Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Awash in a Sonburst Sea


Herbert Witzenmann:  "what Aristotle expressed: Man becomes a true man by participating with other men in the highest Man, in the divine Man; and this divine Man can himself complete his mission and his fullness of being only by living through the many and rising from them."


Washed in the Blood of the Lamb are We
Awash in a Sonburst Sea
You—Love—and I—Love—and Love Divine:
We are the Trinity

You—Love—and I—We are One-Two-Three
Twining Eternally
Two—Yes—and One—Yes—and also Three:
One Dual Trinity
Radiant Calvary
Ultimate Mystery

Source: Introduction to Christianity as Mystical Fact, part 1

Why the Gods made us humans on Earth


Rudolf Steiner:  "The Gods made possible the genesis of humankind so that what the Gods had previously possessed could also appear to them in the shape of thoughts formed through human activity."


Source: November 13, 1913. GA 117

"Anthroposophy : Jñāna Yoga" 

Deeper Secrets in Human Evolution, p. 64

Anthroposophy : Jñāna Yoga


Rudolf Steiner:  "Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge, to guide the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the cosmos."


Rudolf Steiner, Stuttgart, November 13, 1909:

On this occasion let me once more call attention to the fact that as the German Section of the Theosophical* Society we find ourselves in an epoch of importance. What has been said in different lectures with regard to the cycles which run in SEVENS is no mere figure of speech, but is in harmony with the laws of existence. And having now completed a 7-years' cycle in the life of the German Section we may do well to pause and look into our whole work and endeavor. This work is only possible if the spiritual movement, in its development, contains in its inner ordering something of the laws of the great cosmic system. The cosmic system runs its course in cycles which can be reckoned according to the number 7; for we reckon 7 planetary conditions and so on.
* [In connection with the use of the words ‘Theosophy’, ‘theosophical’, in this text, it will be remembered that from the beginning of the century until the years 1911 or 1912, Dr. Steiner had been able to work as an independent teacher within the framework of the Theosophical Society and was the General Secretary of the German Section. His teaching of the unique nature and position of the Christ was at variance with the tendencies which had come to prevail in that Society and the statements on this subject made by its leaders, and Dr. Steiner's association with it inevitably came to an end. In 1912 the Anthroposophical Society was provisionally founded and its headquarters established at Dornach in 1913.]
In a movement like our own, the number 7 also has a certain part to play, and after 7 years our striving in a sense turns back again to the beginning, for it has in the meantime incorporated in itself what has been achieved; our striving turns back again to its beginning, but at a higher stage. It is only possible to arrive at this by considering how the whole rests upon an inner law.
If you look back a little at the work we have done in these 7 years, you will be able to notice one thing: there has been a certain order and regularity about this work. Of course you cannot take what I have said as being correct to a day, but if you take it in its essentials, you will see that it is true.
In the first years of our work in the German Section we so to speak laid the foundations. What we did in the first four years was to acquire some knowledge of the paths which lead to the higher worlds, of the great cosmic connections, and of the examination and testing of what is found in the Akashic Record with regard to the secrets of the cosmos. Those members who joined later have found it necessary — and will always do so — to acquire knowledge afterwards of this foundation of our work. This is indispensable for everybody; for it is not sufficient to assimilate only what has happened in the last three years and has enabled the movement to progress in the right way. If you look back you will see that the last three years have brought about the development of those truths and facts which have been put before you of late, perhaps in a somewhat astonishing form. If you try to establish the connection with what was done in the first four years of our work in the four-fold foundation, as it were, of the whole, you will see that even those great and all-embracing truths which have been impressing you so deeply have a very close connection with what happened in the first four years. You will be able to convince yourselves of this if you ponder it well. The younger members must bear written upon their hearts the absolute necessity of acquiring for themselves a firm and sure foundation. Wherever the work is being carried on, we are making it more and more possible for those who join later to pick up for themselves what has been accomplished here in the early days. It is really impossible for them to cooperate without this recapitulation; and the Theosophical movement must be taken seriously in the deepest sense. In this connection we may perhaps speak today on a subject that concerns the theosophical attitude of mind and the whole manner of theosophical thought; and we will relate it to the significant time through which we are passing. I mean the question: “What is the right attitude for the theosophist to take with regard to Theosophy itself?”
What is here meant will be clearer if I put the question in another way: “Why is Theosophy taught today at all as it is taught? Why is information given about the higher worlds, information that is the result of spiritual research and clairvoyant consciousness? Could one not perhaps proceed in quite a different way?” Let us suppose, e.g., that we were to begin by giving each person certain instructions as to how he can develop those inner faculties which at present are dormant within his soul, so that by means of these instructions it would be possible for him gradually to penetrate into the spiritual worlds himself, without having first been given any of the facts of the higher worlds, as is done today.
This was indeed the custom formerly, to a certain extent: it was so before the Theosophical movement in the modern sense came into being. For a long time it had been said: It is really not of much use for anyone to stand before the world and communicate the results of spiritual investigation. Such communications were accordingly withheld as far as possible, and only certain maxims were given to people as to how they should develop the faculties dormant within their own souls; as a rule people were not told any more than they had gradually come to see for themselves in the higher worlds. The question might now arise: Why is this path not taken today? Why are the results of spiritual investigation communicated to men?
This step has not been taken out of any personal preference or from any personal decision: there are good reasons for it. We shall understand it better if we constantly remind ourselves of what it is that Spiritual Science really tells us. It tells us of facts and truths from the realm of the higher supersensible worlds; it tells us of that which clairvoyant consciousness can discover in these higher worlds.
Now it is of course true that one who hears of such things and is not himself clairvoyant cannot convince himself of the facts as such through his own immediate vision; it is quite true that he receives them and cannot prove them by clairvoyant evidence. That is true; but it would be quite wrong to imagine that the man who is not clairvoyant cannot in any way prove or have insight into the facts which are now being presented. And it would be wrong to assert that one must merely take in faith and on authority what is given out of clairvoyant consciousness. These communications would be in the highest degree imperfect, would lack something essential, if they appealed only to authority and faith. What is being given out in the right way — this has often been emphasized — can be discovered only by clairvoyant consciousness; but when it has once been discovered — if only by one person — when it has once been seen and communicated, everyone can understand it by means of unprejudiced reason, that is to say by those faculties which are accessible to him on the physical plane. And it may well be said: Even if no one of those here present ever has the opportunity of proving everything immediately in the most comprehensive sense, everyone could at any rate make this possible if he had the time and the necessary mental faculties (I mean, faculties of the physical plane). Let us even consider such difficult matters as were treated of here in recent lectures with regard to the incarnations of Zarathustra, such difficulties as, e.g., that Zarathustra's etheric body passed over into Moses — let us even imagine that such difficult, far-reaching, and significant subjects are being dealt with: even then let no one assert that he who knows these things as the result of spiritual research appeals to blind credulity! That is by no means the case. But suppose someone were to come and say: “I for my part am no clairvoyant. But here is someone asserting these things about Zarathustra and his incarnations. I will now lay hold of everything that is at my disposal on the physical plane, everything that history hands down to us, everything that is contained in the stone monuments, or in ancient religious documents, and I will test all these most carefully.” And suppose he were to say further: “Assuming that what is being said is correct, does it tally with the facts that can be externally corroborated?” Such a person would then investigate thoroughly what can be confirmed by external means, and he would see that the more closely he investigated, the more he would find corroboration for what the clairvoyant has set forth. If the word “fear” had any meaning at all in this connection, then one could say that the research of Spiritual Science might perhaps really feel fear of an inexact examination; but it could never fear those who are ready to follow fully and accurately the paths of material investigation. For such people will see that the more closely they pursue their investigations, the more corroboration they will find for the facts which the clairvoyant communicates. But for the things that are not so remote or difficult, things which are connected with karma and reincarnation, and the life between death and a new birth — for these one only needs to observe, in an open-minded way, what ordinary life has to offer. And the more this is done, the more will confirmation be found for the facts communicated by the clairvoyant; that is to say, there are possibilities enough of convincing oneself that what is acquired from supersensible worlds can be confirmed by the outer physical world. This is something which should not be taken lightly, but which we should look upon as an essential fact. We must in our own lives put to the test the facts that only a few can really investigate; we should not always be repeating the phrase: That must be taken on trust! Accept as little as possible on trust; examine, test, and prove all the time! Only be sure that you do it in an open-minded, unprejudiced way. This, then, is the first thing upon which stress must be laid.
