Monday, January 31, 2022

When conscience speaks, no other voice may intrude

Rudolf Steiner, the conclusion to a lecture given May 5, 1910:

It was the Christ-impulse that first made it possible for humanity to realize that God, the Creator of things and of the external sheaths of man, can be recognized in our inward life. Only by understanding the divine humanity of Christ Jesus were men enabled to understand that the voice of God could be heard within the soul. In order that men should be able to find something of the divine nature in their own inner life, it was necessary for Christ to enter into the evolution of humanity as an external historical event. If the Christ, a divine being, had not been present in the body of Jesus of Nazareth — if he had not shown once and for all that God can be discerned in our inner life, because he had once been present in a human body — if he had not appeared as the conqueror of death through the Mystery of Golgotha, men would never have been able to comprehend the indwelling of Divinity in the human soul.
If anyone claims that this indwelling could be discerned even if there had been no historical Christ Jesus, he could equally well say that we should have eyes even if there were no Sun. As against this one-sided view of some philosophers that, since without eyes we could not see the light, the origin of light must be traced to the eyes, we must always set Goethe's aphorism: 'The eye is created by light for light.' If there were no Sun to fill space with light, no eyes would ever have developed in the human organism. The eyes are created by light, and without the Sun there would be no eyes. No eye is capable of perceiving the Sun without having first received from the Sun the power to do so. In the same way, there could be no power to grasp and recognize the Christ-nature if the Christ-impulse had not entered into external history. What the Sun out there in the cosmos does for human sight, so the historical Christ Jesus makes possible what we call the entry of the divine nature into our inner life.
The elements necessary for understanding this were present in the stream of thought that came over from the East; they needed only to be raised to a higher level. It was in the West that souls were ripe to grasp and accept this impulse — the West, where experiences which had belonged to the outer world were transferred to the inner life most intensively, and in the form of conscience watched over a generally weak ego. In this way souls were strengthened, and prepared to hear the voice of conscience now saying within them: The Divinity who appeared in the East to those able to look clairvoyantly into the world — this Divinity now lives in us!
However, what was thus being prepared could not have become conscious experience if the inward Divinity had not spoken in advance in the dawning of conscience. So we see that external understanding for the Divinity of Christ Jesus was born in the East, and the emergence of conscience came to meet it from the West. For example, we find that conscience is more and more often spoken of in the Roman world, at the beginning of the Christian era, and the further westward we go the clearer is the evidence for the recognized existence of conscience or for its presence in embryonic form.
Thus East and West played into each other's hands. We see the Sun of the Christ-nature rising in the East, while in the West the development of conscience is preparing the way for understanding the Christ. Hence the victorious advance of Christianity is toward the West, not the East. In the East we see the spread of a religion which represents the final consequence — though on the highest level — of the eastern outlook: Buddhism takes hold of the eastern world. Christianity takes hold of the western world, because Christianity had first created the organ for receiving it. Here we see Christianity brought into relation with the deepened element in western culture: the concept of conscience embodied in Christianity.
Not through the study of external history, but only through an inward contemplation of the facts, shall we come to knowledge of these developments. What I am saying today will be met with disbelief by many people. But a demand of the times is that we should recognize the spirit in external phenomena. This, however, is possible only if we are at least able initially to discern the spirit where it speaks to us in the form of a clear message. Popular consciousness says: When conscience speaks, it is God speaking in the soul. The highest spiritual consciousness says that when conscience speaks, it is truly the cosmic Spirit speaking. And spiritual science brings out the connection between conscience and the greatest event in the evolution of mankind, the Christ Event. Hence it is not surprising that conscience has thereby been ennobled and raised to a higher sphere. When we hear that something has been done for reasons of conscience, we feel that conscience is regarded as one of the most important possessions of mankind.
Thus we can see how natural and right it is for the human heart to speak of conscience as “God in man.” And when Goethe says that the highest experience for man is when “God-Nature reveals itself to him”, we must realize that God can reveal himself in the spirit to man only if Nature is seen in the light of its spiritual background. This has been provided for in human evolution, on the one hand by the light of Christ, shining from outside, and on the other by the divine light within us: the light of conscience. Hence a philosopher such as Fichte, who studies human character, is justified in saying that conscience is the highest voice in our inward life. On this account, also, we are aware that our dignity as human beings is inseparable from conscience. We are human beings because we have an ego-consciousness; and the conscience we have at our side is also at the side of our ego. Thus we look on conscience as a most sacred individual possession, inviolable by the external world, whose voice enables us to determine our direction and our goal. When conscience speaks, no other voice may intrude.
So it is that on one side conscience ensures our connection with the primordial power of the world and on the other guarantees the fact that in our inmost self we have something like a drop flowing from the Godhead. And man can know: When conscience speaks in him, it is a God speaking.

Transforming the Soul, volume 2 {CW 59}

The Path to Freedom and Love and Their Significance in World Happenings


The Bridge Between Universal Spirituality and the Physical Constitution of Man. Lecture 3 of 3.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, December 19, 1920:

