The Gospel of Luke. Lecture 9 of 10.
Rudolf Steiner, Basel, September 25, 1909:
You will have gathered from the lecture yesterday that a record such as the Gospel of St. Luke cannot be understood unless the evolution of humanity is pictured from the higher vantage point of spiritual science — in other words unless the transformations that have taken place in the whole nature and constitution of man during the process of evolution are kept in mind. In order to understand the radical change that came about in humanity at the time of Christ Jesus — and this is necessary for elucidation of the Gospel of St. Luke — it will be well to make a comparison with what is happening in our own age — admittedly less rapidly and more gradually, but for all that clearly perceptible to those possessed of insight.
To begin with we must entirely discard a frequently expressed idea to which mental laziness gives ready assent, namely, that Nature, or evolution, makes no ‘jumps’. In its ordinarily accepted sense, no statement could be more erroneous than this. Nature is perpetually making jumps! This very fact is essential and fundamental. Think, for example, of how the plant develops from the seed. The appearance of the first leaflet is evidence of an important jump. Another is made when the plant advances from leaf to flower; another when its life passes from the outer to the inner part of the blossom; and yet another, very important, jump has been made when the fruit appears. Anyone who ignores the fact that such jumps occur very frequently will entirely fail to understand Nature. When such a man turns his attention to humanity and observes that development in some particular century proceeded at a snail's pace, he will believe that the same will be the case during other periods. It may very well be that in a particular period development is slow, as it is in the plant from the first green leaf to the last. But just as in the plant a jump occurs when the last leaf has developed and the blossom appears, so do jumps continually occur in the evolution of humanity. The jump made when Christ Jesus appeared on Earth was so decisive that within a comparatively short time the old clairvoyance and the mastery of the spiritual over the bodily nature were transformed to such an extent that only remnants of clairvoyance and of the former power of the soul-and-spirit over the physical continued to exist. Hence before that drastic change took place it was essential that whatever of the ancient heritage survived should once again be gathered together. It was in this milieu that Christ Jesus was to work. The new impulse could then be received into mankind and develop by slow degrees.
In another domain a jump is also taking place in our own epoch, but not so rapidly. Although a longer period of time is involved, the parallel will be quite comprehensible to those who understand the character of the present age. We can most easily form an idea of this jump by listening to people who approach spiritual science from one sphere or another of cultural life. It may happen that the representative of some religious body comes to a lecture on spiritual science ... what I am saying is quite understandable and is not meant as censure. He listens to a lecture, let us say, on the nature of Christianity, and says afterwards: ‘It all sounds very beautiful and fundamentally speaking is not at variance with what we ourselves preach. But we put it in a way that is intelligible to everyone, whereas only a few individuals can understand what is being said here.’ This statement is frequently made. But whoever says or believes that his is the only right way of presenting Christianity overlooks one essential, namely that he must judge according to facts, not according to his personal inclinations. I once had occasion to reply: ‘No doubt you believe that you are presenting the truths of Christianity in a form suitable for everyone. But beliefs prove nothing; only facts decide. Does everybody go to your Church? Thus facts prove the contrary. Spiritual science is not there for people whose spiritual needs you are able to satisfy; it is there for people who demand something else.’
We are living in an age when it is becoming impossible for human hearts to accept the Bible as it has been accepted during the last four or five centuries of European civilization. Either mankind will receive spiritual science and through it learn to understand the Bible in a new way, or, as is now happening to many who are unacquainted with Anthroposophy, men will cease to listen to the Bible. In that case they would lose the Bible altogether and with it untold spiritual treasures — actually the greatest and most significant spiritual treasures of our Earth evolution! This must be realized. We are now at the point where a jump is to take place in evolution; the human heart is demanding the spiritual-scientific elucidation of the Bible. Given such elucidation, the Bible will be preserved, to the infinite blessing of mankind; without it the Bible will be lost. This should be taken earnestly by those who believe that they must at all costs adhere to their personal inclinations and the traditional attitude toward the Bible. Such, therefore, is the jump now being taken in evolution. Nothing will divert a man who is aware of this from cultivating Antroposophy, because he recognizes it as a necessity for the evolution of humanity.
