founding of this post-Atlantean culture and the evolution of its human beings would proceed under the proper influence. From the very beginning he had to take care that everything that was valuable for a future development should be carried forward. This preservation of values from the past is a law of occultism, of spiritual economy, but it is also a law that can only be known through spiritual wisdom.

Now, the Great Initiate took something very valuable with him when he journeyed from ancient Atlantis to Europe. To accomplish this, he had — let me put it this way — traveled to and inspected the other oracles. You all know that in the case of ordinary people the etheric body separates from the astral body and the ego soon after death and gradually dissolves in the universal ether. The same happens with the astral body after a certain time —  but this law is sometimes broken in the interest of spiritual economy. This is what happened in the case of the etheric bodies of the seven greatest initiates who were the leaders of the ancient Atlantean oracles.

What does it mean when we say we work on ourselves? It means that we purify the etheric body and the astral body. Now, once purified, the spiritualized etheric and astral bodies do not dissolve after death but are preserved in accordance with the law of spiritual economy. In short, it was known in the mysteries how to preserve the valuable etheric and astral bodies developed by the great initiates, but it would lead me too far afield to speak about this in detail. Suffice it to say that these bodies were kept by the preservers of the mystery schools.

It is for this reason that the Great Initiate of the Sun Oracle journeyed to the other Atlantean oracles to collect and take with him the seven etheric bodies of the greatest Atlantean initiates. And then he attracted through his wisdom a number of human beings who were to become fit for their coming culture. He taught these humans who were gathered around him so that they became increasingly more capable and pure. What followed may be called an art. After some time had elapsed, it became possible to incorporate the seven more important etheric bodies of the seven greatest initiates of the ancient Atlantean oracles into seven human beings. In regard to their egos, their power of judgment, and so on, they were simple people whose existence had no significance from an external point of view. However, they carried within them the seven most highly developed etheric bodies of the seven most significant initiates. These etheric bodies had streamed into these people, thereby enabling them to exude the great, powerful visions and truths of evolution through inspiration from above. Thus, they were able to speak of all this exalted wisdom.

The Great Initiate sent these seven bearers of wisdom to India, where people still had a sense and an understanding of the spiritual and of spiritual worlds. In India human beings still had the feeling and the consciousness of having at one time emanated from a primordial spiritual world and of having been born from the womb of the Godhead. Therefore, the whole physical world appeared to them as maya, as illusion, and they longed to return to this world of the gods, to those divine-spiritual beings with whom they had once lived. To such people the seven bearers of wisdom could speak. They were called the Holy Rishis, and it was they who inaugurated the dawn of our post-Atlantean culture. The people who had preserved for themselves the consciousness of and the longing for the spiritual world with its divine-spiritual beings were thus given the opportunity to learn more about this world and to find the way back to it.

Subsequent ages gave birth to not only peoples who were destined to look into the spiritual worlds, but also to those who wanted to contribute to the founding of a new culture. They were meant to become fond of the physical world and to see it not only as maya or illusion. Rather, they began to understand that this physical world is but the expression or physiognomy of the spiritual world that lies behind it. This was the second epoch, the ancient Persian or Zarathustran culture. Ordinary history records only a relatively late Zarathustra because historians are unaware that it was customary in ancient times for a successor to receive the name of a great leader from the past. I am here referring to the greatest of all Zarathustras, who was one of the most intimate disciples of the Initiate of the Sun Oracle. His task was to find the connection between the physical and the spiritual world. He had to teach his disciples that the physical sphere of the Sun is the body of spiritual beings who have their abode on the Sun and that this whole physical world should be viewed as the members and limbs of the physical body of divine-spiritual beings. Just as the Sun is surrounded by a great aura, so the human being is surrounded by his or her own small aura, which is a microcosmic expression of the Sun's great aura. The Sun is the body of the Sun Spirit, who revealed himself in the Sun Oracle of the ancient Atlantean epoch. Zarathustra beheld this spirit in clairvoyant vision. He also designated the aura of the Sun as Sun Spirit, and this is the same being whom he also called Ahura Mazdao. Occultists of later ages called it Ormuzd.

