Friday, April 30, 2021

The New Christianity. The Michael Mystery. Lecture 1 of 3


Karmic Relationships. Lecture 58 of 82

Rudolf Steiner, Arnheim, July 18, 1924:

The delay in arriving yesterday prevented me from speaking to you, as was my wish, about what has been happening in the Anthroposophical Society since the Christmas Foundation Meeting at the Goetheanum. As the purpose and intentions of that Meeting will have become known to friends through the News Sheet, I propose to speak briefly about the most important points only and then to continue with more intimate studies concerning the significance of this Christmas Foundation Meeting for the Anthroposophical Society.

The Christmas Meeting was intended to be a fundamental renewal, a new foundation of the Anthroposophical Society. Up to the time of the Christmas Foundation Meeting I was always able to make a distinction between the Anthroposophical Movement and the Anthroposophical Society. The latter represented as it were the earthly projection of something that exists in the spiritual worlds in a certain stream of the spiritual life. What was taught here on the Earth and communicated as anthroposophical wisdom — this was the reflection of the stream flowing in spiritual worlds through the present phase of the evolution of mankind. The Anthroposophical Society was then a kind of ‘administrative organ’ for the anthroposophical knowledge flowing through the Anthroposophical Movement.

As time went on, this did not turn out satisfactorily for the true cultivation of Anthroposophy. It therefore became necessary that I myself — until then I had taught Anthroposophy without having any official connection with the Anthroposophical Society — should take over, together with the Dornach Executive, the leadership of the Anthroposophical Society as such. The Anthroposophical Movement and the Anthroposophical Society have thereby become one. Since the Christmas Foundation Meeting in Dornach, the opposite of what went before must be recognised: no distinction is to be made henceforward between Anthroposophical Movement and Anthroposophical Society, for they are now identical. And those who stand by my side as the Executive at the Goetheanum are to be regarded as a kind of esoteric Executive. Thus what comes about through this Executive may be characterised as ‘Anthroposophy in deed and practice,’ whereas formerly it could only be a matter of the administration of the anthroposophical teachings.

This means, however, that the whole Anthroposophical Society must gradually be placed upon a new basis — a basis which makes it possible for esotericism to stream through the Society — and the essence of the Anthroposophical Society in the future will be constituted by the due response and attitude on the part of those who desire to be Anthroposophists. This will have to be understood in the General Anthroposophical Society which henceforward will be an entirely open Society — so that, as was announced at Christmas, the Lecture-Courses too will be available for everyone, prefixed by the clauses laying down a kind of spiritual boundary-line.

The prosperity and fruitful development of the anthroposophical cause will depend upon a true understanding of the esoteric trend which, from now onwards, will be implicit in the Anthroposophical Movement. Care will be taken to ensure that the Anthroposophical Society is kept free from bureaucratic and formal administrative measures and that the sole basis everywhere is the human element to be cultivated within the Society. Naturally, the Executive at the Goetheanum will have much to administer: but the administration will not be the essential. The essential will be that the Executive at the Goetheanum will act in this or that matter out of its own initiative. And what the Executive does, what in many ways it has already begun to do — that will form the content of the Anthroposophical Society.

Thereby a great many harmful tendencies that have arisen in the Society during recent years will be eliminated; difficulties will be in store for many Members, because all kinds of institutions, founded out of good-will, as the saying goes, did not prove equal to what they claimed to be and have really side-tracked the Anthroposophical Movement. Henceforward the Anthroposophical Movement will, in the human sense, be that which flows through the Anthroposophical Society.

The more deeply this is realised and understood the better it will be for the Anthroposophical Movement. And I am able to say the following. — Because that impulse prevailed among those who gathered at the Goetheanum at Christmas, it has been possible since then to introduce a quite different note into the Anthroposophical Movement. And to my deep satisfaction I have found heartfelt response to this in the different places I have so far been able to visit. It can be said that what was undertaken at Christmas was in a certain sense a hazard. For a certain eventuality existed: because the leadership of the Anthroposophical Society was now combined with the presentation of the spiritual teachings, those Powers in the spiritual world who lead the Anthroposophical Movement might have withdrawn their guiding hands. It may now be said that this did not happen, but that the contrary is true: these spiritual Powers are responding with an ever greater measure of grace, with even greater bounty, to what is streaming through the Anthroposophical Movement. In a certain sense a pledge has been made to the spiritual world. This pledge will be unswervingly fulfilled and it will be seen that in the future things will happen in accordance with it. And so not only in respect of the Anthroposophical Movement but also in respect of the Anthroposophical Society, responsibility is laid upon the Dornach Executive.

I have only spoken these few preliminary words in order to lead up to something that it is now possible to say and is of such a nature that it can become part of the content of the Anthroposophical Movement. I want to speak about something that has to do with the karma of the Anthroposophical Society itself.

When we think to-day of how the Anthroposophical Society exists in the world as the embodiment of the Anthroposophical Movement, we see a number of human beings coming together within the Anthroposophical Society. Any discerning person realises that there are also other human beings in the world — one finds them everywhere — whose karma predisposes them to come to the Anthroposophical Society but, to begin with, something holds them back, they do not immediately, and in the full sense, find their way into it — though eventually they will certainly do so, either in this or in the next incarnation. We must, however, bear the following in mind: Those human beings who through their karma come to the Anthroposophical Movement are predestined for this Movement.

Now everything that happens here in the physical world is foreshadowed in spiritual worlds. Nothing happens in the physical world that has not been prepared for spiritually, in the spiritual world. And this is the significant thing: What is coming to pass here on the Earth in the twentieth century as the gathering together of a number of human beings in the Anthroposophical Society, was prepared for during the first half of the nineteenth century when the souls of those human beings who are now in incarnation and are coming together in large numbers, were united in the spiritual realms before they descended into the physical world. In the spiritual worlds at that time a kind of cult or ritual was lived through by a number of souls who were working together — a cult which instigated those longings that have arisen in the souls of those who now, in their present incarnations, come to the Anthroposophical Society. And whoever has a gift for recognising such souls in their bodies, does indeed recognise them as having worked together with him in the first half of the nineteenth century, when, in the spiritual world, mighty, cosmic Imaginations were presented of what I will call the new Christianity. Up there — as in their bodies now — the souls were united in order to gather into themselves out of what I will call the Cosmic Substantiality and the Cosmic Forces, that which, in mighty pictures, was of cosmic significance. It was the prelude of what was to become anthroposophical teaching and practice here on the Earth. By far the majority of the Anthroposophists who now sit together with one another would be able, if they perceived this, to say: Yes, we know one another, we were together in spiritual worlds, and in a super-sensible cult we experienced mighty, cosmic Imaginations together!

All these souls had gathered together in the first half of the nineteenth century in order to prepare for what, on Earth, was to become the Anthroposophical Movement. In reality it was all a preparation for what I have often called the ‘stream of Michael,’ which appeared in the last third of the nineteenth century and is the most important of all spiritual intervention in the modern phase of human evolution. The Michael stream — to prepare the ways for Michael's earthly-heavenly working — such was the task of the souls who were together in the spiritual world.

These souls, however, were drawn together by experiences they had undergone through long, long ages — through centuries, nay, in many cases through thousands of years. And among them two main groups are to be distinguished. The one group experienced the form of Christianity which during the first centuries of the Christian era had spread in Southern Europe and also, to some extent, in Middle Europe. This Christianity continued to present to its believers a Christ conceived of as the mighty Divine Messenger who had come down from the Sun to the Earth in order thereafter to work among men. With greater or less understanding, Christ was thus pictured by the Christians of the first centuries as the mighty ‘Sun God.’

But throughout Christendom at this time the faculty of instinctive clairvoyance once possessed by men was fading away. Then they could no longer see in the Sun the great spiritual kingdom at whose centre the Christ once had His abode. The ancient clairvoyant perception of the descent of the Christ to the Earth became superseded by mere tradition — tradition that He had come down from the Sun to the Earth, uniting Himself with Jesus of Nazareth in the physical body. The majority of Christians now retained little more than the concept that once upon a time a Being had lived in Palestine — Christ Jesus — whose nature now began to be the subject of controversy. Had this Being been fully God? Or was He both God and Man and, if so, how was the Divinity related to the Humanity? These questions, with others arising from them, were the problems and the causes of strife in the Church Councils. Eventually the mass of the people had nothing left to them but the Decrees issued by Rome.

There were, however, among the Christians certain individuals who came more and more to be regarded as heretics. They still preserved as a living remembrance the tradition of the Christ as a Being of the Sun. To them, a Sun Being, by nature foreign to this Earth, was once incarnate. He descended to existence in this physical, material world. Until the seventh and eighth centuries these individuals found themselves placed in conditions which caused them to say: In what is now making its appearance in the guise of Christianity there is no longer any real understanding of the nature of the Christ! These “heretics” became, in effect, weary of Christianity. There were indeed such souls who in the early Christian centuries until the seventh and eighth centuries passed through the gate of death in a mood of weariness in regard to Christianity. Whether or not they had been in incarnation in the intervening period, the incarnation of importance for them was that which occurred in the early Christian centuries. Then, from the seventh and eighth centuries onwards, they were preparing in the spiritual world for that great and powerful action of which I told you when I said that in the first half of the nineteenth century a kind of cult took place in the super-sensible world. These individuals participated in this cult and they belong to the one group of souls who have found their way into the Anthroposophical Society.

The other group of souls had their last important incarnation in the latest pre-Christian — not the first Christian — centuries, and in the ancient Pagan Mysteries prior to Christianity they had still been able to gaze with clairvoyant vision into the spiritual world. They had learnt in these ancient Mysteries that the Christ would come down one day to the Earth. They did not live on Earth during the early centuries of Christianity but remained in the super-sensible worlds and only after the seventh century descended to incarnations of importance. These are souls who, as it were from the vantage-point of the super-sensible, witnessed the entry of the Christ into earthly culture and civilisation. They longed for Christianity. And at the same time they were resolute in a desire to work actively and vigorously to bring into the world a truly cosmic, truly spiritual form of Christianity.

