Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Revelation of John: September 30, A.D. 395

 



From the notes of a listener to an Esoteric Lesson given by Rudolf Steiner on March 5, 1911:


Two sayings are given to pupils in Rosicrucian schools to support them in their meditations: Beware of drowning in your esoteric striving. Beware of burning in the fire of your own ego.
There's an outer and an inner way to strive towards the spiritual.
Everything around us is like a veil, like a cover before the spiritual that we must punch through to get to the spiritual behind it. But in which direction? This cover surrounds us on all sides: above, below, front, back, right, and left. And inwardly, everything that we experience as joy, pain, etc., is like a veil, like fog that conceals the spiritual in us, and this spiritual is the same one that we find when we break through the outer cover.
So that mankind can evolve further and get into the spiritual there are always men from time to time who are more advanced than is permitted by the momentary stage of human development, and who have things to tell us about states of human evolution that reach far into the future. Such advanced beings must exist to lead men further. John, the writer of the Apocalypse, was such a man. When he wanted to write a revelation of the future, he told himself: If I write this book out of the whole surroundings in which I'm living here and now, it'll be influenced by the self that's in my body, since I'm connected with everything around and in me. I must free myself from all of this. He had to place himself on something like a rock that served him as a firm support, on which he didn't wobble and wasn't influenced by anything that surged around and in him. And he moved himself to the evening of September 30, 395 A.D., to the island of Patmos, as the Sun had already disappeared under the horizon, though its effect could still be felt, and as the Moon and stars appeared. The Virgin constellation was there in the western sky, irradiated by the last gleam of the Sun that had set, with the Moon under it. This picture is reproduced in one of the seals — the Virgin with the radiating Sun, and the Moon under her feet. Thus, all of these seals were produced out of deep mystical connections.
John broke through the cover that surrounds us in this one direction — that of Virgo. There are 12 of these signs. Seven of them are good — the ones reproduced in the seals; the other five are more or less dangerous. Just as John chose this particular point in time and space to become completely separated from himself and all temporal things around him, so a Rosicrucian pupil must acquire a firm foundation in himself. The best way to do this is to let theosophical teachings work on us. Our astral body and thereby our etheric body become expanded by listening to theosophical ideas. This is the effect on anyone who hears anything about theosophy But the effect on those who are inclined toward theosophy is different than on those who aren't. The former feel the etheric body's expansion and fill it up with theosophical teachings, by accepting them. The other feel an emptiness in their etheric body through its expansion because they don't accept these ideas and so don't fill the expansion. Then doubt and skepticism arise through this emptiness. Whereas with the first men, it's like a pouring of oneself into the universe, which they can't let go too far, for they'll get a feeling of hollowness, of not feeling at home in these widths of space, like a fish that's taken out of water and can't live in air, because its organs haven't adapted themselves to this changed element. When a theosophist devotes himself to the teachings and his astral body expands evermore, he loses himself in this unfamiliar element One must avoid drowning here. And this is possible if one studies theosophy seriously, takes it in, elaborates it, and grasps it with feeling, not just with thinking and will, but permeates it completely with feeling. One can only do this with great earnestness. One must gain a firm support within oneself — like John when he wanted to write the Apocalypse and he transported himself to the island of Patmos at sundown of Sept. 30, 395.
The configuration of the Sun, Virgo, and Moon on that evening can be checked astronomically, and this was done. From this materialistic science draws the conclusion: Therefore the Apocalypse was written at that time. And then we're told that science has ascertained this. That's the way science ascertains things.
On the inner path one finds all the joys and sorrows, pains and blissfulness that live in us. But all of this is attached to our lower, perishable ego This whole desire world surrounds us like a fog that covers the spiritual for us. It keeps us from seeing and noticing the spiritual. We must break through it to get to the spiritual. There are forces that approach an esoteric pupil to make this fog even denser. The fog gets even denser if we don't resist it. We must burn it to avoid burning in the fire of our passions. If we don't overcome this fog, if we don't resist its becoming ever denser through Luciferic and Ahrimanic forces, we're prisoners, as occultists say. There actually are men today who are born with great capacities and reach certain stages very quickly, but are then completely wrapped up in such a fog by the adversarial powers that they can't get out. One calls this occult imprisonment.
Our desire world consists entirely of egoism. And we can only overcome this egoism in deep humility. Which thought can lead us to an overcoming of egoism? The thought that we already spoke about yesterday in the exoteric lecture, the thought that we killed Christ. We're murderers, yes, that's what we are. We can transform this fact, but only if we let Paul's words live and become truth in us, “Not I, but Christ in me.” We shouldn't kill the divine in us through egoism, through our life of desires, etc., we should let Christ live in us. We should begin to carry out this easy and yet so difficult thing in us with shivering earnestness.
We arose from the divine: Ex Deo nascimur. We should take all suffering upon us willingly and patiently with the thought that we killed Christ; we should devote ourselves to him completely and die in him: In Christo morimur. Then we'll be reborn, reawakened through the Holy Spirit: Per Spiritum Sanctum reviviscimus. This verse sounds different exoterically than esoterically, but the difference is in only one word that's left out in the esoteric version. As we leave this word out and don't speak this word in shy reverence for what this word expresses, our feeling goes out to what is left unspoken in shy reverence.

Ex Deo nascimur
In … morimur
Per Spiritum Sanctum reviviscimus.


This tells us that man arose from the spiritual; that he was originally contained in the spirit:

In the spirit lay the germ of my body.
And the spirit has imprinted in my body
The eyes of sense,
That through them I may see
The lights of bodies.
And the spirit has imprinted in my body
Reason and sensation
And feeling and will,
That through them I may perceive bodies
And act upon them.
In the spirit lay the germ of my body.


