The Human Soul's Experience During Sleep And After Death
Lecture 2 of 3
Rudolf Steiner, London, November 16, 1922:
Lecture 2 of 3
Rudolf Steiner, London, November 16, 1922:
My Dear Friends,
We have around us, to begin with, the world of Nature in her various kingdoms, mineral, plant and animal, — and we may also add to these the human kingdom, in so far as man's physical being is concerned. Behind Nature lies a kind of second Nature, — a spiritual, super-sensible Nature. The first, the Nature to which we are accustomed, man perceives with his senses. The super-sensible Nature that is behind, he does not perceive. It has, for all that, a great influence upon him.
And then we have to recognise that we human beings have something of physical Nature also within us. When we look within, we perceive this physical nature in our instincts and our passions. These are of course astral, but they rise up from the physical Nature. And this physical Nature that we have within us and that we perceive in our instincts and urges and passions, has again — this time we have to say beneath it, a kingdom of beings, who are intimately connected with man, but are really sub-human.
Thus, looking around us with the help of our senses, we behold the surface of Nature, her external appearance; and behind it we have to divine the presence of a super-sensible nature. When on the other hand we look within and perceive ourselves in our instincts and passions, then we have to divine beneath these the presence of a subsensible Nature.
The super-sensible Nature that is around us can be understood and appreciated only by one who is equipped with spiritual insight, and who is not always focusing attention, as Natural Science does to-day, on the strict laws of Nature and on what takes place within their framework. For Natural Science, as we know, is concerned with the investigation of what takes place in accordance with firm laws of Nature. The super-sensible that is behind external Nature will never reveal itself to these researches. It will however become manifest when we have learned to look with keen and discerning spiritual vision upon things which are not to be explained by natural law, but are generally regarded as subject to chance.
Of this character are the phenomena of the weather, all the irregularities of the atmosphere throughout, the four seasons of the year. If you stop to consider, for example, in detail how a London fog [There was an unusual thick fog in London during Dr. Steiner's visit at this time.] takes its course, you will perhaps find that in its main events you can trace the working of certain laws. You will not however be able to do this for all its continual changes and movements. When it comes to the particular single phenomena of wind and weather, there we are inclined to say that we are at the mercy of chance. You can of course read in the newspapers a description of what kind of weather we are likely to have in the near future, but you will not build upon it with certainty with which you rely on the sun rising tomorrow morning. Phenomena which show the working of natural law are in quite another category from the phenomena of wind and weather, which are more or less generally ascribed to the working of chance. People can and do acquire a certain prophetic gift in regard to these phenomena, but this prophetic gift cannot be given to place within the framework of natural law, it has more the character of inspiration or intuition.
As a matter of fact, beings live in all the various manifestations of wind and weather, — beings who are only not seen because they lack a body that is visible to the senses. They are present and alive, notwithstanding. The beings who live in wind and weather have a body that consists of air and warmth, a body that has in it no water — no fluidity, that is, of any kind — and no solid earth; it consists of nothing but air and warmth. And this body is continually undergoing sudden changes. At one moment it will assume form and shape, then again it will dissolve and pass away. The changing cloud formations that we observe in the sky, the play of the currents of the wind, — these are not the body, which remains more hidden, they are but the outer expression, the deeds, of the beings of whom I speak. When therefore we look out into the atmosphere which surrounds our Earth, and within which we ourselves are living, we have there around us a world of beings, who are composed merely of air and warmth. They are of the same kind as the beings whom I have called in my books and frequently spoken of in lectures as the Luciferic beings.
Now these beings have a specific end in view in regard to man. Notwithstanding the fact that they inhabit an element which we often find far from agreeable and pleasant — living, as we have said, in the weather! — these beings attach great value to the moral element in the human social order. So highly do they prize it, that in their opinion it would be best for man not to have a physical body at all — not, at any rate, a body that partakes of the watery or earthly elements. If they could have formed man in their own way, they would have made of him a moral being, pure and simple. Man would not of course in that case have had freedom, he would have been moral without being inwardly free. As it is these beings wage a fearful battle in the course of the year, struggling to wrest man away from the Earth and draw him into their own sphere. They would like him to be cut off from the Earth, — a complete stranger to it. On this account they are particularly dangerous for people who are inclined to any kind of visionary idealism or vague mysticism. Such persons readily fall a prey to these beings who seek to entice man away from the Earth and endow him with a kind of angel nature, so that under no circumstances shall he find himself tempted to be otherwise than purely moral.
