The Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of Paul. Lecture 1 of 5.
Rudolf Steiner, December 28, 1912:
Rudolf Steiner, December 28, 1912:
We stand today, as it were, at the starting-point of the foundation of the Anthroposophical Society in the narrower sense, and we should take this opportunity of once more reminding ourselves of the importance and significance of our cause. It is true that what the Anthroposophical Society wishes to be for the newer culture should not in principle differentiate it from that which we have always carried on in our circle under the name of theosophy. But perhaps this giving of a new name may nevertheless remind us of the earnestness and dignity with which we intend to work in our spiritual movement, and it is with this point in view that I have chosen the title of this course of lectures. At the very outset of our anthroposophical cause we shall speak on a subject which is capable of indicating in manifold ways the remarkable importance of our spiritual movement for the civilization of the present day.Many people might be surprised to find two such apparently widely different spiritual streams brought together, as the great Eastern poem of the Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of one who was so closely connected with the founding of Christianity, the Apostle Paul. We can best recognize the nearness of these two spiritual streams to one another if, by way of introduction, we indicate how at the present day is to be found, on the one hand, that which appertains to the great Bhagavad Gita poem, and on the other the Paulinism which originated with the beginning of Christianity.
Certainly much in the spiritual life of our present time differs from what it was even a comparatively short time ago, but it is just that very difference that makes a spiritual movement such as Anthroposophy so necessary.
Let us reflect how a comparatively short time ago if a man concerned himself with the spiritual life of his own times he had in reality, as I have shown in my Basle and Munich courses, to study three periods of a thousand years each; one pre-Christian period of a thousand years, and two other millennia, the sum of which is not yet quite completed; two thousand years permeated and saturated with the spiritual stream of Christianity. What might such a man have said only a short time ago when contemplating the spiritual life of mankind when, as we have said, there was no question of a theosophical or anthroposophical movement as we now understand it? He might have said: “At the present time something is making itself prominently felt which can only be sought for in the thousand years preceding the Christian era.” For only during the last thousand years before the Christian era does one find individual men of personal importance in spiritual life. However great and powerful and mighty much in the spiritual streams of earlier times may appear to us, yet persons and individuals do not stand out from that which underlies those streams. Let us just glance back at what we reckon in not too restricted a sense as the last thousand years before the Christian era. Let us glance back at the old Egyptian or the Chaldean-Babylonian spiritual stream; there we survey a continuity so to speak, a connected spiritual life. Only in the Greek spiritual life do we find individuals as such standing out as entirely spiritual and living. Great, mighty teachings, a mighty outlook into the space of the Cosmos; all this we find in the old Egyptian and Chaldean-Babylonian times, but only in Greece do we begin to look to separate personalities, to a Socrates or Pericles, a Phidias, a Plato, an Aristotle. Personality, as such, begins to be marked. That is the peculiarity of the spiritual life of the last three thousand years; and I do not only mean the remarkable personalities themselves, but rather the impression made by the spiritual life upon each separate individuality, upon each personality. In these last three thousand years it has become a question of personality, if we may say so; and the fact that separate individuals now feel the need of taking part in the spiritual life, find inner comfort, hope, peace, inward bliss, and security in the various spiritual movements, gives these their significance. And since, until a comparatively short time ago, we were only interested in history inasmuch as it proceeded from one personality to another, we got no really clear understanding of what occurred before the last three thousand years. The history for which alone we had, till recently, any understanding, began with Greece, and during the transition from the first to the second thousand years, occurred what is connected with the great Being, Christ Jesus. During the first thousand years that which we owe to Greece is predominant, and those Grecian times tower forth in a particular way. At the beginning of them stand the Mysteries. That which flowed forth from these, as we have often described, passed over into the Greek poets, philosophers, and artists in every domain. For if we wish rightly to understand Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides we must seek the source for such understanding in that which flowed out of the Mysteries. If we wish to understand Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, we must seek the source of their philosophies in the Mysteries, not to speak of such a towering figure as that of Heraclitus. You may read of him in my book Christianity as Mystical Fact, how entirely he depended upon the Mysteries.