As human beings we stand in the world as thinking, contemplative beings on the one hand, and as doers, as beings of action, on the other; with our feelings we live within both these spheres. With our feelings we respond, on the one side, to what is presented to our observation; on the other side, feelings enter into our actions, our deeds. We need only consider how we may be satisfied or dissatisfied with the success or lack of success of our deeds, how in truth all action is accompanied by impulses of feeling, and we shall see that feeling links the two poles of our being: the pole of thinking and the pole of deed, of action. Only through the fact that we are thinking beings are we human in the truest sense. Consider too, how everything that gives us the consciousness of our essential humanity is connected with the fact that we can inwardly picture the world around us; we live in this world and can contemplate it. To imagine that we cannot contemplate the world would entail forfeiting our essential humanity.
As doers we have our place in social life and everything we accomplish between birth and death has a certain significance in this social life. Insofar as we are contemplative beings, thought operates in us; insofar as we are doers, that is to say, social beings, will operates in us. It is not the case in human nature, nor is it ever so, that things can simply be thought of intellectually side by side; the truth is that whatever is an active factor in life can be characterized from one aspect or another; the forces of the world interpenetrate, flow into each other. Mentally we can picture ourselves as beings of thought and also as beings of will. But even when we are entirely engrossed in contemplation, when the outer world is completely stilled, the will is continually active. And again, when we are performing deeds, thought is active in us. It is inconceivable that anything should proceed from us in the way of actions or deeds — which may also take effect in the realm of social life — without our identifying ourselves in thought with what thus takes place. In everything that is of the nature of will, the element of thought is contained; and in everything that is of the nature of thought, will is present. It is essential to be quite clear about what is involved here if we seriously want to build the bridge between the moral-spiritual world order and natural-physical world order.
Imagine that you are living for a time purely in reflection as usually understood, that you are engaging in no kind of outward activity at all, but are wholly engrossed in thought. You must realize, however, that in this life of thought, will is also active; will is then at work in your inner being, raying out its forces into the realm of thought. When we picture the thinking human being in this way, when we realize that the will is radiating all the time into the thoughts, something will certainly strike us concerning life and its realities. If we review all the thoughts we have formulated, we shall find in every case that they are linked with something in our environment, something that we ourselves have experienced. Between birth and death we have, in a certain respect, no thoughts other than those brought to us by life. If our life has been rich in experiences we have a rich thought content; if our life experiences have been meager, we have a meager thought content. The thought content represents our inner destiny — to a certain extent. But within this life of thought there is something that is inherently our own; what is inherently our own is how we connect thoughts with one another and dissociate them again, how we elaborate them inwardly, how we arrive at judgments and draw conclusions, how we orientate ourselves in the life of thought — all this is inherently our own. The will in our life of thought is our own.
If we study this life of thought in careful self-examination, we shall certainly realize that thoughts, as far as their actual content is concerned, come to us from outside, but that it is we ourselves who elaborate these thoughts. Therefore, in respect to our world of thought we are entirely dependent upon the experiences brought to us by our birth, by our destiny. But through the will, which rays out from the depths of the soul, we carry into what thus comes to us from the outer world, something that is inherently our own. For the fulfillment of what self-knowledge demands of us it is highly important to keep separate in our minds how, on the one side, the thought content comes to us from the surrounding world and how, on the other, the force of the will, coming from within our being, rays into the world of thought.
How, in reality, do we become inwardly more and more spiritual? — Not by taking in as many thoughts as possible from the surrounding world, for these thoughts merely reproduce in pictures this outer world, which is a physical, material world. Constantly to be running in pursuit of sensations does not make us more spiritual. We become more spiritual through the inner, will-permeated work we carry out in our thoughts. This is why meditation, too, consists in not indulging in haphazard thoughts but in holding certain easily envisaged thoughts in the very center of our consciousness, drawing them there with a strong effort of will. And the greater the strength and intensity of this inner radiation of will into the sphere of thinking, the more spiritual we become. When we take in thoughts from the outer material world — and between birth and death we can take in only such thoughts — we become, as you can easily realize, unfree; for we are given over to the concatenations of things and events in the external world; as far as the actual content of the thoughts is concerned, we are obliged to think as the external world prescribes; only when we elaborate the thoughts do we become free in the real sense.
It is possible to attain complete freedom in our inner life if we increasingly efface and exclude the actual thought content, insofar as this comes from outside, and kindle into greater activity the element of will which streams through our thoughts when we form judgments, draw conclusions and the like. Thereby, however, our thinking becomes what I have called in my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity ‘pure thinking’. We think, but in our thinking there is nothing but will. I have laid particular emphasis on this in the new edition of the book (1918). What is thus within us lies in the sphere of thinking. But pure thinking may equally be called pure will. Thus from the realm of thinking we reach the realm of will, when we become inwardly free; our thinking attains such maturity that it is entirely irradiated by will; it no longer takes anything in from outside, but its very life is of the nature of will. By progressively strengthening the impulse of will in our thinking we prepare ourselves for what I have called in the Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, ‘Moral Imagination’. Moral Imagination rises to the 'Moral Intuitions' which then pervade and illuminate our will that has now become thought, or our thinking that has now become will. In this way we raise ourselves above the sway of the 'necessity' prevailing in the material world, permeate ourselves with the force that is inherently our own, and prepare for Moral Intuition. And everything that can stream into us from the spiritual world has its foundation, primarily, in these Moral Intuitions. Therefore freedom dawns when we enable the will to become an ever mightier and mightier force in our thinking.
Now let us consider the human being from the opposite pole, that of the will. When does the will present itself with particular clarity through what we do? When we sneeze, let us say, we are also doing something, but we cannot, surely, ascribe to ourselves any definite impulse of will when we sneeze! When we speak, we are doing something in which will is undoubtedly contained. But think how, in speaking, deliberate intent and absence of intent, volition and absence of volition, intermingle. You have to learn to speak, and in such a way that you are no longer obliged to formulate each single word by dint of an effort of will; an element of instinct enters into speech. In ordinary life at least, it is so, and it is emphatically so in the case of those who do not strive for spirituality. Garrulous people, who are always opening their mouths in order to say something or other in which very little thought is contained, give others an opportunity of noticing — they themselves, of course, do not notice — how much there is in speech that is instinctive and involuntary. But the more we go out beyond our organic life and pass over to activity that is liberated, as it were, from organic processes, the more do we carry thoughts into our actions and deeds. Sneezing is still entirely a matter of organic life; speaking is largely connected with organic life; walking really very little; what we do with the hands, also very little. And so we come by degrees to actions which are more and more emancipated from our organic life. We accompany such actions with our thoughts, although we do not know how the will streams into these thoughts. If we are not somnambulists and do not go about in this condition, our actions will always be accompanied by our thoughts. We carry our thoughts into our actions, and the more our actions evolve towards perfection, the more are our thoughts being carried into them.
Our inner life is constantly deepened when we send will, our own inherent force, into our thinking, when we permeate our thinking with will. We bring will into thinking and thereby attain freedom. As we gradually perfect our actions we finally succeed in sending thoughts into these actions; we irradiate our actions — which proceed from our will — with thoughts. On the one side (inwards) we live a life of thought; we permeate this with the will and thus find freedom. On the other side (outwards) our actions stream forth from our will, and we permeate them with our thoughts.
But by what means do our actions evolve to greater perfection? How do we achieve greater perfection in our actions? We achieve this by developing in ourselves the force which can only be designated by the words: devotion to the outer world. — The more our devotion to the outer world grows and intensifies, the more does this outer world stir us to action. But it is just through unfolding devotion to the outer world that we succeed in permeating our actions with thoughts. What, in reality, is devotion to the outer world? Devotion to the outer world, which permeates our actions with thoughts, is nothing else than love.
Just as we attain freedom by irradiating the life of thought with will, so do we attain love by permeating the life of will with thoughts. We unfold love in our actions by letting thoughts radiate into the realm of the will; we develop freedom in our thinking by letting what is of the nature of will radiate into our thoughts. And because, as human beings, we are a unified whole, when we reach the point where we find freedom in the life of thought and love in the life of will, there will be freedom in our actions and love in our thinking. Each irradiates the other: action filled with thought is wrought in love; thinking that is permeated with will gives rise to actions and deeds that are truly free.
Thus you see how in the human being the two great ideals, freedom and love, grow together. Freedom and love are also that which we, standing in the world, can bring to realization in ourselves in such a way that, through us, the one unites with the other for the good of the world.
We must now ask: How is the ideal, the highest ideal, to be attained in the will-permeated life of thought? — If the life of thought were something that represented material processes, the will could never penetrate fully into the realm of the thoughts and increasingly take root there. The will would at most be able to ray into these material processes as an organizing force. Will can take real effect only if the life of thought is devoid of outer, physical reality. What, then, must it be?
You will be able to envisage what it must be if you take a picture as a starting point. If you have here a mirror and here an object, the object is reflected in the mirror; if you then go behind the mirror, you find nothing. In other words, you have a picture — nothing more. Our thoughts are pictures in this same sense. How is this to be explained? — In a previous lecture I said that the life of thought as such is not a reality of the immediate moment. The life of thought rays in from our existence before birth, or rather, before conception. The life of thought has its reality between death and a new birth. And just as here the object stands before the mirror and what it presents is a picture — only that and nothing more — so what we unfold as the life of thought is lived through in the real sense between death and a new birth, and merely rays into our life since birth. As thinking beings, we have within us a mirror reality only. Because this is so, the other reality which, as you know, rays up from the metabolic process, can permeate the mirror pictures of the life of thought. If, as is very rarely the case today, we make sincere endeavors to develop unbiased thinking, it will be clear to us that the life of thought consists of mirror-pictures if we turn to thinking in its purest form — in mathematics. Mathematical thinking streams up entirely from our inner being, but it has a mirror-existence only. Through mathematics the make-up of external objects can, it is true, be analyzed and determined, but the mathematical thoughts in themselves are only thoughts, they exist merely as pictures. They have not been acquired from any outer reality.