Strange therefore and paradoxical as it may sound, dear friends, — inhabiting the forces that pulsate through the encircling air in all the vagaries of wind and weather, are beings who, abhorring human freedom and desiring nothing better than its complete annihilation, want to make man a moral automaton, want to make of him indeed a kind of good angel. And they fight hard to attain their end; to use an earthly expression, they wage war to the teeth.
In addition to these beings who build, as it were, their strongholds in the air — do not cavil at the word, I told you. I am obliged to speak in pictures — there are also beings of a contrary nature, to whom I alluded in my last lecture in another connection. And this latter class of beings has to do with all that comes to expression in man's instinctive urges and impulses, in his desires and passions. You must not however think of them as belonging first and foremost to man. In man we can see the results of their activity. But they have their home, so to speak, right on the Earth. Only we cannot see them, for these beings too have not a body that is formed in such a way as to be visible to us. They have, in fact, a body that lives entirely in the elements of earth and water. And their deeds are to be seen in the ebb and flow of the tides, in volcanic eruptions and in earthquakes. Natural Science, as is well-known, can find no satisfactory explanation for these phenomena. One who has keen spiritual perception can however see behind them a world of sub-human beings, who are under the control of the powers to which I have always given the name of the Ahrimanic powers.
Now, these Ahrimanic powers also cherish a particular aim as regards man. With the help of their various sub-spirits, which inhabit the earth and water elements of our Earth and can, for example, be recognised even in the kobolds or brownies of fairy lore — aided by these, the Ahrimanic powers have set themselves to carry out another and a different project.
If one considers these Luciferic and Ahrimanic beings by themselves, just as they are, one cannot, you know, be angry with them. Why be angry with the Luciferic beings, for instance? They want to make man into a being who is moral entirely as a matter of course. What could be better? Man would, it is true, never under their influence be free, he would be an automaton; but what they seek and desire for him can nevertheless be truthfully described as good.
Now let us see what is the aim of these other beings, who build their strongholds immediately below the surface of the Earth, and whose activities rise up into man’s metabolism, — for the phenomena we observe in the tides and less frequently in volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are always present also in the ebb and flow in man's metabolism. Whilst the Luciferic spirits build, as we said, their strongholds in the air, in order to fight for the moral — as against the earthly — element in man, the Ahrimanic beings struggle to harden man; they want to make him like themselves. Were they to be successful, man would become extremely clever in the material realm — incredibly clever and intelligent. They cannot achieve their end directly, but they aim at doing so indirectly. And their efforts, which have actually been going on for thousands of years, have in fact succeeded in producing a whole race of sub-human beings. Their method is as follows.
Suppose a man has strong and rude instincts. These beings will clutch at his instinctive nature and seize hold of it. The man then falls victim to the Ahrimanic powers. He is completely given up to his passions and leads a wild and dissolute life. When a man has in this way become a prey, during his earthly life, to the Ahrimanic powers, then these powers will be able to hold on to his instinctive nature and tear it out of him after death. There exists already on the Earth a whole population of beings who have arisen in this way. They are there, in the elements of earth and water, a sub-human race. And then what is it the Ahrimanic powers intend with this sub-human race? As we have seen, they draw out of a human being his instinctive nature and make of it an earth-and-water being. These earth-water beings inhabit the strata immediately below the surface of the Earth; and those who go down into mines, if they are able to look with spiritual vision, are quite familiar with them. They are beings that have been snatched out of man in the moment of death. And with what ultimate aim? Ahriman is waiting. The Ahrimanic powers are waiting for the time when men will descend to incarnation and, on account of a karma that their instincts and passions have prepared for them, feel particularly drawn to certain of these beings and say to themselves: “I will not go back to the spiritual world; when I have left my physical body” — out of which, as you know, man generally goes forth to a super-sensible life — “I will incorporate myself in a subsensible being of this kind. And that will mean, I shall be able to stay on the Earth. I shall not die any more, but be permanently united with the Earth. Yes, I will choose to be a subsensible being.”
