Rudolf Steiner, December 2, 1911:
This evening and tomorrow evening we are going to attempt a coherent study of the being of man, and of his connection with the occult foundations of the present time and the near future.
From various indications I have given here you will have grasped that today we are, to some extent, facing a new revelation, a new announcement to mankind. If we keep in mind the recent periods of man's evolution, it may well be that we shall best understand what is approaching if we connect it with two other important revelations. In doing so we shall be considering, it is true, only what has been revealed to mankind in times relatively near to our own.
These three revelations — the one now to come and the two others — may be best understood when compared with the early development of a child. Observing the child rightly, we find that on its first coming into the world it has to be protected and cared for by those around it; it has no means of expressing what is going on within it or of formulating in thought what affects its soul. To begin with, the child cannot speak, cannot think; everything must be done for it by those who have received it in their midst. Then it starts to speak. Those who watch it attentively — this is mentioned in my book The Education of the Child — will know that first it imitates what it hears; but that in the early days of talking it has no understanding which can be attributed to thinking. What the child says does not arise out of thought, but the other way round. It learns to think by talking; learns gradually to apprehend in clear thought what previously it was prompted to say out of the obscure depths of feeling.
Thus we have three successive periods in the child's development — a first period when it can neither speak nor think, a second when it can speak but not yet think, and a third when it becomes conscious of the thought-content in what it says. With these three stages in the child's development we may compare what mankind has gone through — and has still to go through — since about 1,500 years before the Christian era.
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The first revelation of which we can speak as coming to mankind during the present cycle of time is the revelation proceeding from Sinai in the form of the Ten Commandments. Anyone going more deeply into the significance of what was revealed to mankind in these commandments will find great cause for wonder. The fact is, however, that men take these spiritual treasures so much for granted that little thought is given to them. But those who reflect upon their significance have to own how remarkable it is that in these Ten Commandments something is given which has spread through the world as law; something which in its fundamental character still holds good today and forms the basis of the law in all countries, in so far as, during the last 1,000 years, they have gradually adopted modern civilization. Something all-embracing, grand, universal, is revealed to mankind as if in these words: There is a primal Being in the spiritual world whose image is here on Earth — the Ego. This Being can so infuse His own power into the human ego, so pour Himself into it, that a man is enabled to conform to the norms, the laws, given in the Ten Commandments.
The second revelation came about through the Mystery of Golgotha. What can we say about this Mystery? What can be said was indicated yesterday in the public lecture “From Jesus to Christ”. It was shown there how we have to trace back all men in their bodily nature to the original human couple on Earth. And as we can understand men in their bodily nature only as descending through the generations from this couple, so, in order rightly to understand the greatest gift coming to our ego, we have to trace this fact, that must sink more and more into our ego during earthly existence, back to the Mystery of Golgotha.
It need not here concern us that in this connection the old Hebrew tradition has a different conception from that of present-day science. If we trace back men's blood-relationship, their bodily relation, to that original human couple, Adam and Eve, who once lived on Earth as the first physical personalities, the primal forebears of mankind, and if we must therefore say that the blood flowing in men's veins goes back to that human pair, we can ask: Where must we look for the origin of the most precious gift bestowed on our soul, that holiest, most valuable gift, which accomplishes in the soul never-ending marvels and makes itself known to our consciousness as something higher than the ordinary ego within us?
For the answer we must turn to what arose from the grave on Golgotha. In every human soul that has experienced an inner awakening there lives on what then arose, just as the blood of Adam and Eve continues to live in the body of every human being.
We have to see a kind of fountainhead, a primal fatherhood, in the risen Christ — the spiritual Adam who enters the souls of those who have experienced an awakening, bringing them, for the first time, to the fullness of their ego, to what gives life to their ego in the right way. Thus, just as the life of Adam's body lives on in the physical bodies of all men, what arose from the grave on Golgotha flows in like manner through the souls of those who find the path to it. That is the second revelation given to mankind; they are enabled to learn what happened through the Mystery of Golgotha.