Considered from a higher point of view, what is happening at the present time is relatively unimportant compared with what took place when Christ Jesus came to the Earth. In those days the stage reached in the evolution of humanity was such that the last examples were still in existence of its development since primeval times, actually since the previous embodiment of the Earth. Man was developing primarily in his physical, etheric, and astral bodies; the ego had long since been membered into him, but at that time was still playing a subordinate rôle. Until the coming of Christ Jesus the fully self-conscious ego was still obscured by the three sheaths: physical body, etheric body, and astral body.
Let us suppose that Christ Jesus had not come to the Earth. What would have happened? As evolution progressed the ego would have fully emerged; but to the same extent as it emerged, all earlier outstanding faculties of the astral, etheric, and physical bodies, all the old clairvoyance, all the old mastery of the soul and spirit over the body, would have vanished. That would have been the inevitable course of evolution. Man would have become a self-conscious ego, but an ego that would have led him more and more to egoism and to the disappearance and extinction of love on the Earth. Men would have become ‘egos’, but utterly egotistical beings. That is the point of importance.
When Christ Jesus came to the Earth man was ready for the development of the self, the ego; for this very reason, however, he was beyond the stage where it would have been permissible to work upon him in the old way. In the ancient Hebrew period, for example, the ‘Law’, the proclamation from Sinai, was able to take effect because the ego had not fully emerged, and what the astral body — the highest part of man's constitution at that time — should do and feel in order to act rightly in the outer world was instilled, impressed, into it. The Law of Sinai came to men as a last prophetic announcement in the epoch preceding the full emergence of the ego. Had the ego emerged and nothing else intervened, man would have heeded nothing except his own ego. Humanity was ready for the development of the ego, but it would have been an empty ego, concerned with itself alone and having no wish to do anything for others or for the world.
To give this ego a real content, so to stimulate its development that the power of love should stream from it — that was the Deed of Christ Jesus on the Earth. Without Him the ego would have become an empty vessel; through His coming it can become a vessel filled more and more completely with love. To those around Him Christ could speak to the following effect: ‘When you see clouds gathering, you say: there will be this or that weather; you judge what the weather will be by the outer signs — but the signs of the times you do not understand! If you were able to understand and assess what is going on around you, you would know that the Godhead must penetrate into the ego. Then you would not say: We can be satisfied with traditions handed down from earlier times. It is what comes from earlier times that is presented to you by the Scribes and Pharisees, who wish to preserve the old and will allow nothing to be added to what was once given to man. But that is a leaven which will have no further effect in evolution. Whoever says that he will believe only in Moses and the Prophets does not understand the signs of the times, nor does he know what a transition is taking place in humanity!’ (Cf. Luke 12:54–57). In memorable words Christ Jesus said to those around Him that whether or not an individual will become Christian does not depend upon his personal inclination but upon the inevitable progress of evolution. By the words recorded in the Gospel of St. Luke concerning the ‘signs of the time’, Christ Jesus wished to make it understood that the old leaven represented by the Scribes and Pharisees, who preserve only what is antiquated, was no longer sufficient and that belief to the contrary could be entertained only by those who felt no obligation to put aside personal inclinations and judge according to the necessity of the times. Hence Christ Jesus called what the Scribes and Pharisees desired ‘Untruth’ — something that does not tally with reality in the outer world. That would have been the real meaning of the expression.
We can best realize the forcefulness of these words by thinking of analogous happenings in our own day. How should we have to speak if we wished to apply to the present age what Christ Jesus said of the Scribes and Pharisees? Are there, in our own times, any who resemble the Scribes? Yes indeed! They are the people who will not accept the deeper explanation of the Gospels and refuse to listen to anything that is beyond the range of their own faculties of comprehension — faculties that have been unaffected by spiritual science; these people refuse to keep pace with the strides in knowledge of the foundations of the Gospels made through spiritual science. This is really everywhere the case when efforts — no matter whether of a more progressive or more reactionary character — are made to interpret the Gospels, for the fact is that the capacity for such interpretation can develop only on the soil of spiritual science — there and there alone. Spiritual science is the only source from which truth about the Gospels can be derived. That is why all other contemporary research seems so barren, so unsatisfactory, wherever there is a genuine desire to seek the truth.