These two groups united with the other souls in that super-sensible cult during the first half of the nineteenth century. It was like a great cosmic, spiritual festival, lasting for many decades as a spiritual happening in the world immediately bordering on the physical. There they were — the souls who then descended, having worked together in the super-sensible world to prepare for their next incarnation on the Earth, those who were weary of Christianity and those who were yearning for it. Towards the end of the nineteenth century they descended to incarnation and when they had arrived on Earth they were ready, having thus made preparation, to come into the Anthroposophical Society.

All this, as I have said, had been in course of preparation for many centuries. Here on the Earth, Christianity had developed in such a way that the Gospels had gradually come to be interpreted as if they spoke merely of some kind of abstract “heights” from which a Being — Jesus of Nazareth — came down to proclaim the Christ. Men had no longer any inkling of how the world of stars as the expression of the Spiritual is connected with the spiritual life; hence it was also impossible for them to understand what is signified by saying: Christ, as a divine Sun Hero, came down into Jesus in order that He might share the destiny of men. It is precisely those facts of most significance that escape the ordinary student of history. Above all, there is no understanding of those who are called “heretics.” Moreover, among the souls who came down to Earth as the twentieth century approached — the souls weary of Christianity and those longing for it — there is, for the most part, no self-recognition. The “heretic-souls” do not recognise themselves.

By the seventh and eighth centuries such traditions as had been kept alive by the heretics who had become weary of Christianity had largely disappeared. The knowledge was sustained in small circles only, where until the twelfth century — the middle of the Middle Ages — it was preserved and cultivated. These circles were composed of Teachers, divinely blessed Teachers, who still cultivated something of this ancient knowledge of spiritual Christianity, cosmological Christianity. There were some amongst them, too, who had directly received communications from the past and in them a kind of Inspiration arose; thus they were able to experience a reflection — whether strong or faint, a true image — of what in the first Christian centuries men had been able to behold under the influence of a mighty Inspiration of the descent of the Sun God leading to the Mystery of Golgotha.

And so two main streams were there. One, as we have seen, is the stream which derives directly from the heretical movements of the first Christian centuries. Those belonging to it were fired still by what had been alive in the Platonism of ancient Greece. So fired were they that when through the tidings emanating from ancient times their inner vision opened, they were always able, under the influence of a genuine, albeit faint Inspiration, to perceive the descent of the Christ to the Earth and to glimpse His work on the Earth. This was the Platonic stream.

For the other stream a different destiny was in store. To this stream belonged those souls above all who had their last important incarnation in the pre-Christian era and who had glimpsed Christianity as something ordained for the future. The task of this stream was to prepare the intellect for that epoch which had its beginning in the first half of the fifteenth century. This was to be the epoch when the human intellect would unfold — the epoch of the Spiritual Soul. It was prepared for by the Aristotelians, in contrast — but in harmonious contrast — to what the Platonists had accomplished. And those who propagated Aristotelian teachings until well into the twelfth century were souls who had passed through their last really important incarnation in ancient Pagan times, especially in the world of Greek culture. And then — in the middle of the Middle Ages, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries — there came about that great and wonderful spiritual understanding, if I may call it so, between the Platonists and the Aristotelians. And among these Platonists and Aristotelians were the leaders of those who as the two groups of souls I have described, advanced the Anthroposophical Movement.

By the twelfth century a certain School had come into being — as it were through inner necessity — a School in which the afterglow of the old Platonic seership lit up once again. It was the great and illustrious School of Chartres. In this School were great teachers to whom the mysteries of early Christianity were still known and in whose hearts and souls this knowledge kindled a vision of the spiritual foundation of Christianity. In the School of Chartres in France, where stands the magnificent Cathedral, built with such profusion of detail, there was a concentration, a gathering-together, as it were, of knowledge that only shortly before had been widely scattered, though confined to the small circles of which I have spoken. One of the men with whom the School was able to forge a living link was Peter of Compostella. He was able, with inspired understanding, to bring the ancient spiritual Christianity to life again within his own heart and soul. A whole succession of wonderful figures were teachers in Chartres. Truly remarkable voices spoke of Christianity in the School of Chartres in this twelfth century. There, for example, we find Bernard of ChartresBernardus SylvestrisJohn of Salisbury, but above all the great Alanus ab Insulis. Mighty teachers indeed! When they spoke in the School of Chartres it was as if Plato himself, interpreting Christianity, were working in person among them. They taught the spiritual content and substance of Christianity. The writings that have come down from them may seem full of abstractions to those who read them to-day. But that is due simply to the abstract trend that characterises modern thinking. The impulse of the Christ is implicit in all the descriptions of the spiritual world contained in the writings of these outstanding personalities. I will give you an idea of how Bernardus Sylvestris and Alanus ab Insulis, above all, taught their initiated pupils. Strange as it will seem to the modern mind, such revelations were indeed given at that time to the pupils of Chartres.

It was taught: New life will come to Christianity. Its spiritual content and essence will be understood once again when Kali Yuga, the Age of Darkness, has come to an end and the dawn of a new Age breaks. And with the year 1899 this has already come to pass for us who are living at the present time; this is the great and mighty change that was to come for humanity at the end of Kali Yuga, the mighty impulse given two decades previously through the advent of Michael. This was prophetically announced in the School of Chartres in the twelfth century, above all by Bernardus Sylvestris and Alanus ab Insulis. But these men did not teach in the Aristotelian way, they did not teach by way of the intellect. They gave their teachings entirely in the form of mighty, imaginative pictures — pictures whereby the spiritual content of Christianity became concretely real. But there were certain prophetic teachings; and I should like by means of a brief extract to give you an indication of one such teaching.

Alanus ab Insulis spoke to the following effect to a narrow circle of his initiated pupils: — ‘As we contemplate the universe to-day, we still regard the Earth as the centre, we judge everything from the Earth, as the centre. If the terrestrial conception which enables us to unfold our pictures and our imaginations... if this conception alone were to fertilise the coming centuries, progress would not be possible for mankind. We must come to an understanding with the Aristotelians who bring to humanity the intellect which must then be spiritualised so that in the twentieth century it may shine forth in a new and spiritual form among men. We, in our time, regard the Earth as the centre of the Cosmos, we speak of the planets circling around the Earth, we describe the whole heaven of stars as it presents itself to physical eyes as if it revolved around the Earth. But there will come one who will say: Let us place the Sun at the spatial centre of the cosmic system! But when he who will thus place the Sun at the centre of the spatial universe has come, the picture of the world will become arid. Men will only calculate the courses of the planets, will merely indicate the positions of the heavenly bodies, speaking of them as gases, or burning, luminous, physical bodies; they will know the starry heavens only in terms of mathematical and mechanical laws. But this arid picture of the world that will become widespread in the coming times, has, after all, one thing — meagre, it is true, yet it has it none the less. ... We look at the universe from the Earth; he who will come will look at the universe from the standpoint of the Sun. He will be like one who indicates a “direction” only — the direction leading towards a path of majestic splendour, fraught with most wonderful happenings and peopled by glorious Beings. But he will give the direction through abstract concepts only.’ (Thereby the Copernican picture of the world was indicated, arid and abstract yet giving the direction...) ‘For,’ said Alanus ab Insulis, ‘everything we present through the Imaginations that come to us must pass away; it must pass away and the picture men now have of the world must become altogether abstract, hardly more than a pointer along a path strewn with wonderful memorials. For then, in the spiritual world, there will be One who will use this pointer — which for the purposes of world-renewal is nothing more than a means of directive — in order that, together with the prevailing intellectualism, he may then lay the foundations of the new spirituality ... there will be One who will have this pointer as his only tool. This One will be St. Michael! For Him the ground must be made free; he must sow the path with new seed. And to that end, nothing but lines must remain — mathematical lines!’

A kind of magic breathed through the School of Chartres when Alanus ab Insulis was giving such teachings to a few of his chosen pupils. It was as if the ether-world all around were set astir by the surging waves of this mighty Michael teaching.

And so a spiritual atmosphere was imparted to the world. It spread across Western Europe, down into Southern Italy, where there were many who were able to receive it into themselves. In their souls something arose like a mighty Inspiration, enabling them to gaze into the spiritual world.

But in the evolution of the world it is so that those who are initiated into the great secrets of existence — as to a certain degree were Alanus ab Insulis and Bernardus Sylvestris — such men know that it is only possible to achieve this or that particular aim to a limited extent. A man like Alanus ab Insulis said to himself: We, the Platonists, must go through the gate of death; for the present we can live only in the spiritual world. We must look down from the spiritual world, leaving the physical world to those others whose task it is to cultivate the intellect in the Aristotelian way. The time has come now for the cultivation of the intellect. Late in his life Alanus ab Insulis put on the habit of the Cistercian Order; he became a Cistercian. And in the Cistercian Order many of these Platonic teachings were contained. Those among the Cistercians who possessed the deeper knowledge said to themselves: Henceforward we can work only from the spiritual world; the field must be relinquished to the Aristotelians.

These Aristotelians were, for the most part, in the Order of the Dominicans. And so in the thirteenth century the leadership of the spiritual life in Europe passed over to them.

But a heritage remained from men such as Peter of Compostella, Alanus ab Insulis, Bernard of Chartres, John of Salisbury and that poet who from the School of Chartres wrote a remarkable poem on the Seven Liberal Arts. It took significant hold of the spiritual life of Europe. What had come into being in the School of Chartres was so potent that it found its way, for example, to the University of Orleans. There, in the second half of the twelfth century, a great deal penetrated in the form of teaching from what had streamed to the pupils of Chartres through mighty pictures and words — words as it were of silver — from the lips of Bernardus Sylvestris, of Alanus ab Insulis.