If in the Ten Commandments men have received guidance from outside, this guidance may be compared to what happens to the child before it can either speak or think. What is done for the child by its environment is achieved by the old Jewish law for all mankind, who until then have, as it were, lacked the power of speaking and thinking. People, however, have now learnt to speak — or, rather, have learnt something that may be compared with a child's learning to speak: they have gained knowledge of the Mystery of Golgotha through the Gospels. And the way in which they first understood the Gospels may be compared with how a child learns to speak. Through the Gospels there has come to human souls and human hearts some degree of understanding for the Mystery of Golgotha, which has found its way into human feelings and perceptions, and into the soul-forces arising in us when, for example, we allow the deeply significant, intuitive scenes and pictures drawn from the Gospels by great painters to work upon us. It is the same with traditional pictures — pictures of the adoration of the Child by the Shepherds or by the Wise Men from the East; of the flight into Egypt, and so on. All this leads back in the end to the Gospels; it has reached men's understanding in such a way that they may be said to have learnt to speak, in their fashion, about the Mystery of Golgotha.
In this connection we are now moving toward the third period, which may be compared with how the child learns the thought-content in its own speech and can became conscious of it. We are approaching the revelation which should give us the full content, the thought-content, of the Gospels — all they contain of soul and spirit. For at present the Gospels are no better understood than the child understands what it says before it can think. In the context of world-history people are meant to learn through Spiritual Science to reflect upon the thoughts in the Gospels; to let the whole deep spiritual content of the Gospels work upon them for the first time.
This indeed is connected with a further great event which mankind can feel to be approaching, and which they will experience before the end of this twentieth century. This event can be brought before our souls in somewhat the following way: If once again we enter into the nature of the Mystery of Golgotha, we realize that those elements of the Christ which rose from the grave of Golgotha have remained with the Earth, so that they can directly affect every human soul, and can in each soul awaken the ego to a higher stage of existence. Speaking thus of the Mystery of Golgotha we may say: Christ then became the Spirit of the Earth and since that time has remained so. In our day, however, a change in relation of the Christ to men is coming, an important change connected with what all of you have come to know something about — the new revelation to men of the Christ.
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This revelation can also be characterized in another way. For this indeed we must turn to what happens when a man goes through the gate of death. (This is something that could not be described in books, but must now be spoken of.) When a man has passed through the gate of death, has experienced the backward survey over his previous earthly life and has come to the point when his etheric body is laid aside and the time has come for his Kamaloka, he is first met by two figures. Usually only one is mentioned, but to complete the picture — and this is a reality for every true occultist — we must say that before his Kamaloka the man is confronted by two figures. What I am now telling you holds good, it is true, only for men of the West, and for those who, during the last 1,000 years, have been connected with Western culture. The man after death is confronted by two figures. One of these is Moses — the man knows quite clearly that it is Moses who stands before him, holding out the tablets of the law. In the Middle Ages they spoke of Moses “with his stern law”. And in his soul the man is keenly aware of how far in his inmost being he has transgressed against this law. The other figure is “the Cherub with the flaming sword”, who pronounces judgment on these transgressions. That is an experience a man has after death. Thus, in accordance with our Spiritual Science, it can be said that there is a kind of settlement of the man's karmic account by these two figures — Moses with the stern law and the Cherub with the flaming sword.
In our time, however, a change is approaching, an important change which can be described in this way. Christ is becoming Lord of Karma for all those who, after death, have experienced what has just been discussed. Christ is entering upon His judgeship.
Let us look more closely into this fact. From the world-conception of Spiritual Science we all know that a karmic account is kept of our life; that there is a certain balancing of the deeds standing on the credit side of the account — the sensible deeds, the fine deeds, those that are good — and, on the other side, the bad, ugly, lying deeds and thoughts.
Now it is important, on the one hand, that in the further course of a man's earthly life he should himself adjust the balance of this karmic account. But this living out of the result of his good and splendid deeds, or those that are bad, can be done in many different ways. The particular adjustment in our future life is not always determined after the same pattern. Suppose someone has done a bad action; he must compensate for it by doing a good one. This good action, however, can be achieved in two ways, and it may require the same effort on the man's part to do good to a few people only as to benefit a considerable number. To ensure that in future, when we have found our way to Christ, our karmic account will be balanced — inserted in the cosmic order — in such a way that the settlement of it will benefit as many people as possible — that will be the concern of Him who in our time is becoming Lord of Karma — it will be the concern of the Christ.
This taking over by Christ of the judging of a man's deeds is a result of His direct intervention in human destiny. This intervention is not in a physical body, but on behalf of those people on Earth who will increasingly acquire the capacity of perceiving Him. There will be people, for instance, who, while carrying out some deed, suddenly become aware — there will be more and more cases of this from now on, during the next 3,000 years — of an urge to refrain from what they are doing, because of a remarkable vision. They will perceive in a dreamlike way what appears to be an action of their own; yet they will not be able to remember having done it.
