Initiation, Eternity, and the Passing Moment. Lecture 2 of 7.
Rudolf Steiner, Munich, August 26, 1912:
In these lectures we shall have to discuss important questions intimately related to spiritual life. We shall have to speak of what lies at the basis of so-called initiation and, after having indicated some of its secrets and laws, we must go on to speak of the significance of all that radiates out for life from initiation and initiates in the course of human evolution. We shall have to speak of all this in relation to what may be summed up in such contrasting ideas as eternity and the passing moment, the light of the spirit and the darkness of life. Then, having considered the life of man from the point of view these ideas give, we shall return again to the power of initiation and the power of initiates. It is the principle of initiation, then, that on this occasion will be the limit of our studies.
Eternity — we need only touch on this idea to feel resounding in us something connected with the deepest longings of man's soul and with the highest aims of his endeavor. The passing moment always brings before us all that surrounds us in life, that reminds us of the necessity to search in this passing moment of our lives for what is able to give us a view into the land of our desire, into eternity. We only have to call to mind how Goethe introduced into his Faust the deepest secret of this his greatest poem, by making Faust say to the passing moment: “Tarry yet, thou art so fair!” and making him then confess that if such can become the soul's attitude, if it can so identify itself with this confession as to say to the passing moment, “Tarry yet, thou art so fair,” it must necessarily follow that Faust should own that he deserves to fall victim to Mephistopheles, the enemy of mankind on Earth. Thus, Goethe makes everything connected with the feeling that flows from the passing moment the basic mystery of his greatest poem. It seems then that what we live in — the passing moment — is in opposition to what we call eternity, for which man's soul must constantly long.
The light of the spirit! In all the anthroposophical studies we have pursued over the years, we have recognized that the striving after spirit light has the fundamental aim of leading man out of the darkness of life. Once more we feel how in Faust, one of the greatest poems in human evolution, a poet, wishing to portray a great and all-embracing soul, cannot but make it come forth out of the darkness of life. What is it that entangles Faust at the beginning of the poem? What envelops him? It is the darkness of life. How often have we to emphasize that so great is the force and power of this darkness over man that the spirit light, finding him immature, may so work upon him as not to illuminate but to dazzle and stun him. So that the question may not only be “What is the way to the light of the spirit, where can it be found?” but rather and above all: “How must man tread the path of the soul that is able to lead him to the spirit light in the right way?”
These are only the guiding lines that should occupy us in these lectures. We have reached such a stage in our anthroposophical work that we need not develop our subject from the very start, but may connect it to some of the things already familiar to us.
When we meet the word initiation, which is for us so intimately connected with the words eternity and spirit light, all the great men of whom we have heard in the successive epochs of humanity as initiates become living in our souls. With them our souls call to life, too, the several epochs themselves, how they ran their courses, how men lived in them, and how the light streamed into humanity from both initiates and initiation temples in order to make possible what the impulses, the essential driving forces of human evolution, have in all ages become. It would take us too far afield today to refer in detail to all that happened in Earth evolution before the Atlantean catastrophe broke upon the face of the Earth, completely changing it. We can gain an adequate idea of what we are considering if we turn our gaze to post-Atlantean times, remembering the particular configuration of the human being and his various aspects throughout the ages.
We will let our gaze sweep back over the characteristic civilization that followed immediately after the face of the Earth had been re-formed by the Atlantean catastrophe. We have often spoken reverently of all that in the first post-Atlantean epoch the great and holy teachers of mankind brought to that part of the Earth where later the Indian civilization was developed. We have remarked how the soul cannot but look up from below to the lofty spiritual teachings that came into the world at that time through certain human individualities who still bore within them all the inward greatness of those men who in Atlantean times had direct communion, which was no longer possible in later epochs of mankind, with the divine spiritual worlds. We have pointed out how the heritage of Atlantean wisdom, now accessible to the occultist alone, lived on in post-Atlantean form in the ancient holy teachers of the first post-Atlantean period of culture. We have also pointed out how great and significant man finds all that then lived, to which, now, it is only the Akashic Records that bear witness, when he receives reflections of it in Indian literature, or any other Oriental literature. The moral and spiritual sublimity contained in these writings as an echo of primeval spiritual teachings cannot be fully realized by present-day humanity insofar as external culture is concerned. Least of all can it be realized in the countries that have been prepared for their present external culture by what the various forms of Christianity have accomplished during the last centuries. Thus the soul felt directed upward when it turned its gaze to all the greatness that, so dimly sensed today, has only come down to us as a faint echo of primeval spirituality. So, if man looks up to the old wisdom and remembers above all what has often been mentioned here, namely, that only in the seventh and last epochs of the post-Atlantean age will mankind again reach the point of drawing up out of the darkness of life the understanding of what once lived at the beginning of post-Atlantean times and gave the impulse for human evolution — if we consider that mankind must mature to the last epoch before it can feel and experience in itself what at that time was felt and experienced, then only shall we get a sense of how exalted must have been the initiation principle that gave the impulse to the ancient, holy, spiritual culture of mankind.