In my body lies the germ of the spirit.
And I will incorporate into my spirit
The supersensible eyes
That through them I may behold the light of spirits.
And I will imprint in my spirit
Wisdom and power and love,
So that through me the spirits may act
And I become a self-conscious organ
Of their deeds.
In my body lies the germ of the spirit.








Doomsday

 


Rudolf Steiner:  "When, from out of this consciousness of the universal whole, we say to ourselves that the old civilization is bursting through its partitions, it is doomed — then to try to save it in its present form would be to work against one's age, not with it. We need a new civilization upon the ruins of the old."








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When darkness enshrouds us

 



We look outward
With our world-engendered eyes,
And what we see thus binds us
To world delight and world despair.
It binds us unto all
That springs to life there, but not less
To all that plunges there
Into the dark abyss.

But we also behold
With our spirit-entrusted eye.
What we thus behold binds us
To spirit hope and spirit’s upholding power.
It binds us unto all
That roots within eternity
And bears within eternity its fruits.

Yet we can only then behold
When we feel the inner eye
Itself as God-given spirit organ,
Which at the focus of the soul,
Within the temple of our body,
Fulfills the deed of gods.

Humankind is in forgetfulness
Of the Godhead’s innermost.
We, though, will raise it and take it
Into our consciousness, flood it with light
And then bear it over dust and ashes—
The divine flame in the human heart.

So may the lightning shatter into dust
Our sense-built houses.
We will erect instead soul houses
Built on knowledge,
Upon its iron-firm, light-woven web.
And downfall of the outer
Shall become uprise
Of the soul’s own innermost.

For pain passes upon us
From powers of material force,
But hope illumines
Even when darkness enshrouds us,
And it will one day
Emerge within our memory
When at length, after the darkness,
We may live again in light.
We do not want this clear illumining
To be in future brightnesses denied us
Because we have not now,
In pain, implanted it in our souls.

                           —Rudolf Steiner
















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The Turd Reich

 






Rudolf Steiner:  "To despair because one does not believe that a sufficiently large number of people, even in the present troubled circumstances, can find understanding for such ideas even if sufficient energy is dedicated to their dissemination, is to despair of human nature's susceptivity to purposeful and health-giving impulses. This question, whether one should despair or not, should not be asked — rather only this other: How can ideas which instill confidence be explained in the most effective possible way?"














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Catching Fire: Understanding the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit







The Manipura Chakra : The Solar Plexus

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, July 30, 1922:

