The Book of Revelation and the Work of the Priest
Lecture 18 of 18
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, September 22, 1924:
Lecture 18 of 18
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, September 22, 1924:
We have looked at the Apocalypse with respect to its inner spirit and we have looked at it in connection with your work as priests. One could of course say a great deal more in connection with the Apocalypse; for instance, one could unroll the whole composition of the Apocalypse, but it seems to me that this conference in Dornach will get its best content if what was said in connection with the Apocalypse will show up in priestly activity in a really practical way.
We'll only have to add one more thing today. We should consider that we're living in the consciousness soul age or at that stage of man's overall evolution where he has to gain control over his intellectuality, as it were, so that it's integrated into his individuality. Of course to begin with this age is still restricted to man's spirit or intellect, as it were, where the things which are connected with the acquisition of intellectuality occur within human thinking and reflection, although a time will come when the deeper forces of the human soul will also be taken hold of by that which now occurs more within thinking, wishing and reflecting.
At present man can only form ideas about how he should use the intellectuality that is breaking into his individuality. However, before this age of consciousness soul development is over souls will be taken hold of by intellectuality right down into their deepest emotions, feelings and passions. And then what was still sought in the stars during the Middle Ages, when one spoke of angelic intelligences in the stars and planets will live even more deeply and pervasively in men.
All of this will be deposited in men, and later on when the Jupiter period comes even man's corporeality will be taken hold of by intellectuality. However, at present, where the soul has still not been taken hold of by intellectuality in its innermost structure and men can grasp the important things in their thoughts and words, it is possible to orient priestly activities in such a way that the world goals can really be attained.
So you see things are like this; when men grab intellectuality from the cosmos — and after all, it is a wise arrangement of the world powers that he is taking possession of it — there are always unguarded moments when it becomes possible for the Ahrimanic power who is called Satan in Christian tradition to take hold of this intellectuality that men have. Satan must not be confused with the ordinary devil, who is a lower power with different characteristics. Satan has the rank of a Principality (Archai), and he took hold of this intellectuality in the course of world evolution long before it approached men in the described manner, and one could say that he possesses more intellectuality than any other being. He is trying to bind human intellectuality to his own to such an extent that men can fall out of their evolution in this way. In other words, this Ahrimanic power is trying to nullify the Mystery of Golgotha and Christ's activity.
Now this Ahrimanic power who is called Satan in Christian tradition lacks the strength to work up further than the human level of cosmic beings. So one shouldn't think that the intelligence of an angel, for instance, could be taken hold of directly by this Satanic power; this can only happen in certain exceptional cases. These exceptional cases that could occur in the future, where it might not only be possible for the Satanic power to chain men to himself through their intellects, but also to bind beings from the spheres of the angels and namely of the archangels to himself — these things still belong to the higher secrets of occultism that cannot be spoken about at present, and that can only be disclosed under certain conditions. So we can only indicate that a temptation and a seduction of beings in the hierarchy of angels and namely of archangels might be possible in the future, but we must reckon with the fact that the power who is called Satan in Christian tradition has the ability to cling to something in man's inner life that is as independent as his intellectuality. And then when the intellectuality which men contain is taken hold of by the Ahrimanic power, a man can be torn out of evolution and can be put on an entirely different course, simply because his being is pulled along with the intelligence with which Satan is able to connect himself.
This is only possible with man's intellectuality, and not with any other psychical, spiritual or bodily force in him. For a man's intelligence sits in him in such a way that it is the most independent thing in him. Everything else is connected with certain divine powers, and so if Satan were to do anything with men's feelings, sensations, desires and wishes he would still have to deal with the superhuman forces that are in these soul-capacities. Intellectuality is the first thing through which each human being can separate himself entirely from the beings who bring about his personal evolution, and it is the first thing in which he must freely connect himself through his own efforts with those powers who have accompanied his evolution right from the beginning. So that he has to identify himself freely with the last goals of the Apocalypse, where the Apocalypticer clearly indicates that the power who is the Alpha and Omega of the creator beings who go through evolution will appear, and each human being has to decide for himself to attach himself to the being who led him during the time when he was becoming cosmically mature.