Then we see how, in the course of successive epochs, mankind, struggling for other spiritual treasures, other treasures of earthly life, seems to descend ever lower, how it takes other forms, but how, according to the needs of the age, great initiates give to men from the spiritual worlds what they require at any particular epoch as impulse for their culture. Then, before our vision, arises the Zarathustra culture that, if seen in its true light, entirely differs from that of the holy Rishis.
We then see the Egyptian-Chaldean culture arise, and the ancient holy mysteries of Greece, to which we referred from a quite different aspect in our last lecture. Everywhere we see the light of the spirit shining down, according to the needs of the different epochs, into the darkness of life. If at the outset of our considerations we ask what are our ideas of an initiate — it is obvious that at the beginning of these lectures only approximate ideas can be given of so vast a concept — we must first gather up much of all we have already heard in the anthroposophical field. We must be clear that for complete initiation it is necessary that man should not look out on the world from within his physical body in the usual way, by perceiving the world around him through his eyes and other sense organs, nor must he gain knowledge of this world or any other world around him through the intellect bound to the brain, nor through what he may call his sense of orientation. He must not form concepts about these worlds in the ordinary way. He must arrive at a stage in which, by means of what we may term “the perceiving of worlds outside his physical body,” he develops something in his life of soul that may be called a supersensible spiritual body, having within it organs of perception, though of a higher kind, just as the physical body has eyes and ears and other organs of perception and understanding. “One who can see worlds without using the organs of his physical body” can be given as an entirely explicit definition of an initiate. The great initiates, who gave man the important cultural impulses in the course of successive ages, had attained in the highest measure independence of the sensory body, and use of another body, quite different in character.
I do not wish to say much that is abstract. Wherever possible I shall bring forward concrete examples, and today therefore I should like to illustrate this life outside the sensory body in a higher organization belonging to the soul and to illustrate it by means of the following example.
If one who has only gone a few steps on the way to initiation realizes through self-observation what it is that he experiences in and of himself, he may say something like: “One of the first things I experienced of myself is that I have within me, besides my physical body of flesh, a finer one that may be called an etheric body, which in Earth life is carried about with me just like the physical body.” Anyone making his first steps toward initiation realizes this at first in such a way that he feels within this body and experiences it just as, on another level, he feels what lives in his blood or nervous system, or in what arises from his muscular system. Such an inner feeling and experience is present, and it can exist also for the etheric body. It is then particularly useful for a student in the first stages of initiation to get to know the difference, or one might say the relationship, between the realization of himself, the experience of himself, in his physical body, on the one hand, and on the other, in his etheric body. Man experiences himself in the etheric body in the same way as one is conscious of the blood or the beating of one's heart and pulse in the physical body.
To gain a clear idea of this we may consider the etheric body in connection with the physical body, in which one is more at home than in the body that one only succeeds in reaching by means of a journey into the spiritual. One may say to oneself: “In my etheric body I have a part corresponding to my physical brain and to all that constitutes my head. The head, the brain, is as though crystallized out of the etheric body, and so rests within it that it might be compared to a piece of ice floating in water — the water representing the etheric body and the ice, the physical body crystallized from the etheric body. An intimate connection is felt and experienced between what may be called the etheric part of the head or brain, and the physical brain itself. We then realize how we create our thoughts, how we form memory images within the etheric body, and how the physical brain is only a kind of reflector, but we also realize how intimate is the connection of the brain with the etheric body. This can be experienced with especial force when one has to work hard at tasks connected with the physical plane in the physical life, when prolonged thought about things is necessary, and when one must exert the physical body to bring up memory images from the depths of life and to hold them together. In such a process the etheric body always takes a direct part, whether one knows it or not. But inwardly connected with it is the physical brain, and if this brain is tired out, fatigue is markedly felt in the corresponding etheric part. We then notice something like a block in what is experienced as the etheric part of the brain, something like a foreign body, so that one can no longer get at what one must know, since mobility in the physical brain must run parallel with mobility in the etheric body. You may then have the distinct feeling that your etheric body never grows tired. It would be able to gather up thought images to all eternity, and bring to the surface all that you know. But before all this can be expressed in the physical world it must be reflected back, and this the brain refuses to do. The etheric body never tires. Just because it can be continuously active, it notices the fatigue of the brain all the more. One notices as it were the forces of exhaustion produced by the brain, and when the brain goes to sleep and falls into the torpor of fatigue, one might say: “Now you must stop or you will be ill.” The etheric body cannot be used up, but by giving the brain too much to do it is possible indirectly to overtire it more and more, thus bringing about a lifeless, deathlike condition. A living organism will not suffer anything normally connected with it to be partially deadened and brought into an abnormal state. Hence, out of a free resolve, one must say: “So that I may not kill part of my brain and leave it to go on consuming itself, I must stop when I begin to feel it like something foreign inside me.”