Once again we want to look back at those principles of initiation described in yesterday's lecture as having been paralyzed by the advancing intellectualization of culture. Looking back we shall see how those people, in whom these older, atavistic principles of initiation were still alive, confronted Christianity. Out of their perceptions they formulated what subsequently became the contents of dogma and, as such, could no longer be understood after about the eighth or ninth century.
We need only to remember that before the mystery of Golgotha the impulse of the true principle of the human self, the I, was essentially missing in human civilization. The human being was, of course, always organized in such a way as to have the I principle within him; furthermore, he or she was created to shape outer and inner being out of the I principle. But only slowly and by degrees did people come to feel and be conscious of the essence and power of the I. Thus we can say that although the human being, even in the times preceding the mystery of Golgotha, consisted of physical body, etheric body, astral body, and the I, human consciousness did not include within it this I being. The I was more or less unconscious. In those olden times people walked on the earth who basically did not live with full consciousness of the I. But it is actually only possible for the I to be active in the human being when the physical body is no longer developing in its full, original freshness. Those human beings who were still unconscious of their I developed their physical bodies in greater freshness than those who had entered into a full consciousness of the I. This arrival of the full consciousness of the I did not occur suddenly; it was taking place both before and after the mystery of Golgotha, but it is clearly perceptible to a spiritual-scientific observation of history.
That which can be maintained in its full freshness in the human physical, etheric, and astral bodies — that can only be maintained as long as something from the divine, spiritual nature is flowing into the human being out of the cosmos. But we could never have become free beings if the I had not appeared on the scene, if the divine-spiritual had not ceased to flow into us in the old sense. Human beings only became free through at the same time achieving mastery of the I within their consciousness. But that was only possible when humanity became involved in the sphere of abstract thoughts. Abstract thoughts are, however, actually the corpses of the spiritual world. I have already pointed this out in these lectures. Just as a corpse is left over from our physical nature when we die on the earth, so too, there remains a corpse left over from the being of soul and spirit that we were in the spiritual world before coming down into the physical world. However, this has only been the case since the human being has been equipped with consciousness of his I. And thoughts, abstract thoughts, represent this corpse. When we become able to take hold of abstract thoughts, we take hold of the corpse of our spiritual and soul being as it was before our descent into the earthly world. But a precondition for our taking hold of the corpse of our spiritual and soul being is that something of the dying and paralyzing principle of death must enter our physical body.
Indeed, the evolution of the human being is such that his nature has changed in the course of his development on earth. The bodies of human beings in olden times were different from those of the newer bodies. The bodies of old were such that within them the human being was unfree, but as he moved about, all the freshness of primal being was manifested in his physical, etheric, and astral activity. Thus one can say that in the civilized world we already live in a period of the evolution of humanity when the body is beginning inwardly to decay. And we attain our freedom precisely through this decaying body, which is the base for our intellectual, abstract thoughts. Through this decaying body the human being has attained all that which a person, as an intellectually imbued scientist, is so proud of today.
Considering this, we must say that before the mystery of Golgotha full consciousness of the self as an I was not yet present in human beings on the earth. Nevertheless, in those times there were a few people who had already developed this full I consciousness, who had developed it through the mystery cults. These people were called initiates. We have already said much concerning what happened to those who underwent initiation in the places of the ancient mysteries, how they ascended to the experience of the fully conscious I at a time when it was the general condition of humankind not yet to have a fully conscious I. But the initiate of old could ascend to this fully conscious I because something entered into him through the sacred enactments in the mysteries, something which had been felt and experienced in all ancient civilizations as the eternal Father in the cosmos. And when the initiate, the mystic, had reached a certain point of his initiation in the ancient mysteries he had an experience that allowed him to say to himself (if we were to imagine such an initiate within the ancient Hebrew civilization): The Father lives in me.
This initiate would characterize what had happened within him through his initiation in the following way: The nature of human beings in general is such that the Father indeed sustains and bears them, but the Father does not enter their consciousness and does not kindle their consciousness to an experience of the I. To ordinary human beings the Father gives only the spirit of breath; he breathes in the human being the breath which is the living soul. But the initiate felt that the living soul that had been breathed into a person was a special spiritual reality, the living Father principle of the cosmos which also entered into the human being. And then when this divine Father principle had entered into such an initiate of the ancient Hebrew world and he had become conscious of it, then he could say, with full justification, what the I meant to him: “I am the I am.” Such a person who went about among ancient peoples and, through the divine Father principle dwelling in him, was qualified to speak the I — which in the entire ancient world was the unutterable name of the Godhead, of the Father God — such a person was seen as the representative of the Father on the Earth. These initiates were called the Fathers who walked among the peoples. They were called Fathers because they represented the divine principle of the Father to other human beings. It was said of them that the divine Father had entered into them in the mysteries. Thus the mysteries were seen as the places within the earthly world where the principle could develop that otherwise only weaves and surges externally through the entire cosmos. Within the mystery centers and through the mystery centers, a tabernacle was built in the human being for the divine Father principle. The human being himself became a tabernacle for the divine Father principle.
Through the mysteries human beings felt the surge of God the Father through the earthly world; and looking out into the cosmos, into the great world beyond, they called it the macrocosm, the great world, inasmuch as they thought of it as permeated by and woven through and through by the divine Father principle. They looked then to the mystery centers, within which a tabernacle had been built for this Father God, within which human beings had themselves become tabernacles of the Father God through initiation; and they called the mysteries, and what a human being had become through the mysteries, the little world, the microcosm. This distinction persisted even into the days of Goethe, for when Goethe became a member of certain lodges he picked up the phrase, “The great world and the little world.” By “great world” he understood the macrocosm and by “little world,” the lodge that was, for him, an image of the “great world.” [Note 1]
All of this entered into another phase when the mystery of Golgotha was drawing near in the evolution of humanity. Hence, something essentially different had to be considered. During the mystery of Golgotha there were human beings walking on the earth who experienced within themselves something of the independent I. The consciousness of the I had begun to enter into human beings. But at the same time something else began to appear: The human physical body began to be inwardly brittle, to decay. And so at this time, in the middle of earth evolution, human evolution faced a great danger. There was the danger of more and more losing connection with the spiritual world and now there was the danger that the physical body could increasingly decay and fall apart.
To help with this danger the being we know as the Christ resolved to pour himself into Jesus of Nazareth just as the divine Father principle had poured into the initiates in earlier times. This divine Father principle had poured into the initiates. In this way the I was enkindled in, and added to, the physical body, etheric body, and astral body. As I have already said, only those into whom the divine Father had entered were allowed to speak the I, which was itself the unutterable name of God.