Abstract thinkers such as Kant also employ an abstract expression. They say: mathematical concepts are a priori. — A priori, apriority, means ‘existing in the mind independent of experience’. But why are mathematical concepts a priori? Because they stream in from the existence preceding birth, or rather, preceding conception. It is this that constitutes their ‘apriority’. And the reason why they appear real to our consciousness is because they are irradiated by the will. This is what makes them real. Just think how abstract modern thinking has become when it uses abstract words for something which, in its reality, is not understood! Men such as Kant had a dim inkling that we bring mathematics with us from our existence before birth, and therefore they called the findings of mathematics ‘a priori’. But the term ‘a priori’ really tells us nothing, for it points to no reality, it points to something merely formal.
In regard to the life of thought, which with its mirror existence must be irradiated by the will in order to become reality, ancient traditions speak ofsemblance. (Diagram XI, Schein.)
Let us now consider the other pole of man's nature, where the thoughts stream down towards the sphere of will, where deeds are performed in love. Here our consciousness is, so to speak, held at bay; it rebounds from reality. We cannot look into that realm of darkness — a realm of darkness for our consciousness — where the will unfolds whenever we raise an arm or turn the head, unless we take super-sensible conceptions to our aid. We move an arm; but the complicated process in operation there remains just as hidden from ordinary consciousness as what takes place in deep sleep, in dreamless sleep. We perceive our arm; we perceive how our hand grasps some object. This is because we permeate the action with thoughts. But the thoughts that are in our consciousness are still only semblance. We live in what is real, but it does not ray into our ordinary consciousness. Ancient traditions spoke here of Power (Gewalt), because the reality in which we are living is indeed permeated by thought, but thought has nevertheless rebounded from it in a certain sense, during the life between birth and death. (Diagram XI.)
Between these two poles lies the balancing factor that unites the two — unites the will that rays towards the head with the thoughts which, as they flow into deeds wrought with love, are, so to say, felt with the heart. This means of union is the life of feeling, which is able to direct itself towards the will as well as towards the thoughts. In our ordinary consciousness we live in an element by means of which we grasp, on the one side, what comes to expression in our will-permeated thought with its predisposition to freedom, while on the other side, we try to ensure that what passes over into our deeds is filled more and more with thoughts. And what forms the bridge connecting both has since ancient times been called Wisdom. (Diagram XI.)
In his fairy tale, The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily, Goethe has given indications of these ancient traditions in the figures of the Golden King, the Silver King, and the Brazen King. We have already shown from other points of view how these three elements must come to life again, but in an entirely different form—these three elements to which ancient instinctive knowledge pointed and which can come to life again only if we acquire the knowledge yielded by Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition.
But what is it that is actually taking place as we unfold our life of thought? — Reality is becoming semblance! It is very important to be clear about this. We carry about with us our head, which with its hard skull and tendency to ossification, presents, even outwardly, a picture of what is dead, in contrast to the rest of the living organism. Between birth and death we bear in our head that which, from an earlier time when it was reality, comes into us as semblance. From the rest of our organism we permeate this semblance with the element issuing from our metabolic processes; we permeate it with the real element of the will. There we have within us a seed, a germinating entity which, first and foremost, is part of our humanity, but also means something in the cosmos. Think of it — an individual is born in a particular year; before then she was in the spiritual world. When she passes out of the spiritual world, thought which there is reality, becomes semblance, and she leads over into this semblance the forces of her will which come from an entirely different direction, rising up from parts of her organism other than the head. That is how the past, dying away into semblance, is kindled again to become reality of the future.
Let us understand this rightly. What happens when we rise to pure thinking, to thinking that is irradiated by will? — On the foundation of the past that has dissolved into semblance, through fructification by the will which rises up from our egohood, there unfolds within us a new reality leading into the future. We are the bearers of the seed into the future. The thoughts of the past, as realities, are as it were the mother-soil; into this mother-soil is laid that which comes from the individ ual egohood, and the seed is sent on into the future for future life.
On the other side, we evolve by permeating our deeds and actions, our will-nature, with thoughts; deeds are performed in love. Such deeds detach themselves from us. Our deeds do not remain confined to ourselves; they become world happenings. If they are permeated by love, then love goes with them. As far as the cosmos is concerned, an egotistical action is different from an action permeated by love. When, out of semblance, through fructification by the will, we unfold that which proceeds from our inmost being, then what streams forth into the world from our head encounters our thought-permeated deeds. Just as when a plant unfolds it contains in its blossom the seed to which the light of the sun, the air outside, and so on, must come, to which something must be brought from the cosmos in order that it may grow, so what is unfolded through freedom must find an element in which to grow through the love that lives in our deeds.
Thus do we stand within the great process of world evolution, and what takes place inside the boundary of our skin and flows out beyond our skin in the form of deeds, has significance not only for us but for the world, the universe. We have our place in the arena of cosmic happenings. By reality in earlier times becoming semblance in us, reality is ever and again dissolved, and in that the semblance is quickened again by the will, new reality arises. Here we have — as if spiritually we could put our very finger upon it — what has also been spoken of from other points of view. — There is no eternal conservation of matter! Matter is transformed into semblance and semblance is transformed into reality by the will. The law of the conservation of matter and energy affirmed by physics is a delusion, because account is taken of the natural world only. The truth is that matter is continually passing away in that it is transformed into semblance; and a new creation takes place in that through the human being, who stands before us as the supreme achievement of the cosmos, semblance is again transformed into Being (Sein).
We can also see this if we look at the other pole — only there it is not so easy to perceive. The processes which finally lead to freedom can certainly be grasped by unbiased thinking. But to see rightly in the case of this other pole needs a certain degree of spiritual-scientific development. For here, to begin with, ordinary consciousness rebounds when confronted by what ancient traditions called Power. What is living itself out as Power, as Force, is indeed permeated by thoughts; but the ordinary consciousness does not perceive that just as more and more will, a greater and greater faculty of judgment, comes into the world of thought, so, when we bring thoughts into the will-nature, when we overcome the element of Power more and more completely, we also pervade what is merely Power with the light of thought. At the one pole of man's being we see the overcoming of matter; at the other pole, the new birth of matter.
As I have indicated briefly in my book, Riddles of the Soul (Mercury Press, 1996), the human being is a threefold being: as nerve-and-sense being, the bearer of the life of thought, of perception; as rhythmic being (breathing, circulating blood), the bearer of the life of feeling; as metabolic being, the bearer of the life of will. But how then does the metabolic process operate in us when will is ever more and more unfolded in love? It operates in that, as we perform such deeds, matter is continually overcome. And what is it that unfolds in us when, as a free being, we find our way into pure thinking, which is, however, really of the nature of will? — Matter is born! — We behold the coming-into-being of matter! We bear in ourselves that which brings matter to birth: our head; and we bear in ourselves that which destroys matter, where we can see how matter is destroyed: our metabolic-limb organism.
This is the way in which to study the whole human being. We see how what consciousness conceives of in abstractions is an actual factor in the process of World-Becoming; and we see how that which is contained in this process of World-Becoming and to which the ordinary consciousness clings so firmly that it can do no other than conceive it to be reality—we see how this is dissolved into nothingness. It is reality for the ordinary consciousness, and when it obviously does not tally with outer realities, then recourse has to be taken to the atoms, which are considered to be firmly fixed realities. And because one cannot free oneself in one's thoughts from these firmly fixed realities, one lets them mingle with each other, now in this way, now in that. At one time they mingle to form hydrogen, at another, oxygen; they are merely differently grouped. This is simply because people are incapable of any other belief than that what has once been firmly fixed in thought must also be as firmly fixed in reality.
It is nothing else than feebleness of thought into which one lapses when accepting the existence of fixed, ever-enduring atoms. What reveals itself to us through thinking that is in accordance with reality is that matter is continually dissolved away to nothingness and continually rebuilt out of nothingness. It is only because whenever matter dies away, new matter comes into being, that people speak of the conservation of matter. They fall into the same error into which they would fall, let us say, if a number of documents were carried into a house, copied there, but the originals burned and the copies brought out again, and then they were to believe that what was carried in had been carried out — that it is the same thing. The reality is that the old documents had been burned and new ones written. It is the same with what comes into being in the world, and it is important for our knowledge to advance to this point. For in that realm of the human being, where matter dies away into semblance and new matter arises, there lies the possibility of freedom, and there lies the possibility of love. And freedom and love belong together, as I have already indicated in my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity.
Those who, on the basis of some particular conception of the world, speak of the imperishability of matter, annul freedom on the one side and the full development of love on the other. For only through the fact that in us the past dies away, becomes semblance, and the future is a new creation in the condition of a seed, does there arise in us the feeling of love, the devotion to something to which we are not coerced by the past, and freedom, action that is not predetermined. Freedom and love are, in reality, comprehensible only to a spiritual-scientific conception of the world, not to any other. Those who are conversant with the picture of the world that has appeared in the course of the last few centuries will be able to assess the difficulties that will have to be overcome before the habits of thought prevailing in modern humanity can be induced to give way to this unbiased, spiritual-scientific thinking. For in the picture of the world existing in natural science there are really no points from which we can go forward to a true understanding of freedom and love.
How the natural-scientific picture of the world on the one side, and on the other, the ancient, traditional picture of the world, are related to a truly progressive, spiritual-scientific development of humanity — of this we will speak on some other occasion.