Today, as well as the ‘Scribes and Pharisees’ there are the natural scientists — a third type. We may therefore speak of three categories of men who want to exclude everything that leads to the spiritual, everything in the way of faculties attainable by man in order to penetrate to the spiritual foundations of the phenomena of Nature. And those who, among others, must be impugned at the present time, if one speaks in the sense of true Christianity, are very often the holders of professorships! They have every opportunity for comparing and collating the phenomena of Nature, but they entirely reject the spiritual explanations. It is they who hinder progress; for humanity's progress is hindered wherever there is refusal to recognize the signs of the times in the sense indicated.
In our days the only kind of action consistent with discipleship of Christ Jesus would be to find the courage to turn — as He turned against those who wished to confine truth to Moses and the Prophets — against people who retard progress by rejecting the anthroposophical interpretation of the scriptures on the one side and the phenomena of Nature on the other. Now and then there are really well-meaning people who occasionally would like to bring about a kind of vague reconciliation. But it would be well if in the hearts of all such people there were some understanding of the words spoken by Christ Jesus as related in the Gospel of St. Luke.
Among the most beautiful and impressive parables in that Gospel is the one usually known as the parable of the unjust steward. (Luke 16:1–13.) A rich man had a steward who was accused of wasting his goods. He therefore decided to dismiss the steward. The latter asked himself in dismay: ‘What shall I do? I cannot support myself as a husbandman, for I do not understand such work; nor can I beg, for I should be ashamed.’ Then the thought occurred to him: In all my dealings with the people with whom my stewardship brought me into contact, I had in mind only the interests of my lord; therefore they will have no particular liking for me. I have paid no attention to their interests. I must do something in order to be received into their houses and so not be utterly ruined; I will do something to show that I wish them well. Thereupon he went to one of his lord's debtors and asked him: ‘How much owest thou?’ — and allowed him to cancel half the debt. He did the same with the others. In this way he tried to ingratiate himself with the debtors, so that when his lord dismissed him he might be received by these people and not die of starvation. That was his object. The Gospel continues — possibly to the astonishment of some readers: ‘And the lord commended the unjust steward because he had done wisely.’ Those who set out to elucidate the Gospels today have actually speculated about which ‘lord’ is meant, although it is absolutely clear that Jesus was praising the steward for his cleverness. Then the verse continues: ‘For the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.’ This is how the sentence has stood for centuries. But has anyone ever reflected upon what is meant by ‘the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light?’ ‘In their generation’ stands in all the different translations of the Bible, But if someone with only scanty knowledge were to translate the Greek text correctly, it would read: ‘for the children of this world in their way are wiser than the children of light,’ that is to say, in their way the children of this world are wiser than the children of light, wiser according to their own understanding — that is what Christ meant. Translators of this passage have for centuries confused the expression ‘in their way’ with a word that actually has a very similar sound in the Greek language; they have confused it — and do so to this very day — with ‘generations’, because the word was sometimes also used for the other concept. It hardly seems possible that this kind of thing should have dragged on for centuries and that modern, reputedly good translators, who have endeavored to convey the exact meaning of the text, should make no change. Weizsacker, for example, gives this actual rendering! Strangely enough, people seem to forget the most elementary school-knowledge when they set about investigating biblical records. Spiritual science will have to restore the biblical records in their true form to the world, for the world today does not, properly speaking, possess the Bible and can have no real grasp of its contents. It might even be asked: Are these the genuine texts of the Bible? No, in very important parts they are not, as I will show you in still greater detail.