But now, in the middle of earth evolution there lived human beings who were beginning to say I of themselves, human beings who had raised the I into consciousness. The Son principle, the Christ principle, now entered into just such a human being, into Jesus of Nazareth. The Christ principle now entered into the I. Whereas in earlier times the Father principle had entered into physical body, etheric body, and astral body, now the Christ principle entered into the human being who had developed himself to that stage further in evolution.
Now remember how I described the human being in the second lecture. I said to you that the plant nullifies within itself physical nature. One might also say that the plant corrupts physical nature. The animal then corrupts the physical and the etheric. And the human being corrupts the physical, the etheric, and the astral. The human being did not corrupt them completely in the period of human development before Golgotha. But thereafter he corrupted them completely as the I really entered fully into our being. Of course, the initiate of the ancient mysteries freed himself entirely from physical body, etheric body, and astral body when he let the divine Father principle flow into him and, already in those days, became an I.
In entering into Jesus of Nazareth, Christ nullified, through his entrance, not only the physical body, the etheric body, and the astral body, but also the I, to the extent that it was developed in Jesus of Nazareth at that time. So that in Jesus Christ there dwelt the higher Christ principle, which is related to the I in the same way the I of the human being is related to the astral body.
The Christ event was something that the old initiates, in whom higher faculties of vision had developed, were still just able to perceive. When these ancient initiates observed the human being as he was in their time they found him uniting within himself all the forces of the other beings of nature and, as it were, standing above them uniting them all. They saw how one can find in the human physical body the mineral kingdom, in the human etheric body the plant kingdom, in the human astral body the animal kingdom, and then they saw what is actually human. When tidings of this Christ event, of the approaching event of Golgotha, came to the initiates who had achieved clairvoyant seeing in ancient times, to these Fathers of the peoples, at least to those few who were still present — when these tidings came, these initiates could see a being in Christ in whom still more was contained, in whom not merely had earthly being been elevated to the human level but in whom humanity itself had been elevated to the level of being that is spiritual and divine.
If we bear in mind how there is present in the human being something that lives in the external physical body as an expression of essential humanity then we can understand how these initiates saw more in Christ Jesus than a mere man, how they saw walking around on the earth something that went beyond the human, beyond humanity. These initiates saw Christ Jesus in a special radiance. They saw him covered not only with the color of human flesh but with a special shimmering radiance.
Initiates in ancient times could, of course, see this special shining radiance in their fellow initiates. It was the power of the Father principle that dwelled within them. But now they perceived not only that which lived in the old initiates as the divine Father principle; now they perceived something that radiated forth from Christ Jesus in a special way, because not only had physical body, etheric body, and astral body been nullified in him, but also the I — to the extent that the I could be present in a human being at that time.
For this reason not only initiates but also other specially gifted people were able to see Christ Jesus as an especially radiant being. And this was the radically new reality at the time of the mystery of Golgotha — new even to the initiates: that other human beings, though perhaps few in number, who were only endowed with natural powers, not with powers otherwise acquired only in the mysteries, could recognize in Christ Jesus this higher nature.
From this fact came the realization that now, with the mystery of Golgotha, something was supposed to happen that, in earlier times, had taken place only within the mysteries themselves. Something that had formerly taken place only within the mysteries — within the microcosm, the “little world” — had been carried out into the macrocosm, the “great world.” And it is actually the case that, to begin with, the Christ mystery was proclaimed in its clearest and most pure form in the last remaining mystery centers of antiquity. And precisely this proclamation of the mystery of Christ was lost to later civilization in the course of the first four centuries of European evolution. Because in Christ Jesus there lived, not the Father principle alone, but also the Son principle, the old initiates knew that he represented something absolutely unique in earthly development. It was unique in this respect: In the further advance of the earth never again could another mystery of Golgotha appear, never again could such an indwelling of the Son principle in a human being take place, an indwelling such as had occurred in Jesus of Nazareth.
And these initiates knew that Christ had entered into humanity as the healer, as the great healer, as the being who prevents the human body from suffering damage caused by the brittleness which was brought about through the entrance of the I. For what would have happened if Christ had not appeared as the healer? If Christ had not appeared as the healer, then when human beings die, when they lay aside the decaying body, the products of this decay would radiate back into the soul being that the human being unfolds after death. The dead would have been disturbed, tortured, by what the decaying physical body represented in earth existence. These souls who had passed through death would have been forced to see how the earth itself suffers injury when it has to take in a decaying body. And the old initiates knew how those who called themselves Christians in the true sense of the word, who had filled themselves inwardly with the Christ principle, how such men could now look down upon the body taken from them by death, and say: Because we received Christ into ourselves while we were children of the earth we have healed the physical body to the extent that it can be placed into the earth without becoming a principle of decay for the earth itself. What the human being needed in order to become an I had to be healed for the sake of the earth. For in order to become an I he had to have a decaying body; but if this decaying body had persisted the earth would have been harmed. And after death the souls, looking down upon the physical bodies now received by the earth, would have been tormented because they could feel the harm being inflicted upon the earth itself by their decaying physical bodies.
What entered through the mystery of Golgotha was this, that the souls of human beings could say to themselves after they had passed through the gate of death: Yes, we carried this fallen physical body on the earth and we can thank it for the possibility of developing a freer I in our human being. But Christ through his dwelling in Jesus of Nazareth, has healed this physical body so that it is no longer harmful to the earth's existence; and we can calmly look down into earthly existence knowing that after the mystery of Golgotha bad seed is not falling into the earth with the physical body that the human being otherwise needs for the development of the I. And so Christ passed through the mystery of Golgotha in order to heal and sanctify the human physical body for the earth.
But now think what would have happened in the course of earth evolution if things had remained as they were after the Christ event. If things had remained that way then the following could have been said: In ancient times the Father God entered into human beings so they, as souls, could rise up to the I and as initiates could proclaim to others the actual essence of the human being, the being of the I. Then the Son, the Christ, entered into the being of humanity. Those who raise themselves so that Christ can dwell in them rescue their bodies for the earth. Just as through the Father principle, and the indwelling of the Father principle made possible by the mysteries, the human soul nature was rescued — so now the bodily nature of the human being has been saved through the healer, the savior-redeemer, through Christ who went through the mystery of Golgotha.