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Sunday, January 30, 2022

Holy Fervor, Sacred Zeal


Rudolf Steiner: “How do we grow ever more spiritual? Not by absorbing as many thoughts from the world as possible, for these thoughts only reproduce our sensory and physical surroundings in images. We do not enhance our spirituality, our mental powers, by pursuing all the sensations life offers, but only by our inner will-directed work upon and within these thoughts. Thus meditation too does not involve giving oneself up to a random play of thought associations, but instead placing a few, easily surveyed, easily tested thoughts at the center of our awareness. And the stronger and more intently we shine this inner will within the element where thoughts exist, the more spiritual we become.”

Thank you, Carolyn Jourdan!

Source: Lecture of December 19, 1920, in Universal Spirituality and Human Physicality: Bridging the Divide (CW 202), page 152

Saturday, January 29, 2022

"Henhouse door frost pattern today [January 29, 2022]"


Photograph by Roger Hill

Studio Exactamundo
Dyberry Township, Pennsylvania

Lucky You! Light on the Path


Notes of a person in attendance at an Esoteric Lesson given by Rudolf Steiner in Mannheim on March 10, 1911:

One result of meditation is that we get a feeling that we're making contact with beings in the higher hierarchies; we experience this as a warm, vital feeling of being taken into higher worlds, as an arrival at the place where we originated. The feeling of being admitted to the spiritual world must be warm and vital.

All concepts, feelings, and knowledge must become different in an esotericist.

Memory was given to us by Luciferic beings.

People who are thrifty in physical life are often very wasteful in their soul-spiritual life. We should be economical with these forces and transform them into seeing forces. Only self-knowledge can lead us to this. We spray out our feelings and emotions too selflessly from morn to evening.

We must first pass through egoism in the soul-spiritual domain. There is a danger that by trying to enter the spiritual world one will also become egotistical in the physical world. That's why moral and intellectual purification go hand in hand in a correct training.

We should realize that the impossible is being demanded of us esotericists and that we're striving for the impossible. All such striving is impossible, and being unegotistical is also impossible.

Greed for knowledge and progress is not the right thing for an esotericist. The right thing is an earnest feeling that it's our duty to develop, for the Divine Spirit has placed forces in us that he develops without our help; these are passive forces. But the Godhead has also placed active forces in us that a man must actively develop himself. And it's the greatest sin against the Divine Spirit to not develop the forces that the Godhead has placed in us for the good of the evolution and progress of mankind. These forces in us are so strong that they lead us into the spiritual world — though it may take years and so we mustn't get impatient, but should tell ourselves: I'll wait, for I know that these forces do this — if we're just devoted to the spiritual world in the right way.

Accessory exercises develop qualities that are necessary for the physical plane, such as thought control, equanimity, etc.

Eventually we'll have a place in our heart or soul in which we preserve our most sacred things, in which we're esotericists, whereas in outside life we stand on the physical plane. Of course this doesn't happen without a battle. As esoterics we must become fighters.

Thoughts that storm in on us are the spiritual world's beings who flutter around us, and the more we try to keep them away, the more they storm in on us. We shouldn't complain about this. One can tell a pupil to be glad that this is so, for it's a result of meditation that shows that thoughts are a spiritual power. Courage, fearlessness, and confidence are what an esotericist needs.


I am the killer of Christ


Rudolf Steiner:  "One thing alone makes the Christian, namely the realization: You, as man, have killed the Christ. You must let the Christ live again in you; you must prepare a place in your heart for the Christ."