It may sound incredible — and indeed it is astonishing, considering how extraordinary clever they are, — but it is a fact that the Ahrimanic beings persist in believing they will ultimately be able in this way to entice such a vast number of human beings into their own race that the Earth will one day be peopled entirely with such Ahrimanic sub-human beings. By this means they hope to make the Earth itself immortal, so that the hour may never come for it to perish and be dispersed in cosmic space.
We have thus around us in our earthly environment two hosts of beings; one in the air, that wants to make man moral but to lift him away from the Earth, and then we have also, immediately below the surface of the Earth, the Ahrimanic beings who want to draw man down and fasten him permanently to the Earth.
When we come to consider the relation in which these two classes of beings stand to one another, we find that in the mineral kingdom, in the plant kingdom, in the animal kingdom, and even in the human kingdom as it is by nature before man’s passions and desires begin to get the better of him, the two classes of beings have perforce to agree, they must bear with one another. In a remote primeval past the Godhead who is called in the Christian religion the Father God, established peace in this respect. Peace was established by the Father God for minerals, plants and animals, and also for man in his animal nature, in so far as he does not allow himself to be perverted and contaminated by passion and desire.
Take up in your hand a crystal, or any other mineral, or again a plant; you will not find that in that crystal or plant any conflict is taking place between these two classes of beings. But the moment you direct your observation to a man whose body is permeated and suffused with soul, you will at once discern signs of their conflict. The Luciferic beings are saying to Ahriman: “We promised the Father God that we would not fight nor do battle for the minerals, the plants, the animals, nor for man so long as he remained an unconscious being as in olden times and had not acquired the power of reflection, but lived more like an animal; but as for men who have acquired self-consciousness — for then we will fight to the teeth.” And it is so: a fearful war is waged all the time between the air-fire beings and the earth-water beings; they fight to get possession of man. And it is important that man should be aware of this war that is perpetually being waged for him; he must not be blind to it. In our day we have advanced far in our knowledge of external Nature. Here, as we have seen, the conditions are quite different; here the Luciferic beings live at peace with the Ahrimanic. But man's knowledge does not reach to that which lies behind the world of the senses, does not reach to super-sensible Nature, nor has he any knowledge of sub-human Nature. And these two realms harbour beings who carry on, as I have said, a terrible warfare, fighting for the possession of man.
The Being who in the Old Testament is called Jahve, has his seat — I need not remind you of what I said at the beginning of the lecture about the use of such expressions — has his seat in the Moon. That is to say, Jahve is that spiritual Being in the Cosmos who finds expression in the physical phenomena of the Moon. And in the whole ordering of the world this Being has the following task to perform.
When man is descending from the divine spiritual world in order that he may clothe himself in a body, then it is Jahve who leads him down to Earth. Nor does the Jahve Being lose all part in man's life when man has already come to Earth; he takes in hand the ordering of everything that is connected with generation. The Jahve Being, who has his seat in the Moon and who leads man down to Earth, claims control in man over all that has to do with the instincts and impulses of generation.
The process of generation cannot however be regular or regulated by itself, for it is connected with the other instincts and impulses. Consequently, the Jahve Being needs helpers, he needs beings who will, for instance, regulate the instincts connected with eating and drinking, and bring these into harmony with the instincts of generation. He needs helpers who will in fact see to the ordering of the whole instinctive life of man. And Jahve — the Moon God, if we may call him so — finds such helpers in Mercury and Venus.
A kind of compact has been made in the spiritual universe between the Moon, — that is, the Jahve Being and the beings that dwell with him in the Moon — and Mercury and Venus, And it is the will and concern of the beings who have joined together in this way, to control, from Moon, Mercury and Venus, the whole flesh-and-blood nature of man. Man is by no means merely an earthly being; influences play into him from the whole great Universe.