If this had remained the situation, then those who knew of the redemption of their bodies would have had to bear Christ as the being who is actively working within them, as the being who is even actively working on their bodily nature. And then again human beings could not have become free beings. When inner freedom would have arrived in the fourteenth century A.D., human beings would have evolved so that they could receive the Christ into themselves for the peace of their souls after death, so that their souls would be able to look down upon the earth as I have just described. But they could not have become free. If they had wanted to become good then they would simply have had to let Christ work within them in the same way that the Father worked in ancient times in human beings who were not initiates. In those times human beings became free when the I was developed within them. The initiates became free human beings in ancient times whereas others were unfree, because the Father lived in them beneath their consciousness. If Christians had been beings who were merely conscious of the Christ within them, then whenever they wanted to be good they would have had to extinguish their own I consciousness in order to let Christ awaken within them through the extinguishing of their own I-consciousness. They themselves actually would not have been able to be good; it would only have been Christ in them who was good. Human beings would have had to walk about upon the earth with the Christ dwelling within them, and inasmuch as Christ would have availed himself of the bodies of human beings, the healing of these bodies would have occurred. But the good deeds accomplished by human beings would have been the deeds of Christ, not the deeds of human beings.
That was not the task, the mission, of the divine Son, who had united himself with the evolution of the earth through the mystery of Golgotha. He wanted to live within humanity without clouding the dawning I consciousness of human beings. He did this once — in Jesus, in whom, from the baptism onward, the consciousness of the Son God lived in place of the I consciousness of Jesus. But this was not to happen in the human beings of the times to come. In the people of future times the I was to be able to raise itself to full, clear consciousness, while Christ nevertheless continued to dwell within them.
For this to happen it was necessary for Christ, as such, to disappear from the immediate sight of human beings. Although he remained united with earthly existence, he disappeared from the direct view of human beings. A saying common in the ancient mystery centers became also applicable to him. In the mysteries it was said that when a physically visible being, a being whose existence can be followed by human beings with their perception in the physical world, ceases to be visible — it was said that such a being had “ascended to the heavens,” and passed into those regions where physical visibility no longer exists. And so Christ ascended to heaven and became invisible. In a certain sense he would have retained his visibility if he had dwelled in human beings and eliminated the I, so that they could have become good only because, in reality, the Christ was acting in them.
The kind of vision that enabled the apostles, the disciples, to behold Christ even after his resurrection — that kind of vision disappeared. Christ had ascended to the heavens. But he sent to human beings that divine being who does not extinguish I consciousness. This is the being to whom the human being raises himself, not with earthly perception, but with imperceptible spirit. Christ sent humanity the Holy Spirit.
So actually it is the Holy Spirit who is sent by Christ in order that man might retain his consciousness of self, of his I, while Christ himself lives in the unconsciousness of human beings. Thus, if he realizes in the full sense of the word what his being really is, the human being will say: When I look back to what the ancient initiates knew, then I see that in me lives the Father principle which fills the cosmos and which arose in these initiates and developed the I in them. That is the principle that lives within us before we come down into the physical world. Through the Father principle dwelling in them, the ancient initiates remembered, with complete clarity, the way they had lived before they descended into the physical world. They sought the divine in the realm of being that precedes birth, in the realm of preexistence: Ex deo nascimur.
After the mystery of Golgotha human beings could no longer say, “I behold the Christ.” Otherwise they could not have become good through themselves, only Christ within could have done the good. And the truth could only have been In Christo morimur. The human being could die in Christ, through the principle of death within him he could unite with Christ. But the human being's new consciousness could be awakened through the Holy Spirit, the being sent to him by Christ: Per spiritum sanctum reviviscimus.
There you have the inner connection of the Trinity. This shows you, too, something else that is definitely a part of Christianity. Even without perception of Christ within, a human being can achieve the awakening of the spirit. By sending the Holy Spirit Christ gave humanity the ability to raise itself to an understanding of the spiritual out of the life of intellect itself. Hence it should not be said that the human being cannot grasp the spiritual, the super-sensible, through his own spirit. A man could only justify his inability to understand the spirit if he ignored the Holy Spirit, if he spoke only of the Father God and the Christ God. For those willing to see and read it is also clearly indicated — for it is a revelation in and of itself — that the human being can understand the super-sensible through the spirit dwelling within him, if he only inclines himself to Christ. It is for this reason that we are told that the Holy Spirit appeared at the baptism of Christ. And with the appearance of the Holy Spirit these words resound through the cosmos: “This is my beloved Son; this day I have begotten him.”
The Father is the unbegotten begetter who places the Son into the physical world. But at the same time the Father uses the Holy Spirit in order to tell humanity that in the spirit, the super-sensible is comprehensible, even if this spirit is itself not perceptible but only works inwardly to elevate the merely abstract intellect to the realm of the living. In the spirit the super-sensible can be understood when the corpse of thoughts that we have from our pre-birth existence is raised to life through the Christ dwelling within us. And when Christ sent the Holy Spirit to his disciples — this imparting occurred through the Christ, through the Son. For this reason it was an ancient dogma that the Father is the unbegotten begetter, that the Son is the one begotten by the Father, and that the Holy Spirit is the one imparted to humanity by the Father and the Son. This is not some kind of arbitrarily asserted dogma but rather the wisdom of initiation living in the earliest Christian centuries; only later was it covered over and buried along with the teachings concerning the Trichotomy and the Trinity.
The divine principle working as Christianity within evolving humanity cannot be understood without the Trinity. If, in the place of the Trinity, some other teaching concerning God were to enter, then basically speaking it would not be a fully Christian teaching. One must understand the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit if one would understand the teaching concerning God concretely and in a genuine way.
The Gospel itself was no longer understood when Scholasticism decreed that the human being has revelation only in faith, that he cannot reach the super-sensible through his own human knowledge. This decree concerning human knowledge, which was separated off from faith, was itself a sin against Christianity: it was a sin against the proclamation of the Holy Spirit through the Father at the baptism of Jesus and through Jesus himself when he sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Thus within the development of European civilization many sins were committed in what continued to call itself Christianity, many sins were committed against the original impulses of Christianity. Today it is really necessary for humanity to turn back to these original impulses of Christianity. In many ways these original Christian impulses have hardened into dogmas. But if one penetrates into the living spirit then what is essentially true in these dogmas can catch fire. Then they will cease to be dogmas. What is false in the Church is not that it has propagated the dogmas but that it has frozen and crystallized them, has taken them away from the realm of human knowledge. Because human knowledge was limited to only what is in the world of the senses the dogmas had to be crystallized, had to become no longer understandable. For it is an impossibility that faith alone could ever really bring understanding. What must be rescued within humanity is knowledge itself; knowledge must be led back to the supersensible.
Fundamentally speaking, this challenge reaches to us from Golgotha when we rightly understand it, when we know how, after going through the mystery of Golgotha, Christ sent into humanity, in addition to this divine Father principle, the Holy Spirit. Whoever beholds the cross on Golgotha must at the same time behold the Trinity, for in reality Christ shows and makes manifest the Trinity in all the ways he is interwoven with the earthly evolution of humanity.
This, my dear friends, is what I wanted to bring to you today, which will provide us with the basis for further studies in the future.