Then in the second thousand years we see the Christian impulse pouring into spiritual development, gradually absorbing the Greek and uniting itself with it. The whole of the second thousand years passed in such a way that the powerful Christ-impulse united itself with all that came over from Greece as living tradition and life. So we see Greek wisdom, Greek feeling, and Greek art slowly and gradually uniting organically with the Christ-impulse. Thus the second thousand years ran its course. Then in the third thousand years begins the cultivation of the personality. We may say that we can see in the third thousand years how differently the Greek influence is felt. We see it when we consider such artists as Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. No longer does the Greek influence work on together with Christianity in the third thousand years, as it did in the culture of the second; not as something historically great, not as something contemplated externally was Greek influence felt during the second thousand years. But in the third thousand we have to turn of set purpose to the Greek. We see how Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and Raphael allowed themselves to be influenced by the great works of art then being discovered; we see the Greek influence being more and more consciously absorbed. It was absorbed unconsciously during the second thousand years, but in the third millennium it was taken up more and more consciously. An example of how consciously this Greek influence was being recognized in the eyes of the world is to be found in the figure of the philosopher Thomas Aquinas; and how he was compelled to unite what flowed out from Christian philosophy with the philosophy of Aristotle. Here the Greek influence was absorbed consciously and united with Christianity in a philosophic form; as in the case of Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci in the form of art. This whole train of thought rises higher through spiritual life, and even takes the form of a certain religious opposition in the cases of Giordano Bruno and Galileo. Notwithstanding all this, we find everywhere Greek ideas and conceptions, especially about nature, cropping up again; there is a conscious absorption of the Greek influence, but this does not go back beyond the Greek age. In every soul, not only in the more learned or more highly educated, but in every soul down to the simplest, a spiritual life is spread abroad and lives in them, in which the Greek and Christian influences are consciously united. From the University down to the peasant's cottage Greek ideas are to be found united with Christianity.
Now in the nineteenth century something peculiar appeared, something which requires Anthroposophy to explain it. There we see in one single example what mighty forces are at play. When the wonderful poem of the Bhagavad Gita first became known in Europe, certain important thinkers were enraptured by the greatness of the poem, by its profound contents; and it should never be forgotten that such a thoughtful spirit as William von Humboldt, when he became acquainted with it, said that it was the most profoundly philosophical poem that had ever come under his notice; and he made the beautiful remark, that it was worth while to have been allowed to grow as old as he to be enabled to become acquainted with the Bhagavad Gita, the great spiritual song that sounds forth from the primeval holy times of Eastern antiquity. What a wonderful thing it is that slowly, although perhaps not attractive as yet to large circles, so much of Eastern antiquity was poured out into the nineteenth century by means of the Bhagavad Gita. For this is not like other writings that came over from the ancient East which ever proclaim Eastern thoughts and feelings from this or that standpoint. In the Bhagavad Gita we are confronted with something of which we may say that it is the united flow of all the different points of view of Eastern thought, feeling, and perception. That is what makes it of such significance.
Now let us turn back to old India. Apart from other less important things, we find there, in the first place, three shades, if we may so call them, of spiritual streams flowing forth from the old Indian pre-historic times. That spiritual stream which we meet with in the earliest Vedas, and which developed further in the later Vedantic poems, is one quite definite one — we will describe it presently — it is, if we may say so, a one-sided yet quite distinct spiritual stream. We then meet with a second spiritual stream in the Sankhya philosophy, which again goes in a definite spiritual direction; and, lastly, we meet a third shade of the Eastern spiritual stream in Yoga. Here we have the three most remarkable Oriental spiritual streams placed before our souls: The Vedas, Sankhya, and Yoga.
The Sankhya system of Kapila, the Yoga philosophy of Patanjali, and the Vedas are spiritual streams of definite coloring, which, because of this definite coloring, are to a certain extent one-sided, and which are great because of their one-sidedness. In the Bhagavad Gita we have the harmonious inter-penetration of all three spiritual streams. What the Veda philosophy has to give is to be found shining forth in the Bhagavad Gita; what the Yoga of Patanjali has to give mankind we find again in the Bhagavad Gita; and what the Sankhya of Kapila has to give we find there too. Moreover, we do not find these as a conglomeration, but as three parts flowing harmoniously into one organism, as if they originally belonged together. The greatness of the Bhagavad Gita lies in the comprehensiveness of its description of how this Oriental spiritual life receives its tributaries from the Vedas on the one side, on another from the Sankhya philosophy of Kapila, and again on a third side from the Yoga of Patanjali.