That is what we experience when we try to find the relation between that part of the human etheric body which corresponds to the brain or head, and the physical brain or physical head itself. There is an intimate connection between them. In effect, the external life of the senses runs its course in such a way that it is impossible to break down what is parallel between the two. Therefore, if we want to express the relation, we may also say that in our head, especially in our brain, we have a faithful expression of the etheric forces, something that, in the external phenomena and external functions, gives us a really faithful image of the functions and processes in the corresponding etheric part.
It is different in the case of other organs of the human etheric body and the corresponding physical sense organs. These things are quite different. I will give you an example. Consider the hands. Just as there exists in the etheric body an etheric part corresponding to the head or brain, so there are etheric processes in the human etheric body corresponding to the hands. But the difference between the external physical hands and their tasks, and what lies at the basis of the corresponding etheric part is far greater than the difference between the physical head and its corresponding part in the human etheric body. What the hands perform has far more to do with the world of the senses and is much more a purely sensory function, while what is done by the corresponding etheric organs is only manifest in a small degree in what finds physical expression in the hands.
In order to describe the corresponding facts I must, as is often the case, say things that appear grotesque and strange for physical experience and for grasping physical observations in words. But what I say is fully in accordance with basic facts, and everyone who knows anything about these things will at once feel that they really are as I am obliged to describe them. They are the etheric parts corresponding to the physical hands. But apart from the fact that what corresponds to these etheric parts finds its expression in the hands and their movements, these etheric organs in the etheric body are true spiritual organs. The etheric organs expressed in the hands and their functions work far more intuitively, more spiritually, and perform a far higher task than is accomplished by the etheric brain. Whoever has made progress in these matters will say that the brain with its etheric basis is in effect by far the least skillful of the spiritual organs man bears within him, because as soon as he begins to bestir himself in the etheric part of the brain, he soon becomes aware of this foreign part of it.
The spiritual activities connected with the organs underlying the hands, but incompletely expressed in the hands and their functions, serve for a far higher, more spiritual kind of knowledge and observation. These organs can lead into the supersensible world and can occupy themselves with our perception and orientation there. A spiritual seer may express this, somewhat surprisingly but accurately, by saying that the human brain is a most clumsy organ for research in the spiritual world, and that the hands, or the spiritual basis of the hands, are far more interesting and significant organs for gaining knowledge of the world, and are certainly far more skillful organs than the brain.
Not much is gained on the way to initiation by advancing from the use of the physical brain to a free use of the etheric brain. The difference is not great between what may be achieved through a purified, intuitive brain-thinking, and regulated spiritual working in the etheric spiritual counterpart of the brain. The difference becomes much greater between what our hands accomplish in the world and what can be done by the etheric part that is the spiritual basis of the hands, in the same way as the etheric brain is the spiritual basis of the physical brain. On the path of initiation not much development of the etheric brain is necessary, since it is not a particularly important organ. But the etheric basis of the hands is connected with the activity of the lotus flower in the region of the heart, as you will learn in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment.
This lotus flower pours out its rays of force in such a way as to build up the organism that, at the stage at which physical man now stands, exists in an incomplete form in the hands and their functions. When we learn this fact, and think of the great difference between the mere use of physical hands and all that we can acquire as regards the supersensible world through the etheric organs underlying the hands — such far more skilful organs than those of the etheric brain — we gain a vivid conception of learning to experience initiation and all the enrichment that it means for man. We do not acquire much enrichment through the feeling that our brain radiates out to feel its etheric counterpart. This is the case, but it is not a really permeating and significant experience. The significant experience begins when one feels that other parts are also expanding and making contact with the universe. Though it may sound strange, yet it is true that the least skillful organ for spiritual investigation is the brain, since it is the least capable of development. On the other hand, entirely new perspectives are opened out when we consider other apparently subordinate organs.