The Book of Revelation and the Work of the Priest. Lecture 4 of 18

 




Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, September 8, 1924

We placed the image or Imagination of the author of the Apocalypse before our souls yesterday, and I pointed out that it is a vision of Christ which was given by God. Then I pointed out that the letter which was sent to John must be looked upon as an explanation of the Imagination or as something which will help us to understand it.
The way in which the writer of the Apocalypse is then also looked upon as the writer of the letter is in line with the nature of the Mystery and with the way one speaks and thinks out of the Mystery. For it was in keeping with the nature of the Mystery that the writer of such a document did not consider himself to be the author in the way that we look upon the author of a work today, but he felt that he was the instrument of the spiritual writer. He felt that the act of writing the content down was no longer of much importance. This is why John treats the matter as if he were writing down the message of a god by order of the latter. This proceeds from everything that follows in a way that is really oriented in accordance with the Mystery.
One can say that our contemporary world needs an understanding of transitions like the one from the first vision in the Apocalypse to the following seven letters to the individual churches again. For present-day people have completely forgotten how to understand the things which everyone knew about in the mysteries and during the early years of Christianity.
This is another thing which you priests should really develop further. Just consider that what is written down in an inspired way in the Apocalypse is directed to the angel of the church in Ephesus, the church in Thyatira, the church in Sardis, etc. These letters were to be sent to angels. This is something over which modern intellects must stumble right away. But the important thing here is to consider the following.
A man once came to me near the end of his life who was trying very hard to really understand the Anthroposophical or spiritual view of things. You should really know about such things in your priestly work, for they are typical phenomena today. The important thing becomes evident in a striking way in this particular case, but it is something that you will often encounter on your priestly paths. And after all, it's the work on your priest's path which is the important thing. He said to me, “It looks as if Anthroposophists are trying to take the Bible literally.” I said, yes. Then he gave me all kinds of examples to show why he didn't think that the Bible should be taken literally. I said to him, “It's true that there are a great many so-called mystics, Theosophists, etc., who see all kinds of symbols and the like in the Bible and who break it up into a lot of symbols. Anthroposophy doesn't do this. It only tries to understand what the original text is really saying, and it can sometimes do this by proceeding from the symbolic language. And here,” I said “I have never found that one couldn't take the original text of the Bible literally, even though one often runs into misunderstandings which have arisen in the course of time.in later translations.”
A literal reading of the Bible is a goal which can be attained. One can really say that anyone who cannot take a particular passage in the Bible literally yet, hasn't understood it yet, either. Of course this is also true of a lot of other things today.
We have come to such a passage here. We're touching upon something here which is' probably a little bit more esoteric than what we've encountered so far; but at some point it should really pass before your meditative eye's. Sometimes things in this or that confession which have remained behind from the old mysteries shoot and spray like volcanic fires from below, I can't say like lightning flashes, because they come from above.
I have often. mentioned the pastoral letter of an archbishop which said no less than the following. The question was raised: who is greater, man or God? And although the language which was used was indirect, it nevertheless stated quite bluntly that priests are greater and more powerful than God, because when a priest — this doesn't apply to other people — stands at the altar he can force God to assume an earthly form, in the bread and wine. When a priest consecrates them and carries out a transubstantiation, the god must be present at the altar.
This is an explanation which goes far back to the ancient mystery culture, but it is also an explanation which is still common in esoteric Brahmanism in the orient today, to the extent that this is based on mystery knowledge. The idea that man is a being who includes the godhead is frequently used there, and this agrees with all mystery wisdom. Actually the idea is that man is higher than God. The Brahmanic priests from those times knew that they were the super-personal bearers of the Godhead, as it were, when their soul was in this mood.
This idea which shines in from the ancient mystery culture is a weighty one. But it is one of the things which every priest should meditate on at some point. However, it contradicts everything which has gradually arisen in the consciousness of Protestants. Protestants would say that this pastoral message is foolishness. We will come back to this letter in the course of our explanations of the Apocalypse. The idea here is just an exaggerated version of the idea which we encounter in the Apocalypse at the place I'm referring to.
John writes to the angels of the seven churches on orders from the gods or with divine inspiration. He is in such a state when he writes that he feels that he is the one who should give advice, warnings, a mission, etc. to the angels of the seven churches. What is the concrete idea here? To whom does one have to point when the angel of the Christian community in Ephesus or Sardis or Philadelphia is mentioned? Although people can't really understand this today, there were certain individuals at that time, whom we would call educated Christians, who understood what it means when one says that when a prophetic person like John was writing to the angels of the churches while he was in a particular soul mood, he was higher than an angel.
However, the people who understood this would not have been referring to something supersensible when they said “angel.” They knew that Christian communities had been founded and continued to exist. The writer of the Apocalypse directed his letters to future times, when what he has to say about each community will come to pass. He is definitely not speaking about present conditions. He is speaking about future conditions. But those who were conversant with traditional views from the ancient mysteries would have had to point to the leading bishops in the communities who were the recipients of the letters.
On the one hand they were quite aware that the real leader of the community is the supersensible angel. On the other hand, they would have pointed to the bishop or the canonical administrator of the community. For they had the idea that the ranking administrator of a church in Sardis or Ephesus or Philadelphia was the earthly vehicle of a supersensible, angelic being. So that as John writes he actually feels that he is taken hold of by a being who is higher than an angel. He writes to the bishops of the seven churches as people who are permeated by the leading angel of a community, and not just by their own guardian angel — for everyone has one of the latter.
Then he mentions what he wants to tell these churches. And he's definitely pointing to the future. We have to ask: Why were seven letters directed to seven communities? Of course, these seven communities represent the various nuances of heathenism and Judaism from which Christ proceeded. One had a much greater understanding for concrete things in those times than one did later. For instance, there was the church in Ephesus, which had once given birth to the great Ephesian mysteries, and people knew quite well that the latter pointed to the future appearance of Christ in a way that was customary and necessary. The cultic rituals in Ephesus were supposed to mediate between the sacrificing priest, his congregation and divine, spiritual powers, including the coming Christ. The heathen community and cult in Ephesus foretold the coming of Christianity and therefore they stood quite close to it.