Turning now again to the beings whom I called Ahrimanic and who have their stronghold just below the surface of the Earth — the earth-water beings — how do these compare with Jahve and the Mercury and Venus beings? What place is assigned to them in the world order? They are not ripe to take up their abode in a heavenly body, in the way that Jahve has his abode in the Moon, and his helpers in Mercury and Venus. No, these Ahrimanic beings are doomed to look for a dwelling place just below the surface of the Earth, You will accordingly not be surprised to find that it is not with the air-fire beings alone that these earth-water beings feel themselves in opposition, but particularly also with Jahve and with the powers of Venus and Mercury. And this, notwithstanding the fact that they are themselves devoid of morality. (Man's instinctive nature, being regulated by Jahve from outside and beyond the Earth, is thereby subject to another rulership than that of the aforesaid ‘moral’ beings, but it would not under this rulership become immoral). The Ahrimanic beings wage war continually on Jahve and on the Venus and Mercury powers, and are determined to usurp from Jahve his rightful sovereignty. For it is owing to the rightful sovereignty of Jahve that the human race as we know it has come into existence on the Earth; it needed the powers of Moon and also of Mercury and Venus for this to be accomplished.
In a spirit of retaliation, the Ahrimanic beings are founding — over against the Jahve race, which is mankind — this other race of which I have been telling you. And a prime means for them to attain their end is the device I explained in our last lecture. You will remember I told you how they approach man in his sleep and say to him: “Good is evil; evil is good,” Man hearkens to this all too easily when he is asleep, and then he brings it back with him into his physical and his ether-body. The Ahrimanic beings are confident they will be able to achieve their end by means of these vicious whisperings.
Man should, you see, depend entirely — in his lower nature — on the Moon, Venus and Mercury powers. The lower nature of man is not in itself evil or degenerate; it is so only because powers that are antagonistic to Jahve insinuate themselves into it in the manner I have described. What Jahve would desire is that these earth-water beings should express themselves merely in the ebb and flow of the tides, in volcanic eruptions, in earthquakes. But they strain every nerve to establish themselves also in man, to make their presence felt in man too; and not content with attacking there the air-fire beings, they launch their attacks with particular force against Jahve and his helpers.
Man therefore finds himself placed right in the very midst of a conflict. On one side are ranged Jahve and his hosts, who are fighting for righteousness; on the other side the hosts of Ahriman, who, in respect of cleverness, far outstrip man, and whose concern it is utterly to repudiate man’s moral nature and make him into a sheer automaton of cleverness.
Such then are the influences that stream up from earth and water, and work in man. For man is obliged to eat of the products of earth and water; he cannot nourish himself on air, nor live on warmth alone!
In the other direction are the beings who incorporate themselves in air and warmth. These also, like the enemies of Jahve, are immature. And the corresponding mature beings are in their case beings who dwell on Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. And so we find these air-fire beings making sallies from their strongholds not only upon the Ahrimanic powers, but upon the influences that should be continually reaching man from Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
Now, the influences of these more distant planets, — or rather, of their spiritual beings — are to be found particularly in the eyes, in the ears, — in short, in the sense organs of man. So that, whilst Moon and Venus exercise their influence in the interior organs of man's body, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars work on man's exterior, work in his sense organs. The influences, for example, of Saturn are to be met with primarily in the human eye.
These beings, — Saturn beings, Jupiter beings and Mars beings — have it as their special concern to make man a real Earth man; that is to say, they want first to give him senses that are properly inserted into the human organism and that remain at its surface, and then to supply him with nerves that run from the senses and extend inwards into the organism. Saturn gives the senses, Jupiter gives their continuation in the nerves, and Mars exerts the kind of control that endows man, for example, with the faculty of speech. The whole aim and purpose of these beings is to furnish man with all that is on the surface of his body. For the senses, and the nerves too, have come about through a ‘turning outside in’ of the human skin.
Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars are however resisted in their activities by the air-fire beings of whom we were speaking. Here again, a furious fight goes on all the time. The air-fire beings sit fast, so to speak, in their airy strongholds and display their power and might in the fiery flashes of the lightning. They would like to make the whole of man what he should properly be on the surface only, so that the entire physical being of man should partake of the nature that is actually assigned only to eye and ear and nose. They would like to pour the surface of man's organism right through him, to make him all surface, so that he would do nothing but see and hear, — never eat nor drink, but only see and hear, be in fact a kind of angel being.