Those who are not prepared for such a thing to happen in the course of their evolution will look upon it merely as imagination run wild or as a pathological condition of the soul. Those, however, who are sufficiently prepared through the new revelation coming in our time to mankind through spiritual science — through, that is, this third revelation during the latest cycle of mankind — will realize that all this points to the growing of new human faculties enabling men to see into the spiritual world. They will also realize that this picture appearing to their soul is a forewarning of the karmic deed that must be brought about — either in this life on Earth or in a later one — to compensate for what they have done.
In short, people will gradually achieve, through their own efforts, the faculty for perceiving in a vision the karmic adjustment, the compensating deed, which must come about in future. From this fact it can be seen that in our time, too, we should say, as did John the Baptist by the Jordan: Change your state of soul, for the time is coming when new faculties will awake in men.
But this form of karmic perception will arise in such a way that here and there the figure of the etheric Christ will be directly visible to some individual — the actual Christ as He is living in the astral world — not in a physical body, but as for the newly awakened faculties of men He will manifest on Earth; as counselor and protector of those who need advice, help, or solace in the loneliness of their lives.
The time is coming when human beings, when for some reason they feel depressed and miserable, will increasingly find the help of their fellows less important and valuable. This is because the force of individuality, of individual life, will count for more and more, while the power of one man to work helpfully upon the soul of another, which held good in the past, will tend constantly to diminish. In its stead the great Counselor will appear, in etheric form.
The best advice we can be given for the future is, therefore, to make our souls strong and full of energy, so that with increased strength, the further we advance into the future, whether in this incarnation — and certainly this applies to the young people of today — or in the next, we may realize that newly awakened faculties give us knowledge of the great Counselor who is becoming at the same time the judge of a man's karma; knowledge, that is, of Christ in His new form. For those people who have already prepared themselves here for the Christ-event of the 20th century, it will make no difference whether they are in the physical body when this event becomes a widespread experience, or have passed through the gate of death. Those who have passed through will still have the right understanding of the Christ-event and the right connection with it, but not those who have thoughtlessly passed by this third great forewarning to mankind given through Spiritual Science.
For the Christ-event must be prepared for here on Earth in the physical body. Those who go through the gate of death without giving even a glance into Spiritual Science during their present incarnation will have to wait until their next before gaining a right understanding of the Christ-event. It is an actual fact that those who on the physical plane have never heard of the Christ-event are unable to came to an understanding of it between death and rebirth. They, too, must wait until they can prepare for it on their return to the physical plane. When, therefore, their present incarnation ends at death, these men in their essential being remain unconcerned in face of the mighty event referred to — the taking over of the judgeship by Christ and the possibility of His intervening, in an etheric body, directly from the astral world in the evolution of mankind, and His becoming visible in various places.
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It is characteristic of human evolution, however, that old attributes of men, not closely connected with spiritual evolution, gradually lose significance. When we consider human evolution since the Atlantean catastrophe we can say: Among the great differentiations prepared during the Atlantean Age, present-day men have become accustomed to those of race. We can still speak, in a certain sense, of an old Indian race, of an old Persian race, of an Egyptian or a Graeco-Latin one, and even of something in our own time corresponding to a fifth race. But the concept of race in relation to human evolution is ceasing to have a right meaning. Something that held good in earlier times will no longer do so in the sixth culture-epoch which is to follow our own — namely, that it is essential to have some spatial center from which to spread the culture of the epoch. The important thing is the spreading of Spiritual Science among men; without distinction of race, nation, or family. In the sixth culture-epoch those who have accepted Spiritual Science will come out of every race, and will found, throughout the Earth, a new culture no longer based on the concept of race — that concept will have lost its significance. In short, what is important in the world of maya, the external world of space, vanishes away; we must learn to recognize this in the future course of our spiritual-scientific movement.
At the beginning this was not understood. Therefore we see how, when we read Olcott's book The Buddhist Catechism, which once did good service, we have the impression that races always go on like so many wheels. But for the coming time such concepts are losing their significance. Everything subject to limitations of space will lose significance. Hence anyone who thoroughly understands the meaning of human evolution understands also that the coming appearance of Christ during the next 3,000 years does not entail Christ being restricted to a body bound by space, nor limited to a certain territory.
Neither will His appearance be limited by an inability to appear in more than one place at a time. His help will be forthcoming at the same moment here, there, and everywhere. And as a spiritual being is not subject to the laws of space, anyone who can be helped by Christ's direct presence is able to receive that help at one end of the Earth just as well as another person at the opposite end. Only those unwilling to recognize the progress of mankind towards spirituality, and what gradually transforms all the most important events into the spiritual — only these persons can declare that what is implied by the Christ-being is limited to a physical body.
