The Moon Religion of Jahve and Its Reflection in Arabism. The Penetration of the Buddha-Mercury Stream into Rosicrucianism.
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, March 13, 1911:
Our talk today must bring to a temporary conclusion the studies which during the last few weeks we have connected in a somewhat loose and irregular way with the Gospel according to Mark.
In the lectures you have heard during this winter we have tried to make you realize that we stand today at a period of transition. Even by those who consider spiritual life in a somewhat external way, it can be noticed that a new order of ideas and thoughts is gradually emerging, though the people living within the new order may themselves be unaware of it. It will therefore be well if such a stimulus can be given to your thoughts this evening as will enable you to carry somewhat further the spiritual scientific matter already imparted to you.
In speaking of periods of transition, it is helpful to recall the great “period of transition” through which human evolution passed, often mentioned by me as the great incisive moment of the Event of Palestine. What this moment meant we know from many things that have been spoken of here.
When we try to form a conception of how this most important “idea” — for so we may call it — the Christ-idea, developed out of the thoughts and feelings of the age immediately preceding it, it is well to remember that the Jahve or Jehova-idea meant as much to the ancient Hebrews as the Christ-idea does to the believers in Christ. From other lectures you know that for those who enter deeply into the essence of Christianity Jahve did not really differ very greatly from the Christ Himself. We must realize far more clearly the inward connection between the Christ-idea and the Jahve-idea. It is very difficult to give, in a few words, the whole connection between these two ideas which has been developed by me in many lectures and cycles in recent years, but it is possible to show in a parable how this connection has to be thought of. We have but to recall the symbol of the sunlight to which your attention has often been directed; how this comes to us either directly from the Sun or reflected back from the Moon at night, especially when the Moon is at the full. Sunlight comes to us from the full Moon, but reflected sunlight, which is somewhat different from direct sunlight. Were we to compare the Christ with direct sunlight, then Jahve might be likened to sunlight reflected from the Moon; this represents exactly what is met with here in the evolution of mankind. Those who understand such things can feel the passing over of the reflection of Christ into Jehova, or of Jehova into Christ, as men feel the difference between moonlight and sunlight — Jahve being an indirect and Christ a direct revelation of the same being. But in thinking of “evolution,” we must think of things side by side in space, and following each other in time. Those who have to speak of such things from the occult point of view say: — If we call the religion of Christ a “Sun religion” (and we can use this expression when we remember what has been said concerning Zarathustra), then the religion of Jahve can be called a Moon religion.
So in the period preceding Christianity we have a Sun religion prepared for by a Moon religion. What has just been said will only be rightly appreciated by those who know that symbols are not chosen arbitrarily, but are deeply rooted in the things they represent. When any religion or world-faith is represented by a symbol, this represents, for those who know how to interpret it, the essential thing in that religion. Perhaps men have lost understanding today to a certain extent of a symbolism which sees the Moon as representing the religion of Jahve, and also of the connection between the Christian religion and the symbol of the Sun; but where thoughts are completely filled with the meaning of such symbols, they have to be considered.
Call to mind how I have described the whole course of human evolution. First we have a descending evolution which began when man was first driven out of the spiritual world and entered ever more deeply into matter. This is a descending path. When we picture the general course of human evolution we think of the deepest point as having been reached at the time the Impulse of Christ entered, and that through this Impulse the descending direction was gradually changed to an ascending one.
In human evolution we have at first a descending path, then after the deepest point is reached the Christ-Impulse begins to affect it and will continue to do so till Earth reaches the end of its mission.
Now, evolution occurs in a very complicated way; certain conditions of its progress are the result of impulses which had been given at an earlier time. It was an evolutionary event such as this that took place through the Christ-Impulse. The Christ-Impulse was poured forth at the beginning of our era and advanced in a direct line, and growing ever more and more powerful it will permeate all human life until earthly evolution has reached its goal. This is an impulse that was imparted once, and we have to picture it as advancing in a straight line; any evolution that arose later is seen through it to be at a higher and more perfect stage. There are many such impulses, and also others, affecting the evolution of the world which work differently, and cannot he said to advance on straight lines. We distinguished in post-Atlantean evolution the ancient Indian civilization, following it the ancient Persian, the Egypto-Chaldean, then the Greco-Latin; and in the middle of this period the Christ-Event took place. In the fifth post-Atlantean age, in which we are now living, certain things are repeated which occurred in the third age — the Egypto-Chaldean — but a somewhat different way, and so that between them and maintaining a certain relationship between the third and the fifth ages we have the Christ-Impulse. This relationship is maintained in the same way between the sixth age and the second, and between the seventh and the first. We are here concerned with powerful factors of evolution which are revealed in such a way that in referring to them we can make use of the Biblical expression: “The first shall be last.” The primeval Indian age will reappear in the seventh age in another form — yet so that it will be recognizable.