The spiritual atmosphere was so charged with this influence from Chartres that the following incident happened. — While a man, returning to Italy from his ambassadorial post in Spain, was hastening homeward, he received news of the overthrow of the Guelphs in Florence, and at the same time suffered a slight sunstroke. In this condition his etheric body loosened and gathered in what was still echoing through the ether from the School of Chartres. And through what was thus wafted to him in the ether, something like an Intuition came to him — an Intuition such as had come to many human beings in the early Christian centuries. First he saw outspread before him the earthly world as it surrounds mankind, ruled over, not by ‘laws of Nature,’ as the saying went in later times — but by the great handmaiden of the Divine Demiurgos, by Natura, who in the first Christian centuries was the successor of Proserpine. In those days men did not speak of abstract laws of Nature; to the gaze of the Initiates, Being was implicit in what worked in Nature as an all-embracing, divine Power. Proserpine, who divides her time between the upper and the lower worlds, was presented in the Greek Mysteries as the power ruling over Nature. Her successor in the early Christian centuries was the Goddess Natura.

While under the influence of the sunstroke and of what came to him from the School of Chartres, this personality had gazed into the weaving life of the Goddess Natura, and, allowing this Intuition to impress him still more deeply, he beheld the working of the Elements — Earth, Water, Air, Fire — as this was once revealed in the ancient Mysteries; he beheld the majestic weaving of the Elements. Then he beheld the mysteries of the soul of man, he beheld those seven Powers of whom it was known that they are the great celestial Instructors of the human race. — This was known in the early Christian centuries. In those times men did not speak, as they do to-day, of abstract teachings, where something is imparted by way of concepts and ideas. In the first Christian centuries men spoke of being instructed from the spiritual world by the Goddesses Dialectica, Rhetorica, Grammatica, Arithmetica, Geometria, Astrologia or Astronomia, and Musica. These Seven were not the abstract conceptions which they have become today; men gazed upon them, saw them before their eyes — I cannot say in bodily reality but as Beings of soul — and allowed themselves to be instructed by these heavenly figures. Later on they no longer appeared to men in the solitude of vision as the living Goddesses Dialectica, Rhetorica and the rest, but in abstract forms, in abstract, theoretic doctrines.

The personality of whom I am now speaking allowed all that I have related to work upon him. And he was led then into the planetary world, wherein the mysteries of the soul of man are unveiled. Then in the world of stars, having traversed the “Great Cosmic Ocean,” he was led by Ovid, who after he had passed through the gate of death had become the guide and leader of souls in the spiritual world. This personality, who was Brunetto Latini, became the teacher of Dante. What Dante learned from Brunetto Latini he then wrote down in his poem the Divina Commedia. And so that mighty poem is a last reflection of what lived on here and there as Platonism. It had flowed from the lips of Sylvestris at the School of Chartres in the twelfth century and was still taught by those who had been so inwardly fired by the old traditions that the secrets of Christianity rose up within them as Inspirations which they were then able to communicate to their pupils through the word.

The influence of Alanus ab Insulis, brought into the Cistercian Order, passed over to the Dominicans. Then to the Dominicans fell the paramount task: the cultivation of the intellect in the Aristotelian sense. But there was an intervening period: the School of Chartres had been at its prime in the twelfth century — and in the thirteenth century, in the Dominican Order, the intensive development of Aristotelian Scholasticism began. The great teachers in the School of Chartres had passed through the gate of death into the spiritual world and were together for a time with the Dominicans who were beginning to come down through birth and who, after they had descended, established Aristotelianism on the Earth. We must therefore think of an intervening period, when, as it were in a great heavenly Council, the last of the great teachers of Chartres after they had passed through the gate of death were together with those who, as Dominicans, were to cultivate Aristotelianism — were together with them before these latter souls came down to Earth. There, in the spiritual world, the great “heavenly contract” was made. Those who under the leadership of Alanus ab Insulis had arrived in the spiritual world said to the Aristotelians who were about to descend: It is not the time now for us to be on the Earth; for the present we must work from here, from the spiritual world. In the near future it will not be possible for us to incarnate on the Earth. It is now your task to cultivate the intellect in the dawning epoch of the Spiritual Soul. —

Then the great Schoolmen came down and carried out the agreement that had been reached between them and the last great Platonists of the School of Chartres. One, for example, who had been among the earliest to descend received a message through another who had remained with Alanus ab Insulis in the spiritual world for a longer time than he — that is to say, the younger man had remained longer with the spiritual Individuality who had borne the name ‘Alanus ab Insulis.’ The younger one who came down later worked together with the older man to whom he conveyed the message and thus within the Dominican Order began the preparation for the Age of Intellectualism. The one who had remained somewhat longer in the spiritual world with Alanus ab Insulis first put on the habit of the Cistercian Order, exchanging it only later for that of the Dominican. And so those who had once lived under the influence of what came into the world with Aristotle, were now working on the Earth, and up above, keeping watch, but in living connection with the Aristotelians working on the Earth, were the Platonists who had been in the School of Chartres. The spiritual world and the physical world went hand in hand. Through the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries it was as though Aristotelians and Platonists were stretching out their hands to one another. And then, as time went on, many of those who had come down in order to introduce Aristotelianism into Europe were in the spiritual world with the others once again.

But the further course of evolution was such that the former leaders in the School of Chartres, together with those who held the leading positions in the Dominican Order, placed themselves at the head of those who in the first half of the nineteenth century, in that mighty super-sensible cult enacted in the pictures already indicated, made preparation for the later anthroposophical stream. In the nature of things, the first to come down again were those who had worked more or less as Aristotelians; for under the influence of intellectualism the time for a new deepening of spirituality had not yet come. But there was an unbreakable agreement which still works on. In accordance with this agreement there must go forth from the Anthroposophical Movement something that must find its culmination before this century has run its course. For over the Anthroposophical Society a destiny hovers: many of those in the Anthroposophical Society to-day will have to come down again to the Earth before, and at the end of, the twentieth century, but united, then, with those who were either the actual leaders in the School of Chartres or were pupils at Chartres. And so, if civilisation is not to fall into utter decadence, before the end of the twentieth century the Platonists of Chartres and the Aristotelians who came later will have to be working together on the Earth.

In the future, the Anthroposophical Society must learn to understand, with full consciousness, something of its karma. For a great deal that is unable to come to birth — above all at the present time — is waiting in the womb of the spiritual evolution of mankind. Also, very many things to-day assume an entirely different form; but if one can discern the symptoms, the inner meaning of what is thus externalised becomes evident and the veils are drawn aside from much that continues to live spiritually through the centuries. At this point I may perhaps give a certain indication. Why, indeed, should it not be given, now that the esoteric impulse is to flow through the Anthroposophical Society? — I should like to speak of something that will show you how observation of surrounding circumstances opens up a vista into manifold connections.

When I myself, in preparing for the Anthroposophical Movement, was led along a particular path of destiny, this showed itself in a strange connection with the Cistercian Order, which is closely connected, in its turn, with Alanus ab Insulis. [Let me say here, for those who like to weave legends, that I, in respect of my own individuality, am in no way to be identified with Alanus ab Insulis. I only want to prevent legends arising from what I am putting before you in an esoteric way. The essential point is that these things stem from esoteric sources.] In an altogether remarkable way my destiny allowed me to discern through the external circumstances, such spiritual connections as I have now described. Perhaps some of you know the articles in the Goetheanum Weekly entitled, Mein Lebensgang (The Course of My Life). I have spoken there of how in my youth I was sent, not to a Gymnasium, but to a Real Schule, and only later acquired the classical education given in the Gymnasia. I can only regard this as a remarkable dispensation of my karma. For in the town where I spent my youth the Gymnasium was only a few steps away from the Real Schule and it was by a hair's breadth that I went, not to the Gymnasium but to the Real Schule. If, however, at that time I had gone to the Gymnasium in the town, I should have become a priest in the Cistercian Order. Of that there is no doubt whatever. For at this Gymnasium all the teachers were Cistercians. I was deeply attracted to all these priests, many of whom were extremely learned men. I read a great deal that they wrote and was profoundly stirred by it. I loved these priests and the only reason why I passed the Cistercian Order by was because I did not attend the Gymnasium. Karma led me elsewhere ... but for all that I did not escape the Cistercian Order. I have spoken of this too in my autobiography. I was always of a sociable disposition, and in my autobiography I have written of how, later on, in the house of Marie Eugenie della Grazie in Vienna, I came into contact with practically every theologian in the city. Nearly all of them were Cistercian priests. And in this way a vista opened out, inducing one to go back in time ... for me personally it came very naturally ... a vista leading through the stream of the Cistercian Order back to the School of Chartres. For Alanus ab Insulis had been a Cistercian. And strange to say, when, later on, I was writing my first Mystery Play, The Portal of Initiation, I simply could not, for reasons of aesthetic necessity, do otherwise than clothe the female characters on the stage in a costume consisting of a long tunic and what is called a stole. If you picture such a garment — a yellowish-white tunic with a black stole and black girdle — there you have the robe of the Cistercian Order. I was thinking at the time only of aesthetic necessities, but this robe of the Cistercian Order came very naturally before me. There you have one indication of how connections unfold before those who are able to perceive the inner, spiritual significance of symptoms appearing in the external world.