This is why the letter to the angel of the Ephesian church refers to the seven candlesticks. The candlesticks are the churches. This is explicitly, stated in the Apocalypse. Precisely the community in Ephesus is and must be taken the way it stands there, for this is its true form. The indication is that the church in Ephesus was more actively involved with Christianity than the other churches, and that this was its first love. For we're told that it left its first love. The Apocalypticer wants to speak about this coming time in his letter. We can see from this warning letter to the church in Ephesus that the Apocalypticer thinks that he should describe the development of the various churches in connection with what the communities experienced in ancient times.
In fact, the individual churches under discussion here represent various nuances of heathen or Jewish peoples, and they had various cults, whereby they approached the divine worlds in different ways. The way each letter begins shows one that the Christianity in each of the communities developed out of heathen rites in a special way.
One should realize that the attitude of soul which people had in the early days of Christianity was quite different from that of present-day Europeans, although this doesn't apply to the Orient as much. However, our view of religious things in a conceptual context or content which one can describe in a logical way was still very foreign to the ancient mystery type of thinking in the first Christian centuries, very foreign indeed. They told themselves: the Christ is one of the manifestations of the mighty sun being. However, the church in Ephesus, the church in Sardis, in Thyatira, etc., must each strive towards him from its cult in its own special way; each one can approach this being in a way which has a particular nuance. And one can find indications everywhere that they acknowledged this. Just consider the following.
Take a church like the one in Ephesus, which had to replace the ancient and profound Ephesian mysteries; it must be different than, say, the church in Sardis. The church in Ephesus had a cult which was completely permeated by the presence of divine, spiritual substances in earthly life. A priest who walked around in Ephesus could have called himself a god just as well as he could call himself a human being. He knew that he was a bearer of a god. The entire religious consciousness in Ephesus was really anchored in theophany or in the visible manifestation of a god in a human being. Each priest in Ephesus represented a particular god. And it was even one of their special tasks to really bring this theophanic element or this physical presence of a god into people's souls.
Let's suppose that the living, human elaboration of Artemis or Diana the moon goddess walked around among the Ephesian priestesses as they celebrated their cultic rites. The priests expected their followers to see the goddess in the earthly, human manifestation, so that they made no distinction between the earthly phenomena and the goddess. The people in public processions and in other ancient events in the mysteries represented gods. Just as one must learn to have adequate concepts about things today, so one had to acquire mental images and feelings in one's soul in order to see the god in the male or female priests.
Hence it is not surprising that after the Apocalypticer took it into his head to speak in the language of the mysteries — as I mentioned before — he turned to the community in Ephesus, where this particular way of thinking, feeling and sensing things was developed most strongly. It was only natural for the community in Ephesus to look upon the seven candlesticks as the most important symbol of its cult. They represented the light which lives upon earth, which however is divine light.
The situation was quite different in a community like the one in Sardis. This church was the Christian continuation, of an ancient, astrological star worship, where one really knew how the movements of the stars and planets are connected with earthly affairs. Where everything which greater or lesser leaders commanded or which happened on earth was read from the stars. The church in Sardis had developed from a mystery culture which really considered the investigation of life secrets and life impulses in the starry skies at night to be important. Before one could speak of the community in Sardis as a Christian one, one had to speak of it as the one which clung to an ancient, dreamy state of clairvoyance the most, for the secrets of the nocturnal macrocosm were disclosed to this clairvoyance; The people, who preserved and made a tradition out of this dreamy clairvoyance didn't think that what the day gives is very important.
The differences between the solar services and teachings in Ephesus and Sardis are really quite interesting to the extent that one can really speak of ancient wisdom in connection with these two places. The sciences were not separated from the mysteries at that time, and what was taught at these centers went out to laymen. The solar teachings in Ephesus separated the five planets Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Mercury from the sun. and the moon. One set the sun — which we call a fixed star — apart in Ephesus: and one revered it from the time it rose to the time it set because one looked upon the sun as a principle which gives life.
This was not the case in Sardis. There one received its daily radiations rather indifferently, and one was mainly interested in what people in the ancient mysteries called the midnight sun. The nightly sun and the moon were considered to have the same value as the rest of the planets. The sun was really looked upon as a planet which was on an equal footing with the others. In Sardis one enumerated Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, sun moon. But in Ephesus they had Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Mercury on the one side, and the gods of the day and the night, sun and moon, which are closely connected with life on earth, on the other. That is the big difference. And all the cultic rites in Sardis were based on this.
Thus in these first Christian times an old heathen cult which was only oriented towards Christian principles lived on in the church in Ephesus, whereas an old heathen cult which was oriented towards the kind of astrology which I just mentioned lived on in Sardis. Therefore, it is only natural that the Apocalypticer writes of the one who speaks to the community in Sardis, that he has seven spirits and seven stars; now the featured thing is not the candle sticks which stand on the altar and the light which is connected with the earth, but what stands up there in the macrocosm.
You can see how deeply the writer of the Apocalypse is still involved with the ancient mystery culture if you answer the question: What does the writer of the Apocalypse reproach the community in Sardis with, or what does he tell them to watch out for? He mainly tells them that they should be watchful, and that they should make the transition to the diurnal sun from which Christ came.
One has to take what stands there in a literal sense and to really press forward to the original meaning. The writer of the Apocalypse was just about the last one to speak about and deal with religious life like this on a large scale. Before that Alexander the Great dealt with it in this way when he spread religious life in a model way, and so did all the other people who spread religions in ancient times. No one used dogmas to talk people into things. They let people keep their cults and convictions and they only added as much to them as could be assimilated.
For instance, Buddha's messengers went over to Babylonia and Egypt. After they had done their work there one could hardly distinguish the later time from the earlier one as far as the external cultic rites and the use of words went. But there was certainly a tremendous difference inwardly after they had poured in what the existing cults, sacrificial services and convictions could hold. Something similar occurred in European regions in ancient times. Spreaders of religions connected them with the existing ancient mystery culture, and they didn't try to overpower people with a lot of dogmas.