What is the meaning of this parable of the unjust steward? The steward reflected: If I must leave my post I must gain the affection of the people. He realized that one cannot serve two masters. Christ said to those around Him: ‘You too must realize that you cannot serve two masters — the one who is now to enter the hearts of men as God, and the one hitherto proclaimed by the Scribes and the interpreters of the books of the Prophets. You cannot serve the God who is to draw into your souls as the Christ-principle and give a mighty impetus to the evolution of humanity, and the other God who would hinder this evolution.’ Everything that was right and proper in a bygone age becomes a hindrance if carried over into a later stage of evolution. In a certain sense the process of evolution itself is based upon this principle. The Powers which direct the ‘hindrances’ were called at that time by a technical expression: Mammon. ‘You cannot serve the God who will progress, and Mammon, the God of Hindrances. Think of the steward who, as a child of the world, realized that one cannot serve two masters, not even with the help of Mammon. So too should you perceive, in striving to become children of light, that you cannot serve two masters!’ (Cf. Luke 16:11–13.)
Those living in the present age must also realize that no reconciliation is possible between the God Mammon in our time — between the modern ‘scribes’ and scientific pundits — and the direction of thought that must provide human beings today with the nourishment they need. This is spoken in a truly Christian sense. Clothed in current language, what Christ Jesus wished to bring home to those around Him in the parable of the unjust steward was that no man can serve two masters.
The Gospels must be understood in a really living way. Spiritual science itself must become a living reality! Under its influence everything it touches should be imbued with life. The Gospel itself should be something that streams into our own spiritual faculties. We should not only chatter about the Scribes and Pharisees having been repudiated in the days of Christ Jesus, for then once again we should be thinking only of an age that is past. We must know where the successor of the Power described by Christ Jesus for His epoch as the ‘God Mammon’ is to be found today. That is a living kind of understanding — which is also such a very important factor in what is related in the Gospel of St. Luke. For with the parable, that is found only in this Gospel, there is connected one of the most significant concepts in all the Gospels: it is a concept we can engrave into our hearts and souls only if we are able once again, and from a somewhat different angle, to make it clear how Buddha, and the impulse he gave, were related to Christ Jesus.
We have heard that Buddha brought to mankind the great teaching of compassion and love. Here is one of the instances where what is said in occultism must be taken exactly as it stands, for otherwise it might be objected that at one time Christ is said to have brought love to the Earth, and at another that Buddha brought the teaching of love. But is that the same? On one occasion I said that Buddha brought the teaching of love to the Earth, and on another occasion that Christ brought love itself as a living power to the Earth. That is the great difference. Close attention is necessary when the deepest concerns of humanity are being considered; for otherwise what happens is that information given in one place is presented somewhere else in a quite different form and then it is said that in order to be fair to everybody I have proclaimed two messengers of love! The very closest attention is essential in occultism. When this enables us really to understand the words in which the momentous truths are clothed, they are seen in the right light.
Knowing that the great teaching of compassion and love brought by Buddha is given expression in the Eightfold Path, we may ask ourselves: What is the aim of this Eightfold Path? What does a man attain when from the depths of his soul he adopts it as his life's ideal, never losing sight of the goal and asking continually: How can I reach the greatest perfection? How can I purify my ego most completely? What must I do to enable my ego to fulfill its function in the world as perfectly as possible? — Such a man will say to himself: If I obey every precept of the Eightfold Path my ego will reach the greatest perfection that it is possible to conceive. Everything is a matter of the purification and ennoblement of the ego; everything that can stream from this wonderful Eightfold Path must penetrate into us. The point of importance is that it is work carried out by the ego, for its own perfecting. If, therefore, men were to develop to further stages in themselves that which Buddha set in motion as the ‘Wheel of the Law’ (that is the technical term), their egos would gradually become possessed of wisdom at a high level — wisdom in the form of thought — and they would recognize the signs of perfection. Buddha brought to humanity the wisdom of love and compassion, and when we succeed in making the whole astral body a product of the Eightfold Path, we shall possess the requisite knowledge of the laws expressed in its teachings.
But there is a difference between wisdom in the form of thought and wisdom as living power; there is a difference between knowing what the ego must become and allowing the living power to flow into our very being so that it may stream forth again from the ego into all the world as it streamed from Christ, working upon the astral, etheric, and physical bodies of those around Him. The impulse given by the great Buddha enabled humanity to have knowledge of the teaching of compassion and love. What Christ brought is first and foremost a living power, not a teaching. He sacrificed His very self, He descended in order to flow not merely into the astral bodies of men but into the ego, so that the ego itself should have the power to ray out love as substantiality. Christ brought to the Earth the substantiality, the living essence, of love, not merely the wisdom-filled content of love. That is the all-important point.