To be sure, Satan can use this great moment in the evolution of humanity and he can pull men's intelligences and the men with it into his own realm. We can already see how the Satanic power is trying to bring men into its evolution in this way. The way to do this is to bring people together in the kind of associations that we see arising everywhere in a germinal form today, where the old group souls end and a new group-soulness can begin.
That is why what is occurring in eastern Europe today, for instance, is so terribly Satanic because it all tends very forcibly in the direction of putting people together in such a way that group souls become necessary. If the most intelligent people are then taken over into the lower Ahrimanic regions in this way, the groups that are formed here can only be assigned to Ahrimanic powers as groups. That would be a way for the Satanic powers to tear mankind out of earth evolution and to bring it into another planetary evolution. That kind of activity with a group soul character can only succeed if the intellectual element becomes completely emancipated in a certain way.
Very clever beginnings in this direction are being made in the east today, and priests should understand these beginnings for their work, because they are becoming manifest in a very forcible way in the east, but they're also present in central and western Europe.
For example, something that seems to be more or less harmless in exoteric life but which must be discussed very seriously is the way that psychology is being allowed to pass over into an experimental observation of human souls. This is one of the methods that will eventually prevent the soul elements from working from man to man in the way that the old divine powers intended, and psychical things will be determined in a numerical way or some other way instead by the emancipated intellectuality.
These things in central Europe and in the West are still relatively harmless. However just consider, for example, that a statistical, intellectualistic way of looking at things that is emancipated from men's soul life has arisen in the west through William James and others. They apply statistical methods to the inner conversion of human beings or to what one could call a finding of one's inner religious bearings— which occurs in many people just before they're 20 years old. Many people also experience an inner transformation after they're 20, which is like a whirling up of the Godhead out of their own soul.
In the U.S. they determine the percentage of the population that undergoes such inner conversions, and they treat things in a statistical manner. The Satanic thing about this is the statistical treatment, the compilation of data, the emancipated intellect. All these conversions are really the results of karma, but then one has to look at each particular case. You will find that statistical methods are praised to the skies in all scientific fields today, if you follow such things at all. People can't penetrate inner things anymore, and they try to arrive at laws through statistics everywhere.
This is the hardest to combat in the medical field, where it has caught on in the most terrible way, and where all clinical methods tend in this direction. One simply records whether medicaments have a positive or negative effect, etc., in a statistical manner. This statistical element is becoming established, but it is completely worthless in this field. For it really tells one nothing to know how many cases went one way and how many went the other way. The important thing is to have a really thorough understanding of the individual case, no matter how it turns out. Only when all the cognitional methods have been pressed into the service of a study of the individual cases and their individual forms, — only after one has everything else through individual observations can one use statistics at the end and say that the thing was favorable in so and so many cases and unfavorable in the rest. As you know, statistics are very popular in social studies and social democracy.
The statistical approach has also produced some very nonsensical things in connection with suicides and crazy people. One determines what percent of the people in particular professions committed suicide or went crazy. But it has no real value to know this. Because the important thing is to know why this individual committed suicide and why that individual became insane. And so with regard to this statistical approach which scientists think is so important today when they write about theories of knowledge, — it's really as if Satan were loose: it's really quite terrible.
This approach has been successful for the Satanic power in central Europe and in the east. It became a philosophy in Avenarius and Mach, who were studied by leading Bolshevik philosophers, who then brought the thing to Russia and made it practical. Even good natured people who want evolution to proceed in an orderly way don't pay much attention to the fact that the seeds for Bolshevism were laid in central Europe decades ago and were carried over to Russia; it's as if one takes a seedling and transports it to another place where it is supposed to grow up.