We shall now briefly characterize what each of these spiritual streams has to give us.
The Veda stream is most emphatically a philosophy of unity; it is the most spiritual monism that could be thought of; the Veda philosophy which is consolidated in the Vedanta is a spiritual monism. If we wish to understand the Veda philosophy, we must, in the first place, keep clearly before our souls the fact that this philosophy is based upon the thought that man can find something deeper within his own self, and that what he first realizes in ordinary life is a kind of expression or imprint of this self of his; that man can develop, and that his development will draw up the depths of the actual self more and more from the foundations of his soul. A higher self rests as though asleep in man, and this higher self is not that of which the present-day man is directly aware, but that which works within him, and to which he must develop himself. When man some day attains to that which lives within him as “self,” he will then realize, according to the Veda philosophy, that this “self” is one with the all-embracing self of the world, that he does not only rest with his self within the all-embracing World-Self, but that he himself is one with it. So much is he one with this World-Self that he is in twofold manner related to it. In some way similar to our physical in-breathing and out-breathing does the Vedantist picture the relationship of the human self to the World-Self. Just as one draws in a breath and breathes it out again, while outside there is the universal air and within us only the small portion of it that we have drawn in, so outside us we have the universal, all-embracing, all-pervading Self that lives and moves in all things, and this we breathe in when we yield ourselves to the contemplation of the spiritual Self of the World. Spiritually one breathes it in with every perception that one gets of this Self, one breathes it in with all that one draws into one's soul. All knowledge, all thinking, all perception is spiritual breathing; and that which we, as a portion of the world-Self, draw into our souls (which portion remains organically united to the whole), that is Atman, the Breath, which, as regards ourselves, is as the portion of air that we breathe in, which cannot be distinguished from the general atmosphere. So is Atman in us, which cannot be distinguished from that which is the all-ruling Self of the World. Just as we breathe out physically, so there is a devotion of the soul through which the best that is in it goes forth in the form of prayer and sacrifice to this Self. Brahman is like the spiritual out-breathing. Atman and Brahman, like in-breathing and out-breathing, make us sharers in the all-ruling World-Self. What we find in Vedanta is a monistic spiritual philosophy, which is at the same time a religion; and the blossom and fruit of Vedantism lie in that which so blesses man, that most complete and in the highest degree satisfying feeling of unity with the universal Self powerfully weaving through the world. Vedantism treats of this connection of mankind with the unity of the world, of the fact of man's being within a part of the whole great spiritual cosmos. We can say the Veda-Word, because Veda means Word: the Word, the Veda, as given is itself breathed forth, according to the Vedantic conception, from the all-ruling unitary Being, and the human soul can take it into itself as the highest expression of knowledge. In accepting the Veda, the Word, the best part of the all-mighty “Self” is taken in; the consciousness of the connection between the individual human self and this all-mighty World-Self is attained. What the Veda speaks is the Word of God, which is creative, and is born again in human knowledge. Thus, human knowledge is joined with the creative, permeating principle underlying existence. Therefore, that which was written in the Vedas was considered the Divine Word, and those who were filled with it were the possessors of the Divine Word. The Divine Word had come spiritually into the world and was to be found in the Vedic books; those who mastered these books took part in the creative principle of the world.
Sankhya philosophy is different. When one first meets with this, as it has come down to us through tradition, we find in it exactly the opposite of a teaching of unity. If we wish to compare the Sankhya philosophy to anything, we may compare it to the philosophy of Leibnitz. It is a pluralistic philosophy. The several souls mentioned therein — human souls and the souls of Gods — are not traced back by the Sankhya philosophy to unitary source, but are taken as single souls existing, so to speak, from eternity; or, at any rate, their origin is not traced back to unity. The plurality of souls is what we find in the Sankhya philosophy. The independence of each individual soul, carrying on its development in the world enclosed within its own being, is sharply accentuated.