The Mars, Jupiter and Saturn beings, who work as we have seen in man's senses, acquit themselves most praise-worthily — if I may employ the expression in speaking of such sublime beings — in the world of external nature. For they permeate what to our eyes appears mere Nature, with morality. In this manner they bring morality to man; for it is actually so, morality enters into us through the senses. When therefore the air-fire beings seek to permeate man through and through with his sense nature, it is with the intention that man, seeing nothing but what is moral, may become a moral automaton.
If we look out on the world of Nature, we can know that whatever manifests as forces in that world comes from the Mars beings, whatever manifests as natural law from the Jupiter beings, and whatever manifests as colour and sound from the Saturn beings. And the air-fire beings would have man become nothing but force, law (that is to say, thought), colour and sound. They want man not to have a physical body at all, but to be insubstantial, rarefied; they would like him to be, as we said, an angel being.
And so you see, whilst in external nature. Moon, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn live at peace with one another and are held in balance by the Sun, they wage a double fight for the possession of man. First of all, there is the conflict that goes on between the Ahrimanic and the Luciferic beings; and then we have on the one hand, the fight that is put up by the Luciferic beings against the planetary forces beyond the Sun, — the Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn influences — whilst on the other hand the Ahrimanic forces are waging war on the influences that proceed from Moon, Venus and Mercury.
Behind Nature and within man the hard-fought battle goes on; and it is with this conflict raging all around him that man has to press forward in his development and win his freedom. In an older time man had the teaching of the Mysteries to aid him on his path; now he must turn to what spiritual investigation can tell him concerning what lies behind Nature and below man. For ignorance on these matters would inevitably lead to the deterioration and ruin of mankind.
You will have seen, my dear friends, from the descriptions I have given you, that the beings we are accustomed to call Luciferic and Ahrimanic, are particularly highly developed in respect of certain qualities — the Luciferic beings, namely, in morality, and the Ahrimanic in cleverness and intelligence. And yet both these classes of beings never relinquish the belief that they will one day achieve their ends, and they are therefore always ready to begin the fight over again. For, time after time, when they think they are on their way to success, they experience frustration and disappointment. So that when a modern initiate encounters such beings behind Nature or below man, he sees how on the one hand they will not be deterred, but press forward again and again to their goal with renewed confidence in ultimate victory, and then how, on the other hand, they are perpetually being frustrated. This kind of being may indeed be said to live in a mood that oscillates between jubilation and triumph on the one side and constantly recurring disappointment on the other.
I will show you how this can be observed in particular instances. Let us see, in the first place, how the Luciferic and Ahrimanic beings suffer disillusionment through what happens with the physical part of man's being. One can form a very good impression of the disappointments that await Lucifer and Ahriman in this connection, when one pays a visit to one of our hospitals or asylums. Sickness, whether in mind or body, means disappointment for Lucifer or Ahriman. These beings are, you see, fighting a battle to get possession of the nature of man. But it does not help them at all, if within man's nature one of them gains a victory over the other. The situation is different if Ahriman gains a victory over the Moon Godhead; or again, if the air-fire beings gain a victory over Jupiter, Mars and Saturn. Such victories are, however, always incomplete. They can only become complete if reinforced by some success that the Luciferic or Ahrimanic beings achieve in their own mutual conflict. But, as a matter of fact, by far the greater number of these successes are only apparent; hence the disillusion that ensues. Let us suppose for a moment that the Ahrimanic powers were victorious in the physical body of some person, victorious, that is, over the Luciferic powers who try to permeate man throughout with what should by rights be only on the surface, only in the senses. The result would be that the person would succumb to illnesses producing tumours or carcinoma, or else to illnesses of the metabolism, such as diabetes. Whenever an illness of this description shows itself in a man's physical nature, it means that Ahriman has won a victory over Lucifer. Since however, as a result, that physical nature is temporarily ruined, it is of course of no use to Ahriman; he cannot possibly pull up out of it the man's instincts and impulses in order to create from these a race of his own.