Nineteen centuries and roughly five more have now elapsed since the great Buddha lived on the Earth; in about three thousand years from now — this we learn from occultism — a considerable number of human beings will have reached the stage of being able to evolve the wisdom of the Buddha, the Eightfold Path, out of their own moral nature, out of their own heart and soul. Buddha had once to be on Earth, and the power that mankind will develop little by little as the wisdom of the Eightfold Path proceeded from him; after about three thousand years from now men will be able to unfold its teaching from within themselves; it will then be their own possession and they will no longer be obliged to receive it from outside. Then they will be able to say: This Eightfold Path springs from our very selves as the wisdom of compassion and love.
Even if nothing else had happened than the setting in motion of the Wheel of the Law by the great Buddha, in three thousand years from now humanity would have become capable of knowing the doctrine of compassion and love. But it is a different matter also to have acquired the faculty to embody it in very life. Not only to know about compassion and love, but under the influence of an individuality to unfold it as living power — there lies the difference. This faculty proceeded from Christ. He poured love itself into men, and it will grow from strength to strength. When men have reached the end of their evolution, wisdom will have revealed to them the content of the doctrine of compassion and love; this they will owe to Buddha. But at the same time they will possess the faculty of letting the love stream out from the ego over mankind; this they will owe to Christ.
Thus Buddha and Christ worked in cooperation, and the exposition given has been necessary in order that the Gospel of St. Luke may be properly understood. We realize this at once when we know how to interpret correctly the words used in the Gospel. (Luke 2:13–14.) The great proclamation is to be made to the shepherds. Above them is the ‘heavenly host’ — this is the spiritual, imaginative expression for the Nirmanakaya of the Buddha. What is it that is proclaimed to the shepherds from on high? The ‘manifestation (or revelation) of the wisdom-filled God from the Heights!’ This is the proclamation made to the shepherds by the Nirmanakaya of Buddha, pictured as the ‘heavenly host’ hovering over the Nathan Jesus child. But something else is added: ‘And peace be to men on the Earth below who are filled with a good will’ — that is, men in whom the living power of love is germinating. It is this that must gradually become reality on Earth through the new impulse given by Christ. To the ‘revelation from the Heights’ He added the living power, bringing into every human heart and into every human soul something that can fill the soul to overflowing. He gave the soul not merely a teaching that could be received in the form of thought and idea, but a power that can stream forth from it. The Christ-bestowed power that can fill the human soul to overflowing is called in the Gospel of St. Luke, and in the other Gospels too, the power of faith. This is what the Gospels mean by Faith. A man who receives Christ into himself so that Christ lives in him, a man whose ego is not an empty vessel but is filled to overflowing with love — such a man has faith.
Why could Christ be the supreme illustration of the power of ‘healing through the word?’ Because He was the first to set in motion the ‘Wheel of Love’ (not the ‘Wheel of the Law’) as a freely working faculty and power of the human soul; because love in the very highest measure was within him — love brimming over in such abundance that it could pour into those around Him who needed to be healed; because the words He spoke — no matter whether ‘Stand up and walk!’ or ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee’, or other words — issued from overflowing love. His words were uttered from overflowing love — love transcending the limits of the ego. And those who were able to some extent to experience this were called by Christ ‘the faithful’. This is the only true interpretation of the concept of faith — one of the most fundamental concepts in the New Testament. Faith is the capacity to transcend the self, to transcend what the ego can — for the time being — achieve. Therefore when he had passed into the body of the Nathan Jesus and had there united with the power of the Buddha, Christ's teaching was not concerned with the question ‘How shall the ego achieve the greatest possible perfection?’ but rather with the question ‘How shall the ego overflow? How can the ego transcend its own limits?’ He often used simple words, and indeed the Gospel of St. Luke as a whole speaks to the hearts of the simplest men. Christ said, in effect: It is not enough to give something only to those of whom you know for certain that they will give it back to you again, for sinners also do that. If you know that it will come back to you, your action has not been prompted by overflowing love. But if you give something knowing that it will not come back to you, then you have acted out of pure love; for that is pure love which the ego does not keep enclosed but releases as a power that flows forth from a man. (Luke 6:33–34.) In many and various ways Christ speaks of how the ego must overflow and how the power overflowing from the ego, and from feeling emancipated from self-interest, must work in the world.