There is another way in which an earlier is seen to affect a later, and this is shown through the fact that we can distinguish smaller epochs. Thus, what took place in pre-Christian times during the ancient Hebrew civilization appears again in a certain way in post-Christian times — overpassing the Christ-Impulse, as it were — ideas which had been prepared within the religion of Jehova appeared again, and, in spite of other factors being present, had an effect on these later times.
Were I to explain symbolically what I cannot deal with adequately today owing to the short time at my disposal, I might say: If we feel that the religion of Jehova is represented by the symbol of the Moon in contradistinction to the Sun, we might expect that a similar belief, overpassing Christianity, would re-emerge at a later day. This did occur, and if such things are not accepted in an external sense or smiled at — for they are deeply connected with the symbolism of religions — we may say that the old Moon religion of Jehova appeared again in the religion of the half-moon, the Crescent, that its influence, which had preceded the Christ-Event, was carried over into post-Christian times. The repetition of an earlier age in a later is seen with overwhelming results in the last third of the Greco-Latin period, which is reckoned by us in an occult sense as continuing to about the 12th-13th century. This means that after having been separated from it by a period of six hundred years, we have a kind of repetition of the Moon religion of Jehova in the religion brought by the Arabs from Africa into Spain. It is not possible to specify here all the characteristics it brought with it. But it is important that we should impress on our souls the fact that in the religion of Mahomet the Christ-Impulse was at first disregarded, that in it we have really a kind of revival of the religion of Moses — the religion of the one indivisible God. Only into the idea of this indivisible Godhead something was introduced that had come over from the other side — from the Egypto-Chaldean viewpoint — which preserved very exact traditions concerning the relationship of the starry heavens to worldly events. Hence many of the thoughts and ideas found among the Chaldeans, Babylonians, and Assyrians are found again in the religion of Mahomed, but permeated in an extraordinary way with what we might call the teaching concerning the indivisible divinity of Jehova. Speaking scientifically, what meets us in Arabism is a synthesis of all that was taught by the priests of Egypt and Chaldea, and in the Jahve religion of the ancient Hebrews.
In a union of this kind there is not only a compression, but there is also always something excluded and left behind. Everything which led to clairvoyant perception was excluded from it. What remained was merely a matter of intellectual research, of a combining of thought, so that all the ideas connected with the Egyptian art of healing and Chaldean astronomy, which both among the Egyptians and the Chaldeans was the outcome of ancient clairvoyance, is found in an intellectual and individualistic form in the Arabism of Mahomet.
Something filtered into Europe along with the Arabs by which all the old ideas that had prevailed among the Egyptians and Chaldeans were stripped of their clairvoyant imaginative content and given abstract forms. From this sprang the marvellous science which the Arabs brought from Africa to Europe by way of Spain. If Christianity brought an impulse mainly for the souls of men, then the great Impulse for the human head, for the intellect, came through the Arabs. Those who are not fully acquainted with the course of human evolution have no idea what the mental outlook that appeared anew under the symbol of the Moon gave to humanity as a whole. Keppler and Copernicus would not have been possible without this impulse which the Arabs brought to Europe. The whole method of thought, the manner in which different religious views were connected with the laying aside of the old clairvoyance, is seen again in our modern astronomy and modern science when the third period of culture celebrated its revival in our fifth age. Thus we have to see the evolution of man progressing on the one hand, so that the Impulse of Christ reaches the people of Europe directly by way of Greece and Italy; and, on the other hand, we see it taking a more southernly route which, leaving Greece and Italy on one side, unites with what came to us through the Arabs.