But now you will find that a testing of this kind requires great effort, it demands thought and work. It means that one must really set out to find confirmations in the physical world for what is stated out of clairvoyant research. And here we come to a matter of which we shall do well to speak, a matter that is closely connected with our main question. Is it not necessary, is it not even good, for the man of today, besides striving (as he certainly should strive) to penetrate into the spiritual world, also to occupy himself at the same time with an energetic cultivation of the ordinary means of knowledge and the ordinary methods of thought? In other words: Does the theosophist not do well to overcome the indolence that is certainly prevalent in the world today, and to develop his world of thought in all earnestness, to lay hold of the means by which man can be comprehended even only on the physical plane, and to turn these to his use? Is it not right that he should learn a great deal, and especially learn how to think?
It is indeed very difficult to make clear to the consciousness of the present day what is meant by this. It once happened that someone who wanted to make progress in theosophical knowledge and at the same time to learn how to think the thoughts with greater exactitude, came and asked me to recommend him what to read. I recommended him to study Spinoza's Ethics, so that he would be able to formulate in clear-cut outlines the thoughts that were being given him. Not many weeks afterwards he wrote to me that he could not see why he should study this book; it was rather voluminous and the whole object was simply to prove the existence of God, which he had never doubted; therefore he saw no need to wade through long trains of thought in order to prove the existence of God!
This is an example of just that kind of indolence with which men approach Theosophy or Spiritual Science today. They are very soon satisfied when they have come to some belief or other, and they fight shy of the trouble of building it up for themselves, bit by bit, into conceptions which are, admittedly, troublesome to acquire. But for such persons the only possible result is blind faith, whereas you will find that it ceases to be blind faith if you will really school your thinking and not simply want, out of curiosity, to develop those powers which lead to an elementary stage of clairvoyance. I do not, of course, say that this could not run parallel, but we need to train at the same time the physical powers of thought, those faculties of knowledge that have been given to us here on the physical plane; these must be trained too, even if it is irksome, in order that we may be in a position to form clearly defined ideas and clearly defined concepts of what is communicated to us from out of the higher worlds. It is very easy to imagine that it is better to have clairvoyance in the very smallest degree than it is to understand through the reasoning mind ever so many of the facts of the higher worlds. It might easily be said: “I really do not know why I am a member of this Society; we are always being told things about the higher worlds; all that is quite nice, but I would much prefer it if I could catch the merest glimpse of them myself by means of clairvoyant vision.” — I know a very learned theosophist who had an intense longing to get beyond mere learning to direct vision, and he expressed this longing as follows: “If only I could once be able to see even the tip of the tail of one of these elemental beings!” Such a remark is quite understandable. This particular theosophist would never have been ready to give up his knowledge of theosophical truth in exchange; but there might well be someone ready to do so, if he could gain only a small degree of clairvoyant vision. Such a feeling would, however, be wrong from every point of view. For we must consider the age in which we live. It is the age which, in the whole evolution of man, is the epoch when conscious thought must be developed, just as in the ancient Indian period a quite different kind of consciousness was evolved, a consciousness that was reminiscent of a dim, shadowy clairvoyance; the powers of the present day have gradually been developing ever since that time. It is only we in this age who in conjunction with the development of the Spiritual Soul have brought human thinking into the sphere of Earth evolution. For this reason Theosophy must now, at this time, be brought down out of the supersensible world and must make its appeal to the reasoned thinking of men.
We need to distinguish clearly between two conditions. Firstly: a man may not be much of a thinker, his thinking may indeed be quite primitive, and yet he may at the same time be comparatively far advanced as regards vision on the astral plane, and even, up to a certain point, on the devachanic plane; he may be quite advanced in this respect and able to see a great deal. Or again, the other case is possible: A man who knows a great deal about the theosophical truths may yet be able to see nothing at all for himself, may not be in the position, as we were saying, to see even “the tip of the tail” of an elemental being! This is also quite possible. Now let us ask ourselves: What is really the inner connection between these different faculties of the human soul?
Here it must be emphasized that to have something, and to be conscious of what we have, are two distinct things. It is extraordinarily important to grasp this point. You will understand it rightly if the question is put somewhat differently. You were all once clairvoyant; in primeval times everyone was clairvoyant, and there was a time too when men were able to look back into the far, far past. And now you may ask: But how is it that we do not remember our former incarnations if we were once able to look back through the ages? Then you may ask: If we become clairvoyant now, will that help us in the next incarnation to look back?
This fact you must have clearly before you, that the old clairvoyance is of no use for looking back today. You once had this clairvoyance. How is it, then, that the majority of people today do not remember their former incarnations? This question is of the greatest importance. People do not remember their former incarnations — although in earlier epochs they were clairvoyant to a greater or less degree — because in those times they had not developed the faculties which are the faculties of the self, of the ego. For the development of clairvoyant faculties in the general sense is not the essential point.
Let me make this clear to you by a comparison. Imagine that when you woke up in the morning you could remember nothing about your experiences of the day before. — Now, however clairvoyant people may have been in former times, if they did not pay attention to the development of the faculties of the ego, namely, the faculty of thinking, the power of discrimination, which are the special faculties of the human ego on this Earth, then the ego was not actively present in the former incarnations, the self-hood was not there! What, then, is there for people to remember? A self-contained ego must be there in the previous incarnation. That is the whole point! So that today it is only those people who in their earlier incarnations have worked through the medium of thought, of logic, of discrimination, who can remember those incarnations. Thus however advanced a man is in clairvoyance, if he has not in former incarnations worked through the power of discrimination, of logical thinking, he cannot remember a former incarnation. For he had not at that time set up the signpost, as it were, to which his recollection has to go back. So you will see that when one understands Spiritual Science, one cannot too quickly set to work to acquire just these very faculties of genuine thought.
Now perhaps you will say: But when I am clairvoyant I shall already have mastered the faculty of logical thinking. That is not so! Why have the Gods allowed human beings to exist at all? Because it was only in human beings that they could cause faculties to develop which otherwise could not have been developed at all. The power to think, to picture something in thoughts in which there is the quality of discrimination — this faculty can be developed only on this our Earth; formerly it did not exist, it could only come about through the fact of the existence of human beings. We might take the following comparison. — Suppose you have a grain of corn — of wheat, let us say. However long you look at it, no wheat will grow out of it. You must put it in the soil and let it grow, you must let the growth-forces work upon it. That which the divine-spiritual beings had before the formation of man may be compared to the grain of wheat. If this “grain of wheat” was to come to life in the form of thoughts, it had first to be cultivated by human beings on the physical plane. The only possible means of cultivating thoughts on the Earth from the higher world is through human incarnations. So that the thoughts of men on the physical plane have a character which is entirely their own and must lead up to what is possible in the higher worlds. It was necessary for the Gods that there should be men on the Earth. The Gods allowed men to come into being in order to preserve through them in the form of thought what they had had in the higher worlds. Thus what comes down from the higher worlds would never have taken form in thought if man had not been able to give it this form. And he who will not think on the Earth deprives the Gods of what they have reckoned upon, and he cannot accomplish what is his real human task and destiny upon Earth. For he can only attain this in an incarnation wherein he really labors at the development of his powers of thought. If this is realized, all the rest follows from it.