Thus there takes place a complete transformation of what man experiences in himself when he starts on the first steps toward the heights of initiation. It is necessary that one should bring this to consciousness, that one should grasp it as an inner transformation of the human personality, like the principle of development elsewhere in the universe: one thing passes over into another, the later being called, though perhaps not always appropriately, the more perfect as compared with the earlier. If we are clear how in the course of evolution one thing is transformed into another, how the seed of the plant is transformed and becomes leaves, flower, and fruit, we can say that the human personality, too, experiences something of this kind; namely, what it is and what it can become through the methods given in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, which are the first beginnings of what may lead us right up to the highest regions of initiation. It is good — and you will see why — to arouse within us a living conception of how the human beings who are destined to become spiritual leaders in the course of time develop themselves inwardly, how all becomes transformed that is at first only germinal and appears so imperfect in man, like the hands in comparison with other organs. Outwardly this transformation is not noticeable, but the inward change is all the more significant. Just as the outer world exists even for one who is blind and cannot see what is visible to others but only appears if the eye is there, so the world that is spiritual is present around us. But we have to bring to it what we can in order that the spiritual content of the world should approach us.
Now, in the various epochs of humanity there must stream into the course of evolution as impulse all that can be given through living oneself into the spiritual world. This is what was always behind everything proceeding from the Mysteries, the initiation centers. A true idea of the course of human evolution may be gained by thinking of the great initiates as the real driving force, the real individualities, behind what is to be perceived externally. The connection between what these great initiates have to do and what happens externally in the world often only becomes perceptible through anthroposophy or some other form of occultism. The external, purely historical knowledge of the learned only sees that human history, human evolution, is running its course; it does not see the driving forces behind it. In external history we follow what seems like a chain of phenomena, one link following another in a succession of external events. But that at certain points of the chain impulses are entering from quite another world by way of initiation, this we only learn to accept through anthroposophical development. Thus, anthroposophically we see the inmost center in the course of time and all that, fundamentally, gives to evolution its whole stamp and character. We perceive the various developments of religion as an outstreaming from the initiates. We perceive how the impulses flowing from the Mysteries and initiation centers pass over into the general life of mankind.
Whoever regards the evolution of mankind in this way becomes, as a matter of course, free from any kind of a priori preference for a particular religion. This has always been the case with genuine occultism. It is one of the first requirements of initiation to divest oneself of all prejudices and preconceived feelings that grow up in a human soul when it incarnates into a particular religious system or community. In self-education one has to watch carefully that nothing remains in the soul that might give preference to any one religion. We must meet with absolute impartiality all that is contained in the various religions that, through initiation as impulse of development, has entered human evolution. As soon as there is any preference for a particular religion something like an astral mist is formed, through which no free vision is possible. Anyone who, by reason of an inclination that is a matter of course in ordinary life, harbors a preference in his soul for any religion will never be able to understand other religions. Though he may not know it, he will perceive the predominance of one part of the contents of initiation and will never attain impartial knowledge of the other. Thus, for an occult view, it is obvious that one should confront without prejudice the various streams and impulses flowing from initiation. No one in studying a plant would give the flower preference over the root, because he then would not be able to form an objective judgment of its whole structure. Just as little can a correct judgment of the inner content of one religious principle be gained if one is unable to observe other religions with complete impartiality.
In these lectures we shall be speaking of the demands the soul must make upon itself when taking the first steps toward initiation. I should like first to arouse a feeling of how initiation is related to life, and of how the various initiation centers and initiation impulses stand in regard to human evolution, particularly in post-Atlantean times.
Now occult investigation, in following up this course of human evolution, has a peculiar experience that can only be properly appreciated when such words as have just been spoken about the equal value of all religions are genuinely understood. When these ideas become a matter of course, something remarkable is experienced that will be increasingly better understood during the course of these lectures.