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We have now described the facts concerning the third revelation and how this revelation is already in process of throwing new light on the Gospels. The Gospels are the language, and, in relation to them, Anthroposophy is the thought-content. As language is related to a child's full consciousness, so are the Gospels related to the new revelation that comes directly from the spiritual world — related, in effect, to what Spiritual Science is to become for mankind. We must be aware that we have in fact a certain task to fulfill, a task of understanding, when we come — first out of the soul's unconscious depths, and then ever more clearly — to discern our connection with Anthroposophy.
We must look upon it, in a sense, as a mark of distinction bestowed by the World-Spirit, as a sign of grace on the part of the creative, guiding Spirit of the world, when today our heart urges us toward this new announcement which is added, as a third revelation, to those proclaimed from Sinai and then from the Jordan. To learn to know man in his entire being is the task given in this new announcement — to perceive ever more deeply that what we are principally conscious of is sheathed around by other members of man's being, which are nevertheless important for his life as a whole.
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It is necessary for our friends to learn about these matters from the most various points of view. Today we will begin by first saying a few words about man's inner being. You know that if we start from the actual center of his being, from his ego, we come next to the sheath to which we give the more or less abstract name of astral body. Further out we find the so-called etheric body, and still further outside, the physical body. From the point of view of real life we can speak about the human sheaths in another way, and today we will take directly from life what can, it is true, be learnt only from occult conceptions, but can be understood through unprejudiced observation.
Many of those who, on account of their so-called scientific world-conception, have become arrogant and overbearing, now say: “The ages of faith are long past; they were fit for mankind in their stage of childhood, but men have now progressed to knowledge. Today people must have knowledge of everything and should no longer merely believe.” Now that may sound all very well, but it does not rest on genuine understanding. We must ask more questions about such matters than merely whether in the present course of human evolution knowledge has been gained through ordinary science. These other questions must be put: Does faith, as such, mean anything for mankind? May it not be part of a man's very nature to believe?
Naturally, it might be quite possible that people should want, for some reason, to dispense with faith, to throw it over. But just as a man is allowed for a time to play fast and loose with his health without any obvious harm, it might very well be — and is actually so — that people come to look upon faith merely as a cherished gift to their fathers in the past, which is just as if for a time they were recklessly to abuse their health, thereby using up the forces they once possessed. When a man looks upon faith in that way, however, he is still — where the life-forces of his soul are concerned — living on the old gift of faith handed down to him through tradition. It is not for man to decide whether to lay aside faith or not; faith is a question of life-giving forces in his soul. The important point is not whether we believe or not, but that the forces expressed in the word ‘faith’ are necessary to the soul. For the soul incapable of faith becomes withered, dried-up as the desert.
There were once men who, without any knowledge of natural science, were much cleverer than those today with a scientific world-conception. They did not say what people imagine they would have said: “I believe what I do not know.” They said: “I believe what I know for certain.” Knowledge is the only foundation of faith. We should know in order to take increasing possession of those forces which are forces of faith in the human soul. In our soul we must have what enables us to look toward a supersensible world, makes it possible for us to turn all our thoughts and conceptions in that direction.
If we do not possess forces such as are expressed in the word ‘faith’, something in us goes to waste; we wither as do the leaves in autumn. For a while this may not seem to matter — then things begin to go wrong. Were men in reality to lose all faith, they would soon see what it means for evolution. By losing the forces of faith they would be incapacitated for finding their way about in life; their very existence would be undermined by fear, care, and anxiety. To put it briefly, it is through the forces of faith alone that we can receive the life which should well up to invigorate the soul.
This is because, imperceptible at first for ordinary consciousness, there lies in the hidden depths of our being something in which our true ego is embedded. This something, which immediately makes itself felt if we fail to bring it fresh life, is the human sheath where the forces of faith are active. We may term it the faith-soul, or — as I prefer — the faith-body. It has hitherto been given the more abstract name of astral body. The most important forces of the astral body are those of faith, so the term astral body and the term faith-body are equally justified.
A second force that is also to be found in the hidden depths of a man's being is the force expressed by the word ‘love’. Love is not only something linking men together; it is also needed by them as individuals. When a man is incapable of developing the force of love he, too, becomes dried-up and withered in his inner being. We have merely to picture to ourselves someone who is actually so great an egoist that he is unable to love. Even where the case is less extreme, it is sad to see people who find it difficult to love, who pass through an incarnation without the living warmth that love alone can generate — love for, at any rate, something on Earth.