That which brings revelations, real facts about the spiritual world, can enter the human soul in manifold ways. It is certainly possible for men to come to clairvoyant vision without being clear thinkers, and indeed this is very frequently the case today. The majority of those who become clairvoyant are not clear thinkers. But those who are clear thinkers and those who are not will have very different experiences in the spiritual world. The difference might be expressed thus: What is revealed from out of the higher worlds impresses itself most clearly into those forms of mental perception which we bring to the higher worlds as thoughts. Thoughts are the best vehicle for the revelations.
But if we are not thinkers, the revelations must seek other forms, e.g. a picture. The most usual way for one who is not a thinker to receive revelations is in the form of a sense image. And you may often hear those who are visionary clairvoyants without being thinkers, describe in sense images what they have seen. These may have beauty; but we must at the same time be aware that a thinker has a different subjective experience from a non-thinker. If you have revelations as a non-thinker, the sense-image is there; this or that figure stands before you. It reveals itself out of the spiritual world. Let us say, you see the figure of an angel, or some symbolic form — perhaps a cross, a monstrance, a chalice. This is present in the supersensible realm and you see it as a finished picture. You say to yourselves that it is reality — but actually it is a picture. New experiences of the spiritual world will present themselves to the subjective consciousness of the thinker in a rather different way. It will not be the same as for the non-thinker. For the thinker, the things will not suddenly be there before him as though they had been shot out of a pistol; they will appear in a different way. Take a non-thinking, visionary clairvoyant and a thinking, visionary clairvoyant. They may both receive the same revelations. Let us take some particular case. The non-thinking clairvoyant sees this or that phenomenon of the spiritual world. The thinking clairvoyant does not see it yet, but only later; and the very moment he sees it, it is taken hold of by his own thought and he can at once discriminate and know whether it is or is not truth. He sees it somewhat later than the non-thinking clairvoyant, but when he does see it, it comes to him in such a form that he has already penetrated it with his thoughts, and can tell whether it is illusion or reality; so that in a sense he possesses something before he actually sees it. The revelation comes to him at the same moment as to the non-thinking clairvoyant, but he sees it later. When he sees it, however, it is already penetrated with judgment and thought, and he knows exactly whether it is a hallucination — i.e., whether his own desires are being objectivized — or whether it is objective reality. That is the difference in the subjective experiences of the two clairvoyants. The non-thinking clairvoyant sees the phenomenon at once, the thinking clairvoyant, later. In the ease of the former the picture will remain as it was; all he can do is to describe it. But the thinking clairvoyant will be able to link it up and bring it completely into line with what is present in the ordinary physical world; for the physical world, no less than the phenomenon which he has seen, is a revelation from out of the spiritual world.
From this you will see that if you approach the spiritual world equipped with the instrument of thought, you will be able to bring reliable judgment to bear upon what is presented to you.
But now something else follows. A person might dispute the value of communications from the spiritual world if he has not seen the phenomena for himself. Let us imagine a third person as well as the two mentioned. This third person is not clairvoyant at all but is informed of the results of spiritual investigation in so far as they have been acquired by clairvoyance combined with clear thinking. He looks upon them as reasonable. Yes, they are facts from the spiritual world. The thinking clairvoyant has acquired them, and anyone who has grasped them with his reason possesses them, even if he is not conscious of it. You do not need to be at all clairvoyant, yet you have the full value in yourself of what has been communicated to you. There is a difference between having something and being conscious that one has it. The relation of a non-clairvoyant theosophist to a clairvoyant theosophist can become clear by thinking of the following. — Imagine that you had been given a legacy, but had not yet heard about it. If this were the case, the legacy would nevertheless have its value for you. Even if you do not hear about it until later, yet you possess it all the same. So it is with whoever learns of the facts of the spiritual world through Spiritual Science. They are his, if he has grasped them in an understanding way; he possesses them and need only wait for the time when he will become conscious of them. The becoming conscious of them, however, is not of equal significance with their possession. This is particularly noticeable after death. Which is of more use — if we may put it thus trivially, to make the meaning clear — which is of more use to man after death: to see something in a visionary way, without thought, or to receive purely theosophical communications without seeing things in a visionary way?
One could easily imagine that visionary sight would be a better preparation for death than merely to hear of the facts of the spiritual world. And yet the truth is that after death, what a man has simply seen in a visionary way is of very little use to him, while on the other hand an actual reality is immediately present as soon as he becomes conscious of what he has received in spiritual communications, if he has grasped these with his understanding. It is what has been understood that is of value after death, whether it has been seen or not.
Consider the highest initiate. Through his clairvoyance he can behold the whole spiritual world! But this will not enhance his significance after death if he is not able to express these facts in human concepts. All that will help him after death is what he has possessed here on Earth in the form of clear concepts of thought. There are the seeds for the life after death. Of course anyone who is a thinker as well as a visionary clairvoyant can turn his visions to good account. But two non-thinking persons, of whom one is clairvoyant and the other merely listens to the results of the clairvoyance — these two will be in exactly the same position after death. There is no difference between them, for what we take into the life after death is what we acquire for ourselves here by means of clear thinking. This springs up like a seed; but not so, what we have merely already seen on Earth of the worlds we now enter. What we receive here from the higher worlds is not given to us as a free gift so as to make it easier for us when we leave the physical plane, but in order that we may translate it into the current coin of the Earth. What we have thus translated, just so much helps us after death. That is the essential thing.
Thus it is in regard to the life after death. But here on the physical plane too, the case of the visionary clairvoyant is different from that of the thinking clairvoyant. It is interesting and beautiful to see into the spiritual worlds, but nonetheless there is a difference when the spiritual worlds are beheld merely in a visionary way. Apart from the fact that it is impossible to be secure from illusions — and the only way to avoid illusions is to apply clear thinking to what has been seen — apart from this, let us suppose that a visionary clairvoyant has perceived this or that; then the form in which he perceives it, and which you can discover from his own account of it, is penetrated by elements of the physical plane. Has anyone ever described to you an angel that was not permeated by elements of the physical plane? He had wings. So have the birds. He had a human-shaped body. So has every human being on the physical plane. The things the visionary clairvoyant describes are, it is true, put together in a fashion that is not to be found on the physical plane, but the pictures are nevertheless composed of elements of the physical plane. This is not without justification; but you will see that such a picture has within it something that belongs to the Earth. The forms and pictures in your vision that are taken from the physical plane do not belong to the spiritual world, they only give a picture of the spiritual world in the domain of the senses. This I have set forth clearly in my Occult Science, which has now been completed. I have there shown that present-day clairvoyance must indeed be of a pictorial character in its early stages, but that it must not remain there, it must develop to the point where the last remnant of what is earthly in the visions is cast aside. There is of course a certain danger for the clairvoyant when he thus strips off the last remnant of Earth. For example, when he sees the angel and then strips off all that is earthly, he is faced with the danger of seeing nothing at all! What is it that can prevent one from losing the vision altogether on entering actually into the spiritual world? The seed that can spring up out of thinking! Thoughts afford the substance whereby what is in the spiritual world may be comprehended. We acquire the power really to live in the spiritual world by comprehending, in our world of the senses, what is no longer permeated by sense elements and yet is on the physical plane. Thoughts alone fulfill this condition. The only thing we may bring into the spiritual world is thoughts. With regard to a circle, for example, nothing of the chalk drawing of it, but simply and solely our thoughts about a circle. With these thoughts you can ascend into the spiritual worlds. You must bring nothing of the picture with you.
And now I can describe the above-mentioned subjective process more exactly. Let us suppose, for example, that something is seen in the field of spiritual vision — let us say, a monstrance. I will now characterize the two clairvoyants, the merely visionary and the thinking clairvoyant, by supposing that the one sees the monstrance here (a) and the other, the thinking clairvoyant, only sees it here (b)
a b
It is only from this point onwards that he becomes conscious of it. He receives it, however, immediately with thoughts, he penetrates it with thought. But at the moment when the thinking clairvoyant fills his image with thoughts, it becomes indistinct for the visionary clairvoyant. It becomes black and indistinct here at this point (b) and reappears only after some time. Just at the point where thought can unite with the image, it becomes indistinct for the visionary clairvoyant; he is really never in a position to unite thought with it, therefore he never has the experience: ‘I was there with my ego.’ This experience can never come to the merely visionary clairvoyant.