Against this pluralism stands what Sankhya philosophy calls the prakriti element. We cannot well describe this by the modern word “matter,” for that has a materialistic meaning. But in Sankhya philosophy we do not mean to convey this materialistic meaning when using the term prakriti, “the substantial,” which is in contrast to the multiplicity of souls, and which again is not derived from a common source. In the first place, we have multiplicity of souls, and then that which we may call "the substantial," the basis of the material, which, like a primeval flood, streams through the world, through space and time, and out of which souls take the elements for their outer existence. Souls must clothe themselves in this material element, which, again, is not to be traced back to unity with the souls themselves.
And so it is in the Sankhya philosophy that we principally find this material element, carefully studied. Attention is not so much directed to the individual soul; this is taken as something real that is there, confined in and united with this material basis, and which takes the most varied forms within it, and thus shows itself outwardly in many different forms. A soul clothes itself with this original material element, that may be thought of like the individual soul itself as coming from Eternity. The soul nature expresses itself through this material basic element, and in so doing it takes on many different forms, and it is in particular the study of these material forms that we find in the Sankhya philosophy.
Here we have, in the first place, so to speak, the original form of this material element as a sort of spiritual primeval stream, into which the soul is first immersed. Thus if we were to glance back at the first stages of evolution, we should find there the undifferentiated material elements and immersed therein, the plurality of the souls which are to evolve further. What, therefore, we first find as Form, as yet undifferentiated from the unity of the primal stream, is the spiritual substance itself that lies at the starting-point of evolution.
The first thing that then emerges, with which the soul can as yet clothe itself individually, is Buddhi. So that when we picture to ourselves a soul clothed with the primal flood-substance, externally this soul is not to be distinguished from the universal moving and weaving element of the primeval flood. Inasmuch as the soul does not only enwrap itself in this first being of the universal billowing primal flood but also in that which first proceeds from this, in so far does it clothe itself in Buddhi.
The third element that forms itself out of the whole and through which the soul can then become more and more individual, is Ahankara. This consists of lower and lower forms of the primeval substance.
So that we have the primeval substance, the first form of which is Buddhi, and its second form which is Ahankara. The next form to that is Manas; then comes the form which consists of the organs of the senses; this is followed by the form of the finer elements; and the last form consists of the elements of the substances which we have in our physical surroundings. This is the line of evolution according to Sankhya philosophy. Above is the most supersensible element, a primeval spiritual flow, which, growing ever denser and denser, descends to that which surrounds us in the coarser elements out of which the coarse human body is also constructed. Between these are the substances of which, for instance, our sense organs are woven, and the finer elements of which is woven our etheric or life-body. It must be carefully noticed that according to the Sankhya philosophy, all these are sheaths of the soul. Even that which springs from the first primeval flood is a sheath for the soul; the soul is at first within that; and when the Sankhya philosopher studies Buddhi, Ahankara, Manas, the senses, the finer and the coarser elements, he understands thereby the increasingly dense sheaths within which the soul expresses itself.
We must clearly understand that the manner in which the philosophy of the Vedas and the Sankhya philosophy are presented to us is only possible because they were composed in that ancient time when an old clairvoyance still existed, at any rate to a certain extent. The Vedas and the contents of the Sankhya philosophy came into existence in different ways. The Vedas depend throughout on a primeval inspiration which was still a natural possession of primeval man; they were given to man, so to speak, without his having done anything to deserve them, except that with his whole being he prepared himself to receive into his inner depths that divine inspiration that came of itself to him, and to receive it quietly and calmly. Sankhya philosophy was formed in a different way. That process was something like the learning of our present day, only that this is not permeated by clairvoyance as the former then was. The Veda philosophy consisted of clairvoyant knowledge, inspiration given as by grace from above. Sankhya philosophy consisted of knowledge sought for as we seek it now, but sought for by people to whom clairvoyance was still accessible. This is why the Sankhya philosophy leaves the actual soul element undisturbed, so to say. It admits that souls can impress themselves in that which one can study as the supersensible outer forms, but it particularly studies the outer forms, which appear as the clothing of those souls. Hence we find a complete system of the forms we meet with in the world, just as in our own science we find a number of facts about nature; only that in Sankhya philosophy observation extends to a clairvoyant observation of facts. Sankhya philosophy is a science, which although obtained by clairvoyance, is nevertheless a science of outer forms that does not extend into the sphere of the soul: the soul-nature remains in a sense undisturbed by these studies. He who devotes himself to the Vedas feels absolutely that his religious life is one with the life of wisdom; but Sankhya philosophy is a science, it is a perception of the forms into which the soul impresses itself. Nevertheless, it is quite possible for the disciples of the Sankhya philosophy to feel a religious devotion of the soul for their philosophy.