By the union of the religion of Christ with that of Mahomet there arose, during this most important period with which we are dealing, what really forms the content of our culture. From causes which cannot be gone into today, we must reckon a period of from six to six-and-a-half centuries for such an impulse to develop; so that the renewed Moon culture actually arose, spread, and entered Europe six hundred years after the Event of Christ, and until the thirteenth century it enriched that Christian civilization which had received its direct irnpulses by other paths. Even those who only observe the external course of events know that, however much they are opposed to Arabism, Arabian thought and science entered even into the cloisters of Western Europe, and up to the middle of the thirteenth century (which again indicates something important) we have a blending of these two impulses — the Arabian and the direct Christ Impulse.
We may say that the Sun symbol and the Moon symbol were merged into one from the fifth and sixth centuries until between the twelfth and thirteenth, this being again a period that lasted for about six hundred years. After this direct union had reached its goal, something new arose which had been in gradual preparation since the twelfth and thirteenth century. It is interesting to note that even external sciences recognize that som-thing inexplicable passed through the souls of the people of Europe at that time. External science calls it “inexplicable,” but occultism says that, following the direct Impulse of Christ, there was poured by spiritual means into the souls of men what the fourth period of post-Atlantean culture had to give. The age of Greece threw up a following wave of culture called the culture of the Renaissance; it enriched everything that already existed through the centuries that followed. This was because the age of Greece, which occurred in the middle of the seven periods of post-Atlantean civilization, underwent a certain renewal in the culture of the Renaissance.
This points again to a period of six hundred years — that is, up to our own time — in which this wave of Greek culture has to a certain extent been exhausted. We are living within this period. We are living today in an atmosphere (as we are again at the beginning of a six-hundred-year-long wave of culture) into which something new is pressing; an age which must again be enriched with something new from the Christ Impulse. After the Moon cult had its revival in the religion of the Crescent during the Renaissance, the time is now come when the Christ Impulse, which continued as the direct stream, has to receive into it a neighboring stream. Our age is powerfully attracted toward this neighboring stream — only we must clearly understand what the addition of it to our civilization means. All these things are absolutely in accordance with the correct progress of an occult system.
If we think of Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, according to the old — not the new — sequence, we may expect, after the renewal of the Moon-wave during the Renaissance, the influx of another stream to which we can quite correctly assign the symbol of Mercury. We might therefore say theoretically when this symbol appeared that we were confronted with the influx into our culture of a wave of a kind of Mercury influence, just as the wave of Arabism was called a Moon influence.
If we understand the evolution of our own time aright we may describe Goethe as the last great mind who united in himself the fullness of science, of Christianity, and of the culture of the Renaissance; and we might expect that his soul would reveal a beautiful union of these — intellectualism enriched as it had been by Arabism and Christianity. If we study Goethe as we have been accustomed to do for some years past, it is easily seen that these elements did indeed meet within his soul. But in accordance with what has just been announced concerning the repeated cycle of six, and again six centuries, we might expect that nothing of the Mercury element could have appeared as yet in Goethe's soul — that could only appear as something new after his time. Now, it is interesting to note that Goethe's pupil, Schopenhauer, reveals this Mercury influence. You can learn from some of my publications that Eastern wisdom entered into Schopenhauer's philosophy, especially in the form of Buddhism. Mercury was regarded as the symbol of Buddhism, and following on the age of Goethe we have a revival of the Buddha Impulse (in which Buddha stands for Mercury and Mercury for Buddha) in the same way as the Moon is symbolic of Arabism. We can now give a name to this neighboring stream that entered the direct Christ Impulse as a new tributary at the beginning of a new six-hundred-year epoch. We have to see in this neighboring stream a revival of Buddhism — only with the restrictions I explained in my public lectures on Buddha. [ 1 ]
We now ask: Which is the direct stream of the culture of the future? The Christ stream! It advances in a direct line. And what neighboring streams are there? We have first the Arabian stream, which flowed into the direct stream, paused for a time, and then received purification through the culture of the Renaissance. At present we are experiencing a renewed influx of the Buddha stream. When these facts are seen in their right light, we realize that we have to absorb certain elements out of the Buddha stream which until now could not be received into our Western civilization. We have to see how these elements of the Buddha stream must pass into the spiritual development of the West. — such things, for instance, as the idea of reincarnation and karma. These must be accepted. But one fact must be firmly impressed on our souls: All these neighboring streams will never be able to throw light on the central facts of our spiritual science. To question Buddhism or any other pre-Christian Oriental religion that may have appeared as a revival in our time concerning the Christ would be as sensible as for a European Christian to have questioned the Arabs of Spain concerning the nature of Christ!