All this takes us more intimately into the whole question, and it is exceedingly important to reflect upon it. It leads us to consider the necessity of developing our thinking, and of overcoming the disinclination to acquire an understanding knowledge for ourselves. It is a thousand times better to have grasped the ideas of Spiritual Science with thought first of all, and then — sooner or later, each according to his karma — to be able oneself to ascend into the spiritual worlds; a thousand times better than to have ‘seen’ straight-away and not to have grasped with thought the knowledge that is imparted in the movement known as the Theosophical. A thousand times better it is indeed, to know Theosophy and to see nothing as yet, than to see something and not be able to penetrate it with thought, for that is how unreliability is introduced.
You can express the matter even more exactly, as follows. — You say: There are at the present time very clear thinkers who can understand the theosophical view of the world in an intellectual way. How is it that it is sometimes just these people who have such difficulty in reaching clairvoyance? — Those who are not clear thinkers find it comparatively easy to become clairvoyant, and they are then apt to feel themselves superior to the thinkers, while the latter find it difficult to become clairvoyant at all. Here is the point — distant by a hair's breadth only — where a certain arrogance in disguise begins to assert itself. There is indeed hardly anything that breeds and fosters pride so much as a clairvoyance which has not been illumined with thought, and that is why it is so dangerous, because the clairvoyant does not as a rule consider himself proud at all, but very humble. He has no notion of the pride that consists in undervaluing the activity of thought and laying the chief emphasis on inspirations. It is a terrible form of pride, a masked pride.
The question is really as follows: How is it that for many a thinker — as experience teaches us — it is so exceedingly difficult to come to the point of being clairvoyant? This is connected with an important fact. What we call power of discrimination, power of judgment in man, in other words the logical thinking of the thinker, brings about a definite change in the whole structure of the human brain. Clear thinking causes a change in the physical instrument of the brain. Scientific research knows little of this, but it is a fact that a physical brain that has been used by a thinker has a different appearance from the brain which belongs to a non-thinker. The fact of being clairvoyant does not change it much. The brain of a non-thinker has very complicated convolutions, but that of a clear thinker is comparatively simple, without any special complications. Thinking actually expresses itself in the simplification of the convolutions of the brain. Present-day research knows nothing of this. Clear thinking is thinking that can survey wide vistas, not the thinking that occupies itself with analysis. Hence the greater simplicity of the brain-convolutions of a clear thinker. Whenever scientific research does condescend in any way to test clear thinking in its connection with material conditions, then it very soon appears that scientific research corroborates the statements of Spiritual Science. The examination of the brain of Mendeleeff, to whom science owes the exposition of the periodic system of the elements, confirms what Spiritual Science says. His brain convolutions were simpler than usual. Within certain limits he had the power of comprehensive thinking, and physical examination bore out absolutely the truth of what I have said. — I do not mention this as being of any very special value, but only by the way. — Thus, as I have said, a change comes about in the instrument, and this change must be brought about by the activity of thought itself. No one is born with all the faculties he will possess later; he may have tendencies in certain directions, but the faculties themselves he must first develop. So it is a fact that changes take place in the brain in the course of a man's life. After a life of thought the instrument of thinking is different from what it was before.
Now, the fact is that our etheric body, which for clairvoyant consciousness must be loosened from the physical brain, becomes more closely bound to the brain through the activity of thought. Thinking chains the etheric body firmly to the brain. If through his karma anyone has not yet the forces necessary to loosen it again at the right time, it may be that he cannot get far in clairvoyance in this incarnation; this depends on his karma. Supposing that in a former incarnation his karma had ordained him to be a clear thinker, then at the present time his thinking will not bind his etheric body so strongly to the brain; he will be able to set free his etheric body comparatively easily, and for the very reason that the elements of thought are the best preparation for ascending into the higher worlds — for this very reason he can investigate the secrets of the higher worlds in the most intimate way. Of course he must first set free again the etheric body from the brain. But if with what one may call the fine chiseling of thought the etheric body has become so caught in the physical brain that it is exhausted, then his karma may perhaps make him wait a long time before he can set it free again. When, however, the etheric body does become free, it will mean that he has passed the point of logical thought. Then what he has acquired can never be lost; no one can take it away from him. That is an essential and important fact, because otherwise clairvoyance can often be lost again after it has been acquired. Let me remind you once again that you were all clairvoyant in earlier times. Why is it that you no longer possess the faculty of clairvoyance? It is because in former times you were not bound to the Earth's existence, because you were remote, in spiritual worlds; you did not bring the spiritual world down into your faculties; your visionary clairvoyance was based upon the condition of being remote from the physical world.
This must be clear to us. We must inscribe these fine shades of thought upon our minds and souls; we must be clear that the task of a real occult science today is to impart those results of spiritual investigation which are permeated with a thinking content, so that one can always clothe the results of spiritual research in such a way as to be comprehensible through thinking to the man who is not clairvoyant. To this end they must first be combined with thought. This is why there is such difficulty with old books which speak of phenomena of the higher worlds. If you take up old books of this kind and approach them with the attitude of modern Spiritual Science, you will find something lacking in them all. These old books may impart wonderful knowledge, but they are not of much use to the man of today unless he is himself clairvoyant and knows how to place the knowledge rightly. In the case of modern Spiritual Science, however, anyone who takes pains is able to make something of what it presents, because he can permeate it with the element of thought he acquires on the physical plane. For the same concepts are used to grasp what is in the spiritual world and what is in the physical world. Present-day Natural Science speaks of evolution; so does Spiritual Science. If you have grasped the concept of evolution you can understand what is set forth in Spiritual Science. You can create a concept of karma, because you can create a picture of it in thought. Of course if you simply say, as many theosophists do: “Every spiritual cause has a spiritual effect, and this is karma”, you have then no conception of karma. You can see the law of cause and effect in a billiard ball, but that would be no right comparison for karma. But now take an iron ball and throw it into a vessel of water. If the ball is cold the water will remain as it is. But if you make the ball hot and then throw it in, the water will get warm as a result of what has been done to the ball. Here we have something which may be compared with karma; here we have a later event that is the result of an earlier.
It must be quite clear to us that one who permeates the facts of the spiritual world with thought can also impart them in such a way that everyone who has thoughts acquired here on the physical plane can apply these same thoughts to what is imparted from the spiritual worlds. If he does this he can understand it. Everyone ought to keep this in mind. Everyone ought to understand that the important thing is not the fact that we receive knowledge from the higher worlds, but how we receive it — that we receive it in a way that is suited to our present earthly conditions. We must see to it that we do not receive knowledge from the higher worlds in any other way. It is tempting just to believe what is told us, but this is very wrong. If someone is willing just to believe, it is as though he wanted merely to be told that there is a light; whereas he needs the light to light up his room! He must have the light; mere belief is no use. Thus it is important first of all to understand the nature of thorough, conscientious thinking, so that the knowledge of the spiritual world may be received through this channel. The knowledge can only be discovered if one has the power of clairvoyance; but when it has been discovered and investigated, it can be understood by everyone who receives it in the right way.