The way in which the soul element is organized into forms — not the soul element itself, but the form it takes — is followed up in the Sankhya philosophy. It defines the way in which the soul, more or less, preserves its individuality or else is more immersed in the material. It has to do with the soul element which is, it is true, beneath the surface, but which, within the material forms, still preserves itself as soul. A soul element thus disguised in outer form, but which reveals itself as soul, dwells in the Sattva element. A soul element immersed in form, but which is, so to say, entangled in it and cannot emerge from it, dwells in the Tamas element; and that in which, more or less, the soul element and its outer expression in form are, to a certain extent, balanced, dwells in the Rajas element. Sattva, Rajas, Tamas, the three Gunas, pertain to the essential characteristics of what we know as Sankhya philosophy.
Quite different, again, is that spiritual stream which comes down to us as Yoga. That appeals directly to the soul element itself and seeks ways and means of grasping the human soul in direct spiritual life, so that it rises from the point which it has attained in the world to higher and higher stages of soul-being. Thus Sankhya is a contemplation of the sheaths of the soul, and Yoga the guidance of the soul to higher and ever higher stages of inner experience. To devote oneself to Yoga means a gradual awakening of the higher forces of the soul so that it experiences something not to be found in everyday life, which opens the door to higher and higher stages of existence.
Yoga is therefore the path to the spiritual worlds, the path to the liberation of the soul from outer forms, the path to an independent life of the soul within itself. Yoga is the other side of the Sankhya philosophy. Yoga acquired its great importance when that inspiration, which was given as a blessing from above and which inspired the Vedas, was no longer able to come down. Yoga had to be made use of by those souls who, belonging to a later epoch of mankind, could no longer receive anything by direct revelation, but were obliged to work their way up to the heights of spiritual existence from the lower stages. Thus in the old primal Indian times we have three sharply-defined streams, the Vedas, the Sankhya, and the Yoga, and today we are called upon once more to unite these spiritual streams, so to say, by bringing them to the surface in the way proper for our own age, from the foundations of the soul and from the depths of the Cosmos.
You may find all three streams again in our Spiritual Science. If you read what I have tried to place before you in the first chapters of my Occult Science about the human constitution, about sleeping and waking, life and death, you will find there what in our present-day sense we may call Sankhya philosophy. Then read what is there said about the evolution of the world from Saturn down to our own time, and you have the Veda philosophy expressed for our own age; while, if you read the last chapters, which deal with human evolution, you have Yoga expressed for our own age. Our age must in an organized way unite that which radiates across to us in three so sharply defined spiritual streams from old India in the Veda philosophy, the Sankhya philosophy, and Yoga. For that reason our age must study the wonderful poem of the Bhagavad Gita, which, in a deeply poetical manner, represents as it were a union of these three streams; our own age must be deeply moved by the Bhagavad Gita. We should seek something akin to our own spiritual strivings in the deeper contents of the Bhagavad Gita.