The people of Europe were well aware that no conception of the Christ could come from the Arabs. If they had anything to say, their ideas would not accord with the real Christ-idea. The various prophets who arose as false Messiahs up to Schabbathoi Zewi were really the outcome of Arabism, and had no knowledge of the Christ Impulse. We must understand that the neighboring stream of Arabism had to he made fruitful by quite other elements, not by solving in any way the central mystery of Christ. This must also be our attitude toward the stream which approaches us today as the renewal of an ancient one, bringing us understanding of reincarnation and karma, but being incapable of imparting understanding of the Christ Impulse. For this would be as absurd as to think the Arabs could impart a right conception of Christ to the people of Europe. They imparted many ideas concerning false Messiahs to Europe up to the time of Schabbathoi Zewi, and such things will occur again, for human evolution only progresses when strengthened by seeing through such deceptions. We must penetrate ever more deeply and consciously into these connections. Facts will show that the spiritual science founded by European Rosicrucians, with Christ as its central idea, will be established in the souls of men against all opposition and all misleadings.
How the central idea of the Christ must enter men's souls, how the Christ must be interwoven not only with the general evolution of man but with the whole world, can he gathered from my book “An Outline of Occult Science.”
From it you can find which is the direct path, the forward path. Everyone has the possibility of hearing of this path who understands the words from the Gospel of Matthew quoted at the end of the last lecture: “False Christs and false prophets will appear when people will say unto you: Lo, here is the Christ or lo, there! believe it not.”
Alongside the Buddhistic stream of thought is another far removed from it, which thinks it is better informed regarding the Christ than the Western spiritual science of the Rosicrucians. It brings all kinds of ideas and teachings into the world which have developed quite naturally out of the neighboring oriental Buddhist stream. It would show the worst kind of weakness in Western souls if they were unable to grasp the fact that the Buddha stream, the Mercury stream, has as little light to throw on the direct course of the Christ idea as Arabism has. This is not put forward from any spirit of dogmatism or fantasy, but from knowledge of the objective course of the evolution of the world. It can be proved by figures or by the trend of civilizations, if you wish to follow them up, that things must be as is taught by occult science.
Added to this there is also the necessity to distinguish between an ancient orthodox Buddhism which seeks to transplant a non-progressive Buddhism into Europe, and out of it to develop a “Christ-idea,” and a truly progressive Buddhism. This means, there are people who speak of Buddha as follows: “Look to Buddha, who lived some five to six hundred years before our era! Look to what he taught!” What such people say is comparable with what spiritual science says in a Rosicrucian sense: “It is your fault, not Buddha's, that you speak as if Buddha had remained at the same stage at which he stood five to six centuries before our era. Can you not think or imagine that Buddha has progressed?” When speaking thus, these people refer to a teaching suited to a time long past; of a teaching given by Buddha five to six centuries before our era. But we look to a Buddha who has advanced, and who from spiritual realms exercises his enduring influence on human culture. We look to the Buddha we presented to you in our studies on the Gospel of Luke, whose influence came from the Jesus of the Nathan line of the house of David; we look to the Buddha as he has evolved further in spiritual realms, and who imparts truths to us today concerning the things of which we are speaking.
Something very curious has happened to dogmatic Christianity in the West: through a strange concatenation of circumstances it has come to pass that a Buddha-like form has appeared by chance among Christian saints.
You will recall how once I spoke of a legend told all over Europe in the Middle Ages, the legend of Balaam and Josaphat. It was somewhat as follows: There was once an Indian king on Earth. He had a son. This son was brought up at first far removed from all human misery, from all external life. He lived in the king's palace, where he saw only what conduced to human happiness. He was called Josaphat; the name has been much changed and has assumed various forms — Josaphat, Judasaph, Budasaph. Josaphat lived up to a certain age in the palace without learning anything of the world. Then one day it happened that he left his father's palace and learnt something of life. He first saw a leper, then a blind man, then an aged man. We are then told that he met a Christian hermit called Balaam. By him he was converted to Christianity.