If one thinks in this way, then all the dangers which are otherwise bound up with what is called the Theosophical movement will be, in the main, averted. These very dangers will however immediately arise if people develop clairvoyant powers and do not see to it that their thinking, and more especially their perception and discernment, are enriched at the same time through their own thinking. Many people have the desire just to seize hold of something out of the spiritual world instead of carefully bringing their perceptive thought to bear upon what has after all to be acquired on the physical plane. Even a god cannot comprehend the world in terms of thought unless he incarnates on this physical Earth. He can comprehend the world in other forms and ways, but to comprehend it in this form he must incarnate upon the Earth. If you reflect upon this it will be clear to you that there are certain dangers connected with the development of faculties within oneself which are then wrongly used. He who develops a certain visionary clairvoyance and uses it wrongly by cutting off all possibility of convincing the world with it, he who remains on the astral plane alone and does not bring his experiences down on to the physical plane, is laying himself open to the danger that an abyss will open between his visions and the physical plane. Let us suppose that someone has had visions of real significance which belong to the astral plane. They may be true visions of reality — for this may happen even with the non-thinking, visionary clairvoyant. But now between him and the real foundations of the physical plane there opens out an abyss. Imagine for a moment that this cloth were the physical plane. The visionary clairvoyant is standing in front of it; he sees his vision. But behind the physical plane is the real spiritual world; the physical plane is maya. The visionary clairvoyant does not strip away the physical plane; this can be done only by one who makes use of the means of thought. Then only do you penetrate behind the physical plane; only with thinking clairvoyance can you ever understand it. The physical plane is there, but you do not see the spiritual world, the real spiritual world. The abyss opens before you, and the physical plane remains as maya. And the impossibility of penetrating through the physical plane rests upon the fact that the brain is not capable of eliminating itself. If you have learnt to think rightly, you do not directly use your brain in thinking. Thinking works on the brain, but the activity of thinking does not directly need the brain; it is nonsense to assert that the brain itself thinks.
About 35 years ago I was once walking along the street with a young student who was then well on the way to becoming an out-and-out materialist. He said “When a man thinks, the brain atoms are vibrating; every definite thought has a definite form” — and then he continued to speak of how it is really nonsense to presuppose anything like a soul which can think, for it is the brain which does the thinking. — I said to him: “Yes, but now tell me, why do you tell such fibs? If this is true you cannot say: I think! You must say: my brain thinks, And you must also say: My brain eats, my brain sees the Sun! You would then be speaking the truth.” He would soon see then what nonsense he had been carrying about in his head.
So it is not the brain that thinks. It needs no very serious consideration to get this point clear, unless one is a thorough-going modern materialist. Unless you are a ‘Monist’ in the modern sense of the word, you can easily be clear on this point. The activity of thinking is not primarily dependent on having the brain as its instrument. When thinking becomes pure, the brain is not involved. It only plays a part when a sense-picture is made. If you have a picture of a chalk circle in your mind, then this picture has been formed by the brain, but when you think of a pure circle apart from all sense-qualities, then the circle is itself the active element that gives form to the brain. Now, when a man has visionary clairvoyance, he remains in his etheric body and does not reach the physical brain. But the abyss can never be bridged by this method. What is there seen clairvoyantly is connected with what is behind the physical plane. He who scorns the path of thought develops powers which, so to speak, do not attain their object, do not really penetrate into the spiritual world. And the consequence is that there is a false relationship between what is continually being developed in his etheric body, and what he really is as man. The relationship is entirely false; his brain is not developed to the level of his clairvoyant faculties. The brain is crude, for the man has made no effort to ennoble it through thinking. It is crude; it has built up a barrier which it cannot penetrate and which hinders him from reaching spiritual reality in his visions. He goes away from reality, instead of coming nearer to it. And every possibility of making a judgment about the spiritual world is taken away. Such a man may certainly be able to see a great deal; but there is never any guarantee that what he sees will correspond with the reality. He alone is capable of judging who can distinguish between mere vision and reality. It is only the power of discrimination that can discriminate, and if this is lacking, mere vision can never be distinguished from reality. But this power of discrimination can be acquired only by effort on the physical plane. Thus one will be forever hovering about without firm foundations if one scorns the activity of thinking — hard and troublesome as it is.
This is what we must have clearly in our mind. Then it will be impossible for conditions to arise which otherwise arise so easily and may recur again and again, when by developing visionary clairvoyance men build up a dam against the world of reality and live in their dreams — which comes to the same thing as losing one's bearings in the physical world, as being not quite in one's right mind. Mere visionary clairvoyance easily leads to this. One can acquire the power of thoughtful discrimination by working in the only sphere where this can be developed, namely in the sphere of thinking, on the physical plane. If you despise the acquisition of this thoughtful discrimination, you will stray far from the path of truth. Discrimination is what we need, otherwise we shall bring about all the ills that are necessarily connected with what is called the Theosophical movement. He who gives himself up to blind belief, who merely accepts without reasoned thought all the communications from the higher worlds on the authority of another, will be doing something that is pleasant and easy, but in itself is fraught with danger. Instead of working the things out for himself and reflecting upon them, he accepts the knowledge of another, he assimilates the things that another person has seen, and refuses to test by means of his own thought what has been communicated. This is the cause of the ills to which the Theosophical movement is liable — but of course this should not frighten anyone from attaching themselves to it. It may happen that a person who has blind belief of this kind loses his bearings altogether and can no longer discriminate between what is true and what is untrue. Nothing can breed untruthfulness as effectively as a certain kind of visionary clairvoyance which is not supported and controlled by thought. And on the other hand, such clairvoyance breeds another quality, namely, a certain haughtiness and superiority which can even lead to megalomania. This is all the more dangerous because it is often not noticed. There is very serious danger of coming to think oneself superior because one sees something that another person does not see. And usually there is no idea of how deeply embedded in the soul this self-importance that borders on megalomania can be. It conceals itself in a certain way, especially when the clairvoyant swears by his own visions with absolute certainty and suffers no one to take exception to them. So we sometimes find people believing the most ridiculous rubbish, just because it has been communicated to them “from the astral plane.” They would never dream of believing such things if they had been told them as matters belonging to the physical plane; but if they are told them “from the astral plane” they believe them with the most slavish credulity. Whoever has freed himself from this habit will not be led astray by this or that swindle or humbug. But people will fall into the trap unless they develop within themselves the impulse to prove and test, instead of accepting and believing without effort or exertion. We must not make it easy for ourselves; we must consider it one of the most sacred tasks of man to reach a right conviction. If we think of it in this light, we shall spare no effort of real work, and we shall not merely listen to sensational communications from the spiritual world. Of communications from the spiritual world we have, so to speak, enough. It is necessary that we should have them, but it is also necessary to acquire the right attitude and the right kind of thinking to receive these things worthily.
This is what I wanted to say to you today. I did not want to say it merely as an admonition or a sermon. I wanted to show the whole basis, and for this reason it may have been rather difficult to keep pace with it in your thought; but in the methods I use I always try to adhere to what may be rightly looked for in the Theosophical Society. Many people like pious exhortations. I dislike them! I try to present things in such a way that they can clothe themselves in true forms of thought. When things of the physical plane are expounded, as has been done today, it does of course often entail hard thinking; for such things are neither as sensational nor as attractive as communications from the higher worlds. They are nevertheless of extraordinary importance. And you will not undervalue their importance if you say to yourself: If that is really to come to pass which ought to come to pass, namely, that in the course of ensuing incarnations a sufficiently large number of people have a memory of this present incarnation, then provision for this must be made beforehand. Develop, therefore, your power of judgment; then you are candidates for the memory, in your next incarnation, of the present one. See to it that you are able to follow the world with your thoughts. For however much you can see in a visionary way, it will give you no help in remembering back to the present incarnation. And it is the mission of Spiritual Science to prepare the way for what must needs come — namely, that there may be a sufficiently large number of people who out of their own knowledge can look back to this present incarnation. How many come to the point in this incarnation of accompanying their knowledge of Spiritual Science with clairvoyant powers depends on the karma of each individual. There are certainly many sitting here whose karma will not allow them to see the world clairvoyantly in this incarnation. But all those who acquire what is given in true Spiritual Science, clothed as it is in the forms of thought, will reap the fruits of it in the next incarnation; for in this one they will have laid the right foundation. A man may, so to speak, be a clairvoyant without knowing it; and one who studies Spiritual Science in the right way has the insight and can wait until his karma also allows him actually to behold the things for himself.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Chosen People. Deeper Secrets of Human History in the Light of the Gospel of St. Matthew. Lecture 3 of 3