Such persons are a distressing sight as in their dull, prosaic way they go through the world. For love is a living force that stimulates something deep in our being, keeping it awake and alive — an even deeper force than faith. And just as we are cradled in a body of faith, which from another aspect can be called the astral body, so are we cradled also in a body of love, or, as in Spiritual Science we call it, the etheric body, the body of life-forces. For the chief forces working in us from the etheric body, out of the depths of our being, are those expressed in a man's capacity for loving at every stage of his existence. If a man could completely empty his being of the force of love — but that indeed is impossible for the greatest egoist, thanks be to God, for even in egoistical striving there is still some element of love. Take this case, for example: whoever is unable to love anything else can often begin, if he is sufficiently avaricious, by loving money, at least substituting for charitable love another love — albeit one arising from egoism. For were there no love at all in a man, the sheath which should be sustained by love-forces would shrivel, and the man, empty of love, would actually perish; he would really meet with physical death.
This shriveling of the forces of love can also be called a shriveling of the forces belonging to the etheric body; for the etheric body is the same as the body of love.
Thus at the very center of a man's being we have his essential kernel, the ego, surrounded by its sheaths; first the body of faith, and then around it the body of love.
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If we go further we come to another set of forces we all need in life, and if we do not, or cannot, have them at all — well, that is very distinctly to be seen in a man's external nature. For the forces we need emphatically as life-giving forces are those of hope, of confidence in the future. As far as the physical world is concerned, people cannot take a single step in life without hope. They certainly make strange excuses, sometimes, if they are unwilling to acknowledge that human beings need to know something of what happens between death and rebirth. They say: “Why do we need to know that, when we don't know what will happen to us here from one day to another? So why are we supposed to know what takes place between death and a new birth?” But do we actually know nothing about the following day? We may have no knowledge of what is important for the details of our supersensible life, or, to speak more bluntly, whether or not we shall be physically alive. We do, however, know one thing: that if we are physically alive the next day there will be morning, midday, evening, just as there are today. If today as a carpenter I have made a table, it will still be there tomorrow; if I am a shoemaker, someone will be able to put on tomorrow what I have made today; and if I have sown seeds I know that next year they will come up. We know about the future just as much as we need to know. Life would be impossible in the physical world were not future events to be preceded by hope in this rhythmical way. Would anyone make a table today without being sure it would not be destroyed in the night; would anyone sow seeds if he had no idea what would become of them?
It is precisely in physical life that we need hope, for everything is upheld by hope and without it nothing can be done. The forces of hope, therefore, are connected with our last sheath as human beings, with our physical body. What the forces of faith are for our astral body, and the love-forces for the etheric, the forces of hope are for the physical body. Thus a man who is unable to hope, a man always despondent about what he supposes the future may bring, will go through the world with this clearly visible in his physical appearance. Nothing makes for deep wrinkles, those deadening forces in the physical body, sooner than lack of hope.
The inmost kernel of our being may be said to be sheathed in our faith-body or astral body, in our body of love or etheric body, and in our hope-body or physical body; and we comprehend the true significance of our physical body only when we bear in mind that, in reality, it is not sustained by external physical forces of attraction and repulsion — that is a materialistic idea — but has in it what, according to our concepts, we know as forces of hope. Our physical body is built up by hope, not by forces of attraction and repulsion. This very point can show that the new spiritual-scientific revelation gives us the truth.
What then does Spiritual Science give us? By revealing the all-embracing laws of karma and reincarnation, it gives us something which permeates us with spiritual hope, just as does our awareness on the physical plane that the Sun will rise tomorrow and that seeds will eventually grow into plants. It shows, if we understand karma, that our physical body, which will perish into dust when we have gone through the gate of death, can through the forces permeating us with hope be rebuilt for a new life. Spiritual Science fills men with the strongest forces of hope. Were this Spiritual Science, this new revelation for the present time, to be rejected, men naturally would return to Earth in future all the same, for life on Earth would not cease on account of people's ignorance of its laws. Human beings would incarnate again — but there would be something very strange about these incarnations. Men would gradually become a race with bodies wrinkled and shriveled all over, earthly bodies which would finally be so crippled that people would be entirely incapacitated. To put it briefly, in future incarnations a condition of dying away, of withering up, would assail mankind if their consciousness, and from there the hidden depths of their being right down into the physical body, were not given fresh life through the power of hope.