We have in this way arrived at a perhaps paradoxical, but nevertheless correct picture of illness. Illness is in very many cases the sole means left to the good Powers, to rescue man from the fangs of Ahriman.
If on the other hand Lucifer gains a victory in a man's physical nature over the Ahrimanic powers, who would like to harden man and drag him down into their race of earth-water beings, — if Lucifer gains a victory over these powers, then the person concerned succumbs to illnesses of a catarrhal nature, or else to insanity. Once again, for Lucifer this time, the victory turns out to be quite indecisive.
The Ahrimanic and Luciferic powers, who work unceasingly with all their might for the attainment of their ends, are thus compelled to turn away sad and disappointed from beds of sickness, from hospitals and from mental asylums. These show them all too clearly that though they may continue to carry on their fight, they cannot ever be really victorious.
And now, if you are able to look with real insight into man's etheric nature, — not merely into his physical, but into his etheric nature — you will find there too, occasion for disappointment to the Ahrimanic and Luciferic powers. For when the Luciferic powers are victorious over the Ahrimanic in the ether-body, then the person becomes a liar, he becomes an habitual liar. In that case he is obviously not moral; and so he falls out of the world within which Lucifer would like to secure him. Instead of making him a moral automaton, Lucifer has turned him into a liar. And, strange as it may seem, the fact that the person becomes addicted to lying is a weapon in the hands of the good Powers, to aid them in rescuing him from Lucifer. For when someone turns liar, — well, that can be ameliorated in the further course of karma; whereas if Lucifer were really to gain the victory he seeks, the Earth would lose that human soul, it would soar right away above the Earth. If, on the other hand, Ahriman were to conquer, or come near to conquering, in the ether body, then the person would become possessed — possessed by his own cleverness. And since he is inwardly possessed by it, the cleverness must needs remain within him. It has hold of him; his ether-body is absolutely charged with it. And so there is no possibility for Ahriman to draw out the instincts and impulses; they are stuck fast in the ether-body, because the person is possessed by his cleverness. Here too, then, will be plenty of opportunity for Lucifer and Ahriman to experience bitter frustration and disappointment, when addiction to lying, or on the other hand, obsession follows as a consequence of their apparent victories.
Let us now see what can happen with the astral body. Suppose the Ahrimanic powers come near to being victorious in the astral body. The person in question will in this case tend to become an out-and-out egoist. But that will mean that he, as an egoist, keeps fast hold of his instincts, and there will be no chance for Ahriman to snatch them away. So once more, Ahriman's prize escapes him. Suppose on the other hand. Lucifer nearly gains a victory. Then the person is liable to turn into a dreamer in the astral body, to become an ego-less dreamer, who is, as one says, “not in his right mind.” Such things happen; it can well be that people succumb, if only for a time, to such a condition. The Luciferic and Ahrimanic powers are thus subject to disillusionment on earth in many directions.
But do you see in what a critical situation man stands to-day? In olden times it was different. Let us look back and see how things were for man in the past. The first great teachers in the Mysteries were messengers of the Father God. They had disciples, the Gurus; and then there were the Chelas who were disciples of a second grade, for they were disciples of the Gurus. The highest Gurus however received their instruction direct from the messengers of the Father God, And these messengers of the Father God were able to find remedies with which to heal man. Illnesses are, as we have seen, the occasion of deep disappointment and frustration to Ahriman and Lucifer, so much so that they leave these beings quite benumbed and bewildered. For, outstandingly clever and moral as the Ahrimanic and Luciferic beings are, just because their consciousness is so particularly keen and wide-awake, they are all the more liable to suffer a clouding of it; and so the messengers of the Father God were on this account able to approach the sick person undisturbed by Lucifer and Ahriman, and could then find the remedy for the illness. I told you last time, you will remember, how an illness due to Saturn influence could be cured with a remedy taken from the Moon, and so on. This, then, is how things were in the time of the ancient Mysteries. The messengers of the Father God were able to intervene directly and extricate man from the confusion in which he finds himself owing to the fight which is going on, as, I have explained to you, all the time, behind Nature and below man.