A beginning was made at Christmas more and more to draw aside the veils from these inner connections. They must be brought to light, for mankind is waiting for knowledge of inner reality, having for centuries experienced only that of the outer, material world, and civilisation to-day is in a terrible position. Among the many indications still to be given, we shall, on the one side, have to speak of the work of the School of Chartres, of how Initiates in this School passed through the gate of death and encountered in the spiritual world those souls who later wore the robe of the Dominicans in order to spread Aristotelianism with its intellectuality and to prepare with vigour and energy the epoch of the Spiritual (or Consciousness) Soul. And so — let me put it in this way — in the Anthroposophical Society we have Aristotelianism working on, but in a spiritualised form, and awaiting its further spiritualisation. Then, at the end of the century many of those who are here to-day, will return, but they will be united, then, with those who were the teachers in the School of Chartres. The aim of the Anthroposophical Society is to unite the two elements. The one element is the Aristotelianism in the souls who were for the most part connected with the old Pagan wisdom, who were waiting for Christianity and who retained this longing until, as Dominicans, they were able through the activity of the intellect to promulgate Christianity. They will be united with souls who had actually experienced Christianity in the physical world and whose greatest teachers gathered together in the School of Chartres. Up to now, these teachers of Chartres have not incarnated, although in my contact with the Cistercian Order I was able again and again to come across incorporations of many of those who were in the School of Chartres. In the Cistercian Order one met many a personality who was not a reincarnation of a pupil of Chartres but in whose life there were periods when — for hours, for days — he was inspired by some such Individuality from the School of Chartres. It was a matter, in these cases, of incorporation, not incarnation. And wonderful things were written, of which one could only ask: who is the actual author? The author was not the monk who in the Cistercian Order at that time wore the yellowish-white robe with the black stole and girdle, but the real author was the personality who for hours, days or weeks had come down into the soul of one of these Cistercian Brothers. Much of this influence worked on in essays or writings little known in literature. — I myself once had a remarkable conversation with a Cistercian who was an extremely learned man. I have mentioned it, too, in The Course of My Life. We were going away from a gathering, and speaking about the Christ problem. I propounded my ideas which were the same, essentially, as those I give in my lectures. He became uneasy while I was speaking, and said: ‘We may possibly hit upon something of the kind; we shall not allow ourselves to think such things.’ He spoke in similar terms about other problems of Christology. But then we stopped for a short time — the moment stands most vividly before me — it was where the Schottenring and the Burgring meet in Vienna, on the one side the Hofburg and on the other the Hotel de France and the Votiv-Kirche ... we stopped for a minute or two and the man said: “I should like you to come with me. I will give you a book from my library in which something remarkable is said on the subject you have been speaking about.” I went with him and he gave me a book about the Druses. The whole circumstances of our conversation in connection with the perusal of this book led me to the knowledge that when, having started from Christology, I went on to speak of repeated earthly lives, this deeply learned man was, as it were, emptied mentally in a strange way, and when he came to himself again remembered only that he possessed a book about the Druses in which something was said about reincarnation. He knew about it only from this one book. He was a Hofrat (Councillor) at the University of Vienna and was so erudite that it was said of him: “Hofrat N. knows the whole world and three villages besides.” ... so great was his learning — but in his bodily existence he knew only that in a book about the Druses something was said about repeated earthly lives. This is an example of the difference between what men have in their subconsciousness and what flows as the spiritual world through their souls. — And then a noteworthy episode occurred. I was once giving a lecture in Vienna. The same person was there and after the lecture he made a remark which could only be interpreted in the sense that at this moment he had complete understanding of a certain man belonging to the present age and of the relation of this man to his earlier incarnation. And what the person said on that occasion about the connection between two earthly lives, was correct, was not false. But through his intellect he understood nothing; it simply came from his lips.

By this I want only to indicate how spiritual movements reach into the immediate present. But what to-day shines in as it were through many tiny windows must in the future become a unity through that connection between the leaders of the School of Chartres and the leading spirits of Scholasticism, when the spiritual revival whereby intellectualism itself is lifted to the Spirit, sets in at the end of the twentieth century. To make this possible, let human beings of the twentieth century not throw away their opportunities! But everything to-day depends upon free will, and whether the two allied groups will be able to descend for the re-spiritualisation of culture in the twentieth century — this depends very specially upon whether the Anthroposophical Society understands how to cultivate Anthroposophy with the right devotion.

So much for to-day. — We have heard of the connection of the anthroposophical stream with the deep mystery of the epoch which began with the manifestation of the Christ in the Mystery of Golgotha and has developed in the way I have described. More will be said in the second lecture.

Source: Karmic Relationships, July 13, 1924

"I am the light of the world"


I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”  — John 8:12

Rudolf Steiner: 

Of all these Archangels, the number of whom is seven, six have to a very considerable extent (not entirely — Gabriel most of all — but even he not altogether) — six, as I said, have to a very considerable extent resigned themselves to the fact that man is faced with Maya, with the great illusion, because, in his quality which no longer accords with his original pre-destination, he has in fact descended from his first stature. Michael alone, Michael is the only one (I say again, I am forced to use banal expressions) Michael is the only one who would not give in. Michael  and with him those who are the Michael spirits even among men  continues to take this stand: I am the Ruler of the Intelligence. And the Intelligence must be so ruled that there shall not enter into it any illusion nor false fantasy, nor anything that would restrict the human being to a dark and vague and cloudy vision of the world.

My dear friends: to see how Michael stands there as the greatest stalwart in the ranks of the Archangels is an unspeakably uplifting sight — overpowering, magnificent! And every time a Michael Age returned, it happened upon Earth too that Intelligence as a means to knowledge became not only cosmopolitan, as I have already said, but became such that men were filled through and through with the consciousness: We can after all ascend to the Divinity.

Source: August 1, 1924

Original Sin and the Yoga of the Archangel Michael: Reading the Book of Nature


Karmic Relationships. Lecture 62 of 82

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, August 1, 1924:

We shall now have to describe how the individual anthroposophist can come to experience his karma through the simple fact that he has placed himself into the Anthroposophical Society, or at any rate into the Anthroposophical Movement, through all the previous conditions of which we have already spoken. To this end it will be necessary for me to add a few explanations to what I set forth last Monday. I told you of the deeply important super-sensible School at the beginning of the 15th century. To characterise it we can say: Michael himself was the great Teacher in that School. Numbers of souls, human souls who were then in the life between death and a new birth, and numbers too of spiritual beings who do not have to enter earthly incarnation, but spend the aeons, during which we live, in an ethereal or other higher form of higher existence, — all these human, super-human and sub-human beings, belonged at that time to the all-embracing School of the Michael Power. They were, so to speak, disciples of Michael. And you will remember, last Monday I told you a little of the content of the teaching given at that time.

Today we will begin by emphasising this one point: the previous Michael dominion, having lasted three centuries and finding its culmination in the Alexandrian epoch of pre-Christian time, was withdrawn from the earth, and the dominions of the other Archangeloi followed. At the time when on earth, within the earthly realm, the Mystery of Golgotha took place, the Michael community were united in the Spirit, with all the spiritual and human-spiritual beings who belonged to them. How did they feel and perceive the Mystery of Golgotha? Christ at that time was taking His departure from their realm — the realm of the Sun. Such was their experience; while the human beings who were then living upon earth had to experience the Mystery of Golgotha quite differently. For Christ was coming down to them to the earth.

Now this is an immense, far-reaching and gigantic contrast in experience, as between the one kind of human soul and the other, — a contrast which we need to penetrate and understand with all our heart and mind.

Then there began the time when the Cosmic Intelligence, that is to say, the essence of Intelligence that is spread out over the great universe, which had been subject to the unlimited rulership of Michael until the end of the Alexandrian epoch, gradually passed into the possession of man on earth and fell, so to speak, out of the hands of Michael.

You must realise, my dear friends: the evolution of mankind with respect to these things took place as follows. Till the end of the Alexandrian time, nay even afterwards, — and for certain groups of human beings long, long afterwards, — when a man was intelligent there was always the consciousness, not that he had evolved the Intelligence within him, but that he was gifted with it from the spiritual worlds. If a man thought a clever thought, the cleverness of it was ascribed to the inspiration of spiritual Beings. It is indeed of fairly recent date that man ascribes his cleverness, his intelligence, to himself. This is due to the fact that the rulership of Intelligence has passed from the hands of Michael into the hands of men. When Michael at the end of the eighteen-seventies again assumed his regency in the guidance of earthly destinies, he found the Cosmic Intelligence, which had fallen away from him entirely since the 8th or 9th century A.D., — he found it again in the realm of mankind below.

Thus it was in the last third of the 19th century, when the Gabriel dominion was over and the Michael dominion began to spread. It was as though Michael, coming to the intelligent human beings, arrived at a point where he could say: Here do I find again that which has fallen away from me, which I administered in times long past.

Now in the Middle Ages there was a great conflict between the leading men of the Dominican Order and those who, in a continuation of Asiatic Alexandrianism, had found their way over into Spain, — Averroes, for example. What was the substance of this conflict? Averroes and those on his side — the Mohammedan followers of Aristotelian learning — said: “Intelligence is universal, common to all.” They only spoke of a pan-Intelligence, not of an individual human Intelligence. To Averroes the individual human Intelligence was but a kind of mirrored reflection in the single human head. In its reality it had only a general, universal existence.

I will draw a mirror, thus (drawing on the blackboard). I might equally well have drawn a mirror not with nine parts only, but with hundreds, thousands and millions. Over against it is an object which will be reflected. So it was for Averroes, who was attacked so vigorously by Thomas Aquinas. For Averroes — in the tradition of the old Michael epoch — Intelligence was pan-Intelligence, one Intelligence and one only, which the several human heads reflected. As soon as the human head ceases to work, the individual Intelligence is no more. Now was this really true?

The fact is this. That which Averroes conceived had been true till the end of the Alexandrian age. It was simply a cosmic and human fact until the end of that age. But Averroes held fast to it while the Dominicans received into themselves the evolution of mankind. They said, “It is not so.” They might of course have said, “It was so once, but it is not so today.” But they did not say this. They simply took the actual and true condition at that time (the 13th century) which became even more so in the 14th and 15th centuries. They said: “Now everyone has his own intellect, his own intelligence.”

This was what really happened, and to bring these matters to full clearness of understanding was the very task of the super-sensible School of which I spoke last Monday. It was repeated in that School again and again in many metamorphoses, inasmuch as the character of the ancient Mysteries was again and again described. Wonderfully clearly and visibly, not in super-sensible Imaginations, (these only came at the beginning of the 19th century) but in super-sensible Inspirations, there was described what I have often been able to give here in a reflected radiance — the essence of the ancient Mysteries.

Then too they pointed to the future, to what was to become the new life of the Mysteries. They pointed to all that was to come, though not in the way of the old Mysteries which had come to human beings who did not yet possess Intelligence on earth, and who, accordingly, still had a dream-like experience of super-sensible worlds. They pointed to that new life of the Mysteries which we must now begin to understand in the realm of Anthroposophy, and which is absolutely compatible with the full Intelligence of man — the clear, light-filled Intelligence.

