from The Apocalypse. Lecture 7
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, September 11, 1924:
Something which had remained from the non-Christian, ancient Romanism prepares itself in the womb of Earth evolution [from A.D. 333 to A.D. 666]. What does this non-Christian Romanism consist of?
Now, if we look into the Mysteries we find that trichotomy or the holy number three had a profound significance in all of the greatest and most advanced ones. Let's take a look at what this meaning was. One thought about how a human being is born in the physical stream of heredity, approximately in the way that esoteric Hebraic teachings conceive of this. One imagined how this human being brings characteristics and capacities with him through heredity. One described the life of a human being as something which proceeds in a straight line and in which nothing important enters except what is oriented by hereditary impulses. The fathers in the ancient mysteries said: You originate from the physical forces of your parents, and the spiritual impulses of your physical parents are also at work in you. And these ideas continued to be taught in Hebraic esotericism and by the proponents of other esoteric doctrines.
However, other people added something to this. In the Mysteries which must be called the most advanced ones, one spoke of how the man who bears hereditary impulses and develops accordingly can also take in another impulse during his physical existence between birth and death, an impulse through which he lifts himself out of hereditary conditions, so that his soul finds its way out of them, namely, the Son impulse or Christ impulse. And one said: The impulses of heredity are in man and they constitute his straight-line evolution between birth and death. They are from the Father, the Father who underlies everything. The impulses of the Son do not enter into hereditary forces; they must be taken up into the soul and elaborated by the soul; they must be able to expand the soul to such an extent that it can free itself from bodily and hereditary forces. They enter the freedom of man, in the way that one understood freedom in those times; they go into the freedom of the soul, where the latter is free from hereditary forces. They are the ones which permit man to be psychically reborn. They are the impulses which enable man to control himself during the life which is given him by the Father. And so one saw the Father-man in these Mysteries — and one also saw the man who is the son of the Father and the brother of Christ and who controls himself. He gains control over that part of him which is free from the body in a certain respect, and he must bear a new realm in him which knows nothing about nature, which is a different order from that of nature: the realm of the Spirit.
If one were to talk about the Father God, not in the external, materialistic way in which one does this today but more like they do in Hebraic doctrine, one would be justified in speaking of effects of nature which are also spiritual effects, for spiritual activities are present in all activities of nature. The natural science which arose a while back and which is active today is merely a one-sided science of the Father. The science of the Son or the Christ is added to this; this is connected with the way man takes hold of himself and with the way man receives an impulse which he can only take in through the soul, and not through hereditary forces. The way he works his way into this is chaotic at first, without the activity and the power of laws. This activity is brought into him by the Spirit, so that according to the ancient Mysteries we basically have two kingdoms: the kingdom of nature or the kingdom of the Father, and the kingdom of the Spirit — and man is carried out of the kingdom of nature and into the kingdom of the Spirit by the Son or Christ.
If we become aware that such views were still present in the Apocalyptist and in the souls of all the men of his time, it will enable us to look into his prophetic soul, which could survey the future in such broad strokes, in order to look at the way he looked at what poured over the Christianity which had become a semblance of itself in two directions around the year 666.
Here his prophetic eye fell upon that doctrine which had already arisen in the East in 666, and which goes back to that Mohammedan Mystery culture which knows nothing about the Son. This Islamic Mystery culture doesn't know anything about the world structure to which I referred; it doesn't know about the two kingdoms, the realm of the Father and the realm of the Spirit; it only knows one rigid thing; only the Father exists for it: there is only one God, Allah, and none beside him; and Mohammed is his prophet. This point of view makes Islam the polar opposite of Christianity. This viewpoint leads to the will to eliminate all freedom for all times to come, to the will for determinism, and this cannot be otherwise if one thinks of the world only in connection with the Father God.
However, the Apocalyptist feels that man cannot find himself like that. Man cannot be permeated by the Christ like that; he can't grasp his humanity if he only grasps this ancient teaching about the Father. The outer human form becomes maya for a world conception which is so strongly closed off within; for man becomes man by taking hold of himself, by making Christ alive in himself and through the fact that he can fit himself into the spiritual order of things and into the realm of the spirit which is entirely free of nature. Thereby he becomes a man; but he doesn't become a man if he falls back into the view which only reckons with the Father God.
Now that the 'I' has been entering into man since the year 333, there is a danger — so says the apocalyptist — of humanity growing confused about this 'I' becoming filled with the Son God, with the Christ. What threatens to keep man at the animal stage rises up after a period of time which is just as long as the first period after the Mystery of Golgotha: 666 is the number of the beast.
The Apocalyptist had a decisive inner vision of what threatens men. Christianity was made into a semblance of itself in two directions, or it would be better to say that it became obscured by fog. The year 666 marks the time of this inundation which threatens him. It is that significant year in the spiritual world when what exists in Arabism is introduced everywhere. He points to this year 666 very clearly. People who can read in an apocalyptic way understand this quite well. For he foresaw the effect that the thing which was breaking in would have, and he called the number 666, the number of the beast.
Thus he basically anticipates everything which follows in an apocalyptic way. What follows is the streaming of Arabism toward Europe, whereupon Christianity becomes permeated by a teaching which could only make men fail to see the humanity within them; where the Father dogma is converted into naturalism; whereby the latest view on evolution arose, which says that one must explain man by just following the sequence of animals down to the human being.
Wasn't the beast whose number is 666 still rising in Darwinism, where man couldn't comprehend that he is a human being but could only look upon himself as a beast? Don't we see these Ahrimanic resistances which are working against the Son God working further in the impregnation of Christianity with a materialistic form of the Father dogma? Isn't this still working into our time?
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