Deeper Secrets of Human History in the Light of the Gospel of St. Matthew. Lecture 3 of 3.
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, November 23, 1909: 

As a contribution to studies connected with the Gospel of St. Matthew, something was said in the last lecture about the mission of the ancient Hebrew people and how Christ-Jesus sprang from this people. In studying the Gospels our aim is to understand little by little how the different streams of spiritual life converged, in order, eventually, in the great Christian stream, to provide in common for the further evolution of the Earth. All that could be done in a brief study was to indicate in merest outline the part played by the ancient Hebrew people in the general evolution of mankind But it is not possible to understand the Gospel of St. Matthew unless we at least give some consideration to certain other aspects of this people.
For the sake of clarity let us once more remind ourselves of the soul-nature of the Hebrews, upon which their whole mission was dependent. We have seen that their mission differed from that of the other pre-Christian peoples. To the latter, that which they had inherited of the ancient clairvoyance of mankind was still an essential factor. Evidence of this clairvoyant knowledge is to be found among all the peoples of antiquity. We may speak of it as a ‘primeval wisdom.’ It can be described more exactly in the following way. — In old Atlantis, vision of the spiritual world was still the common heritage of men. Although the higher experiences were accessible only to initiates, every human being had, at the very least, a definite conception of the spiritual world, because in certain intermediary states of consciousness the men of that epoch were still able to see into the spiritual realm. But this faculty had to be replaced by one that today is uppermost in man, that of intellectual reasoning, comprehension of the outer world by means of the physical senses; in other words, experience of the outer physical world. This faculty developed slowly, and by degrees, in the course of the pre-Christian era. A considerable residue of the old clairvoyance still survived in the people of ancient India. The teaching imparted by the holy rishis was a primeval wisdom, inherited from the far past. So too, in the second Post-Atlantean epoch of culture, what was known to the pupils and followers of Zarathustra in ancient Persia was a legacy of this old clairvoyance. Chaldean astronomy, and also the knowledge possessed by the ancient Egyptians, were both permeated with the ancient wisdom. A science derived from the faculties typical of later Post-Atlantean humanity would have been entirely unintelligible to the Egyptians and the Chaldeans. No science, expressing itself in the form of concepts and ideas of a physical nature, existed in those days. There was no reflective thinking such as we know it today.
It is by no means unimportant to be clear in our minds about the difference between a genuine seer of our own time and a seer, let us say, of ancient Chaldea or ancient Egypt. There is a very marked difference. One who in the life and conditions natural in our time unfolds genuine seership must bring to bear upon the revelations, inspirations, and experiences coming to him from the spiritual world the logical reason he is able to acquire here in the physical world, through the exercise of normal, earthly thinking The experiences of a seer in modern times can never be completely intelligible if they are not received by a soul thoroughly schooled in logical, reasoned thinking. In the modern age these inspirations and revelations from the spiritual world demand that logical thinking shall be brought to bear upon them. A person who has such inspirations today, but lacks the will to unfold logical thinking, to develop his earthly faculties healthily and selflessly, can never achieve more than what is called ‘visionary clairvoyance,’ which remains obscure and incomprehensible, and is for this reason bound to be misleading. Only a soul possessed of the resolute will to exercise reason can provide the right conditions for inspirations from the spiritual world in the modern age. That is why in a spiritual movement such as ours the greatest possible importance must be attached to the fact that seership shall not be developed, nor the revelations from the spiritual world proclaimed, in an amateurish, unbalanced way. The aim for which we must work is that the soul itself shall bring something to meet the inspirations and revelations. The development of seership demands the effort and exertion required in rational thinking. In our time the two cannot be separated.
For an Egyptian or Chaldean seer it was an entirely different matter. Together with the inspirations — which arrived by quite another path — came the principles of thinking; hence he needed no separate system of thinking. When he had undergone spiritual training the principles of thinking were given to him complete, along with the inspirations themselves. The organism of modern man is no longer suited for this, it has grown out of it; for humanity is always moving on.
Only by bearing this difference clearly in mind can we fully understand what is implied by saying that vestiges of the old clairvoyance still survived in pre-Christian times, with the one exception of the ancient Hebrew people. They were chosen from the first, in order to develop a human organism possessing the faculty of comprehending the outer physical world according to number, measure, and weight, so that by this means they might gradually rise from knowledge of the physical world to knowledge of the spiritual reality comprised in the concept of Jahve or Jehovah. The all-essential point here is that in Abraham there had been chosen a man possessing a brain so constituted as to enable him to become the progenitor of a whole people, who would inherit these qualities from him and transmit them to their descendants. Spiritual promptings must be received not merely as arising from within man, but as a gift from without. All that was derived from Abraham came, primarily, not from within, but as a revelation from without. This is a factor of immense importance, radically distinguishing the character of this people from that of the other peoples of antiquity.
You can well imagine that the old inherited faculties could not disappear all at once, but that vestiges remained, even in this people. It was so in the case of Joseph, who in this respect still had much in common with the other peoples. For this reason he could be the link between the ancient Hebrews and the Egyptians, who were the latest to remain in the spiritual stream of the pre-Christian peoples. The development of the new faculties was bound to be only very gradual.
Why was a people prepared in this definite way? Why had a people to be chosen for separation from all the other forms of pre-Christian spiritual life, and why had they to be endowed with faculties of a special kind? All this had to take place to make it possible for mankind to be prepared for that great point of time — already drawing near — when Christ-Jesus was on Earth. It was the point of time when all the old clairvoyance, all the conditions determined and restricted by blood-relationship had lost their significance and when something new entered into the life of man, namely, the full activity of the ego. Through the widespread intermingling of blood, conditions which in earlier times had great meaning and purpose passed away, but in their place came the possibility of the full activity of the human ego. Thus the true kingdom of mankind — the Kingdom of Heaven — was added to the other kingdoms.
Now, speaking generally, when anything is born, men are not immediately prone to recognize it as what it really is. They certainly do not immediately recognize happenings of the spiritual life. They are very ready to speak of prophets who will come in the future — this was quite usual in the times both preceding and following the birth of Christianity. In the 12th and 13th centuries there was a veritable mania for prophecy. Here, there, and everywhere people came forward proclaiming the imminent return of Christ, pointing to the places where He would appear. In other times, too, isolated phenomena of the kind have occurred. There has been talk about one person or another being the new incarnation of Christ. — No words need be wasted on the subject of such prophecies because even when they are made they bear evidence in themselves of their own defect. One defect they all have: they speak of an event that is to come, but neglect so to prepare men's hearts and minds that they are capable of recognizing and understanding it. The position of these people reminds one of the incident of the teacher which Hebbel gives in his diary. — The teacher gives a severe thrashing to a particular pupil because he cannot understand Plato. Hebbel adds, jokingly, that the pupil was the reincarnated Plato himself! This is the sort of thing that happens to people who are constantly talking about a Christ who is to come again. They would be little prepared for the reality, even were it to appear; they would take the Christ for something altogether different from the Christ.
Preparation for the Christ had therefore to be made in advance. This must be realized before it is possible to understand the Gospel of St. Matthew. Preparation was necessary in order that there might at least be a few human beings capable of understanding the Christ Event, which — to characterize one aspect only — consisted in knowing that Christ was the One Who made it possible for men thenceforth to receive from without not physical impressions only, but also the Spirit. For this, individual men had to be prepared.
In point of fact, right through Hebrew history, some individuals were, by certain methods, prepared to be able to understand the Christ Event. In the earliest times there were only a few of these men, but they and their way of life must be closely studied if we are to realize what careful preparations were made for the coming of Christ, how the Hebrew people, with the qualities they had inherited from Abraham, were rendered capable of a prophetic understanding of how the human ego would be brought to man through the Saviour. Those men who were prepared so as to be able to recognize and understand, by clairvoyance, the significance of the Christ were called Nazarenes. [ Note 11] These men were able to perceive clairvoyantly all that had been prepared from the earliest days of the Hebrews, in order that, out of and through this people, the Christ might be born and understood. In a mode of life compatible with the development of clairvoyant insight, these Nazarenes were bound by strict and strenuous rules. These rules, since they belonged to quite another age, differ considerably from those essential for the attainment of spiritual knowledge today, although in some respects there is a certain similarity. Much that was of primary importance in the Nazarene training is subsidiary today, and much that was subsidiary then would now be essential. Nobody should imagine that methods which in earlier times led to clairvoyant knowledge of Christ would have the effect of leading a man of the modern age to the same momentous recognition.