Let us now enter a little into the more intimate details of the teachings of that super-sensible School. For they led to a knowledge of something, of which only a kind of shadowy reflection has existed in the world-conceptions of men upon the earth since the old Hebrew time and in the Christian era. It exists, to this day (when a far deeper insight ought already to prevail) in the large majority of men only as a dim reflection out of old traditions. I mean the teaching about Sin, about the sinful human being, the teaching about man, who at the beginning of human evolution was predestined not to descend so deeply into the material realm as he has actually descended.

We can still find a good version of this teaching in St. Martin, the ‘Unknown Philosopher.’ He still did teach his pupils that originally, before human evolution on the earth began, man stood upon a certain height from which he then sank down through a primeval Sin which St. Martin describes as the Cosmic Adultery. By a primeval Sin man descended to that estate in which he finds himself today.

St. Martin here points to something that was inherently contained in the doctrine of Sin during the whole of human evolution, I mean, the idea that man does not stand at that high level at which he could be standing. All teachings about inherited Sin were justly connected with this idea, that man has descended from the height which originally was his.

Now by following this idea to its conclusion, a world-conception of a very definite shade or colouring had gradually been evolved. This kind of world-conception said in effect: Man has become sinful (and to become sinful means to fall from one's original height). And since man has in fact become sinful, he cannot see the world as he would have been able to see it in his sinless condition before the Fall. Man, therefore, sees the world darkly and dimly. He sees it not in its true form. He sees it with many illusions and false fantasies. Above all, he sees what he sees in outer Nature, not as it really is or with its true spiritual background. He sees it in a material form which is not there in reality at all. Such was the meaning of the saying: Man is sinful. Such was its meaning in ancient time and — in the traditions — frequently even to this day. Thus upon earth too, those who had kept the tradition of the Mysteries continued to teach: Man cannot perceive the world, he cannot feel in the world, he cannot act in the world as he would think and feel and act if he had not become sinful, — if he had not descended from the height for which his Gods originally predestined him.

Now we may turn our gaze to all the leading Spirits in the kingdom of Archangeloi who follow one another in earthly rule, so that this earthly dominion is exercised by the several Archangeloi in turn through successive periods of three to three-and-a-half centuries. In the last three or four centuries it has been the dominion of Gabriel. Now it will be that of Michael, for three hundred years to come. Let us turn our gaze therefore to the whole series of these Archangel Beings: Gabriel, Raphael, Zachariel, Anael, Oriphiel, Samael, Michael. As we look to all these Beings, we can characterise the relation that exists between them and the loftier Spirits of the Hierarchies, somewhat as follows.

I beg you not to take these words lightly or easily. We have but human words to express these sublime realities. Simple as the words may sound, they are not lightly meant. Of all these Angels, the number of whom is seven, six have to a very considerable extent (not entirely — Gabriel most of all — but even he not altogether) — six, as I said, have to a very considerable extent resigned themselves to the fact that man is faced with Maya, with the great illusion, because, in his quality which no longer accords with his original pre-destination, he has in fact descended from his first stature. Michael alone, Michael is the only one (I say again, I am forced to use banal expressions) Michael is the only one who would not give in. Michael, and with him those who are the Michael spirits even among men, continues to take this stand: I am the Ruler of the Intelligence. And the Intelligence must be so ruled that there shall not enter into it any illusion nor false fantasy, nor anything that would restrict the human being to a dark and vague and cloudy vision of the world.

My dear friends: to see how Michael stands there as the greatest opponent in the ranks of the Archangels, is an unspeakably uplifting sight, — overpowering, magnificent. And every time a Michael Age returned, it happened upon earth too that Intelligence as a means to knowledge became not only cosmopolitan as I have already said, but became such that men were filled through and through with the consciousness: We can after all ascend to the Divinity.

This consciousness: “We can after all ascend to the Divine,” played an immense part at the end of the last Michael Age, the Michael Age before our own. Starting from ancient Greece, the places of the ancient Mysteries everywhere were in a state of discouragement; an atmosphere of discouragement had come over them all. Discouraged were those who lived on in Southern Italy and Sicily. The successors of the ancient Pythagorean School of the sixth pre-Christian century had been well-nigh extinguished. They were filled with discouragement.

Once again, those who were initiated in the Pythagorean Mysteries saw how much illusion, illusion of materialism, was spreading over the whole world.

Discouraged too were those who were the daughters and sons of ancient Egyptian Mysteries. Oh, these Egyptian Mysteries! It was only like the slag from wonderful old veins of precious metal, when they still handed down the deep old teachings, such as were expressed in the legend of Osiris, or in the worship of Serapis. And where were those mighty and courageous ascents to the spiritual world that had taken their start, for example, from the Mysteries of Diana at Ephesus? Even the Samothracian Mysteries, the wisdom of the Kabiri, could now only be deciphered by individuals who bore deep within them the impulse of greatness to soar upward with might and main. By such souls alone could the clouds of smoke that ascended from Axieros, etc., from the Kabiri, be deciphered.

Discouragement everywhere! Everywhere a feeling of what they sought to overcome in the ancient Mysteries as they turned to the secret of the Sun Mystery, which is in truth the secret of Michael. Everywhere a feeling: Man cannot, he is unable.

This Michael Age was an age of great trial and probation. Plato, after all, was but a kind of watery extract of the ancient Mysteries. The most intellectual element of this extract was then extracted again in Aristotelianism, and Alexander took it on his shoulders.

This was the word of Michael at that time: Man must reach the Pan-Intelligence, he must take hold of the Divine upon earth in sinless form. From the centre of Alexandria the best that has been achieved must be spread far and wide in all directions, through all the places of the Mysteries, discouraged as they are. This was the impulse of Michael. This is indeed the relation of Michael to the other Archangeloi. He has protested most strongly against the Fall of man.

This too was the most important content of his teaching, the teaching with which he instructed his own in the super-sensible School of which I spoke last Monday. It was as follows: Now that the Intelligence will be down among men upon the earth, having fallen from the lap of Michael and from his hosts, — now in this new Age of Michael, men will have to become aware of the way of their salvation. They must not allow their Intelligence to be overcome by sinfulness; rather must they use this age of Intelligence to ascend to the spiritual life in purity of Intelligence, free from all illusion.

Such is the mood and feeling on the side of Michael as against the side of Ahriman. On Monday last I characterised this great contrast. Already the very strongest efforts are being made by Ahriman, and more still will be made in the future — the strongest efforts to acquire the Intelligence that has come into the hands of men. For if men once became possessed by Ahriman, Ahriman himself, in human heads, would be possessing the Intelligence.

My dear friends, we must learn to know this Ahriman, these hosts of Ahriman. It is not enough to find the name of Ahriman contemptible or to give the name of Ahriman to so many beings whom one despises. That is of no avail. The point is that in Ahriman there stands before us a cosmic Being of the highest imaginable Intelligence, a cosmic Being who has already taken the Intelligence entirely into the individual, personal element. In every conceivable direction Ahriman is in the highest degree intelligent, over-intelligent. He has at his command a dazzling Intelligence, proceeding from the whole human being, with the single exception of the part of the human being which in the human forehead takes on a human form.

To reproduce Ahriman in human Imaginations we should have to give him a receding forehead, a frivolously cynical expression, for in him everything comes out of the lower forces, and yet from these lower forces the highest Intelligence proceeds. If ever we let ourselves in for a discussion with Ahriman, we should inevitably be shattered by the logical conclusiveness, the magnificent certainty of aim with which he manipulates his arguments. The really decisive question for the world of men, in the opinion of Ahriman, is this: Will cleverness or stupidity prevail? And Ahriman calls stupidity everything that does not contain Intelligence within it in full personal individuality. Every Ahriman-being is over-endowed with personal Intelligence in the way I have now described; critical to a degree in the repudiation of all things unlogical; scornful and contemptuous in thought.

When we have Ahriman before us in this way, then too we shall feel the great contrast between Ahriman and Michael. For Michael is not in the least concerned with the personal quality of Intelligence. It is only for man that the temptation is ever-present to make his Intelligence personal after the pattern of Ahriman. Truth to tell, Ahriman has a most contemptuous judgment of Michael. He thinks Michael foolish and stupid, — stupid, needless to say, in relation to himself. For Michael does not wish to seize the Intelligence and make it personally his own. Michael only wills, and has willed through the thousands of years, nay through the aeons, to administer the Pan-Intelligence. And now once more, now that men have the Intelligence, it should again be administered by Michael as something belonging to all mankind — as the common and universal Intelligence that benefits all men alike.

We human beings shall indeed do rightly, my dear friends, if we say to ourselves: the idea that we can have cleverness for ourselves alone is foolish. Certainly we cannot be clever for ourselves alone. For if we want to prove anything to another person logically, the first thing we must presume is that the same logic holds good for him as for ourselves. And for a third party again it is the same logic. If anyone were able to have a logic of his own it would be absurd for us to want to prove anything to him by our logic. This after all is easy to realise; but it is essential in the present age of Michael for this realisation also to enter into our deepest feelings.

Thus behind the scenes of existence is raging the battle of Michael against all that is of Ahriman. And this, as I said last Monday, is among the tasks of the anthroposophist. ... He must have a feeling for the fact that these things are so at the present time. He must feel that the cosmos is as it were in the very midst of the battle.

You see, this battle was already there in the cosmos, but it became significant above all since the 8th or 9th century, when the Cosmic Intelligence gradually fell away from Michael and his hosts and came down to men on earth. It only became acute when the Spiritual Soul began to unfold in humanity, at the point of time which I have so often indicated, at the beginning of the 15th century. In individual spirits who lived on earth at that time, we see, even upon earth, some sort of reflection of what was taking place in the great super-sensible School of which I spoke last Monday. We see something of it reflected in individual men on the earth.

In recent lectures we have said much of heavenly reflections in earthly schools and institutions. We have spoken of the great School of Chartres, and others. But we can speak of this in relation to individual human beings too. Thus at the very time when the Spiritual Soul began to evolve in civilised mankind — when Rosicrucianism, genuine Rosicrucianism, was nurturing the early beginnings of the impulse to the Spiritual Soul, — something of the impulse which was at work above the earth struck down like lightning upon a spirit living in that age. I mean Raymond of Sabunda. What he taught at the beginning of the 15th century is almost like an earthly reflection of the great super-sensible doctrine of Michael which I have characterised.