This power of hope arises through the certainty of knowledge gained from the laws of karma and reincarnation. Already there is a tendency in human beings to produce withering bodies, which in future would become increasingly rickety even in the very bones. Marrow will be brought to the bones, forces of life to the nerves, by this new revelation, whose value will not reside merely in theories but in its life-giving forces — above all in those of hope.
Faith, love, hope constitute three stages in the essential being of man; they are necessary for health and for life as a whole, for without them we cannot exist. Just as work cannot be done in a dark room until light is obtained, it is equally impossible for a human being to carry on in his fourfold nature if his three sheaths are not permeated, warmed through, and strengthened by faith, love, and hope. For faith, love, hope are the basic forces in our astral body, our etheric body, and our physical body.
And from this one instance you can judge how the new revelation makes its entry into the world, permeating the old language with thought-content. Are not these three wonderful words urged upon us in the Gospel revelation, these words of wisdom that ring through the ages — faith, love, hope? But little has been understood of their whole connection with human life, so little that only in certain places has their right sequence been observed.
It is true that faith, love, hope are sometimes put in this correct order; but the significance of the words is so little appreciated that we often hear "faith, hope, love," which is incorrect; for you cannot say astral body, physical body, etheric body, if you would give them their right sequence. That would be putting things higgledy-piggledy, as a child will sometimes do before it understands the thought-content of what is said. It is the same with everything relating to the second revelation. It is permeated throughout with thought; and we have striven to permeate with thought our explanation of the Gospels. For what have they meant for people up to now? They have been something with which to fortify mankind and to fill them with great and powerful perceptions, something to inspire men to enter into the depth of heart and feeling in the Mystery of Golgotha. But now consider the simple fact that people have only just begun to reflect upon the Gospels, and in doing so they have straightway found contradictions upon which Spiritual Science alone can help to throw light. Thus it is only now that they are beginning to let their souls be worked on by the thought-content of what the Gospels give them in language of the supersensible worlds. In this connection we have pointed out what is so essential and of such consequence for our age: the new appearance of the Christ in an etheric body, for his appearance in a physical body is ruled out by the whole character of our times.
Hence we have indicated that the Christ, in contradistinction as it were to the suffering Christ on Golgotha, is appearing now as Christ triumphant, Christ the Lord of Karma. This has been foreshadowed by those who have painted Him as the Christ of the Last Judgment. Whether painted or described in words, something is represented which at the appointed time will come to pass.
In truth, this begins in the 20th century and will hold good until the end of the Earth. It is in our 20th century that this judgment, this ordering of karma, begins, and we have seen how infinitely important it is for our age that this revelation should come to men in such a way that even concepts such as faith, love, hope can be given their true valuation for the first time.
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John the Baptist said: Change your mood of soul; the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. That is, take to yourselves the human ego that need no longer abstain from approaching the spiritual world — a saying which points clearly to what is here in question, namely, that with the event of Palestine the time came for the supersensible to pour light into the ego of man, so that into his ego the heavens are able to descend. Previously, the ego could come to men only by sinking into their unconscious. But those who interpret everything materialistically say: The Christ, reckoning with the weaknesses, errors, and prejudices of His contemporaries, even foretold, like the credulous people of His time, that the millennium would be realized or that a great catastrophe would fall upon the Earth. Neither of these events, however, came about.
There was indeed a catastrophe, but perceptible only to the spirit. The credulous and superstitious, who believe Christ to have foretold how His actual coming would be from the clouds, interpreted His meaning in a materialistic way.
Today also there are people who thus interpret what is to be grasped only in spirit, and when nothing happens in a material sense they judge the matter in just the same way as was done in the case of the millennium. How many indeed we find today who, speaking almost pityingly of those events, say that Christ was influenced by the beliefs of His time and looked for the impending approach to Earth of the Kingdom of Heaven. That was a weakness on Christ's part, they say, and then it was seen — and remarked upon even by distinguished theologians — that the Kingdom of Heaven has not come down on Earth.
It may be that men will meet our new revelation too in such a way that after a time, when the enhancement of men's faculties is in full swing, they will say, “Well, nothing has come of all these predictions of yours” — not realizing that they just cannot see what is there. Thus do events repeat themselves. Spiritual Science is meant to gather together a large number of people, until fulfilment comes for what has been said by those with a right knowledge of how during this century the new revelation and the new supersensible facts are appearing in human evolution. They will then continue their course in the same way, becoming ever more significant throughout the next 3,000 years, until important new weighty facts are once more revealed to mankind.