Source: March 4, 1911

"I am the way, the truth, and the life" : what the world needs now is anthroposophy


A lecture given by Rudolf Steiner in Hanover on March 4, 1911:

When in Spiritual Science we learn that man is composed of various members — physical body, etheric body, astral body, ego, manas, buddhi, atman — this is only the merest beginning, and it would be a dangerous fallacy if the belief were to spread that with such knowledge as is given in elementary Spiritual Science concerning the nature of man, his evolution through reincarnation and karma, and the like, we already know everything it is necessary to know about the spiritual life, that this is sufficient for the future progress of mankind. True, these things must be known, but we must learn more and more to look upon Spiritual Science as something which penetrates our whole life and is transformed into practice, not only in respect of high ideals but in respect of every impulse in life, on however small a scale. This transformation into practice cannot be achieved through abstract ideas but only through such knowledge, ideas, and concepts as can grasp the exact way in which these different members of which man is composed work together and interpenetrate in the process of his evolution. We do indeed know something about man when we know of his several bodies and members, but we only learn really to understand him when we are aware of how the different members are interrelated.
Now, it might be contended that this too could be grasped and that then everything would be known, but the truth is that the interpenetration of the different members of man's being changes in the progressive stages of evolution. In ancient Egypt, for example, these members worked quite differently from the way in which they do in the human body today. Knowledge of how the members were interrelated in ancient Egyptian times, therefore, tells us nothing, in reality, about the nature man in our own epoch. Any attempt to transplant the temple-wisdom of ancient Egypt into our own epoch would be neither right nor suitable for today. We cannot speak of these things in the same way as the priest-sages of Egypt spoke of them to their pupils.
This interworking between the members of man's being changes, too, during the life of the individual. It is not the same in childhood as it is in later life. Today we shall consider this interworking as it is in early childhood and then in later years.
You know well that the child's consciousness is different from that of a mature human being. The difference comes to expression in the fact that the child does not, to begin. with, say “I” of itself. The word that is so important for us is voiced only later, when the consciousness of “I” awakens in the child. There are modern psychologists, so-called investigators of the soul, who deny this. They maintain that consciousness of the “I” is already there and it is simply that the child does not bring it to expression. No importance should be attached to such statements of modern psychology. Really foolish things are said — for example, that the human being first learns to think and then to speak. But the reverse is correct. It is through speaking that the human being learns to think. The child's consciousness is quite different. The child would not designate itself by saying, as we do in late years: “I feel," "I wish this or that.” Between the ages of 2½ and 3½ (varying with the individual) something happens in the child which we can easily confirm by looking back into our own childhood. We find that we can remember back to a certain point and then the thread of memory whereby the consciousness of our own deeds is retained, breaks. We know that the “I” existed before this break in memory, but it was not within the sphere of consciousness.
Thus there is the life of the “I” between birth and about the third year, during which the relation of the “I” to the physical, etheric, and astral bodies is not at all the same as it is later on. Occult science reveals that in these first years of childhood the “I” hovers around the body like an aura, and only afterwards penetrates into the human being. In the same measure as the “I” enters, the human being begins to say “I” of himself, to relate thing to himself. Before this happens the “I” works from outside, and when we study the child's organism we realize how much there is to be done. The delicate structure of the brain, for example, has to be built up, and the “I” does this and can only do it as long as it is not inwardly bound up with the organism.
Now, it might be contended that the human “I” is not clever enough to build its own brain, to give it the infinitely delicate furrows and convolutions which enable it to be an instrument for thinking. But this work is not performed by the human alone; in its work on the body the “I” is accompanied and directed by the wisdom of quite other forces. Why can the child-“I” work with such wisdom and yet know nothing of it later on? The reason is that as long as the “I” is outside, is the aura, it is connected with the spiritual world. While the child-“I” is working on the body in this way, the seer can observe that the streams which proceed from it on the one side enter the body and on the other flow upward to the hierarchies, to the Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai, and so on. It can therefore truly be said that child-“I” is anchored in the spiritual world.
The truths of Spiritual Science are not meant to be easily comprehensible. They are far, far deeper. I have often said that the wisest man can learn much from a child. The child-“I” which hovers like an aura around the head and upper part of the child's body is like a telephone connection with the spiritual world, and in this aura the seer can perceive the weaving deeds of higher hierarchies. To spiritual vision this aura continues up into the realms of the hierarchies. And in the same measure in which the “I” penetrates into the body and man begins to say “I” of himself, yielding as he says it to the illusion that his “I” is enclosed within the limits of his body, in that measure the thread of connection with spiritual worlds is, in a certain respect, severed.
Thus the link between the “I” and the other bodily members is not the same in early childhood  as it is in later life, and it may be said that there is also a difference between this “I” while it is working in earliest childhood outside the body, and the “I” of later life. For in early childhood the “I” is creative, productive, whereas later on it loses these creative forces. As the human body is today, we are composed in later life of physical, etheric, and astral bodies, and the “I” which feels itself within these bodies; the spiritual, life-giving forces which were active in early childhood are suppressed. In fact we kill them, and our whole life is a process of killing, of deadening, the living forces which were at work in early childhood. The spiritual forces of the cosmos live and weave during this period of life, and later on our sheaths have a deadening, destructive effect upon these forces.
In human life, two kinds of deeds are in evidence. There are deeds whereby in later life too, these living forces are worked upon and stimulated to new activity, and there are deeds which have a destructive effect upon them. There are deeds which kindle these forces into activity and others which undermine them, destroy them. We perform deeds in pursuance of some moral goal, some ideal toward which we strive because it says to us that as human beings we should have other aims than those to which we are led by our impulses, our instincts and passions. By sympathy, by sharing pain and joy with our fellow-men, we are led to perform such deeds as lead beyond the horizon of our ordinary life to our ideals. But man can also perform deeds which are impelled merely by impulse and instinct. There is a tremendous difference between these two kinds of deeds, and this is inevitable in the present cycle of evolution. It need not always be so in the future, for we can strive to spiritualize even the most inferior, most deeply instinctive actions. Today man eats according to his impulses, but when he learns to regard the plant as being driven as it were by a spiritual force from the center of the Earth toward the Sun, when he learns to look upon the plant as a spiritual being, then he will no longer devour it like an animal, but he will feel that through the plant he is eating he is uniting himself with the spiritual force pervading it with its Sun-nature. Man will gradually came to feel this. But the feeling that even in these instinctive actions, these material deeds, there is something spiritual, is still an ideal of the far future. Today, deeds born of impulse and instinct are still intermingled with deeds performed in pursuit of an ideal.
Everyone will admit that in our life an ideal hovers before us on lofty heights, whereas the deeds we perform in pursuit of this ideal appear very insignificant in comparison with it. Whoever has not felt this has little knowledge of what an ideal is in the true sense. It is necessary for us to feel how widely actions in life on the physical plane fall short of what we conceive as an ideal which hovers high above us. Our thinking and feeling have a far wider compass than our actions on the physical plane. These latter are like a tiny circle, and the ideal to which we aspire is like a big circle. The reverse is the case with the other kind of actions — those that proceed entirely from impulses. There the action is large and the feeling and thinking we apply to it small. The difference between these two kinds of actions is only too evident in life.
Now, all deeds of the kind that proceed from impulse have a destructive effect upon the life-forces of the child-“I” and are really the cause of death on the physical plane, whereas all deeds performed in pursuit of an ideal stimulate and rekindle forces which are contained, originally, in the child-“I.” Thus we oscillate between what regenerates life and what brings about destruction in us. When we understand this we shall also realize that as human beings we must seek life-giving forces for our organism. In ancient times these life-bestowing forces flowed down from higher worlds. Together with the old clairvoyance, ideals streamed down into human souls, and these ideals kindled the life-giving forces of which man stands in need. Today, in our present cycle of evolution, man has to pass through the school where ideals which enter the heart of themselves are rarer and rarer. Evolution has now reached the point where the ideals which come of themselves, which are there without effort on the part of the human being, are becoming extinct. They will eventually cease altogether and men will have to live without ideals unless out of their own free will they find the forces to kindle them to new life. The materialism that has overcome humanity arose because man's being had became desert soil for his ideals. Cosmic evolution passes like a consuming fire over the ideals, and the one and only means to prevent utter desolation within man's being and his downfall into sheer materialism is the conscious acceptance of Spiritual Science, which brings the knowledge that man has his origin in the spiritual worlds and that we must penetrate with ever-growing consciousness into these worlds. It will then be possible for ideals again to flow down from these worlds. More and more, human beings will be instinctively driven to Spiritual Science and with full self-consciousness unfold a new idealism which will imbue them with new forces in life. Others will be increasingly unwilling to know anything of the spiritual worlds. The handful of people who strive for Spiritual Science will constantly increase, but the others will have an antipathy against it — an antipathy growing into hatred — and they will contribute more and more toward the destruction of the idealism flowing into the souls of men.
Religious and other traditions still in existence today give rise to ideals unconsciously, but the more man forgets what the religions and philosophies have accomplished, the more will these ideals disappear and die out, and man will succumb to the impulses of his external bodily nature. And if it were said that the ideals will not be lost even if men refuse to accept Spiritual Science, that would be an empty, untrue way of talking.
Thus an affinity is to be perceived between the forces working in earliest childhood and the life-giving forces of idealism contained in human nature. Idealism is a living power in man, bearing within it the impulse to unite with the forces which are at work in earliest childhood. About the third year these forces of childhood cease to be active; thenceforward we kill these life-bestowing forces, and they can only be rekindled when idealism becomes an active impulse in the soul. For three years of our life we have around us that which is the bearer and sustainer of the truly living forces. We should be different beings if, in later life too, the young, fresh forces of life were still accessible to us and if we could permeate them with fully conscious intelligence. We have the creative life-forces of the “I” in early childhood but lose them in later life.
The path of human evolution is that the physical body develops in the first seven years, the etheric body up to the age of 14, the astral body to the age of 21, then the sentient soul to the age of 28, the intellectual- or mind-soul from the age of 28 to that of 35, and the consciousness soul from the 35th year onward. It is the intellectual soul which, from the 28th year of life, permeates us fully with the “I”-consciousness, but the “I” has for long been deadened through our bodily forces, so that the strongest life-giving forces of the “I” and the “I”-consciousness itself do not coincide.
Man would evolve quite differently if his bodily constitution before the 28th year did not develop in such a way as to work with a deadening effect upon the “I,” but if the “I” and the “I”-consciousness were completely in unison and could work in full strength upon each other between the 28th and the 35th years. As the result of yielding to our impulses and passions, and thereby deadening our original “I”-forces, we have pushed these forces back to where they do not belong, and here, from another point of view, we come to understand the temptations of Lucifer and Ahriman. If Lucifer and Ahriman had not been at work and man had not fallen prey to them, the original life-giving forces would remain, and would come to their height when man reaches the peak of his life with the birth of the intellectual soul in which the “I”-consciousness awakens and the forces of feeling and understanding come to their full development. Then all the creative powers of childhood would be able to function. How differently man would stand in life if the forces of Lucifer and Ahriman did not work upon him! He would not maltreat his brain at too early an age and toward the 30th year of life he would have the power, the fully conscious power, to make his brain into an instrument for his intellect.
What Lucifer and Ahriman have brought about must, however, have been rectified when the Earth reaches its end; the whole temptation must be nullified— that is to say, man must have taken into himself forces whereby he will be able consciously to work from his own “I.” The “I”-forces work unconsciously in earliest childhood but have lost their power as the result of the temptation, and it is a goal of the future to develop such lofty idealism that new, life-kindling forces will stream into us and work back upon our bodily nature. Then, through the following incarnations we shall carry in the soul an ever growing idealism which will enable the life-kindling forces to stream into us in greater and greater abundance, so that by the end of Earth evolution we shall have developed such power that in full consciousness we shall be able to let the youthful, childlike forces work actively within us.