Let us turn our gaze to the initiates who give light to mankind as the ages go by. A man living primarily in the physical world, looking back on the initiates as historical and traditional figures, may say: “Those are the great figures of world history.” When necessary, history has taken good care that as little as possible should be known of them. Although this may sound paradoxical, it is a good thing that humanity should know so little of Homer, for example, since it has not been possible for his image to be distorted by the learned as has been done in the case of other personalities. So will it be — we may well long for this — with Goethe when once he has become as unknown a personality as Homer is today. Man's soul then can look out into the external world at these personalities, and see what they did there. Then he may himself take the first steps in initiation and become able to turn his gaze on the great figures of initiation such as Buddha or Zarathustra. He may be able to remember what Buddha or Zarathustra was to him in the world of the senses, what sort of impression he there received of these human individualities. Then, when some degree of spiritual light has dawned for him through initiation, he may ask: “How does Buddha now appear to me, and how Zarathustra?” And he will say: “I now have more knowledge of Buddha and Zarathustra. I know something I was not able to know in the world of the senses.” Such a man may then develop even further, until he comes to the stage when he will see better what these beings are as spiritual entities. One learns to know a Buddha, a Zarathustra, better the more one lives oneself into spiritual light until, when at last a certain limit is reached, it stops. That is one secret phenomenon, however, that has no need to be discussed further here. Suffice it to say that, as higher worlds are approached, further knowledge may come to a stop. This is the case as regards all initiates whom we meet in world evolution.
Now the spiritual student who has not advanced far can easily be mistaken in these matters. That, however, is not of much consequence. It may happen that some human individuality who in bygone ages stood high as a spiritual seer, on being reincarnated later, seems to have descended from his former spiritual heights. But the truth is simply that there are certain connections in human evolution where those who have already been initiates are reincarnated as non-initiates because time conditions call for them to accomplish certain deeds for which their initiation, latent during one or more incarnations, may work in some special way. Mistakes may easily arise about such individualities as they appear to us here or there making their way in external life, and quite wrong ideas may be formed about them. But in the course of progress these mistakes have gradually to be corrected. On the whole, therefore, it is a fact that man's relation to the initiates is such that he learns to know them better as he himself ascends toward the light of the spirit.
In the successive epochs of human evolution we find one remarkable phenomenon. I could give examples of what I have just told you of the confusing way in which initiates on reincarnating sometimes appear to have come down from their heights. You would probably be much surprised if I told you, for instance, in what way Dante was reincarnated in the nineteenth century. But it is not my task here to discuss further this result of my own investigation and what was established for me. Rather have I to bring forward with strong proof the things known to everyone conversant with occultism, letting everything else recede into the background and stating nothing that is not generally recognized where bona fide occultism is upheld.
Now another remarkable phenomenon appears to us that can best be expressed by saying that we meet with a being regarding whom it would be senseless to say that he was initiated like other initiates. While through him the principle of initiation stands before us in the world objectively and is there, yet it would be meaningless to speak of this individuality as having been initiated on Earth like other initiates in the course of human evolution. I have often touched on this fact. A certain degree of misconception has arisen by understanding this fact as originating in specifically Christian prejudice. In reality it is not any kind of Christian prejudice, but should be stated as the objective result of occult research. This individuality who was not initiated like other initiates, of whom it would be quite meaningless to speak as having gone through initiation like others, is Christ Jesus himself. Let us again emphasize that, just as it is impossible to understand a scale if it is said that it should be suspended from two points instead of one — since the one point constitutes its very nature — just as it would be impossible for a competent mechanic to maintain that a scale should be suspended from two or more points — it would be equally impossible for any genuine occultist to maintain that our Earth evolution could have more than one fulcrum, more than one center of stability. I have said that this is an objective result of occult research that may be recognized by anyone, be he Buddhist or Muslim or whatever.
Anyone who has made certain progress in occult development learns to know the initiates insofar as they are great personalities or have done great deeds. He learns to know them in the spiritual worlds as he ascends toward initiation, and the higher he rises the better he learns to know them. Let us take the example of a man who possibly had no opportunity in his earthly life to learn to know the Buddha and had never concerned himself about him. I know people who have entered deeply into the whole life of the Occident without having any idea of the Buddha. It might be said of them that in their bodily life in the physical world they never had anything to do with him. Or take someone who in his earthly life has never interested himself in the great leaders of the Chinese religion. Imagine men of this kind entering the superphysical worlds through initiation — or, as in some of the cases I know, entering these worlds for the first time after physical death. They can then become acquainted with Buddha, Moses, and Zarathustra because they can meet them as spiritual beings and gain a real knowledge of them. If they want to gain knowledge of these personalities, the fact that they had no opportunity to do so on Earth is no hindrance. But it is quite different in the case of Christ. I beg you to receive this as an occult fact. Suppose a man had never in any of his incarnations established a relation with the Christ being. That is a hindrance to him when, in order to find Christ in higher worlds, he is using his perceptive faculties in an ultra-physical world, for Christ cannot then appear to him in his true form. It is on Earth that it is essential to prepare for the vision and recognition of the Christ being in higher worlds. This is the occult difference in the relation of man to other initiates. The Christ event is such that something specific becomes related to the actual physical evolution of the Earth in its most important phase, radiates down into the Earth's physical evolution, and forms its centrer of gravity.