Our spiritual streams do not only concern themselves with the older ones as a whole, but also in detail. You will have recognized that in my Occult Science an attempt has been made to produce the things out of themselves. Nowhere do we depend on history. Nowhere can one who really understands what is said find in any assertion about Saturn, Sun, and Moon, that things are related from historical sources; they are simply drawn forth from the matter itself. Yet, strange to say, that which bears the stamp of our own time corresponds in striking places with what resounds down to us out of the old ages. Only one little proof shall be given. We read in the Vedas in a particular place, about cosmic development, which can be expressed in words somewhat like the following: “Darkness was enwrapt in darkness in the primal beginning; all was indistinguishable flood-essence. Then arose a mighty void, that was everywhere permeated with warmth.” I now ask you to remember the result of our study of the evolution of Saturn, in which the substance of Saturn is spoken of as a warmth-substance, and you will feel the harmony between the so-called “newest thing in Occult Science” and what is said in the Vedas. The next passage runs: “Then first arose the Will, the first seed of Thought, the connection between the Existent and the Non-existent, ... and this connection was found in the Will ...” And remember what was said in the new mode of expression about the Spirits of Will. In all we have to say at the present time, we are not seeking to prove a concord with the old; the harmony comes of itself, because truth was sought for there and is again being sought for on our own ground
Now, in the Bhagavad Gita we find, as it were, the poetical glorification of the three spiritual streams just described. The great teachings that Krishna himself communicated to Arjuna are brought to our notice at an important moment of the world's history — of importance for that far-distant age. The moment is significant, because it is the time when the old blood-ties were loosening. In all that is to be said in these lectures about the Bhagavad Gita you must remember what has again and again been emphasized: that ties of blood, racial attachment, and kinship were of quite special significance in primeval times, and only grew less strong by degrees. Remember all that is said in my pamphlet The Occult Significance of Blood. When these blood-ties begin to loosen, on account of that loosening, the great struggle began which is described in the Mahabharata, and of which the Bhagavad Gita is an episode. We see there how the descendants of two brothers, and hence, blood relations, separate on account of their spiritual tendencies; how that which, through the blood, would formerly have given them the same points of view,now takes different paths; and how, therefore, the conflict then arises, for conflict must arise when the ties of blood also lose their significance as a help for clairvoyant perception; and with this separation begins the later spiritual development.. For those to whom the old blood-ties no longer were of significance, Krishna came as a great teacher. He was to be the teacher of the new age lifted out of the old blood-ties. How he became the teacher we shall describe tomorrow; but it may now be said, as the whole Bhagavad Gita shows us, that Krishna absorbed the three spiritual streams into his teaching and communicated them to his pupil as an organized unity.
How must this pupil appear to us? He looks up on the one side to his father, and on the other side to his father's brother. The children of the two brothers are now no longer to be together, they are to separate; now a different spiritual stream is to take possession of the one line and the other. Arjuna's soul is filled with the question: How will it be when that which was held together by the ties of blood is no longer there? How can the soul take part in spiritual life if that life no longer flows as it formerly did under the influence of the old blood-tie? It seems to Arjuna as if everything must come to an end.
The purport of the great teachings of Krishna, however, is to show that this will not be the case, that it all will be different. Krishna now shows his pupil — who is to live through the time of transition from one epoch to another — that the soul, if it is to become harmonious, must take in something of all these three spiritual streams. We find the Vedic unity interpreted in the right way in the teachings of Krishna, as well as the principles of the Sankhya teaching and the principles of Yoga. For what is it that actually lies behind all that we are about to learn from the Bhagavad Gita? The revelations of Krishna are somewhat to this effect: There is a creative Cosmic Word, itself containing the creative principle. As the sound produced by man when he speaks undulates and moves and lives through the air, so does the Word surge and weave and live in all things, and create and order all existence. Thus the Veda principle breathes through all things. This can be taken up by human perception into the human soul life. There is a supreme, weaving Creative Word, and there is an echo of this supreme, weaving Creative Word in the Vedic documents. The Word is the creative principle of the World; in the Vedas it is revealed. That is one part of the Krishna teaching. The human soul is capable of understanding how the Word lives on, in the different forms of existence. Human knowledge learns the laws of existence by grasping how the separate forms of being express, with the regularity of a fixed law, that which is soul and spirit. The teachings about the forms in the world, of the laws which shape existence, of cosmic laws and their manner of working, is the Sankhya philosophy, the other side of the Krishna teaching. Just as Krishna made clear to his pupil that behind all existence is the creative cosmic Word, so also he made clear to him that human knowledge can recognize the separate forms, and therefore can grasp the cosmic laws. The cosmic Word, the cosmic laws as echoed in the Vedas, and in Sankhya, were revealed by Krishna to his pupil. And he also spoke to him about the path that leads the individual pupil to the heights where he can once again share in the knowledge of the cosmic Word. Thus Krishna also spoke of Yoga. Threefold is the teaching of Krishna: it teaches of the Word, of the Law, and of reverent devotion to the Spirit.