The first demand made of a Nazarene was total abstention from all alcohol; indeed, the taking of any food prepared with vinegar was most strictly forbidden. Those who obeyed the prescribed rules to the letter were obliged to refrain from consuming anything whatsoever derived from the grape. This was because it was held that in the grape the plant-forming principle has overstepped a certain point, namely the point where the Sun-forces alone are working on the plant. In the grape there are at work not the Sun-forces alone, but something that develops inwardly and has already matured by the time the Sun-forces are weakening in the autumn. Hence anything deriving from the grape might be drunk only by those who did not aspire to the higher form of clairvoyance, but who worshipped the god Dionysos and were content that their faculties should rise up as it were out of the Earth. Further, as long as his preparation and training lasted, the Nazarene was committed never to touch or come into contact with anything that has an astral body and can die; briefly, the Nazarene must avoid anything of an animal nature. In the strictest sense of the word he must be a vegetarian. Therefore in certain regions the strictest Nazarenes fed only on the carob bean, the so-called ‘St. John’s bread'; this was a very common food among them. They also fed on the honey of wild bees — not cultivated bees — and other honey-seeking insects. John the Baptist, in later days, adopted this way of life, feeding on the carob bean and wild honey. In the Gospels it is said that his food was locusts and wild honey, but this must be regarded as a mistranslation. — I have elsewhere called your attention to other mistranslations of the same kind. [ Note 12]
Another of the main stipulations in the preparation for seership was that during the period of their training the Nazarenes must not allow their hair to be cut. The reason for this is intimately connected with the whole process of human evolution. This relationship of hair to human evolution is a fundamental fact. All in man that concerns his true being can be understood only if we try to see it against its spiritual background. Strange as it may sound, in our hair we have a relic of certain rays by which the Sun-forces were once instilled into man. What the Sun in earlier times thus instilled into man was something living. We find clear illustrations of this in times when man still had consciousness of deeper realities. For example, in many ancient sculptures of lions it is clearly evident that the sculptuor's aim was not simply to copy a lion as we know it today with its mane. A sculptor, still cognizant of the traditions born of ancient knowledge, portrayed a lion in such a way as to convey the impression that the hairs in the mane seem to be inserted into the body as if from outside, like instreaming rays of the Sun which have, as it were, hardened into hairs. One can therefore well imagine that in ancient time it might have been quite possible, by leaving the hair uncut, to receive certain forces into one's being, especially if the hair was young and healthy. — But even in the times of Hebrew antiquity this was, in point of fact, regarded among the Nazarenes as hardly more than a symbol.
The progress of mankind, however, did in fact depend to some measure upon his allowing the spiritual reality behind the Sun to stream into his being. The fact that as time went on man was born as a less and less hairy being was symptomatic of his advance from the old, upwelling gift of clairvoyance to reasoned thought concerning the outer world. We must picture the men of the Atlantean and earliest Post-Atlantean epochs with a copious growth of hair — a sign that spiritual light was still shining down upon them in great strength. As the Bible tells, the choice was made between the smooth-skinned Jacob and the hairy Esau. In Esau we must see a descendant of Abraham in whom the last residue of an ancient phase of human evolution still survived, manifesting in his growth of hair. The man possessed of faculties leading him outward into the surrounding world is represented in Jacob, who was gifted with the qualities of cleverness, with all its darker sides. Esau is ousted by Jacob.
Thus in Esau another offshoot of the main line of development is cast aside. From him sprang the Edomites, in whom old, inherited faculties continued to be propagated. All these things are accurately and beautifully expressed in the Bible.
But now there had to arise in man a new consciousness of the spiritual life, and it had to arise, in a new way, in the Nazarene, through keeping his hair uncut during the time of his preparation. The relation of hair to the light of the spirit in the ancient world is confirmed by the fact that with the exception of an insignificant cipher, “light” and “hair” are expressed in the ancient Hebrew language by the same word. The ancient Hebrew tongue is full of indications of the deepest secrets of human evolution and must be regarded as a momentous revelation of wisdom through language. Such, then, was the purpose underlying the Nazarene custom of allowing the hair to grow long. Today, of course, this is no longer essential.
During the time of his preparation the Nazarene had to be led to a very definite clairvoyant experience which would reveal to him that the approach of Christ to mankind was drawing near. The last great Nazarene lived at the time of Christ. His name was John the Baptist. Not only had he himself experienced the complete experience of the Nazarene training but he enabled all those whom he inspired to bring to their true manhood, to experience it likewise. [ Note 13] This complete experience is nothing else than the baptism of John. It is important to understand exactly what its effect was upon their inner development. What was this baptism, and to what did it lead? In the first place a man was plunged under water, the effect being that his etheric body in the region of his head was loosened somewhat from the physical body, whereas normally the etheric body is firmly knit with the physical body. It is well known that if a man is on the point of drowning, the whole tableau of his life flashes before him as a result of the loosening of his etheric body. This was what happened in the baptism given by John. A man beheld his life-tableau, events of his life otherwise completely forgotton. Moreover the nature and constitution of the human in that particular epoch was also revealed to him. The physical body evolves out of the shaping and moulding which it receives from the etheric body, but this member of man's being which gives form to the physical body can be perceived only if it is loosened from the physical body, as happened in the baptism of John.
If a man had undergone such a baptism three thousand years before our era, he would have become conscious that the highest spiritual condition that can be bestowed upon the human being can only come to him as a heritage from the ancient past — for whatever was given to man out of the spiritual worlds in very ancient times was essentially a heritage. This heritage of the past was portrayed in the etheric body and acted as a formative force upon the physical body. Even to those who had developed beyond the normal stage, such a baptism would have revealed that all their knowledge was founded upon ancient spirit-inspiration. This experience was described as the vision of the soul-nature of the etheric body in the form of the Serpent. Those who had had this experience were called Children of the Serpent, because they had seen how the Luciferic beings had descended into the being of man, how the etheric body which had given the physical body its form and shape was itself a creation of the Serpent.
Now, however, in a baptism not three thousand years before John the Baptist but in his own day, something quite different came to light. Among those who were baptized there were some whose very nature gave evidence of the progress in human evolution: namely, of the vastly increased power of the ego, derived from its experience of the outer visible world. Moreover the picture arising for them was entirely different from that revealed at the earlier baptisms. Men now beheld the creative forces of the etheric body no longer in the image of the Serpent, but in the image of the Lamb. (See Appendix III, p. 76) This etheric body was no longer permeated from within by what issued from the Luciferic forces, but was wholly surrendered to the spiritual world which shines into the souls of men through the phenomena of the outer world. In the Baptism of John this vision of the Lamb came to those who were able to understand what at that time baptism signified. Moreover they knew from what they themselves experienced that man had become an altogether different being, a quite new being. The few who experienced this at the baptism of John were able to say: A great and momentous event has come to pass; man has become a different being; the ego has now the rulership on Earth! — Among those whom John baptized there were some who had been made ready to understand the signs of the times, to recognize that so supreme an event had come to pass. [ Note 14]
This had always been the goal of the Nazarenes. Through the experience brought by this baptism they recognized that the coming of Christ was near at hand. This they knew from the form in which the etheric body appeared before them, when loosened in the baptism. It was the mission of John the Baptist to reveal that now the time had come when the ego could express itself fully in man's nature; thereby he brought the ages of antiquity to their fulfillment. He gathered around him a community to whom he was able to reveal that now, through the emergence of the ego in the real sense, the Christ Principle could draw into mankind. John the Baptist brought the Nazarene movement to such a height that, out of his prophecy alone, it found its fulfillment. He gathered around him a community able to understand the approaching Christ Event. — Only in this light are the words spoken by John the Baptist intelligible. Such words must be taken in their deepest meaning. It is quite wrong that students of these matters today should regard John the Baptist merely as a raging fanatic, a man who storms at the Pharisees, calling them “a generation of vipers,” and cries out to them: “Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” John the Baptist would have been no more than a brawler had he not rejoiced when Pharisees and Sadducees came to him to be baptized. Nevertheless when they come, he inveighs against them. Why is this?