You will not fail to notice that this legend has a strong resemblance to the legend of Buddha. But you will also notice that something is added to this legend of the Middle Ages with which Buddha cannot be charged; namely, that he allowed himself to be converted to Christianity. This legend gave rise to a certain consciousness among Christians — among some of them, at least — who had made calendars of the saints.
People knew that the name Josaphat or Budasaph is connected with the name “Bodhisattva.” "Budasaph" passes directly over into "Bodhisattva." So that there is here an extraordinary and deep connection between a Christian legend and the figure of Buddha. The Oriental legend, as we know, represents Buddha as entering Nirvana and passing on the Bodhisattva crown to his successor, the Maytreya Buddha, who is now a Bodhisattva, and will later become the future Buddha of the world. Buddha appears again in the legend as Josaphat. The connection between Buddhism and Christianity is described marvelously by someone who said: Josaphat is a saint, and Buddha was himself so holy that according to the legend he was converted to Christianity from being the son of an Indian king; so he can be ranked among the saints, although from one side he was regarded as a heathen.
You can see from this that it was known where the later form of Buddhism, or rather of Buddha, has to be sought. Buddhism and Christianity have meanwhile flowed one into the other in the hidden worlds. And Balaam is that strange figure who made the Bodhisattva acquainted with Christianity, so that when now we trace the course of Buddhism as an enduring world-movement in the sense of this legend, we can only see it in the changed form in which it exists at the present time. We are obliged to speak of Buddha as he exists for us today, when clairvoyantly we understand what he reveals to us.
Just as Arabism was not Judaism, and the Moon of Jehova did not reappear in Arabism in its old form, so neither does Buddhism reappear in its old form when it returns to enrich the culture of the West, but changed. For a later never appears as an exact replica of an earlier.
These short, detached remarks are intended to act as a stimulus to thoughts on human evolution, which you can develop further for yourselves. And I assure you if you accept all the historical knowledge that it is possible to discover, and are really able to follow the spiritually scientific development of Europe, you will see that we are standing at present at the point where Christianity and Buddhism flow one into the other.
Just as at the time of which I have been speaking a union of the Jahve religion with Christianity occurred, so today a union of Buddhism with Christianity is taking place. Test this by accepting all that the historians of Europe are able to give you! Test it, but not as they are wont to do: take all the factors into consideration; you will then find confirmation of what I have said. Only we should have to speak for weeks if we were to give out all that reaches us from the direction of European Rosicrucianism.
But it is not only in history that proof can be found: if you go to work in the right way you can find it also in natural science and in allied realms. You have only to look in the right way to find that new ideas appear everywhere sporadically at the present day, and that old ideas become useless and disappear. Our thinkers and investigators seem to work with ideas that have become ineffectual, because in the widest sense they are incapable as yet of accepting and making use of other lines of thought, such as those of reincarnation and karma, and all that theosophy has to give. You can search the modern literature of the various departments of science: there you will find what is so painful for those who know how fact after fact appears in scientific life, and nowhere are ideas capable of grasping them. There is one such idea that plays an important part in science today: the idea of heredity. (These things can only be hinted at here.) The idea of heredity as it is put forward in various departments of science and even in popular literatures today is simply untenable.
People must learn facts for the understanding of which other kinds of ideas are required — such, for instance, as those entirely useless ideas concerning “heredity” that are common today. Certain facts well-known today concerning heredity in man and in other creatures will only be understood when quite different ideas prevail. When heredity is spoken of today, people seem to think that any faculties that appear in the human being can be traced to his immediate forefathers. The idea of reincarnation and karma will first make it possible for clear ideas to emerge instead of the present confusion. It will be realized that a great part of what is found in human nature has nothing to do with what is called the mutual cooperation of the sexes — for a confused science still teaches that all that a human being is today comes from the union of the male and female elements at conception. It is not at all true that all the things appearing in a human being have to do with physical inheritance. These matters must be gone into more thoroughly. I only put them before you today as a stimulus to further thought.