He said: men have fallen from the vantage-point that was given to them originally by their Gods. If they had remained upon that point, they would have seen around them all that lives in the wondrous crystal shapes of the mineral kingdom, in the amorphous mineral kingdom, in the hundred-and-thousand fold forms of the plant kingdom, in the forms of the animal, all that lives and moves in water and air, in warmth and in the earthly realm. All this they would have seen as it really is, in its true nature.

Raymond of Sabunda called to mind, how the Tree of Sephiroth, or the Aristotelian categories (those generalised concepts that look so strange to one who cannot understand them) contain what is meant to guide us through Intelligence, up into the universe. How dry, how appallingly dry do these categories seem as they are taught in the textbooks of Logic. Being, having, becoming, here, there — ten of these categories, ten abstract concepts, and people say: it is too dreadful, it is appalling to have to learn such abstractions. Why should anyone grow warm with enthusiasm for ten generalised concepts — being, having, becoming and so forth?

But it is just as though someone were to say: here is Goethe's Faust. Why do people make so much fuss of it? It only consists of A, B, C, D, E, F, ... to Z. Nothing else is there in the book, only A, B, C, D ... Z in various combinations and permutations. Certainly one who cannot read, and takes Goethe's Faust in hand, will not perceive the greatness that is contained in it. He will only see A, B, C, D ... to Z. One who does not know how the A, B, C, D, are to be combined, who does not know how they are related to one another, cannot read Goethe's Faust.

So it is, in relation to the reading of words, with the Aristotelian categories. There are ten of them, not so many as the letters of the alphabet, but they are indeed the spiritual letters. And anyone who knows how to manipulate ‘being,’ ‘having,’ ‘becoming,’ etc., in the right way, — just as we must know how to treat the several letters so that they produce the Faust of Goethe, — anyone who knows how to do this, may still be able to divine what Aristotle for example said of these things in his instruction of Alexander.

Raymond of Sabunda was one who still drew attention to such things. He had knowledge of them. He said: Look for instance at what is still contained in Aristotelianism. There we find something that has still remained of that old standpoint from which man fell at the beginning of human evolution on earth. Originally, men still preserved some memory of it. It was the reading in the Book of Nature. But men have fallen; they can no longer truly read in the Book of Nature. Hence God in His Compassion has given them in the Bible, the Book of Revelation, in order that they may not entirely depart from the Divine and Spiritual. Thus Raymond of Sabunda still taught, even in the 15th century, that the Book of Revelation exists for sinful man because he is no longer able to read in the Book of Nature. And in the way he taught these things, we can already perceive his idea that man must find once more the power to read in the great Book of Nature.

This is the impulse of Michael. Now that the Intelligence administered by him has come down to men, it is his impulse to lead men again to the point where they will read once more in the Book of Nature. The great Book of Nature will be opened again. Men will read once more in the Book of Nature.

In reality, everyone who is in the Anthroposophical Movement should feel that he can only understand his karma when he knows that he personally is called to read once more, spiritually, in the Book of Nature — to find the spiritual background of Nature, God having given His Revelation for the intervening time.

Read the inner meaning that is contained in my book Mysticism at the Dawn of the Modern Spiritual Life (Modern Mysticism). [Mysticism and Modern Thought. Anthroposophical Publishing Co.] On the last page you will see (in the form, of course, in which I could and had to write it at that time), you will see that the whole point was to guide the Anthroposophical Movement in this direction — to awaken once more the faculty to read not only in the Book of Revelation, in which I said that Jacob Boehme was still reading, but in the Book of Nature. The blundering, inadequate, and frequently repulsive attempts of modern natural science must be transmuted by a spiritual world-conception, till there arise from them a true reading of the Book of Nature. I think even this expression, ‘the Book of Nature,’ is to be found at the end of my book Mysticism at the Dawn of the Modern Spiritual Life. From the very beginning, the Anthroposophical Movement had this ‘Shibboleth.’ From the very beginning it was an appeal to those who should now listen to the voice of their own karma, and hear more or less dimly and subconsciously the call: ‘Behold, my karma is somehow moved and taken hold of by this Michael message which is sounding forth into the world. I, through my own karma, have to do with this.’

There are the human beings after all, who have been always there. They are always there. They have come, and they will come ever and again. There are those who are prepared in some sense to depart from the world and come together in this which is now called the Anthroposophical Society. As to the sense in which this ‘departure from the world’ is to be conceived — whether it be more or less real, or outwardly formal or the like — that is another matter. For the individual souls it is a kind of departure — a going away from the world and into something different from the world in which they have grown up. All manner of karmic experiences come to the individual, each in his own way. The one will have this or that to undergo through the fact that he must tear himself loose from old connections and unite with those who are seeking to cultivate the message of Michael. There are some who feel this union with the mission of Michael as a kind of salvation. There are others who feel it in a different way, finding themselves in this position: ‘I am drawn to Michael on the one hand and to Ahrimanism on the other. I cannot choose. Through my life I stand in the midst of these things.’ There are some whose inner courage tears them away, albeit they still preserve the outward connections. There are some who still find the outer connections easily. And this perhaps is best for the present condition of the Anthroposophical Society. But in every case, those human beings who are within the Anthroposophical Movement stand face to face with others who are not in it, including some with whom they are deeply, karmically connected from former earthly lives. Here we can look into the strangest of karmic threads.

My dear friends, we shall only be able to understand these karmic threads if we remember all the preceding conditions that we have now set forth. We shall only understand them when we have really seen how the souls who today, out of their unconscious Being, feel impelled to the Anthroposophical Movement, have undergone experiences together. For they have undergone much together in former lives on earth. Moreover the great majority of them belonged to the hosts who heard the Michael message in the super-sensible in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, and who took part at the beginning of the 19th century in the great Imaginative ceremony of which I have here spoken. Thus we behold a mighty Cosmic and Tellurian call, addressed to the deep karmic relationship of the members of the Anthroposophical Society. We heard last Monday, how this call will continue throughout the 20th century, and how the culmination will come at the end of this century. Of these things, my dear friends, I will speak again next Sunday.

Source: Karmic Relationships, August 1, 1924

The School of Chartres and the spiritual background of the anthroposophical movement


Karmic Relationships. Lecture 57 of 82

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, July 13, 1924:

Among the spiritual conditions of evolution that have led to the Anthroposophical Movement and that are contained within its karma from the spiritual side, I have mentioned two external symptoms. The one is expressed in the rise of the Catechism with its questions and answers, leading towards a faith which is no longer in direct touch with the spiritual world. The other is represented by the Mass becoming exoteric. The Mass in its totality, including the Transubstantiation and Holy Communion, was made accessible to all, even to the unprepared. It thus lost its character of an ancient Mystery.

These two earthly events led those who observed them from the spiritual world to prepare in a very definite way, within the stream of spiritual evolution, for what was to become a spiritual revelation at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, — a revelation fitly adapted to the course of time. For this new spiritual revelation had to come after the Michael event, and in the time when the old, dark Age of Kali Yuga had run its course and a new Age was to arise for humanity. Today we have a third thing to add. We must first bring before our souls these three spiritual conditions, which were able to draw together a number of human beings even before they descended into the physical world in the last third of the 19th or at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. For only when we are aware of these conditions, shall we be able to understand certain extra-karmic events which flowed into the streams of life that are welded together in the Anthroposophical Movement.

The peculiar attitude to Nature on the one hand and to things spiritual on the other, which has evolved so greatly by our time, comes down to us only from the period that began in the 14th (15th) century. Before that time, the relationship of mankind especially to the things of the Spirit was very different. Man approached the Spirit not in concepts and ideas but in living experiences that still penetrated to the Spiritual, however slightly.

We today, when we speak of Nature, have a dead abstraction — empty of all being. And when we speak of the Spirit, we have something vague whose existence we presume somehow or other in the world, and comprise it in abstract concepts or ideas. It was not so in the time when the souls who are now finding their way together in the longing for a new Spirituality, had their important former incarnation, — when in that incarnation they harkened to what Initiates and Leaders of Mankind had to tell them for their inner needs. To begin with we have the age that goes on into the 7th or 8th century, when we still find a delicate connection of the human soul with the spiritual world — a conscious experience of the spiritual world itself. Even the men of knowledge and learning in that time were still in a living relationship to the spiritual world. Then we have the age beginning in the 7th or 8th century and going on to the great turning point in the 14th and 15th, — the time when the human souls who had lived in the first Christian centuries, partaking in that former period upon the earth, were once more in the life between death and a new birth.

But though — from the 6th, 7th or 8th century onwards — there was no direct connection with the spiritual world, nevertheless a certain awareness of this connection still found a haven of refuge, if I may put it so, in isolated centres of learning. In isolated centres of learning men still spoke, in knowledge, in the way they had spoken in the first Christian centuries. Nay more, it was possible for single, chosen human beings to receive deep inner impulses from the way in which the spiritual world was spoken of, — impulses enabling them, at certain times at least, to break through into the spiritual world. There were indeed isolated centres where teachings were given in a manner of which the people of today can have no conception.

This only came to an end in the 12th, 13th century, when at length it all flowed into a great poem in which it found as it were its consummation for the experience of mankind. I mean the Divina Commedia of Dante.

In all that lies behind the origin of the Commedia we have a wonderful chapter of human evolution. For at this moment the influences from the earth and from the cosmos are found in perpetual interplay. The two were ever flowing into one another. Human beings on the earth had lost, to some extent, the connection with the spiritual world. And in those who lived above — who, while on earth, had still experienced such a connection, — the earthly conditions which they now beheld called forth a strangely painful feeling. They saw the slow death of what they themselves had still experienced on earth. Then from the super-sensible world they enthused-inspired-inspirited — certain individualities in the world of sense, so that here or there at any rate there might arise a home and centre for the real connection of man with the spiritual world.