The words of greatest warmth in the Gospel of St. Luke are those which tell of this overflowing love. The Gospel itself will be found to contain this overflowing love if we let its words work upon us in such a way that the love pervades all our own words, enabling them to make their effect in the outer world. Another Evangelist, who because of his different antecedents lays less emphasis upon this particular secret of Christianity, has for all that summarized it in a short sentence. In the Latin translation of the Gospel of St. Matthew we still have the genuine, original words which epitomize the many beautiful passages about love contained in the Gospel of St. Luke: Ex abundantia cordis os loquitur. ‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’ (Matt. 12:34.) This expresses one of the very highest Christian ideals! The mouth speaks from the overflowing heart, from that which the heart does not confine within itself. The heart is set in motion by the blood, and the blood is the expression of the ego. The meaning is therefore this: ‘Speak from an ego which overflows and rays forth power (the power of faith). Then do thy words contain the Christ-power!’ — ‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh!’ this is a cardinal principle of Christianity.
In the modern German Bible this passage is rendered: ‘His mouth overflows whose heart is full!’ [ 1 ] These words have for centuries succeeded in obscuring a cardinal principle of Christianity. The absurdity of saying that the heart overflows when it is ‘full’ has not dawned upon people, although things do not generally overflow unless they are more than full! Humanity — this is not meant as criticism — has inevitably become entangled in an idea which obscures an essential principle of Christianity and has never noticed that the sentence as it stands here is meaningless. If it is contended that the German language does not allow of a literal translation of Ex abundantia cordis os loquitur into ‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh’ on the ground that one cannot say ‘The abundance of the stove makes the room warm’ — that too is senseless. For if the stove is heated only to the extent that the warmth just reaches its sides, the room will not be heated, it will be heated only when a superabundance of warmth comes out of the stove. Here we light upon a point of great significance: a cardinal principle of Christianity, one upon which part of the Gospel of St. Luke is based, has been entirely obscured, with the result that the meaning of one of the most important passages in the Gospel has remained hidden from humanity.
The power that can overflow from the human heart is the Christ-power. ‘Heart’ and ‘ego’ are here synonymous. What the ego is able to create when transcending its own limits flows forth through the word. Not until the end of Earth evolution will the ego be fit to enshrine the nature of Christ in its fullness. In the present age Christ is a power that brims over from the heart. A man who is content that his heart shall merely be ‘full’ does not possess the Christ. Hence an essential principle of Christianity is obscured if the weight and significance of this sentence are not realized. Things of infinite importance, belonging to the very essence of Christianity, will come to light through what spiritual science is able to say in elucidation of the sacred records of Christianity. By reading the Akashic Chronicle, spiritual science is able to discover the original meanings and thus to read the records in their true form.
We shall now understand how humanity advances into the future. The Bodhisattva who became Buddha five or six centuries before our era, ascended into the spiritual world and now works in his Nirmanakaya. He has risen to a higher stage and need not again descend into a physical body. The powers that were his as Bodhisattva are again present — but in a different form. When he became Buddha at that time, he passed over the office of Bodhisattva to another who became his successor; another became Bodhisattava. A Buddhist legend speaks of this in words which give expression to a deep truth of Christianity. It is narrated that the Bodhisattva, before descending to the incarnation when he became Buddha, removed his heavenly tiara and placed it upon the Bodhisattva who was to be his successor. The latter, with his somewhat different mission, works on. He too is to become a Buddha. When — in about three thousand years — a number of human beings have evolved from within themselves the teachings of the Eightfold Path, the present Bodhisattva will become Buddha, as did his predecessor. Entrusted with his mission five or six centuries before our era, he will become Buddha in about three thousand years, reckoning from our present time. Oriental wisdom knows him as the Maitreya Buddha. [ 2 ]
Before the present Bodhisattva can become the Maitreya Buddha a considerable number of human beings must have developed the precepts of the Eightfold Path out of their own hearts, and by that time many will have become capable of this. Then he who is now the Bodhisattva will bring a new power into the world.