When you consider the physical body of man you know that it has a long history behind it — it has passed through the Saturn epoch, the Sun epoch, and the Moon epoch — now it is passing through the Earth epoch. It was only during the Moon epoch that the influence of the astral body appeared. This did not exist previously, and the physical body has naturally been very much changed by it. Hence we do not see the physical body as it was under the forces of the Saturn and Sun epochs, but only as it has become under the influence of these forces added to those of the astral body and the ego.
Only the physical body can be inherited through cooperation of the sexes, for this depends on the influence of the astral on the physical body; everything appertaining to laws going back to the Saturn and Sun epochs has nothing whatever to do with this. One part of human nature is received directly from the cosmos, not from the opposite sex. This means that what we have in us does not spring altogether from the union of the sexes, for this is dependent on what comes from our astral bodies, but a large part of our human nature — that which comes from the mother, for example — is received directly from the macrocosm.
We have therefore to distinguish one part of our human nature as being the result of the intercourse of the sexes, and another part as received directly by the mother from the macrocosm. Clarity will only be reached in respect of this when we succeed in distinguishing the separate parts of human nature, concerning which there is the greatest confusion at the present day. The physical body is not something shut off within itself, but is formed from the combined activity of the ether body, astral body, and ego; again we distinguish the forces that have to be ascribed to the direct influence of the macrocosm, and others that have to be ascribed to the cooperation of the sexes.
But something is also received from the paternal nature that has nothing to do with physical inheritance. Just as certain organs and laws having nothing to do with physical inheritance are received directly from the macrocosm, and are implanted in the organism by means of the mother; other laws are received from the macrocosm through the instrumentality of the father's organism and follow a spiritual path. It can be said of that which is received by way of the mother: her organism provides the moment of contact. But this that is active in the organism of the mother has not its source in any cooperation of the sexes, but it cooperates with what comes from the father, and this also does not spring from any union of the sexes, but from the paternal element. It is therefore a world event, a macrocosmic event, that takes place, and finds expression in a physical way. People are entirely mistaken when they describe the development of the human embryo as being only the outcome of heredity. It is the result of what is received directly from the macrocosm.
I have spoken here of facts that far transcend the ideas of science; they are ideas originating from very ancient epochs. Does anything show us this? Popular literature tells us very little about it, but it is clearly evident on the plane of occult endeavor. I should like here to tell you something. I can indeed only hint at it, but would like to point out what a remarkable difference there is between two natural scientists and thinkers of the present day who had, however, been brought up in different circles and with widely different ideas. The characters of the two men are clearely revealed in what follows.
We have in the first place Haeckel, who because he elaborated his marvelous facts with most primitive ideas, led everything back to heredity and presented the whole embryonic evolution as dependent on heredity; opposed to him is the investigator His, who held more to facts, concerning whom it was objected, with a certain amount of truth, that he thought too little. His was a zoologist and naturalist. Because of the special way he traced out facts, he was constrained to oppose the heredity theory of Haeckel, and pointed out that certain organs and organic formations in man can only be explained when we turn away from the idea that we have to thank the cooperation of the sexes for our origin, Haeckel makes fun of this and writes: “Therefore Herr His ascribes the origin of the human body to a certain ‘virginal’ influence that does not depend on the cooperation of the sexes!”
This is absolutely correct. For scientific facts force us to acknowledge today that what is brought about through cooperation of the sexes has to be kept apart from that which comes directly from the macrocosm — which, naturally, for wide circles is an absurd idea.
From this it can be seen that even on scientific grounds we are driven toward new ideas. We are placed in the midst of an evolution that says: If the facts that have been imparted to you are to be rightly understood you must acquire a whole host of new ideas, for the ideas that have come down from olden times do not reach far enough.
From what I have said you will see that a neighboring stream must enter our culture — this is the “Mercury stream”; its presence is revealed through the fact that those who go through an occult development, such as has frequently been described by me, evolve toward the spiritual world, and by doing so experience many new facts. These facts stream toward them, they stream into their souls. We might compare the entrance of man into another world with the passing of a fish from the water into the air; the fish has first to be prepared for this by changing its air bladders into lungs. This resembles the transition from sense perception to spiritual perception, whereby a man's soul is made capable of employing certain forces in a different element. Many things are then revealed to him.