Let us clearly bear in mind what I indicated here many years ago. Even until the 7th or 8th century — in a kind of echo of pre-Christian Initiation — Christianity was taught in centres that had remained as the high places of knowledge, relics of the ancient Mysteries. In those centres human beings were prepared, not so much by way of instruction, but by an education towards the Spirit — a training both bodily and spiritual. They were prepared for the moment when they might have at least a delicate vision of the spirituality that can manifest itself in the environment of man on earth. Then they looked outward to the realms of mineral and plant-nature and to all that lives in the animal and human kingdoms. And they saw, springing forth like an aura and fertilised in turn out of the cosmos, the spiritual-elemental beings that lived in all Nature.

Then above all there appeared to them as a living Being, whom they addressed as they would address a human being — only it was a being of a higher kind, — the Goddess Natura. She was the Goddess whom they saw before them in her full radiance, in full reality of soul. They did not speak of abstract laws of Nature, they spoke of the creative power of the Goddess Natura, working creatively in all external Nature.

She was the metamorphosis of Proserpine of antiquity. She was the ever-creating Goddess with whom he who would seek for knowledge must in a certain way unite himself. She appeared to him — appeared to him from every mineral, from every plant, from every creeping beast, from the clouds, the mountains, the river-springs. Of this Goddess who alternately in winter and in summer creates above the earth and beneath, — of this Goddess they felt: She is the hand-maid of that Divinity of whom the Gospels tell. She it is who fulfils the divine behests.

And when the seeker after knowledge had been sufficiently instructed by the Goddess about the mineral and plant and animal natures, when he was introduced into the living forces, then he learned to know from her the nature of the four Elements: — Earth, Water, Air and Fire. He learned to know the waving and weaving within the mineral and animal and plant kingdoms of the four Elements which pour themselves in all reality throughout the world: — Earth, Water, Fire, Air. He felt himself with his etheric body interwoven with the life of the Earth in its gravity, Water in its life-giving power, Air in its power to awaken sentient consciousness, Fire in its power to kindle the flame of the I. In all this he felt his human being interwoven, and he felt: This was the gift of instruction from the Goddess Natura — the successor, the metamorphosis of Proserpine. The teachers saw to it that their disciples should gain a feeling, an idea of this living intercourse with Nature — Nature filled with divine forces, filled with divine substance. They saw to it that their pupils should penetrate to the living and weaving of the Elements.

Then when they had reached this point, they were introduced to the planetary system. They learnt how with the knowledge of the planetary system there arises at the same time the knowledge of the human soul. “Learn to know how the wandering stars hold sway in the heavens, and thou shalt know how thine own soul works and weaves and lives within thee.” This was placed before the pupils. And at length they were led to approach what was called “The Great Ocean,” — but it was the Cosmic Ocean, which leads from the planets, from the wandering stars, to the fixed stars. Thus at length they penetrated into the secrets of the I, by learning the secrets of the universe of the fixed stars.

Mankind today has forgotten that such instructions were ever given; but they were. A living knowledge of this kind was cultivated until the 7th or 8th century in the last relics of the ancient Mysteries. And as a doctrine — as a theory — it was still cultivated even until that turn of the 14th and 15th centuries of which we have so often spoken. In certain centres we still see these old teachings cultivated, though with the greatest imaginable difficulties. They were well-nigh shadowed-down to concepts and ideas; yet the concepts and ideas were still living enough to kindle, in one man and another, the upward vision of all the realities of which I spoke just now.

In the 11th and especially the 12th century, reaching on to the 13th, a truly wonderful School existed. In this School there were teachers who still knew how the pupils in preceding centuries had been led to a conscious experience of the Spirit. It was the great School of Chartres. Here there flowed together all the conceptions that had issued from the living spiritual life which I have described.

Wonderful masterpieces of architecture are to be seen in Chartres to this day. Thither there had come above all a ray of the still living wisdom of Peter of Compostella, who had worked in Spain. He had cultivated a living exemplary Christianity, speaking still of Natura the handmaid of Christ, and describing still how when great Nature has introduced man to the elements, to the planetary world, to the world of stars, then and then only does he become ripe to make acquaintance in very reality of soul with the seven helpmates, who come before the human soul, not in abstract chapters of theory, but as the living Goddesses: Grammatica, Dialectica, Rhetorica, Arithmetica, Geometria, Astronomia, Musica. The pupils learned to know them as Divine-spiritual figures, living and real.

Those who were around Peter of Compostella spoke of them still as living figures. His teachings radiated into the School of Chartres. In the same School of Chartres there lived, for example, the great Bernard of Chartres, who inspired his pupils, for though he could no longer show them the Goddess Natura, nor the Goddesses of the seven Liberal Arts, still he spoke of these in so living a way that their imagined pictures at least were conjured before his pupils.

There taught Bernardus Silvestris, raising before his pupils in mighty and powerful descriptions what had been the ancient wisdom.

And above all there was John of Chartres who spoke of the human soul with an inspiration truly majestic. It was here that John of Chartres, also known as John of Salisbury, unfolded the conceptions wherein he dealt with Aristotle, — Aristotelianism. His chosen pupils were so influenced that they arrived at a new insight. They saw that such teaching as had existed in the first centuries of Christendom could no longer exist on earth, for earthly evolution could no longer bear it. It was made clear to them: — There was an ancient, almost clairvoyant knowledge, but it grew darkened. We can only know of Dialectic, Rhetoric, Astronomy, Astrology — we can no longer behold the Goddesses of the seven Liberal Arts.

Henceforth Aristotle must work, — Aristotle who already in antiquity was equal to the concepts and ideas of the fifth Post-Atlantean epoch.

With an inspiring force, what had thus been taught in the School of Chartres was then transplanted to the Order of Cluny, where it was turned to a more worldly form in the ecclesiastical enactments of the Abbot Hildebrand — Abbot of the Monks of Cluny — who afterwards became Pope under the name of Gregory the Seventh.

Meanwhile in the School of Chartres itself these teachings continued to be given with remarkable purity. The whole of the 12th century was radiant with them. And there was one who was in reality greater than all the others, — who taught in Chartres, with what I would call a true inspiration of ideas, the Mysteries of the seven Liberal Arts in their connection with Christianity. I mean Alain de Lille, Alanus ab Insulis. Alain de Lille at Chartres in the 12th century fired his pupils with a true enthusiasm. His great insight showed him that in the coming centuries it would no longer be possible to endow the earth with spiritual teachings such as these. For these teachings were not only Platonism; they contained the teachings from the old seership of the pre-Platonic Mysteries, with the difference that it had since received Christianity into itself.

To those in whom he presumed an understanding for such things, Alain de Lille taught already in his life-time that an Aristotelian form of knowledge would now have to work for awhile on earth, — Aristotelianism with its sharply defined conceptions and ideas. For in this way alone would it be possible to prepare for what must come again as a Spirituality in later time.

To many a human being of today who reads the literature of that time, it appears dull and dry. But it is by no means dry, when we gain some conception of what stood before the souls of those who taught and worked in Chartres.

And in the poetry too, which went out from Chartres, how vitally do we feel the sense of union with the living Goddesses of the seven Liberal Arts. In the poem ‘Bataille des Sept Arts,’ deeply penetrating as it is for anyone who understands it, we feel the living spiritual breath of the seven Liberal Arts. All these things were working in the 12th century.

You see, all this was living in the spiritual atmosphere of that time, and was still making itself felt. It was still to some extent akin to the Schools that continued to exist in Northern Italy, in Italy generally, and in Spain, though their existence was sporadic. Nevertheless these things became transplanted in a living way into all manner of spiritual currents on the earth. Towards the end of the 12th century much of this was still working at the University of Orleans, where remarkable teachings of this kind were cultivated, and something was still present of an inspiration from the School of Chartres.

And then, one day down in Italy, an Ambassador who had been in Spain, standing at that moment under a great historic impression, received a kind of sun-stroke, and there arose in him as a great and mighty revelation all that he had received as a preparatory training in his School. All this became a mighty revelation under the influence of the slight sun-stroke which came over him. Then he saw what man could see under the influence of the living principle of knowledge: He saw a mountain mightily arising with all that lived and sprang forth from it, minerals, plants, and animals, and there appeared to him the Goddess Natura, there appeared the Elements, there appeared the Planets, there appeared the Goddesses of the seven Liberal Arts, and at length Ovid as his guide and teacher. Here once again there stood before a human soul the mighty vision that had stood before the souls of men so often in the first centuries of Christianity. Such was the vision of Brunetto Latini which was afterwards handed down to Dante and from which Dante's Divina Commedia took its source.

But there was still another outcome for all those who had worked in Chartres, when they passed again through the gate of death, and, having passed through the gate of death, entered the spiritual world. Deeply significant was the spiritual life which they had led: Peter of Compostella, Bernard of Chartres, Bernardus Silvestris, John of Chartres (John of Salisbury), Henri d'Andeli, author of the poem “Bataille des Sept Arts,” and above all, Alain de Lille. Alain de Lille, in his own style of course, had written the book Contra Hereticos, where on behalf of Christianity he turned against the heretics, writing directly out of the old vision which was in fact the vision of the spiritual world. And now, all these souls, these individualities who had been the very last to work within the echoes of seership, the wisdom seen in fulness of spiritual light, — they all of them entered into the spiritual world. And in that spiritual world they came together with other souls, of great significance, who were preparing for a new earthly life just at that time. For they were preparing to descend in the very near future into an earthly life where they would work in the sense that was necessary, to bring about the subsequent turning-point: the turning-point of the 14th and 15th century. We have a great spiritual life before us, my dear friends. The last great ones of the School of Chartres had just arrived in the spiritual world. Those individualities who afterwards brought forth the full flower of Scholasticism were still there in the spiritual world, and at the beginning of the 13th century there took place one of the most important exchanges of ideas behind the scenes of human evolution, — an exchange of ideas between those who had carried up the old Platonism, inspired by spiritual vision, from the School of Chartres into the super-sensible world, and those on the other hand who were preparing to carry Aristotelianism down to earth, as the great transition to bring about a new Spirituality that was to flow into the evolution of mankind in the future.