Let us imagine that the highest ideal was once embodied, with its full life-giving power, in one  human being. The question then would be: For how long does man allow the child-“I” to work in him unconsciously? He allows it for three years and then, having fallen victim to the Luciferic influence, he begins to deaden and destroy it. Now if before the end of Earth evolution, when men will have acquired the power to work upon themselves in full consciousness — if somewhere about the middle of Earth evolution this ideal were embodied, then in keeping with the forces of karma this high ideal could work only for three years: the ideal would have to descend into the body toward the 30th year of life and work in that body in the same way as the forces which work in us unconsciously during the first three years of childhood. When the intellectual soul awakens it must take root in the human body as conscious soul-force, toward the 30th year. The wise cosmic forces would have to provide for a human body so prepared that toward the 30th year it could receive an “I” containing the forces which reach up to the hierarchies, and able to carry these forces down into a human body. And this “I” would have to descend in full consciousness into this human body, in which it could dwell for 3 years — but no longer.
Only so could this sublime ideal be embodied. A man would have to be there on Earth with a physical body, an etheric body, an astral body, and an “I,” and this “I” would have to depart from the sheaths at about the 30th year and a child-“I” would have to descend, in full consciousness, into these sheaths with forces reaching up to the hierarchies. The embodied ideal was Christ Jesus. And as the members of man's being gradually develop, we so learn to understand the Christ that we say: In Him were working, in full consciousness, those divine forces which work unconsciously in the human being to the third year of life. This Christ-“I,” filled with the full forces of childhood, came down at the baptism in the Jordan into the body of Jesus of Nazareth and worked for three years in a human body. Such was the working of world karma. This Christ-“I” dwelt in a human body for three years, after which the Mystery of Golgotha was accomplished. The power proceeding from the Mystery of Golgotha is able to make men realize that this Christ-“I” is the wellspring and source of those forces which kindle to life the power to create ideals. When the power to create ideals is filled with new life by looking to the highest of them all, when the forces of human feeling and intellect are utterly permeated with this ideal, then it will be as if the Christ Himself were to fill the human soul, and then, in such a soul, the words of St. Paul would find fulfillment: “Not I, but Christ in me.”
When we understand this we also understand something else, namely, that at the time of the events of Palestine the intellectual soul was in its normal stage of development, because it was into the intellectual- or mind-soul that the Christ-“I” was to be received. We realize that in order to understand the Christ we must understand the nature and being of man, and many a passage in the Bible takes on new meaning and significance: for example the words “Unless ye become as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven,” that is to say, the region of the spiritual worlds. With full consciousness, such as is ours at the height of life, we must dive down into the forces which were at work in us in earliest childhood. Our intellectual soul, together with the “I” in its development from the age of 28 to 35, must receive into itself these child-forces so that what was accomplished from outside, unconsciously, in early childhood, shall be accomplished spiritually, with full consciousness on a higher plane.
Human beings are distinguishable from the higher animals in that the latter find their equilibrium from the outset. The animal, as climbing, jumping, running animal, acquires the equilibrium its life demands. Man, however, has to learn to find his poise as an upright being. This, too, is work of the “I.” The “I” brings about our state of poise, of equilibrium, whereas the animal acquires its equilibrium through implanted instincts. In man, the “I” creates the equilibrium and points the way to be taken in life. The “I” points the way to man and also gives him his ideas, his thoughts, his knowledge. The animal has instincts; man acquires wisdom and attains to truth through knowledge. Thus we can say: through the work of the “I,” man receives, in early childhood, those forces which give him Life. Through the “I,” man acquires knowledge, which leads him to Truth. Through the “I,” man raises himself into the upright posture and finds the Way. That is what is proceeding unconsciously while the human body is developing in early childhood. The same thing, raised to a higher level and striven for in a spiritual way, happens to man when he permeates his being with the power of Christ. When this Christ Power has become reality in the soul, when the Christ has become a living experience in the soul, when the soul has thereby found the direction of its path, when it knows the Truth of the higher worlds, then this “I” in man can affirm: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life — while realizing that it is not his personal, earthly “I” which speaks, but the Christ in him.
The Christ in man is the child-“I,” working in later life as a spiritual power. Therefore the words “Except ye become as little children ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven” contain the exhortations: Become like little children, become strong, stand upright, learn to find your Way through the Christ within you, become seekers after the Truth, and then, in full consciousness, you will also find in yourselves the Life-kindling forces which streamed into your organism in childhood unconsciously. Think of this child-“I” spiritualized and enhanced — that is what must work in us through all following incarnations. We must live with this spiritualized child-“I” as we now live with our earthly “I.” It is with the Christ-“I” that we shall then be living. In order that this should be possible, the events in Palestine took place.
Thus we see how through what once took place, when the highest human ideal was given an actual basis in life, the way was laid down for man for all subsequent evolution. The Mystery of Golgotha stands at the pivotal point of all existence, and must be regarded as the one and only true guide for all following incarnations. This is the Truth that must become the deepest of all human experiences.
What happens to the forces of the child-“I”? These forces of the first three years are deadened by the egoistic impulses and passions of men. If man had not received at the beginning of Earth evolution a sufficient fund of wisdom and life-force to enable him to hold firmly to his existence in face of these destructive forces, no development would have been possible for him. Through the influences of Lucifer and Ahriman, man gradually deadened these original life-forces, and they could only be rekindled through that unique Individuality Who did not take the ordinary path of human evolution, Who did not succumb to the working of Lucifer and Ahriman, Who entered once and only once into a human body, Who shared all human experiences during the time He was on Earth, and Who stands before all human souls as the sublime Ideal. The Christ had resolved to descend to the Earth, to live for three years in a human body and then to offer Himself in sacrifice on Golgotha.
And now let us ask ourselves this great question: Who then, is responsible for the death of Christ on Golgotha? At a certain stage of evolution we may indeed put this question to ourselves. And the answer to it is: All human beings are responsible for this death! Just as we continually kill the child-“I” as the result of the working of Lucifer and Ahriman in us, so did we bring death to Christ Jesus on Golgotha through having gradually killed the seed of the life-forces from the time when our incarnations began until the Mystery of Golgotha took place. The deepest of all Christian experiences is the knowledge that upon man lies the guilt for the Mystery of Golgotha and that the very constitution of human nature made this inevitable.
Is there a healing force for this guilt in which every human being shares? The things that happen in the world have their effect upon human nature and cannot be resisted. Men have killed the Christ because of the evolution through which they passed before His descent to Earth. We all share the responsibility for Christ's death. We have all loaded ourselves with this guilt, which can be healed only by knowing and realizing it. And through this knowledge Christ will be received into the hearts and souls of men, and human souls who recognize the Christ are those who will be saved. The Christ will pass over with these souls to Jupiter when the Earth has reached the goal of its evolution. Therefore in future evolution, either this consciousness of guilt will prevail and Christ be received into man's consciousness, or, if there are any who reject this, they will be unable to share in the healing forces which are accessible to humanity. They will fall away from evolution for they can no longer participate in it.
Thus we see what it will mean in the future to be a Christian. Only he who bears the Christ in himself in this way is truly a Christian. The Christian is not made by reading and pondering over the Gospels, nor by abstract knowledge. One thing alone makes the Christian, namely the realization: You, as man, have killed the Christ. You must let the Christ live again in you; you must prepare a place in your heart for the Christ.
In Spiritual Science this consciousness can arise independently of any documentary records, for one can become a Christian through learning to know and understand man's nature. The human mind and intellect today can yield the knowledge that the Christ has lived. Let us imagine that all the Gospels were lost, that all documents concerning the Mystery of Golgotha no longer existed, that there were no contemporary narratives, no evidence to support this existence of Christ. Even so there would still be an infallible means for knowing that the Christ lived. This knowledge is possible because the human being is capable of grasping spiritual truths through his thoughts. This ability to grasp spiritual truths through thought reveals the fact that something of the original life-forces unfolds in the intellectual soul. That is why such thoughts are so full of life and power. The thoughts of materialistic science are utterly uncreative; in such thoughts the Spirit is dead.
The Christ Event took place at the beginning of the era when the Spirit had fallen away from the course that had been taken by human evolution. And just as in a chemical experiment one can calculate, by mingling the substances, what the outcome will be, so, with clairvoyance, one can calculate from the barren and abstract nature of modern thinking the year in which the Christ entered a human body at the baptism in the Jordan.
Standing as we do in life with Spiritual Science and hearing that we can learn to experience the Christ in ourselves, a feeling of dismay may well overwhelm us in the face of such a sublime truth. The only way of overcoming this dismay is to unfold the right kind of humility.
In the first half of the 19th century men were not as unspiritual as they have become today. There were still many who had some inkling of man's connection with spiritual worlds. One such personality was Immanuel Hermann Fichte, the son of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, whose thoughts lived on in his soul. Immanuel Hermann Fichte brought forward whatever it was possible at that time to bring forward in order to prove the existence of a spiritual world. His writings are unique, and at one place in his writings there is to be found a suggestion, an inkling, of this original guilt in man. He did not, nor could he, reach the point of asserting that in reality all human beings have killed the Christ, but a kind of inkling of this original guilt breathes through his writings. In the first half of the 19th century he asserts that human beings live in darkness with reference to spiritual things. He rails against the worthlessness of the clairvoyance of various visionaries and prophets of his time and says that the day must come when the minds of men must be directed in a way quite different from this to the deep secrets of the spiritual world. Is this not like a premonition of the coming of Spiritual Science? And we may well ask ourselves: Are we really able to fulfill this premonition? We can only hope that this will be possible in some humble degree.
And yet another truth must be written deeply in our hearts. Christ was once and once only in the world, in order that the impulse to ascend to a new spiritual world might be bestowed upon mankind. It is a sacred truth and must so be regarded by us, that Christ could live only once on the Earth. The assertion that He will live again in a body of flesh on the Earth would be comparable to saying that scales must be supported at two points in order to be able to weigh. Everyone knows that a balance must have one pivot only. If it had two pivots points it could not weigh. There could only be one Christ Impulse, and anyone who maintains that He will come again to impart the same Impulse understands as little of the truth as a man understands of a balance who says that it must be supported at two points. It was only necessary for Christ to give once what He had to give. Therefore man must make greater and greater efforts to acquire knowledge of this Christ Impulse, and through this knowledge the truth will more and more be borne in upon him that since the Mystery of Golgotha the Christ has been united with the Earth and that there lies the source of the power which enables him to find the Christ. Men must first receive the Christ into their hearts and then, for such men, the event of Damascus will repeat itself and they will grow toward a new experience of the Christ. But they will know the Christ in a spiritual way. Christ will not come before them in a body of flesh. The return of Christ is not to be confused with His one and only sojourn in a human body of flesh. It is Spiritual Science which will give men the power to experience the Christ in this spiritual way.
And so we see how Spiritual Science substantiates a saying of Christ, a saying that is sinned against by those who maintain that this Science is unChristian and that it runs counter to the tradition of the gospels. Christ said “I am with you until the end of earthly days” — which means nothing else than that He lets His revelations, His new Gospel, stream to us continually, thus confirming the words: “I have still much to say to you but ye cannot bear it now.” He spoke these words to His disciples, who were not yet able to receive the full truth of the Gospel. Humanity will, however, become more and more ready to receive Christ's message. The revelation of the new Gospel will not cease. But Spiritual Science must be in the world in order that mankind may have understanding for this unceasing revelation of the Christ. Spiritual Science is here in order to give to men that which in the sense of Christ's utterance was still lacking in them at that time. They could not, then, hear everything that the Christ would fain have said to them, but it was not to be withheld from a future humanity. Christ will in very truth speak to men — and blessed are they who receive His words with understanding.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Second Crucifixion and the Second Resurrection of Christ. The Archangel Michael: Christ's Ambassador