These are the kind of building blocks one needs in order to be able to read something like the Apocalypse correctly, and to avoid the absurd ideas which people have often come up with in connection with it. For instance, this tolerant addition to existing things led the writer of the Apocalypse to refer several times to “them which say they are Jews, and are not,” which is something that the members of these two communities were thinking in their hearts. This kind of thing has led some people to think that the Apocalypse is a Jewish document and not a Christian one. However, one has to understand how these things proceeded from the way people used to think in ancient times. We will have to go into some of these details more exactly later.
However, we will have to touch upon one of these ideas now. I'm referring to the following. The one who was inspired to write at that time knew that any given reality is only connected with a certain number of typical phenomena or types. Now just look at the wonderfully individual way in which the seven churches were described in the Apocalypse. It's really wonderful; they're all described in such a way that they're clearly distinguished from each other and they each have a special quality. But the writer of the Apocalypse knew that if one had described an eighth community, he would have been describing things which were similar to those which were connected with one of the others: and the same would apply to a ninth one. All of the possible things were already described in these seven nuances. This is something he was well aware of.
This is another wonderful idea which surfaces from the far distant past. I ran into it again recently in a very graphic way when we had our summer course in Torquay, England, and we drove out to where the castle of King Arthur and his twelve brothers once stood. One can still see how important this place was from the vital life that exists there. If one looks at these promontories which still have a few ruins from the old Arthurian castles on them, one sees a large hill in the middle with the ocean on either side. One sees that the ocean ensouls the region in a very peculiar way, for the view is continuously changing.
During the relatively short time we were there, sunshine and rain alternated rapidly with each other. Of course this was also the case in past times, and as a matter of fact, things have quieted down somewhat today in this respect, for the climate there has changed. Now one looks at this wonderful interplay of elemental light spirits, which relate to the water spirits that stream up from below. Other quite special spiritual phenomena exist there when the ocean surges onto the land and then wrests itself loose and is thrown back again, and when the ocean curls up. This is actually the only place on earth where one finds this peculiar living and weaving of elemental, world beings.
What I had the privilege of seeing there was the vehicle for the inspiration of the participants in Arthur's work. They received the impulses for what they did from what was said to them with the help of these ocean beings and air beings. Here again, one could only have twelve people. This struck me there at the time, because one can still perceive what this establishment of the number twelve is based on. When one has to do with world percepts which have been created by elemental beings in this way, one finds that there are twelve nuances or kinds of perception. However, if any one person wants to grasp all 12, they all become blurred. The knights at Arthur's round table arranged things in such a way that each of them grasped one of these 12 nuances. But they were convinced that this gave each of them a sharply differentiated feeling for the universe and for the tasks that it presented them. But there couldn't have been a thirteenth, for this would have had to be similar to one of the 12.
The idea which obviously underlies this is that if people want to share their tasks in the world, there must be 12 people. They form a whole and represent 12 nuances. Whereas if people confront each other in communities or communes one gets the number seven. People knew about these things in those days. The Apocalypticer still had this supersensible knowledge of numbers, and he gives us other indications of this in the Apocalypse. Today I only want to speak about the way one reads the Apocalypse. One of the things that he sees is the seat of Christ or the transfigured son of man, surrounded by 24 elders. Here we have a numerical nuancing which is based on 24. What does this quartoduodeca shading mean?
Communities have a nuancing which is based on 7 and incarnated human beings have a shading which is based on 12. However, we arrive at a different number when it's a question of looking upon man as a representative of human evolution in super-terrestrial life. There were leaders of mankind who had to disclose the things which are written into the world ether or Akashic record to men from one epoch to the next, to the extent that they were ready to receive them. If we take the successive, great revealers of evolving humanity, we can find what they had to give inscribed in supersensible regions.
One should really not just look for Moses's individuality, for instance, for the Moses as he was on earth and not even just in biblical documents as they were on earth, since these have already been entered into the Akashic record; one should look for the individuality who is sitting on Christ's seat. The eternal part of Moses's earth existence, his permanent sub specie aeterni is firmly engraved in the world ether and is sitting there. However only 24 such human activities can be chosen for eternity. For a 25th would be a repetition of one of the previous ones. This is something people knew in ancient times.
If people want to work together on earth, there must be 12 of them. If human communities want to work together there has to be 7. An eighth one would be a repetition of one of the others. However, if the essential and eternal natures of those people who have spiritualized themselves in the course of human evolution and who each represent one human stage, work together, there must be 24 of them. These are the 24 elders.
We have these 24 elders around Christ's seat like the synthesis of all human revelations, although some of these revelations have already become manifest and some of them have yet to come. However, we also have man as a whole before Christ's seat in contrast to the individual human stages. One could say that man as such, as one must understand him, is represented among the four beasts.
A grand Imagination stands before us here. The transfigured son of man in the center, the individual stages of humanity throughout the course of time in the 24 directors of the 24 hours of the great world day on the seat, and spread out over all of this, man himself, among the picture of the four beasts, who has to include all the individual stages. Something rather important becomes manifest here.
What happens before the gaze of the Apocalypticer, who gives God's message to the angels of the communities and therewith to all mankind? When the four beasts go into action, that is, as man discovers his relation to the godhead, the 24 directors of the 24 hours of the great world day fall down with their faces to the ground. Here they are worshipping the entire human being or man as something that is higher than the individual stages of humanity which they represent. One really saw this Imagination in very ancient times, and the Apocalypticer placed it before humanity; however, in those ancient times they said that the one who is sitting on the seat will come, whereas the Apocalypticer says: He who sits on the seat has already been here. However, we can only learn to read the Apocalypse correctly and this is what I wanted to speak about today if we can learn to read things by proceeding from the ancient mysteries. We will keep on trying to find our way into the Apocalypse. There are profound secrets in it which you shouldn't just become familiar with, for some of them are secrets which you should carry out, which you should do.
Diagram 1