They came to an agreement with one another. The individualities from the School of Chartres spoke, as it were, to those who were preparing to descend into the physical world of sense, who were preparing to cultivate Aristotelianism in the Scholastic system which was right for that age. They spoke to them as it were, and said: For us it is impossible to work on earth for the present; for the earth is not now in a condition to cultivate knowledge in this living way. What we, the last bearers of Platonism, were still able to cultivate must now give place to Aristotelianism. We will remain up here.

Thus the great spirits of Chartres remained in the super-sensible world, nor have they returned hitherto in any earthly incarnations of significance. But they were working mightily, helping in the formation of that mighty Imagination in the spiritual world that was formed in the first half of the 19th century and of which I have already told you. They worked in full harmony with those who descended with their Aristotelianism to the earth.

The Dominican Order, above all, contained individualities who lived in this kind of “super-sensible contract,” if I may so describe it, with the great spirits of Chartres, for they had agreed with them: “We will descend in order to continue the cultivation of knowledge in the Aristotelian form. You will remain up here. On earth too we shall remain in union with you. Platonism for the present cannot prosper on the earth. We shall find you again when we return, and then together we will prepare for that time when the period of Scholastic Aristotelianism will have been completed in earthly evolution, and it will be possible to unfold Spirituality once more in communion with you, with the spirits of Chartres.”

It was, for example, an event of deep significance when Alain de Lille, as he had been called in earthly life, sent down to earth a pupil well instructed by him in the spiritual world. For in this pupil he sent down on to the earth all the discrepancies, it is true, which could arise between Platonism and Aristotelianism, but he sent them down so that they might be harmonised through the Scholastic principle of that time. Such was the spiritual working, especially in the 13th century, to the end that there might flow together the workings of those who were on the earth, — who were on the earth for instance in the garment of Dominicans, — and those who had remained in yonder world. For the time being, these latter could find no earthly bodies in which to stamp their spirituality. For theirs was a spirituality which could not come down to the Aristotelian element.

So there arose in the 13th century a wonderful co-operation of that which was being done on earth with that which was flowing down from above. Often those who were on earth were not conscious of this working from the other side, but those who were working on the other side were all the more conscious. It was a truly living co-operation. One would say, the principle of the Mysteries had ascended to the heavens and sent down its Sun-rays thence upon all that was working on the earth.

This went into all the details and can be traced above all in the detailed things that happened. Alain de Lille, in his own earthly life as a teacher at Chartres, had only been able to go so far that at a certain age of life he put on the garment of the Cistercians. He became a priest of the Cistercian Order. In the Cistercian Order at that time, in the exercises of that Order, the last relics of a striving to awaken Platonism — the Platonic world-conception, in unison with Christianity — had found a refuge.

The way in which he sent a pupil down to the earth expressed itself in this: he sent his pupil down to continue through the Dominican Order the task that was now to pass over to Aristotelianism.

The transition expressed itself outwardly in a remarkable symptom. For the pupil of Alanus ab Insulis of whom I am speaking, — his pupil, that is to say, in the worlds above the earth, — having descended to the earth, first wore the garment of a Cistercian, which he only afterwards exchanged for that of a Dominican.

Such were the individualities who worked together: those who afterwards became the leading Schoolmen and their pupils, — human souls long connected with one another, — and these in turn united with the great spirits of the School of Chartres, united in the sensible and super-sensible worlds during the 13th and on into the early 14th century.

Such was the mighty world-historic plan. Those who could not descend to Aristotelianism upon the earth remained in the spiritual world above, waiting until the purposes in which they were all so intimately united should have been carried forward by the others upon the earth, under the influence of the sharply outlined concepts and ideas proceeding from Aristotelianism.

It was really like a conversation upward and downward from the spiritual to the earthly world, from the earthly to the spiritual world, in that 13th century.

Indeed it was only into this spiritual atmosphere that true Rosicrucianism was able to pour its influence.

When those who had descended to the earth to give the impulse of Aristotelianism had accomplished their task, they too were lifted into the spiritual world and went on working there: Platonists and Aristotelians together. And now there came and gathered round them the souls whom I have already spoken to you — the souls of the two groups I mentioned.

Thus we find entering into the karma of the Anthroposophical Movement a large number of disciples of Chartres. Entering into this discipleship of Chartres we find the souls who had come from one or other of the two streams of which I spoke here in the last few days. It is a large circle of human beings, for many are living in this circle who have not as yet found their way to the Anthroposophical Movement. Nevertheless it is so: what we find in the field of Anthroposophy today has been prepared for through these manifold experiences.

A remarkable influence came over the Cistercian Order for example, when Alain de Lille, Alanus ab Insulis, put on the garment of a Cistercian — when he with his Platonism became a Cistercian Priest. Indeed this element never left the Cistercian Order. In relation to these things which we must now unveil, I may perhaps be allowed a few personal observations that could not be included in my autobiography. There was a circumstance in my life which was destined to lead me to the knowledge of many an inner connection in this domain, (other connections were revealed to me from different quarters). I was led to many things through the circumstance that in my life, before the Weimar period, I could never escape from the presence, in one way or another, of the Cistercian Order; and yet again I was always somehow kept at a distance from it. I grew up, so to speak, in the shadow of the Cistercian Order, which has important settlements in the neighbourhood of Wiener-Neustadt. Those who had to educate most of the youth in the district where I grew up, were Priests of the Cistercian order. I had the robe of this Order perpetually before me, the white robe with the black band around the waist, or, as we call it, the stola. Had I had occasion to speak of such things in my autobiography I could have said: Everything in my life tended in the direction of a classical education at the Gymnasium and not of that modern education which I actually underwent in the Real-Schule in Wiener-Neustadt. Now the Gymnasium in that place was at that time still in the hands of the Cistercians. It was a strange play of forces that drew me to them and at the same time held me at a distance.

Again, the whole circle of monks in the Theological Faculty at the University of Vienna, — the circle around Marie Eugenie delle Grazie, — consisted of Cistercians. With these Cistercians I had the most intimate theological conversations — the most intimate conversations on Christology. I only indicate this fact, seeing that it enters into my perception of that period of the 12th century, when the power of the School of Chartres poured its life into the Cistercian Order. For indeed, in the peculiarly attractive scholarship of the Cistercians there lived on — albeit in a corrupted way — something of the magic of the School of Chartres. Important and manifold enquiries were pursued by Cistercians whom I knew well. And to me those things were most important which revealed to me: It is indeed impossible for any of those who were the disciples of Chartres to incarnate at present, and yet it seems as though some of the individualities connected with that School became incorporated, if I may call it so, for brief periods, in some of the human beings who wore the Cistercian garment.

Separated, if I may put it so, by a thin wall only, there ever continued to work on the earth what was being prepared as I have described it, in super-sensible worlds, leading to that great preparation in the first half of the 19th century.

And for me it was a highly remarkable experience to have that conversation to which I referred in my autobiography, — that conversation on the Christ Being with a Priest of the Cistercian Order, which took place not in delle Grazie's house but as we were going away from her house together. For the conversation was carried on, not from the present-day dogmatic standpoint of Theology, but from the standpoint of Neo-Scholasticism. It went with full depth into the things that had once existed upon the earth, with Aristotelian clarity and definition of concept, and yet at the same time with Platonic spiritual light.

That which was to arise in Anthroposophy shone through already, though in secret and mysterious ways, through the events of the time. Though indeed it could not shine through into human souls where they were harnessed to one religious or social group or another, nevertheless it shone through, through the connections which certain human souls still had with the great spiritual currents that do, after all, work upon the earth.

Between the beginning of the Michael Age and the end of the Kali Yuga, it was indeed possible to recognise, in much that was working in individual human beings in the most varied domains of life, the language of the Spirit of the Time. For the speaking of the Spirit of the Time was a great call for the anthroposophical revelations to come. We saw the living rise of Anthroposophy, as of a being that was to be born but that was still resting in a mother's womb. For it was resting in the womb of preparation, that had worked from the first Christian centuries towards the School of Chartres, then to be continued in super-sensible spheres, in cooperation with what was here on the earth, in the Aristotelian defence of Christianity. It was out of these impulses, as we find them expressed in Alain de Lille's work Contra Hereticos, that there afterwards arose such a work as the Summa Fidei Catholicae contra Gentiles of Thomas Aquinas. And there arose that characteristic feature of the time which speaks to us from all the pictures, where we see the Dominican Doctors of the Church treading Averroes, Avicenna and the others under foot. For this indicates the living and spirited defence of spiritual Christianity, and yet withal the transition to intellectualism.

My dear friends, I cannot describe this world of facts in any theoretic way; for by theorising, these things are weakened and made pale. Facts I wanted to place before your souls, — facts from which you will feel whereto your gaze must be directed if you would see those souls, who passed before their present earthly life through a spiritual experience between death and a new birth, in such a way that when on the earth, they longed for Anthroposophy.

The most divergent, the most opposite conceptions work together in the world, weaving a living whole.

And today, those who were working in the great School of Chartres in the 12th century, and those who were united with them at the beginning of the 13th century in one of the greatest spiritual communities, — albeit in the super-sensible world — today again they are working together. The great spirits of Chartres are working with those, who in unison with them subsequently cultivated Aristotelianism on the earth. It matters not, that some of them are working here on the earth, while others cannot yet descend to the earth. They are working together now, intending a new spiritual epoch in earthly evolution. And their great purpose now, is to collect the souls who for a long time have been united with them, — to gather together the souls with whose help a new spiritual age can then be founded. Their purpose is, in one way or another and within a comparatively short time, in the midst of an otherwise decadent civilization, to make possible a renewed cooperation in earthly life between the spirits of Chartres from the 12th century and the spirits of the 13th century who are united with them. Their purpose is to prepare, so that they will be able to work together in an earthly life, cultivating spirituality once more within the civilization which, apart from this, is sailing on into destruction and disintegration.

Intentions that are being cherished today, not upon earth but as between earth and heaven, such intentions I have wanted to explain to you. Enter deeply into all that lies in these intentions, and you will feel, as a living influence upon your souls, the spiritual background, of which the necessary foreground is the streaming together of human souls in this Anthroposophical Movement.

Source: Karmic Relationships, July 13, 1924