My dear friends, the confusion that reigns within man to-day is no whit less than it was in olden times. That man is unaware of it makes no difference, the confusion is there, just the same. Man is perpetually being torn and tossed, this way and that, while the powers behind Nature and below himself fight to get possession of him. And when one crosses the Threshold and, looking consciously into the spiritual world, observes this terrific battle that is going on, this complicated game that is being played with man as the prize, then one may look now in vain for the messengers of God who in an earlier age would come forward with the staff of Mercury, for example, and with other symbols of that nature, ready to give them into the hands of the Mystery doctors, who could then use them to bring healing to man. At the present time, when you cross the Threshold, you find yourself only in the midst of the terrific conflict of which we have spoken, between beings of the upper planets who have remained behind in their evolution, — immature Mars, Jupiter and Saturn beings — and beings of the lower planets who have remained behind, — immature Moon, Mercury and Venus beings. Like two armed encampments they stand facing one another; on one side, the air-fire beings, — Saturn, Jupiter and Mars beings that have failed and fallen out of their true evolution; and on the other side, facing them, the earth-water beings, — Moon, Mercury and Venus beings who have also failed and fallen behind. And there, beyond the Threshold, the fight goes on with such fury that the Sun becomes first of all fiery and aflame, and then grows darker and darker, until at last it shows like a terrible black disk. It was not so for the initiates of long ago. They saw right through the black disk; and from the direction of the black disk itself came towards them the messengers of God, of the Father God, who were also in those times the bearers of the knowledge of healing. But for us, when we cross the Threshold and see before us the terrific battle and behold how the Sun becomes fiery red and then black, — for us, the Sun remains black, it remains a black disk. And we are rebuffed, we are turned back; for if we men of modern times are to find our way amid all this confusing and perplexing conflict, it is on the Earth that we must look for help.
And then, my dear friends, then we are guided to turn our eyes to the Christ. Christ stands before us, the Spirit Being who, through the Mystery of Golgotha, united Himself with the Earth. And He says to us: Be not dismayed that the Sun has become black; it is black because I, the God of the Sun, am no longer in it; for I have come down and united myself with the Earth.
And if, with inner devotion, and with quick and sensitive recognition of all that a knowledge of the Mystery of Golgotha can bring, we draw near to Christ, and then the Sun does not, it is true, become bright again, it remains the black disk that it was, but the Sun begins to make audible for us what Christ is saying to us. And this experience reveals to us the relationship of Christ with the Sun. Yes, the Sun, although still a black disk, becomes a being who enables us to listen to the Christ, if we are duly prepared and approach Him in the right mood and attitude of soul.
And it is the Christ who provides now for man the means of reconciliation so that in man too the upper then the lower powers may be reconciled, — the powers that are above the black Sun disk and that make themselves known around our Earth as air-fire beings, and the powers that manifest as lower beings. And we can receive guidance, we men, for the healing of diseases, and for the true understanding of all the other evils that are constantly leaving Lucifer and Ahriman disappointed. Through the power of Christ and through the power of the Mystery of Golgotha we then become able to speak to these beings, and what we say to them is wonderful enough. “Ye creatures of Lucifer and Ahriman,” we say, “the disappointment and great frustration that you meet with, time and again, are due to evils of your own making, evils that are bound to arise on Earth in consequence of your own partial victories. And that must go on; for you will not cease from making people sick and ill and obsessed, nor from turning people into liars and self-seekers and ego-less dreamers. And so you have no choice but to continue this restless alternation between triumphant joy and the grief of acute disappointment.”
But as for man, if he can find the right relation to the Christ, then it will be given him not to despair, even in face of the despair of higher beings than himself, — beings however whose will it is to go another way than the way of the Gods to whom man belongs and to whom he should remain true throughout the further course of the Earth. At the centre of these sublime God Beings is the Christ Being, who spoke to the initiates of old through the Sun disk and who speaks also to us — but now from the Earth with the help of the Sun.
When therefore we speak of Christ today, we are speaking of One who can be at our side here on Earth as our Leader, guiding us out of the terrible conflict that the Luciferic and Ahrimanic powers are waging, — with one another and with the worlds of the Upper and Lower Gods.
In my next lecture, on Sunday at 7:o'clock, I will say more of this.
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