If nothing further were to have happened by then, the future Buddha would, it is true, find human beings capable of thinking out the teachings of the Eightfold Path through deep meditation, but not such as have within their inmost soul the living, overflowing power of love. This living power of love must stream into mankind in the intervening time in order that the Maitreya Buddha may find not only human beings who understand what love is, but those who have within them the power of love. It was for this purpose that Christ descended to the Earth. He descended for three years only, never having been embodied on the Earth before, as you will have gathered from everything that has been said. The presence of Christ on the Earth for three years — from the Baptism by John until the Mystery of Golgotha — meant that love will flow in ever-increasing measure into the human heart, into the human soul in other words, into the human ego; so that at the end of Earth evolution the ego will be filled with the power of Christ. Just as the teaching of compassion and love had first to be kindled to life through the Bodhisattva, the substance of love had to be brought down from heavenly heights to the Earth by the being who allows it gradually to become the possession of the human ego itself. We may not say that love was not previously in existence. What was not present before the coming of Christ was the love that could be the direct possession of the human ego; it was love that was inspired that Christ enabled to stream down from cosmic heights; it streamed into men unconsciously, just as previously the Bodhisattva had enabled the teaching of the Eightfold Path to stream into them unconsciously. Buddha's relation to the Eightfold Path was analogous to the status of the Christ-Being before it was possible for Him to descend in order to take human form. The taking of human form signified progress for Christ. That is the all-important point.
Buddha's successor — now a Bodhisattva — is well known to those versed in spiritual science, and the time will cone when these facts — including the name of the Bodhisattva who will then become the Maitreya Buddha — will be spoken of explicitly. For the present, however, when so many factors unknown to the external world have been presented, indications must suffice. When this Bodhisattva appears on Earth and becomes Maitreya. Buddha, he will find on Earth the seed of Christ, embodied in those human beings who say: ‘Not only is my head filled with the wisdom of the Eightfold Path; I have not only the teaching, the wisdom of love, but my heart is filled with the living substance of love which overflows and streams into the world.’ And then, together with such human beings, the Maitreya Buddha will be able to carry out his further mission in the world's evolution.
All these truths are interrelated, and only by realizing this are we able to understand the profundities of the Gospel of St. Luke. This Gospel does not speak to us of a ‘teaching’, but of Him who flowed as very substance into the beings of the Earth and into the constitution of man. This is a truth expressed in occultism by saying: The Bodhisattvas who become Buddhas can, through wisdom, redeem earthly man in respect of his spirit, but they can never redeem the whole man. For the whole man can be redeemed only when the warm power of love — not wisdom alone — flows through his whole being. The redemption of souls through the outpouring of love which He brought to the Earth — that was the mission of Christ. To bring the wisdom of love was the mission of the Bodhisattvas and of the Buddha; to bring to mankind the power of love was the mission of Christ. This distinction must be made.
Notes:1. In the English versions of the New Testament the correct meaning has been preserved. (See Matt. XII, 34, also Luke VI, 43.)2. Among countless references to Maitreya Buddha in the vast literature of Buddhism, special attention may be called to the chapter entitled ‘Maitreya, the future Buddha’, in Buddhist Scriptures, translated by Edward Conze (Penguin Classics).Dr. Steiner spoke of Maitreya Buddha in many lecture-courses and in considerable detail in the following lectures: Buddha and Christ. The Sphere of the Bodhisattvas, given in Milan, 21st September 1911; Jeschu ben Pandira, Lecture 1, 4th November 1911, and Jeschu ben Pandira, Lecture 2, 5th November 1911, both lectures given in Leipzig.
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