Rudolf Steiner, London, May 2, 1913:
The Mystery of Golgotha is the most difficult of all Mysteries to understand, even for those who have already reached an advanced stage of occult knowledge. And of all the truths within the range of the human mind it is the one that can most easily be misunderstood. This is because the Mystery of Golgotha was a unique event in the whole evolution of the Earth; in the evolution of mankind on the Earth it was a mighty impulse which had never before been given in the same way and will never be repeated in a similar form. The human mind always looks for a standard of comparison by means of which things can be understood, but what is incomparable defies all comparison and because it is unique will be very difficult to comprehend.
In the Anthroposophical Movement we have endeavored to describe the Mystery of Golgotha from many different points of view, but new aspects and new features of this momentous event in the evolution of humanity may continually be presented.
One aspect will be presented today and attention directed particularly to what may in a certain sense be called the renewal of the Mystery of Golgotha in our own age.
The Mystery of Golgotha should not be regarded as an event quite separate from the evolution of humanity, as coming into consideration only during its duration of three or thirty-three years; we must remember that it occurred in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, in the Greco-Latin civilization-epoch, and remind ourselves that preparation was made for it during the whole period of the development of the ancient Hebrew people. What happened in humanity during the fourth post-Atlantean epoch was of the utmost importance in connection with the Mystery of Golgotha; so too was the worship of Jehovah which was practiced among the ancient Hebrews. It is therefore essential to consider the nature of the being who revealed himself in those times under the name of Jahve or Jehovah.
The man of the modern age brings his intellect to bear upon everything; he wants to comprehend things from the standpoint of the intellect. But the moment a man crosses the threshold leading from the world of the senses into the supersensible worlds, at that moment the possibility ceases of grasping reality by means of the intellect alone. The intellect can render good service on the Earth, but directly a man enters the supersensible worlds, although the intellect can still be considered a useful instrument, it is no longer in itself a means of acquiring knowledge.
The intellect likes, above all, to make distinctions, and requires definitions in order to understand things. Those of you who have often followed my lectures will have noticed the almost complete absence of definitions — because realities cannot be grasped by their means. There are, of course, good and bad definitions — some are comprehensive, others less satisfactory. In order to understand the things of the Earth, definitions may be helpful; but when it is a matter of understanding realities — above all, supersensible realities — one cannot define, one must ‘characterize’; for then it is necessary to contemplate the facts and the beings from every possible vantage-point. Definitions are always one-sided and remind one who has studied logic of the old Greek school of philosophy where endeavors were once made to define a man. The following definition was given: ‘A man is a two-legged creature without feathers.’ The next day someone brought in a plucked fowl and said: ‘This is a two-legged creature and has no feathers; it is therefore a man.’ We may often be reminded of this when definitions are demanded for something that is so many-sided and profoundly philosophical that definitions are inadequate and all that can be done is to characterize. In order to be able to distinguish the different beings in the supersensible worlds, people would like above all to have definitions. They ask: ‘What exactly is this or that being?’ But the more deeply one penetrates into the supersensible worlds, the more do the beings there merge into one another; there is no longer any demarcation, and consequently it is very difficult to distinguish the one from the other.
Above all, the factor of evolution must not be left out of account when thinking of the name of Jahve or Jehovah, especially in connection with the name of Christ. Even in the New Testament you will find — and in my books I have often referred to it — that in Jehovah the Christ revealed Himself, to the extent that was possible in times before the Mystery of Golgotha.
If it is desired to make a comparison between Jehovah and Christ it is well to take sunlight and moonlight as an illustration. What is sunlight, what is moonlight? They are one and the same, and yet very different. Sunlight streams out from the sun but in moonlight is reflected back by the moon. In the same sense Christ and Jehovah are one and the same. Christ is like the sunlight, Jehovah is like the reflected Christ-light in so far as it could reveal itself to the Earth under the name of Jehovah, before the Mystery of Golgotha had come to pass. When contemplating a being as sublime as Jehovah-Christ we must seek in the very heights of the supersensible world for His true significance. In reality it is presumption to approach such a being with everyday concepts.
The ancient Hebrews endeavored to find a way out of this difficulty. In spite of inadequacy, human thinking made efforts to form an idea of this sublime being. Attention was not turned directly to Jehovah (a name that in itself was held to be inexpressible), but to the being to whom our Western literature refers by the  name of Michael. Naturally, a great deal of misunderstanding may arise from this statement, but that is unavoidable. One person may say, ‘This will evoke the prejudices of Christians’; another will have nothing to do with such matters. Nevertheless the being whom we may call Michael, and who belongs to the hierarchy of the Archangels — whatever name we may give him — this being does exist. There are many beings of the same hierarchical rank, but this particular being who is known esoterically by the name of Michael is as superior to his companions as the Sun is to the planets — Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Saturn, and so on.
He — Michael — is the most eminent, the most significant being in the hierarchy of the Archangels. The ancients called him the ‘Countenance of God’. As a man reveals himself by his gestures and the expression of his countenance, so in ancient mythology Jehovah was understood through Michael.
Jehovah made himself known to the Hebrew initiates in such a way that they realizaed something they had never, with their ordinary powers of comprehension, previously been able to grasp, namely, that Michael was verily the countenance of Jehovah. Hence the ancient Hebrews spoke of Jehovah-Michael: Jehovah the unapproachable, unattainable by man, just as a person's thoughts, his sorrows and cares, lie hidden behind his outward physiognomy. Michael was the outer manifestation of Jahve or Jehovah, just as in a human being the manifestation of his ego is to be recognized in his brow and countenance.
We can therefore say that Jehovah revealed himself through Michael, one of the Archangels. Knowledge of the being described above as Jahve was not confined to the ancient Hebrews, but was far more widespread. And if we investigate the last five hundred years before the Christian era, we find that throughout this whole period revelation was given through Michael. This revelation can be discovered in another form in Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, in Greek philosophy, even in the ancient Greek tragedies, during the five centuries before the event of Golgotha.
When with the help of occult knowledge we endeavor to shed light upon what actually took place, we can say that Christ-Jehovah is the being who has accompanied mankind through the whole course of evolution. But during the successive epochs Christ-Jehovah always reveals Himself through different beings of the same rank as Michael. He chooses a different countenance, as it were, to turn toward mankind. And according as one or the other being from the hierarchy of the Archangels is chosen to be the mediator between Christ-Jehovah and humanity, widely different ideas and conceptions, impulses of feeling, impulses of will, are revealed to men. The whole period which surrounded the Mystery of Golgotha can be described as the Age of Michael, and Michael may be regarded as the messenger of Jehovah.
During the period which preceded the Mystery of Golgotha by almost five hundred years and continued for several decades afterwards, the leading form of culture bore the stamp of Michael. Through his power he poured into mankind what was destined to be imparted at that time. And then came other beings who equally were the inspirers of mankind from the spiritual worlds — other beings of the rank of the Archangels. As has been said, Michael was the greatest, the mightiest, among them. Therefore an Age of Michael is always the most significant, or one of the most significant, that can occur in the evolution of humanity. For the Ages of the different Archangels are repeated; and a fact of supreme importance is that every such Archangel gives to the Age its fundamental character. These Archangels are the leaders of the different nations and peoples, but because they become leaders of particular epochs, and because they were also leaders in bygone Ages, they have become in a certain sense also the leaders of mankind as a whole. [See Karmic Relationships: Esoteric Studies, Vol. III, Lecture VII: The New Age of Michael.]
As regards Michael, a change has taken place; for Michael himself has attained a further stage of development. This is of great importance, for according to occult knowledge we have again, within the last few decades, entered an epoch inspired by the same being who inspired the Age during which the Mystery of Golgotha took place. Since the end of the nineteenth century, Michael may again be regarded as the leader.
To understand this we must consider the Mystery of Golgotha from another point of view and ask ourselves: What, in this Mystery, is of chief importance? The fact of supreme importance is that the being who bears the name of Christ passed through the Mystery of Golgotha and through the gate of death at that time. Never, throughout the evolution of the Earth, could one speak of the Mystery of Golgotha without considering the fact that the Christ passed through death — that is the very core of the Mystery.
And now think of the laws of Nature. A great deal can be understood by studying them, and in future time much more will be learnt, but we must be mere dreamers if we do not realize that the understanding of life as such is an ideal attainable only through actual development, never through the mere study of these laws. True, there are dreamers today who believe that through scientific knowledge a fundamental understanding of the principle of life will eventually be achieved, but this will never be the case. In the course of the Earth's evolution many more laws will be discovered through the use of the senses, but the principle of life as such can never be revealed to the world in this way.
Hence life appears to us to be something which here on the earth is inaccessible to science, and just as life is inaccessible to human knowledge so is death to the true knowledge that is attained in the supersensible worlds. In the supersensible worlds there is no death — we can die only on the Earth, in the physical world — and none of the beings of a hierarchical rank higher than that of man have any knowledge of death; they know only different states of consciousness. Their consciousness can for a time be so diminished that it resembles our earthly condition of sleep, but it can wake out of this sleep. There is no death in the spiritual worlds, there is only change of consciousness; and the greatest fear by which man is possessed — the fear of  death — cannot be felt by one who has risen into the supersensible worlds after death. The moment he passes through the gates of death his condition is one of intense sensibility, but he can only exist in either a clear or a dimmed state of consciousness. That a human being in the supersensible world could be dead would be inconceivable.
There is no death for any of the beings belonging to the higher Hierarchies, with the one exception of Christ. But in order that a supersensible being such as Christ should be able to pass through death, He must first have descended to the Earth. And the fact of immeasurable significance in the Mystery of Golgotha is that a being who in the realm of His own will could never have experienced death, should have descended to the Earth in order to undergo an experience connected inherently with man. Thereby that inner bond was created between earthly mankind and Christ, in that this being passed through death in order to share this destiny with man. As I have already emphasized, that death was of the greatest possible importance, above all for the present evolutionary period of the Earth. A being of unique nature, who until then was only cosmic, was united with the Earth's evolution through the Mystery of Golgotha, through Christ's death. At the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, He entered into the very process of the Earth's evolution. This had not been the case before that event, for He then belonged to the cosmos alone; but through the Mystery of Golgotha, He descended out of the cosmos and was incorporated on Earth. Since then, He lives on the Earth, is united with the Earth in such a way that He lives within the souls of men and with them experiences life on the Earth.
Thus the whole period before the Mystery of Golgotha was only a time of preparation in the evolution of the Earth. The Mystery of Golgotha imparted to the Earth its meaning and purpose.
When the Mystery of Golgotha took place the earthly body of Jesus of Nazareth was given over to the elements of the Earth, and from that time onward Christ has been united with the spiritual sphere of the Earth and lives within it.
As already said, it is extremely difficult to characterize the Mystery of Golgotha because there is no standard with which it can be compared. Nevertheless we will endeavor to approach it from still another point of view.
For three years after the Baptism in the Jordan, Christ lived in the body of Jesus of Nazareth as a man among men of the Earth. This may be called the earthly manifestation of Christ in a physical, human body. How, then, does Christ manifest Himself since the time when, in the Mystery of Golgotha, He laid aside the physical body?
We must naturally think of the Christ Being as a stupendously lofty being, but although He is so sublime, He was nevertheless able, during the three years after the Baptism, to express Himself in a human body. But in what form does He reveal Himself since that time? No longer in the physical body, for that was given over to the physical Earth and is now part of it. To those who through the study of occult science have developed the power to see into these things, it will be revealed that this being can be recognized in one belonging to the hierarchy of the Angels. Just as the Saviour of the world manifested Himself during the three years after the Baptism in a human body — in spite of His sublimity — so, since that time, He manifests Himself directly as an Angel, as a spiritual being belonging to the hierarchical rank immediately above that of mankind. As such, He could always be found by those who were clairvoyant; as such, He has always been united with evolution. Just as truly as Christ, when incarnated in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, was more than man, so is the Christ Being more than an angel — that is His outer form only.