Zarathustra taught his disciples to see Ahura Mazdao in the physical Sun and not to be led astray by Ahriman. Ahriman has lived in the physical world since the last third of the Atlantean epoch and attacks the human soul through sense perception, that is to say from the outside. By contrast, Lucifer attacks the soul from within. Zarathustra had to kindle in the hearts of humans the love for the great Sun Spirit, and he did this in powerful words that cannot be adequately rendered in our modern languages. All the magnificent words that you find in the Vedas and Gathas, no matter how beautiful, are but a feeble superficial expression of the great and lofty words originally uttered by Zarathustra. In our language, they can be approximated by the following:

“I wish to speak, now hearken and listen to me, you from near and from afar, who are filled with longing for these words. I want to speak about that which is the highest truth to me in this world and what was revealed to me by the great and mighty Ahura Mazdao. Hearken and listen to me now and mark my words carefully: No longer shall the teacher of falsehoods, the evil one whose lips bore witness to an evil faith, lead you astray, for He — the mighty Ahura Mazdao—has manifested himself! Those who do not want to listen to the words as I say them and to the meaning that I give to them will experience evil things when the course of time reaches its end.”

And at other times Zarathustra said this: “So great and mighty is He who revealed Himself to me in the Sun that I surrender everything for him. I rejoice in sacrificing to Him the life of my body, the etheric existence of my senses, and the expression of my deeds” — the astral body. Such was the vow that Zarathustra made a long time ago.

Zarathustra had two disciples. To one of them he revealed through spiritual means everything that one can perceive with clairvoyant astral organs. This disciple was reincarnated under the name Hermes, the Egyptian Hermes. To the second disciple he imparted truths that one can know through the clairvoyant etheric body: the wisdom of the Akasha Chronicle. This second disciple was Moses, and you can find the wisdom imparted to him in the Book of Moses of the Old Testament.

When the first disciple was reincarnated as Hermes, he bore within him the astral body of Zarathustra, who had revealed to him not only his teachings but also his own nature. Such a transfer is possible, for what Hermes had received was nothing else but the astral body Zarathustra had sacrificed for him. Hence it was Zarathustra's wisdom that Hermes, the founder of the third post-Atlantean epoch, proclaimed.

The other disciple, to whom Zarathustra had given wisdom through the etheric body, was also born again. When he reincarnated, the etheric body that Zarathustra had sacrificed was woven into him. This disciple was Moses. You can find such facts recorded in religious documents, but in a veiled manner only. Read the story of the birth of Moses. What happened then? The child was placed into an ark of bulrushes which was then put into the water. What does that mean? It means that he was completely cut off from the world. His ego and astral body were not to become manifest until they were permeated by the principle of the etheric body. How can this take place? During the time when Moses lay isolated in the ark on the water, the etheric body that had been woven into him became illuminated. Only then could the astral body and the ego begin to work in him. Are not the powerful images of Genesis, which will occupy humanity for a long time to come, images taken from the Akasha Chronicle? These things cannot be understood without the aid of occultism.

We now come to the fourth epoch of the post-Atlantean culture, to the Graeco-Roman epoch. Up to this point, human beings were developed in such a way that they should learn to love the Earth. Yet there were also those who had been the companions of the gods in the Atlantean age, and it is therefore justified to ask what had become of the egos of the great initiates of that time. Atlantean egos had dwelt in a softer and finer body, and for them existence on Earth was such that individualities had to go through an incarnation only for the time necessary to maintain the connection between the world's primordial spiritual wisdom and humanity.

The great Buddha is one of the individualities who was actually able to imbue the Oriental writings with that deep wisdom and spiritual force that we find in them now. As occultists, we are able to understand the communications relating to him, and we may even take them literally. For example, it is true when we read about him: “At his birth he shone like the bright light of the Sun.” We can also take it literally when Buddha says: “I have entered my last incarnation and need not return to Earth unless I do it of my own free will.” During the post-Atlantean epoch he also toiled to pass through stages of intellectual insights, and we can understand him when he says that the lines of incarnations and different stages of initiations through which he had passed flashed up before him:

Before me stood the splendor of the forms,
But my intuition was not yet pure!