The air is full of thoughts today which make it necessary for us to grasp the new facts of science now appearing on the physical plane. As investigator of the supersensible, one participates in things pressing in from all sides. This could not have been before the entrance of the new stream of which I have spoken. When these facts are rightly understood it will be realized we are living in an extraordinarily important age, one in which it is quite impossible for us to continue to live unless some such change takes place in human thought and feeling as I have declared to be necessary.
Man must learn to live in a new element, just as the fish that is accustomed to live in water has to learn to live in a new element when compelled to live in air. We must learn to live with our thoughts within those facts which the physical plane produces. Anyone who rejects these thoughts is like a fish taken out of the water. Man must not remain in the water. If he did, his later life would be “airless” as regards spiritual ideas — he would gasp for air. Those people who desire to live within the monism of today resemble fish who have exchanged their watery abode for an airy one, but would like to retain their gills. Only human souls who have changed their faculties, whose thoughts have evolved to a new way of accepting facts, will grasp what the future has to bring.
So with full understanding we feel we are standing at the confluence of two worldwide streams of thought — the one should bring us a deeper comprehension of the Christ problem and of the Mystery of Golgotha; the other new conceptions and ideas concerning reality. They must of necessity flow one into the other in our day; and not cease to do so even though they encounter the worst of obstacles. For the periods in which such streams of thought meet are fraught with many checks and hindrances. In some respects it is the people who rely on spiritual science who find themselves in a position to understand such things.
Many of our members might perhaps say with reference to the teaching given here: What you tell us is difficult of comprehension; we have to work at it for a long time. Why can you not give us a more comfortable diet, that we might absorb more easily what is able to convince us of the spiritual nature of the world? Why do you lay such stress on understanding the world?” Many might say this and add: “How much more beautiful it would be if we might believe in a Buddhism that has come down to us from the past; if we did not have to think of the Christ event as the single point on which the balance rests, that no other is to be compared with it, but might think that a being like the Christ would incarnate again and again as other men do. Why do you not say: Here or there such a one will appear in the flesh! Instead you say men must make themselves capable of experiencing a renewal of the event of Damascus. If only you would say: ‘One will come in the flesh,’ then we could say: ‘Behold, He is here!’ We could then see Him with our physical eyes! This would be much easier to understand!”
That such things have been said is the concern of others. The task of Western spiritual science is to make the truth known; to declare the truth with full responsibility and understanding of what lies within the evolution that has brought us thus far.
Those who desire to be comfortable in the spiritual world must seek spirituality along some other path. But those who desire the truth, such truth as is required in our day — which has need of all the intelligence won in the time of old clairvoyance and preserved until the dawn of the new clairvoyance — will, I am very sure, follow the path indicated in the words spoken today and on many other occasions.
What is most important is not that we should say in what form we desire truth, but that we should know from the whole course of human evolution that the truth must necessarily be spoken at a certain point of time. Oh, there are many other things that must be said! But for these things you shall not go unprepared.
Therefore again and again within our Rosicrucian spiritual movement things will be said which stand at the very summit of the spiritual knowledge of our day. You need never accept what is said here or elsewhere with blind belief: blind belief is never appealed to here. In your intelligence, in the employment of your own understanding, you have the means for testing what is said. You may frequently hear it said: Take the whole of life, all science, everything you are able to experience, and test them by what is given out within the stream of Rosicrucian spiritual life. Do not fail to examine everything — you will find it stands the test! You who live within our movement know this, but you must not fail to apply the test. For it is precisely where opposition stirs — when on the ground of true spirituality, perhaps, the direct opposite appears — that belief alone does not suffice. Everything that rests on blind belief is sterile and stillborn. It may be easy to build on blind faith, but those who belong to the spiritual life of the West renounce it. They build on that which the human intellect can scrutinize. Those who are in touch with the sources from which our Rosicrucian spiritual teaching comes say of it: After scientific examination, this is how things are found to be! The edifice of spiritual science is raised on a foundation of truth! This is a foundation of no easy belief! Our edifice is raised on the foundation of a carefully tested, if perhaps difficult, truth, and the prophets of a blind and comfortable faith are in no way able to shake the foundations on which the edifice of spiritual science is raised!
Notes:1. “Buddha,” a public lecture given in Berlin on the 7th of May, 1911, See “Paths of Experience.”