But the fact that a mighty, sublime being descended from the spiritual worlds and dwelt for three years in a human body also includes the fact that during that time this being Himself progressed a stage further in His development.
When such a being takes on a human or an angelic form, He Himself progresses. And it is this that we have indicated in speaking of the evolution of Christ-Jehovah. Christ has reached the stage where He reveals Himself henceforth not as a human being, not through His reflection only, not through the name of Jehovah, but directly. And the great difference in all the teachings and all the wisdom that have streamed into the evolution of the Earth since the Mystery of Golgotha is that through the coming of Michael — the Spirit Michael — to the Earth, through his inspiration, man could gradually begin to understand all that the Christ Impulse, all that the Mystery of Golgotha, signifies. But in that earlier time Michael was the messenger of Jehovah, the reflection of the light of Christ; he was not yet the messenger of Christ Himself.
Michael inspired mankind for several centuries, for almost five hundred years before the Mystery of Golgotha, as was indicated in the old Mysteries, by Plato and so forth. Soon, however, after the Mystery of Golgotha had taken place and Christ had united Himself with the evolution of the Earth, the direct impulse of Michael ceased. At the time when the old documents we possess in the form of the Gospels were written — as I have said in my book Christianity as Mystical Fact — Michael himself could no longer inspire mankind; but through his companions among the Archangels men were inspired in such a way that much soul-force was received unconsciously through inspiration.
The writers of the Gospel had no clear occult knowledge themselves, for the inspiration of Michael came to an end shortly after the Mystery of Golgotha. The other Archangels, the companions of Michael, could not inspire mankind in such a way as to make the Mystery of Golgotha comprehensible. This accounts for the divergent inspirations of the various Christian teachings. Much in these teachings was inspired by the companions of Michael; the teachings were not inspired by Michael himself but bear the same relation to his inspirations as do the planets to the mighty Sun.
Only now, in our own age, is there again such an influence, a direct inspiration from Michael. Preparation for this direct inspiration from Michael has been going on since the sixteenth century. At that time it was the Archangel nearest to Michael who gave mankind the inspiration that has led to the great achievements of natural science in modern times. This natural science is not attributable to the inspiration of Michael but to that of one of his companions, Gabriel. The tendency of this scientific inspiration is to create a science, a world-picture, that promotes understanding of the material world alone, and is connected with the physical brain.
Within the last few decades Michael has taken the place of this inspirer of science, and in the next few centuries will give to the world something that in a spiritual sense will be equally important — indeed more important, because it is more spiritual — immeasurably more important than the physical science which has advanced from stage to stage since the sixteenth century. Just as his companion Archangel endowed the world with science, so will Michael in the future endow mankind with spiritual knowledge, of which we are now only at the very beginning. Just as Michael was sent as the messenger of Jehovah, as the reflection of Christ, five hundred years before the Mystery of Golgotha in order to give that era its keynote, just as then he was still the messenger of Jehovah, so now, for our own epoch, Michael has become the messenger of Christ Himself. Just as in the times of the ancient Hebrews, times which were a direct preparation for the Mystery of Golgotha, the initiates among the Hebrews could turn to Michael as the outer revelation of Jahve or Jehovah, so we now are able to turn to Michael — who from being the messenger of Jehovah has become the messenger of Christ — in order to receive from him during the next few centuries increasing spiritual revelations that will shed more and more light upon the Mystery of Golgotha. What happened two thousand years ago could only be made known to the world through the various Christian sects, and its profundities can only be unveiled in the twentieth century when, instead of science, spiritual knowledge — our gift from Michael — will come into its own. This should fill our hearts with deep feelings for spiritual reality in our present time. We shall be able to realize that within the last few decades a door has opened through which understanding can come.
Michael can give us new spiritual light, which may be regarded as a transformation of the light that was given through him at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha; and the men of our day can receive that light. If we can realize this we can grasp the significance of the new age that is now issuing from our own; we can be aware of the dawn of a spiritual revelation that is to come in the next few centuries into the life of humanity on the Earth. Indeed, because men have become freer than in former times, we shall be able, through our own wills, to progress to the stage where this revelation may be received.
Reference shall now be made to the event in the higher worlds which has led to this altered state of affairs, to this time of a renewal of the Mystery of Golgotha. When we look back we remember what came to pass at the Baptism by John in the Jordan, when Christ revealed Himself in a human form, visible on the Earth among mankind. Further, we will fill our souls with the thought of how, as regards His outer form, Christ then united Himself with the hierarchy of the Angels and has since that time lived invisibly in the sphere of the Earth.
Let us remember what has been said — that in the invisible worlds there is no death. Christ Himself, because He descended to our world, passed through a death similar to that of human beings. When He again became a spiritual being, He still retained the remembrance of His death; but as a being of the rank of the Angels in which He continued to manifest Himself outwardly, He could experience only a diminution of consciousness.
Through that which since the 16th century had become necessary for the evolution of the Earth, namely the triumph of science at higher and higher levels, something which has significance also for the invisible worlds entered into the whole evolution of mankind. With the triumph of science, materialistic and agnostic sentiments of greater intensity than hitherto arose in mankind. In earlier times too there had been materialistic tendencies, but not the intense materialism that has prevailed since the sixteenth century. More and more, as men passed into the spiritual worlds through the gate of death, they bore with them the outcome of their materialistic ideas on the Earth. After the sixteenth century more and more seeds of earthly materialism were carried over, and these seeds developed in a particular way.
Christ came into the old Hebrew race and was led to His death within it. The angelic being who since then has been the outer form assumed by Christ suffered an extinction of consciousness in the course of the intervening nineteen centuries as a result of the opposing materialistic forces that had been brought into the spiritual worlds by materialistic human souls who had passed through the gate of death. This onset of unconsciousness in the spiritual worlds will lead to the resurrection of the Christ-consciousness in the souls of men on Earth between birth and death in the twentieth century. In a certain sense it may therefore be said that from the twentieth century onwards what has been lost by mankind in the way of consciousness will arise again for clairvoyant vision. At first only a few, and then an ever-increasing number of human beings in the twentieth century will be capable of perceiving the manifestation of the Etheric Christ — that is to say, Christ in the form of an Angel. It was for the sake of humanity that there was what may be called an extinction of consciousness in the worlds immediately above our earthly world, in which Christ has been visible in the period between the Mystery of Golgotha and the present day.
At the time of the Mystery of Golgotha something took place in a little-known corner of Palestine, something that was the greatest event in the whole evolution of humanity, but of which little notice was taken by the people of that day. If such a thing could be, need we be astonished when we hear what conditions were like during the nineteenth century when those who since the sixteenth century had passed through death confronted Christ?
The ‘seeds of earthly materialism’ which were increasingly carried into the spiritual world by the souls who went through the portal of death since the sixteenth century, and which caused more and more darkness, built the ‘black sphere of materialism.’ Christ took this black sphere into His being in the sense of the Manichean principle for the purpose of transforming it. For the Angel being, in which the Christ had manifested himself since the Mystery of Golgotha, the black sphere caused a ‘death by suffocation.’ This sacrifice by Christ in the nineteenth century is comparable to the sacrifice on the physical plane through the Mystery of Golgotha and can be called the second crucifixion of Christ, this time on the etheric plane. This spiritual death by suffocation, which brought about the extinction of the consciousness of the angelic being, is a repetition of the Mystery of Golgotha in those worlds that lie immediately behind our world. It took place to make possible a revival of the Christ consciousness which was earlier hidden in human souls on Earth. The revival becomes clairvoyant vision of humanity in the twentieth century.
Thus the Christ-consciousness may be united with the earthly consciousness of men from our time on into the future; for the dying of the Christ-consciousness in the sphere of the Angels in the nineteenth century signifies the resurrection of the direct consciousness of Christ — that is to say, Christ's life will be felt in the souls of men more and more as a direct personal experience from the twentieth century onwards.
Just as the few who once were able to read the signs of the times and in contemplating the Mystery of Golgotha were able to realize that Christ had descended from the spiritual worlds to live on the Earth and undergo death in order that through His death the substances incorporated into Him might pass into the Earth, so are we able to perceive that in certain worlds lying immediately behind our own a sort of spiritual death, a suspension of consciousness, took place. This was a renewal of the Mystery of Golgotha, in order to bring about an awakening of the previously hidden Christ-consciousness within the souls of men on the Earth.
Since the Mystery of Golgotha many human beings have been able to proclaim the Name of Christ, and from this twentieth century onwards an ever-increasing number will be able to make known the knowledge of the Christ that is given in Anthroposophy. Out of their own experience they will be able to proclaim Him.
Twice already Christ has been crucified: once physically, in the physical world at the beginning of our era, and a second time spiritually, in the nineteenth century, in the way described above. It could be said that mankind experienced the resurrection of His body in that former time and will experience the resurrection of His consciousness from the twentieth century onwards.
The brief indications I have been able to give you will gradually make their way into the souls of men, and the mediator, the messenger, will be Michael, who is now the ambassador of Christ. Just as he once led human souls toward an understanding of Christ's life descending from heaven to the Earth, so he is now preparing mankind to experience emergence of the Christ-consciousness from the realm of the unknown into the realm of the known. And just as at the time of the earthly life of Christ the greater number of His contemporaries were incapable of believing what a stupendous event had taken place in the evolution of the Earth, so, in our own day, the outer world is striving to increase the power of materialism, and will continue for a long time to regard what has been spoken of today as so much fantasy, dreaming, perhaps even downright folly. This too will be the verdict on the truth concerning Michael, who at the present time is beginning to reveal Christ anew. Nevertheless many human beings will recognize the new dawn that is rising and during the coming centuries will pour its forces into the souls of men like a sun — for Michael can always be likened to a sun. And even if many people fail to recognize this new Michael revelation, it will spread through humanity nevertheless.
That is what may be said today about the relation of the Mystery of Golgotha which took place at the beginning of our era and the Mystery of Golgotha as it can now be understood. From time to time other revelations will be given and for these our minds must be kept open. Should we not be aware that it would be selfish to keep these feelings exclusively for our own inner satisfaction? Let us rather feel that the solemn duty we have recognized through Anthroposophy is to make ourselves into willing instruments for such revelations; and although we are only a small community in mankind which is endeavoring to comprehend this new truth about the Mystery of Golgotha, to grasp this new revelation of Michael, we are nevertheless building up a new power that does not in the least depend upon our belief in this revelation but simply and solely upon the truth itself. Then we shall realize that only a few of us are adequately prepared to declare the following to the world, in so far as the world is willing to listen.
From now onwards there is a new revelation of Christ; we will be ready to acknowledge it; we will belong to the few who will help it to become more powerful, to become lasting; we will base ourselves upon the inner strength of such a revelation, so that it may spread among mankind, for this knowledge will gradually be shared by all.
This is what we call wisdom and some may call folly. To stand firm we need only remind ourselves that this is the time of the second Michael revelation, and remember what was said by one of the early initiates at the time of the former Michael revelation: What often seems folly to man, is wisdom in the eyes of God.
Let us try to draw strength from feelings and spiritual knowledge which must in many respects seem folly to the outer world. Let us have the courage to realize that what appears to be folly to those who depend upon the senses for knowledge, to us may be wisdom, light, and clearer understanding of the supersensible worlds toward  which we will strive with all the power of our souls and of our conviction.