Thus this Satanic power is working hard today and he turns to people everywhere and appeals to their emancipated intellect that is disconnected with things in some way. This applies to the soul, to the spirit, to inner conversions, etc. If Satan were to succeed in bringing about what he wants to do within a certain time, what has to approach then would occur in a harmful way for the evolution of humanity.
For the events of which the Apocalypticer speaks will come. It's just a question of how they will occur. There's only two possibilities: either human evolution will proceed in accordance with the intentions of the gods, or it will not. Intellectuality is breaking in now and men are becoming more and more intelligent through their own efforts, and not through inspiration. That is breaking in. But on the other hand mankind has been kept weak by influences that come from the Luciferic side. Even though the individual element is the only salutary thing for mankind in this age of the individuality, which is really a Christian age, groups will form, but these group formations must be taken away from the danger that they're in.
Through the efforts that the Satanic power is making to acquire the intellectual forces of humanity, a time will come when this Satanic power will be so strong that it will approach all groups that will have formed. So that it will really come about that Satan's power will work towards the four corners of the world, and these smaller and larger groups — Gog and Magog — will be exposed to the temptation and the seduction of the Satanic power. What will be decided then is whether or not those who have begun to work with spirituality have developed such an intensity that human intellectuality can be led to where it belongs with the aid of the Michael power, namely, to the starting powers who were connected with the origins of human evolution, and who want to lead what men have become further, although men are left free. A great deal will depend upon whether; men will get to the point where they will fully understand real spirituality that has an inner order. In priestly work one must already look at these affairs of humanity now, for only if one succeeds in directing everything into channels that run along these lines will the great seduction scene that Satan intends with Gog and Magog turn out in a way that is beneficial for human evolution.
Otherwise what men have experienced under the influence of their developing individualities; since the year 666 after the beginning of Christian evolution will someday have to be torn out of humanity. Darkness would be spread over all previous human incarnations and a new world evolution would replace the earthly one. We can already see the beginnings of this quite clearly, and we can also see the great danger that mankind is in today. Ahrimanic powers possess an almost unbelievably large amount of intellectuality, and they use men's vanity, untruthfulness and all of their other weaknesses in order to win them over. For instance, it is really quite terrible how the Satanic powers used the vanities of men at the beginning of the world war in order to create a tremendous turmoil in a few days — after there had been a very deep state of sleep — which put people in a great uproar, so that they're still not sure what really happened.
But it's only a phase. There are much worse phases in the purely intellectual so-called spiritual battles of the present. For where can one find truth anymore? One sees that things are being introduced everywhere in such a way that truth of action or a true way of working is becoming less and less important for men today. Just think of how they're increasingly trying to put the spiritual life under the control of the state. Just look at how much of our spiritual life is under state control.
All of these things expose humanity to a great danger, but men are not inclined to develop a real understanding along these lines. You could see this when the first attempt was made to do something with the threefolding movement so that the seduction by Gog and Magog that is to happen in the future can be brought into channels that are favorable for humanity. The threefolding idea should have led mankind over the threshold of evolution, and also would have had to lead it across, but the way it was received shows the tremendous dangers that mankind is exposed to with respect to these things, and priests should take these things very seriously.
There was an individual in the early Christian centuries who lived in the place where the actual church battle occurred which then made preparations in Europe for the Christianity that had been present in Rome throughout the centuries, who experienced the year 666 and perceived what really went on there with a certain clairvoyant power. This particular individual saw quite clearly and spiritually that the Satanic power was preparing itself for such a mission. Like many other people, this individual later confused the Satanic power that Michael knows is higher than he is, with the devil of the Middle Ages; he speaks of the devil, but in such a way that one sees that he really means the Satanic power. He reincarnated in Berlin in the first half of the 19th century; he was a high school teacher by the name of Drandorf. He spoke about the devil, that is, about Satan, and he wrote an article Is the Devil a Figment of the Imagination? You should also study his book on aesthetics some time. Drandorf remained relatively unknown; the consistorial and supreme consistorial counselors in Berlin were his enemies.