When the inner meaning of these things is understood it is at once obvious that the words are not just outpourings of fanatical abuse, but have profound significance. This, however, can only be understood by reflecting upon a certain feature in the history of the ancient Hebrew people.
From what has been said it will be clear to you that in Abraham there had been chosen a man whose constitution was such that at the right time the Christ could be born of his descendants. But this required the development and elaboration of faculties which had been present in Abraham as rudiments only. We must realize that if these rudiments were to be unfolded it was constantly necessary for certain elements to be eliminated. We have already seen how this happened in the case of Joseph, but there were even earlier examples, such as Esau, from whom the Edomites descended, because in him too an ancient heritage had remained. Only such qualities as were compatible with the goal described were to be preserved. This is indicated in a wonderful way. — Abraham had two sons: Isaac, the son of Sarah, and Ishmael. The Hebrew nation were the descendants of Isaac. In Abraham, however, there were other qualities as well. If these other qualities had been transmitted through the Hebrew generations, the right conditions would not have been achieved. Hence this different element must be radically thrust away into another line of descendants, into the descendants of Ishmael, the son of Hagar, the Egyptian bond-woman. Therefore two lines of descent go out from Abraham, the one through Isaac, and the other through the outcast Ishmael, who, having the blood of an Egyptian in his veins, must have in his constitution elements unfitting for the mission of the Hebrew people.
But now something momentous comes to pass! The task of the Hebrew people was to propagate in the direct line of heredity the qualities that were intrinsically their own, and everything that was an ancient heritage, ancient wisdom, had to be imparted to them from without. Hence they had to go to Egypt in order to receive what could be given to them there. Moses was able to impart this to his people because he was an Egyptian initiate. But he certainly could not have done so had he possessed wisdom merely in its Egyptian form. It would be erroneous to imagine that the ancient Egyptian wisdom could be simply grafted on to what flowed down from Abraham. This would not have been compatible with the intrinsic character of the Hebrew people and would have produced an abortive form of culture. Moses brought with him to the wisdom he acquired from his Egyptian initiation something of a quite different nature. Hence he could not simply impart to the Israelites what came from the Egyptian initiation. His first real gift to them was made after the revelation on Sinai, and made outside Egypt.
What, then, is the revelation on Sinai? What was vouchsafed to Moses there, and what was it that he imparted to the Israelites? He imparted something that could well be grafted into the stem of this people because it was related to them in a very definite way. In times past the descendants of Ishmael had wandered away from their country and had settled in the regions now traversed by Moses and his people. Moses found in the Ishmaelites, among whom there was initiation of a certain kind, those attributes and qualities which had been transmitted to them through Hagar, qualities which were derived from Abraham but in which were preserved many elements inherited from the ancient past. Out of the revelations that he received from this branch of the Hebrew people it became possible for Moses to make the revelation of Sinai intelligible to the Israelites. In regard to this there is an ancient Hebrew legend that in Ishmael a shoot of Abraham was cast out into Arabia, that is, into the desert. What sprang from this stock is contained in the teaching of Moses. On Sinai the ancient Hebrew people received back again, in the Mosaic Law, what had been cast out from their blood: they received it back from without.
Here we also see how in the wonderful mission of the Hebrew people everything had to be given to them; had to be received back at a later stage as a gift. As a gift from without Abraham had, in Isaac, received the whole Hebrew nation. Again, Moses and his people received back from the descendants of Ishmael what had once been thrust out from their midst. During the period of their isolation in the wilderness they had to build up their own constitution, and also receive back as a gift from their God what they had cast out. So, too, Jacob was in the end reconciled with Esau, thus receiving again what, in Esau, had been cast away. — The Bible must be read with scrupulous attention if the import of the words it contains is to be rightly understood.
The whole history of the Hebrew people is full of significant happenings such as these. The giving of the Law by Moses is connected with something that springs from the descendants of Hagar, whereas the Hebrew blood, which represents the specific Israelitish faculties, springs from Sarah. Hagar or Agar in Hebrew is the same as Sinai, which means the ‘stone mountain’, the great stone. One might say that Moses received the revelation of the Law from the ‘great stone’ — a material representation of Hagar. The Law given to this Judaic people did not spring from the highest faculties in Abraham, but from Hagar, from Sinai. Those, therefore, who are followers merely of the Law as given on Sinai — that is, the Pharisees and the Sadducees — are exposed to the danger of their development coming to a standstill. They are those who at the baptism of John will see not the Lamb, but the Serpent.
Viewed in this light, what would otherwise seem to be mere abuse on the part of the Baptist becomes a righteous warning to the Pharisees and Sadducees when he cries out to them: ‘Ye who are followers of the Serpent, take heed that in the baptism ye have the true vision’; — that is to say, the vision of the Lamb, not of the Serpent! He also tells them that they must not rely upon the fact that they have Abraham as their father. For this came to their lips as a mere phrase; they were swearing by what had proceeded from the Sinai stone, but had now ceased to have significance. ‘Now’ — said the Baptist — ‘out of the universe there is drawing near the newborn ego, and this ego I make known to you. I declare to you how out of Judaism there will spring the true inheritance which has been carried down the generations, and to which men will swear allegiance, not now by the stone of Sinai, but by that which is everywhere 'round about us. The children of God will be made manifest, when, behind the material, the spiritual will be visible. Out of these stones God's word is able to raise up children unto Abraham. You speak without understanding when you say: “We have Abraham as our father.”
Only in the light of what has here been said is meaning imparted to these words of the Baptist. Nor are such things disclosed by the Akasha Chronicle alone; they stand in the Bible itself. Compare the words of the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians [4:24-25]. What I have told you here is confirmed by St. Paul. He too says that the word Hagar or Agar is identical with Sinai and indicates that what was given on Sinai is a covenant which must be outgrown by those who, through the development of the essential qualities of Abraham in the successive generations, are now to realize what has come into the world through Christ.
This again points to a saying which must in future be understood. It is pitiful indeed that in an age when intelligence has reached such heights, men have yet given so little reflection to such words as “Repent ye!” According to the real meaning, the translation should be somewhat as follows: ‘Change the tenor of your minds!’ In many passages it is said that John baptized unto repentance, that is to say, he baptized with water in order that a change might take place in the tenor and attitude of the soul. When those who had been baptized came out of the water, it behooved them so to change the tenor of their souls that they no longer looked back to the old traditions, but forward to what the freed ego, which Christ would give, should contain. The hearts and minds of men were to be turned from the direction leading to the ancient gods into the direction leading to the new divine-spiritual beings. It was in this sense that the baptism of John was to bring about a change of heart and soul. John baptized with water in order that there might be called forth in some human beings the power to recognize the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven, and with that recognition to understand who Christ-Jesus is.
Herewith something more has been added to what we have already come to know of the mission of the ancient Hebrew people. All these things will lead step by step to a better understanding of Christ. We have seen how the mission of the Hebrews takes shape with most wonderful inner coherence. We have seen how there were present in Abraham faculties which developed in the Hebrew people through successive generations. This required that many elements should be discarded and that the suitable elements should develop further in the blood, through propagation. That for which this people from Abraham onwards were specially gifted and chosen was concentrated in one single being, in Jesus. The Jews had to be maintained in their mission by a teaching; but that teaching had to come from without, and, in point of fact, from what they themselves had once cast out. The elements derived from Ishmael might not remain in the blood, but must be present purely in the domain of knowledge. This the Hebrew people received back again in the giving of the Law by Moses on Sinai. This Law had fulfilled its purpose at the point of time when what had come from the “stone” was no longer needed, but when men possessed what was to be bestowed upon mankind from the universe. Thus slowly and gradually preparation was made for the time when out of the stones, the sons of God — that is, the race of Man — could arise, when, behind all ‘stones’, behind all the earth, the spiritual world should be made manifest.
These are but fragmentary contributions toward an understanding of the mission of the Hebrew people. Only when we fully understand this mission can we begin to comprehend the majestic figure of Christ-Jesus as presented to us in the Gospel of St. Matthew.