I saw the Spirits of Insight,
But my intuition was not yet pure!

I saw the site of initiation,
But my intuition was not yet pure!

I was the companion among them:
Now my intuition was pure!

This is Buddha's illumination. He was one of those with whom we live in Rosicrucian theosophy.

We have already named three of the Masters: Zarathas, Skythianos, and Boddha or Buddha, and we can see how the lives of these leading personalities extend into our present time. An occultist can test these findings. In the realm of spiritual economy we not only find what these exalted men left behind; everything else that is of value to humanity is preserved.

Take, for example, an individual such as Galileo, who in the sixteenth century achieved such significant results in physics. Galileo had an etheric body that was not allowed to die with him. Far away from the place where Galileo had worked there lived a man in the middle of the eighteenth century who prepared himself for a great task after two decades of a devotional childhood. Deep in Russia, at the White Sea, lived a man in the plainest of circumstances. His name was Michael Lomonosov. Unknown and without means, he hiked to Moscow and subsequently laid the foundations for Russian grammar. Lomonosov bore within him the etheric body of Galileo. And now it happened that a personality, who knew that the etheric body of Galileo had been preserved and who, in fact, had been present when this connection was being investigated occultly, knew nothing about Michael Lomonosov. This is no disgrace, since on the physical plane one cannot know everything. But here we see that valuable elements are preserved and the past is connected with the future through the law of spiritual economy.

In the Rosicrucian mysteries, too, we encounter the individuality who lived in the body of Buddha on the physical plane. During the Atlantean age he had lived only as a bodhisattva, but later on he descended into the physical body of Buddha.

Let us now look at the times of Buddha and Zarathustra and observe what souls had to do in the ages between these two spiritual leaders. On the one hand we have the teachings of Ahura Mazdao; on the other, that side of humanity that increasingly became fond of the Earth. Let us envision once again the Indian, Persian, and Chaldean-Assyrian-Babylonian times, during which the soul gradually lost its connection with the spiritual world. Then, in ancient Greece the soul came to love the Earth so deeply that the statement of a famous Greek, “Better to be a beggar in the upper world than a king in the world of shadows,” was accepted as truth. During this fourth post-Atlantean epoch, the Graeco-Roman epoch, everything in the external world appeared to be beautiful and charming. The seer may, for example, observe the ruins of the Temple of Paestrum with his physical eye and revel admiringly in the beauty of the temple's form and in the intriguing charm of its lines. However, when he takes his eyes off the temple and looks for a similar substance in the spiritual world, he finds nothing. Everything seems to be blotted out. This is what these souls experienced between death and rebirth. They were isolated within the cold circumference of their individuality, cut off from all spiritual things and longing only for the physical world and all its beauty.

Ahura Mazdao himself, the Leader of the Sun, had to descend to Earth to bring light into this icy separateness. He had to become a human being in the physical world in order to help both the living and the dead. He had to be a human among humans! The high and the magnificent that lives in the Sun descended to Earth and revealed itself in and to humanity. Previously, it had revealed itself in the elements, for example to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and in the lightning on Sinai. The Israelites were to make no graven image of their God. Why? Because no external name can be given to “Me,” the Divine Being; only an entirely different name can express the “I am the I am!” The only possibility of discovering the Spirit of the Sun's name is to seek it in the human being. That which lives as “I” in human beings is the Christ-Being.

The Jehova revelation precedes the Christ. That was at the time when the Christ-Being could gradually descend to the Earth. What had Zarathustra once vowed to the high Sun-Being? What sacrifice did he want to make to him? His body, senses, life, and speech. Zarathustra was reincarnated as a contemporary of the great Buddha. He could then build up the etheric and astral bodies that he had sacrificed. He was reborn as Zarathas or Nazarathos, and he became the teacher of Pythagoras, who himself was reincarnated as one of the three Wise Men of the East and became one of the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth. Zarathustra, who had once sacrificed his etheric and astral bodies, was also able to give up his external sheath to Him whose coming he had once announced. As the Jesus of Nazareth of Western occultism, he could place his physical body at the disposal of the Sun Spirit and was then able to say, “I am the Light of the World!”