What all of this amounts to is: will you priests be able to represent the spiritual world in its full reality and not just in the sentimental way in which this has occurred everywhere in the last few centuries, so that one doesn't want to bring in the evil powers whenever one is speaking about the spirit. In other words, the main question is whether there is enough energy among you to really represent spirituality. The main thing is that such things like a knowledge of karma or an honest look, at earlier earth lives presuppose the same attitude of soul as the perception of the celebration of transubstantiation during an act of consecration of man.
These ideas must become real for men again. Only if they become real will it become possible to bring everything that is connected with the perspectives for humanity which the Apocalypticer wanted so much to present, into the right channels. It should be emphasized that the things that were discussed here in connection with the Apocalypse are truths which one should not receive without uniting them with one's whole being, which one should not receive without looking upon them as a kind of communion.
So one would like to say that a church is outwardly real, and it embraces the faithful members of the congregation. And the priesthood must look upon itself as that group of people in the church through whose activity a spiritual element flows into humanity. For this they need the right understanding and a little chapel for the sacraments and the consecrated bread and wine, which contains the secret of transubstantiation.
And one would like to say: If we imagine that we have a chalice, in which transubstantiation takes place, then men look for a way to the Father through transubstantiation. They look for a way to that creative power in the primal world which is present in there in a fully real way, and which therefore cannot be found if one only goes towards the material or only towards the spiritual. It can only be found if one discovers that the spiritual and the material are a unity. An understanding of the world is only present today when a transubstantiation is carried out at an altar. A sacred search for the Father really still occurs there, and here the Son always shows men the way to the Father; the Son who now mediates the way to the spirit.
And so when a man looks at what appears everywhere in the physical things during transubstantiation he can find the completely hidden spirit and the working of the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones in the physical things. Their concealed activity becomes manifest as physical substances. If one wants to have the latter as something spiritual, one has to take the path to the Father. The path to the Father is indicated by the Son, and he then brings it. about that the spiritual appears out of the physical.
Bread is bread, but one can look for the Father in it; this can also be shown for the wine. Christ shows the way; the transubstantiation puts an aura around the bread; man experiences the spirit in the aura. The wine reinforces what is present in the bread (drawing: sun). And so one can say that the longing for the Father is present in the sensory aspect that conceals the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones. Christ leads each human being on the path, so that Kyriotetes, Dynamis and Exusiai become active before him in the way ye indicated yesterday, and he ascends into that region where he can only perceive the spirituality of the spiritual world today in angels, archangels and Archai, who however have the Holy Spirit in their midst.
To understand this and to draw the right conclusion from it today is written in the Apocalypse. What does that mean? It means that the one who understands it finds his own understanding already traced out in the Apocalypse. Hence one can say that whether or not the Apocalypse is speaking about you depends upon you and upon whether you will it.
For if you take the impulses in the Apocalypse into your work as priests in a truly spiritual way, you will be the ones who are spoken of in the Apocalypse, who will come and will ward off the power of the beast, the false prophet and Satan. And then at least in your mind you will always think that the book of the Apocalypse is placed underneath the chalice when it is standing there for the transubstantiation. And as you imagine that the chalice is standing on the apocalyptic book, you will be able to say to yourselves: My vocation is in the latter. And what we do over it is the carrying out of my vocation.
And so I didn't want to give you a theoretical exposition during this conference. After the justified wish arose in you to hear something about the Apocalypse I wanted to give you what I did and therewith I wanted to place the Apocalypse underneath the chalice for you, at least in your minds. That is the goal I had in mind for these lectures. You will definitely succeed in attaining the things that are possible if you intensify the ideals of your work as greatly as you can if you make these serious studies of the Apocalypse into the innermost impulse of your own activity. That is what I wanted to place before you at the end of these reflections. You can imagine that the most intensive thoughts about an intensive, forceful activity that is worthy of your great task will accompany everything that you will do in connection with these reflections.
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