Now let us assume that the beings who live out their lives as human souls did not at first pay any attention to the Earth. It might be that something happened in the course of the world to make these souls say: “We will take no notice of the Earth; why should we incarnate down there?” This is, of course, impossible, but let us assume it for a moment.
Then, insofar as what belongs to the Earth is spiritual, these human souls would be able to experience it in the spiritual worlds, and all the great, sublime principles that were active in the initiates would there be visible to them. Were such a soul in the higher worlds to put the question to cosmic evolution: “Of all the beings in the higher worlds I want to know the Christ, to learn to understand his world mission and his essential task,” then the answer would have to be: “If you would know the being who is for us the Christ, then you must incarnate on Earth. You must in some way participate in the Mystery of Golgotha in order to enter into relation with the Christ Being.”
The Christ Mystery had to take place on Earth in accordance with cosmic law. The Earth is the stage where, in accordance with cosmic law, the Mystery of Golgotha has had to be enacted, and where the essential foundation has had to be laid for an understanding of the Christ. The understanding of the Christ that man gains on Earth is a preparation on a different scale from any other preparation that takes place on Earth, for any vision and knowledge of this being in the higher worlds. Therefore, in the Christ being the principle of initiation was lived out in quite a different way from that of other initiates. They experienced a supersensible world, indeed, sometimes profoundly, and gave the various impulses out of that world into the course of human evolution. But when they had experience of the higher worlds, when they were within them, they were out of their physical bodies. Though it did not require much effort on the part of high initiates to leave the physical body, though but a small step was necessary to issue from it into the fullness of spiritual facts, yet it is true that this transition from the physical body to the higher bodies has to be made. In Christ Jesus we have the distinctive phenomenon that, in reality, in accordance with the principle of initiation — in accordance, that is, with what man needs in order to bring about initiation — He never, during the whole three years He was living on Earth, deliberately left the physical body as is done in initiation. He always remained within it. All that He brought into life and gave to the world during those three years He gave through His physical body. The other initiates gave what they had to give to mankind through their superphysical bodies. In Christ we have the one and only individuality Who has given all that He gave, all that He said, all that went out from Him into human evolution, through His physical body, and never indirectly through the higher bodies.
In ordinary consciousness this is experienced in such a way that the sense of it can be summed up by saying that in Christ we have a phenomenon that can be understood by the most primitive consciousness that anyone possesses through the body by means of which we speak in everyday life. Hence, the intimate, brotherly union with the Christ individuality, the possibility of understanding the Christ individuality without the aid of education, simply by means of original primitive human feeling; hence, the necessity for working up to a higher form of comprehension if one wishes to understand the other initiates. Thus what I have often emphasized in these last ten years is true. In Christ we have a being whom the simplest mind can understand, although anyone who has raised himself to this higher comprehension will understand Him better. In Christ Jesus all that can be connected with a human body was present, spiritualizing the human body to the greatest possible extent, and working in the human body through Christ Jesus. The other initiates were not able to be so fully active while giving forth what was spiritual, because they had always to go out of their physical body and return to it later in order to reveal what they had retained of the supersensible world. Christ, however, always had to live everything out in the physical world through the physical body.
Such things must be taken into consideration if we would go into the true connections. Everything else is empty talk, as for instance, when it is discussed whether Christ or the other initiates stand the higher. Nothing is gained by such classification; that is quite beside the mark. The essential thing is to look into the connection between the beings. It is a matter of personal preference whether the founder of one religion is deemed “higher” than another. That will not do much harm; men are always subject to such little weaknesses. The important thing is to realize wherein consists the actual distinction between the position of Christ and that of the other initiates in the world. We may then calmly allow people to say: “I consider this or that individuality the higher on account of what he did.” When the difference I have described is understood, the distinction will also be understood between the impulses that have come into the world through the various initiates.
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