The Christ-Being was known in all the mysteries. In ancient India, at the time of the Seven Rishis, the being who represented Christ was called Vishva Karman. Zarathustra named him Ahura Mazdao, and in Egypt he was known as Osiris. The Jewish people called him Jahve or Jehova, and then in the fourth cultural epoch this very same being lived for three years on our physical Earth. This is the being who will in the future reunite the Sun with the Earth. Mystically, the Christ united Himself with the Earth when the blood streamed from His wounds at Golgotha. At that time He appears in the aura of the Earth, and He has been in it ever since.

Who was the first man to see Christ in the aura of the Earth? It was St. Paul, who did more than anyone else for the dissemination of Christianity. What caused Saul to become Paul? Neither the teachings nor the events that took place in Palestine, but the event at Damascus, which was of a supersensible nature. Before that experience, Paul could not believe that the one who had died so disgracefully on the cross had been the Christ, but as an initiate of the cabala he knew that the Christ would be visible in the aura of the Earth once He had appeared on Earth. That was the experience of Paul, which transformed him from Saul to Paul. Paul said of himself that he was born prematurely, and the same is also said of the Buddha. This means that such an individuality does not descend too deeply into the physical realm. When Paul became clairvoyant before he came to Damascus, he saw and knew who Christ was.

The Christ was working in Buddha as a bodhisattva, and it was He who was now the planetary spirit of the Earth since the event of Golgotha and who could since be found in the physical aura of the Earth. Through the Christ-Principle a new light has been kindled in this world and beyond. The body of Jesus of Nazareth — the etheric and astral bodies and the ego of Jesus of Nazareth — exist in many copies in the spiritual world. Such a statement expresses something of great significance, and for a better understanding of it we can draw on nature for a number of enlightening examples. Just think of a grain seed that grows into a stalk and multiplies itself many times in the process. This apparently simple natural process is a parable of the events in the supersensible world that are governed by certain laws. Many copies of the etheric and astral bodies and of the ego of Jesus of Nazareth exist in order to be incorporated in the preliminary bearers of the Christ-Principle. Everything connected with the Christ-Principle is so momentous that humanity can grasp it only little by little.

St. Augustine, for example, bore within him a copy of the etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth; and once you know that, you will be able to appreciate his life, his errors, and his accomplishments. His ego and his astral body were left to their own resources, and only in his etheric body did his great mystical gift come to life. St. Francis of Assisi and Thomas Aquinas had copies of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth woven into their souls, and it is this fact that allowed them to be such dynamic teachers. They worked from a sphere in which Christ had once lived.

In some cases external events such as natural catastrophes or similar things enhance this weaving of spiritual bodies into the soul of the recipient. It is said of St. Thomas Aquinas that lightning struck and killed his little sister in the room where he happened to be standing, but spared him. He interpreted this lightning bolt next to him to the effect that elemental forces were necessary to help him take up the copy of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth. Elisabeth of Thüringen also had an imprint of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth in her soul.

Zarathustra, or Jesus of Nazareth, is one of the three Masters of the Rosicrucians. Many copies of his ego — that is, of the ego in which the Christ Spirit Himself had dwelt — can be found in the spiritual world. The copies of the ego of Jesus of Nazareth are waiting for us in the spiritual world to be utilized for the future evolution of humankind. People who endeavor to strive upward to the heights of spiritual wisdom and love are candidates for these copies of the ego of Jesus of Nazareth. They become bearers of Christ, true Christophori. On this Earth they shall be heralds of His Second Coming.

We derive strength for our future work from the knowledge of which individualities are behind the missions of important human beings. It is possible to test these facts. Not everyone is able to investigate what goes on behind the curtains of the physical world, but everyone can examine the results of such investigations by looking at the Holy Scriptures written before and after Christ. These facts can illuminate the way to understanding; and if they do, they change within us and become spiritual life-blood.