The Word, the Law, and Devotion are the three streams by means of which the soul can carry out its development.
These three streams will for ever work upon the human soul in some way or another. Have we not just seen that modern Spiritual Science must seek for new expression of these three streams? But the ages differ one from the other, and in many different ways will that which is the threefold comprehension of the world be brought to human souls. Krishna speaks of the Cosmic Word, of the Creative Word; of the fashioning of existence; of the devotional deepening of the soul — of Yoga.
The same trinity meets us again in another form, only in a more concrete, more living way — in a being who is Himself to be thought of as walking the Earth — the Incarnation of the Divine Creative Word! The Vedas came to mankind in an abstract form. The Divine Logos, of whom the Gospel of St. John speaks, is the Living and Creative Word Itself! That which we find in the Sankhya philosophy, as the law to which the cosmic forms are subject, that, historically transposed into the old Hebrew revelation, is what St. Paul calls the Law. The third stream we find in St. Paul as Faith in the risen Christ. That which was Yoga in Krishna, in St. Paul was Faith, only in a more concrete form — Faith, that was to replace the Law.
So the trinity of Veda, Sankhya, and Yoga were as the redness of the dawn of that which later rose as Sun. Veda appears again in the actual being of Christ Himself now entering in a concrete, living way into historical evolution — not pouring Himself out abstractly into space and the distances of time, but living as a single individual, as the Living Word. The Law meets us in the Sankhya philosophy, in that which shows us how the material basis, Prakriti, is developed even down to coarse substance. The Law reveals how the world came into existence, and how individual man develops within it. That is expressed in the old Hebrew revelation of the Law, in the dispensation of Moses. Inasmuch as St. Paul, on the one hand, refers to this Law of the old Hebrews, he is referring to the Sankhya philosophy; inasmuch as he refers to faith in the Risen One, he refers to the Sun of which the rosy dawn appeared in Yoga. Thus arises in a special way that of which we find the first elements in Veda, Sankhya, and Yoga. What we find in the Vedas appears in a new but now concrete form as the Living Word by Whom all things were made and without Whom nothing is made that was made, and Who, nevertheless, in the course of time, has become Flesh. Sankhya appears as the historical representation based on Law of how out of the world of the Elohim emerged the world of phenomena, the world of coarse substances. Yoga transformed itself into that which, according to St. Paul, is expressed in the words “Not I, but Christ in me” — that is to say when the Christ-force penetrates the soul and absorbs it, man rises to the heights of the divine.
Thus we see how, in a preparatory form, the coherent plan is present in world history, how the Eastern teaching was a preparation, how it gives in more abstract form, as it were, that which in a concrete form we find so marvelously contained in the Pauline Christianity. We shall see that precisely by grasping the connection between the great poem of the Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of St. Paul, the very deepest mysteries will reveal themselves concerning what we may call the ruling of the spiritual in the collective education of the human race.
As something so new must also be felt in the new age, this newer age must extend beyond the time of Greece and must develop understanding for that which lies behind the thousand years immediately before Christ — for that which we find in the Vedas, Sankhya, and Yoga. Just as Raphael in his art and Thomas Aquinas in his philosophy had to turn back to Greece, so shall we see how in our time a conscious balance must be established between that which the present time is trying to acquire and that which lies further back than the Greek age, and stretches back to the depths of Oriental antiquity. We can allow these depths of Oriental antiquity to flow into our souls if we ponder over these different spiritual streams which are to be found within that wonderfully harmonious unity which Humboldt calls the greatest philosophical poem: the Bhagavad Gita.