Friday, March 31, 2023

"For God so loved the world" : In the whole sphere of maya, death is the only reality


Inner Experiences of Evolution
Lecture 5 of 5. "Earth: The Planet of Death"
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, December 5, 1911:

Thus the fact has now been brought home to us in a series of lectures that behind all that we call Maya or the great illusion, there is the Spiritual. Let us once again ask ourselves in what way it has been made evident that the spiritual is to be discerned behind everything perceptible to our senses and our physically limited grasp of the world.

In order to describe this spiritual element we were obliged in the course of the last lectures to sweep the nearest external phenomena away from our field of vision and pierce through to such qualities of reality as those described as the willingness to sacrifice, and the virtue of bestowal or renunciation, in fact, to those virtues with which we can only become acquainted by looking into our own souls, and which we can only fully comprehend by means of our own souls. Now if we are really to attribute such virtues as these to what we have to think of as the reality — we might almost say the “true” — behind the world of illusion, we must admit that in this world of true existence, in this world of reality, there lives that which fundamentally, as regards its qualities, can only be compared with the qualities we primarily perceive in our souls. For instance if we have to characterise that which is outwardly expressed in the phenomena of heat, presenting it in its true character of sacrificial service, as the flowing sacrifice in the world, it means precisely that we must reduce the element of heat back to the spiritual, to the incorporeal, doing away, as it were, with the outer veil of existence, showing that which in the external world is similar to what we recognise as the spiritual in ourselves.

Now before we carry these observations further, another idea is necessary. That is the following. Does all that we have in this world of Maya or illusion really vanish into a sort of nothingness? Is everything around us in this world of sense, the world of our external comprehension which to us appears as the real or part of the real — is all this actually nothing?

It would indeed be quite a good comparison if we were to say that the world of truth, the world of reality, is at first concealed, as the inner forces of a lake or even of the ocean are concealed in the body of water, and that the world of Maya might be compared with the rippling play of the waves on the surface. That would be a good comparison; for it shows exactly that there is in the depths of the ocean something that causes the rippling of the waves above, something that is the substantiality of the water and the configuration of its force. So that whether we select this example or any other is a matter of indifference, we may very well put the question: — Is there in the wide realms of our Maya or illusion, anything that is real? To-day we shall follow the same system as in the last lectures. We shall slowly approach what we wish to bring before our mind, by starting with inner experiences of our soul; and indeed, as we have moved forward spiritually through the Saturn-, Sun- and Moon-existence, and have now approached that of the Earth, we shall start from more intimate, we might almost say more common soul-experiences than those referred to in our last lecture. We then started from the hidden depths of the soul-life, from what arises in what we call the “astral body.” There we felt longing arising within it, and we saw how the longing works in the nature of man, actually leading the life of the soul to find satisfaction only in meeting that picture-world which we have been able to grasp as the inner movement of that life. We thus found the way from the microcosmic soul to that cosmic creating which we ascribed to the Spirits of Movement. To-day we shall begin with a still more intimate experience of the soul, one indeed to which attention was already drawn in ancient Greece, which in its reality is even to-day of profound significance. It is indicated in the words: all philosophy, and all striving for a certain kind of human knowledge, proceeds from Wonder. This is really the case. Any man who has devoted a little reflection and thought to the whole process in experience in his own soul, as to how he was brought to any particular learning, will come to know that a sound way to learning is always to start from wonder, from amazement at something. This wonder, this amazement, from which every form of learning must proceed belongs precisely to those experiences of the soul which we described as bringing sublimity and life into anything, however dry. What kind of learning would it be which found a place in our soul, without proceeding from wonder! It would truly be a learning swamped in prosiness and pedantry. That process in the soul which leads from wonder to the bliss we feel when our riddles are solved, which has raised itself above wonder, that alone constitutes the sublimity and vital power of the process of acquiring knowledge. We really ought to be able to feel the dryness and withering of any knowledge not originating in these two movements of the mind. Sound knowledge is framed in wonder and the bliss of solved riddles; any other kind of knowledge may be acquired externally and established by man through some kind of reasoning. But a knowledge not framed by these two feelings, does not spring from the soul of man in real earnest. All the fragrance of knowledge that is created by the atmosphere of the life element in knowledge, proceeds from these two, from wonder and the bliss of its satisfaction. But what is the origin of wonder itself? Why is it that wonder, amazement at anything external, arises in our souls? It arises, because, when we first meet with a being, a thing or a fact, it appears strange to us. This strangeness is the first element leading to wonder and amazement. But we do not feel this for everything that is strange to us; but only for that to which we feel ourselves in a sense related, so related that we say: “In this being or thing there is something that is not as yet in me, but which may pass over into me.” So that we can feel related to a thing yet strange, which at first we must grasp through wonder and astonishment, our inner “wondering” is our perception of the quality of an outer “wonder” to which a man at first as far as his own perception goes, considers himself in no wise related. That, however, depends on himself; or at least it need only do so. And he would not adopt a challenging attitude towards what appears to him as “a wonder” unless he were in a certain way to demand that it should disclose itself to him because it is related to him. Why else should people who start from purely materialistic or purely intellectual concepts deny what others designate as a “wonder,” when they have no direct proof that a fabrication, a falsehood, is brought forward? Even philosophers to-day are obliged to admit that it can never be proved by any of the phenomena known to man, that the Christ incarnated in Jesus of Nazareth did not rise again. Proof can be brought against this assertion; but what is the manner of these proofs? Logically they are not tenable! Even enlightened philosophers now admit that. For all the reasons brought against it from the materialistic side — as for instance, the statement that no man has yet been seen to have risen like Christ — all these reasons are on the same level as the argument of a man who had never seen anything but fish and therefore wished to prove the non-existence of birds. It is impossible logically to prove by the existence of one class of beings, that others do not exist. Just as little is it possible through the experiences one may have of men on the physical plane to deduce something — which in the first place is described as a “miracle,” concerning the event of Golgotha. But if something is communicated to a person, which although it may be true, he must call a miracle and he says that he cannot understand it, he does not thereby contradict what we have said about the idea of wondering; for his attitude shows clearly that this starting point of all knowledge is already established for him. He demands, in fact, that what he has been told should find an echo in himself. He wishes it to become its own property intellectually and as he believes that he cannot have that, and it is not related to him, he challenges it. Even if we ourselves arrive at the concept of the miraculous, we should see that amazement or marvel, upon which is based all philosophy in the sense of ancient Greece, is aroused by a man finding himself confronted with something strange to him, but to which at the same time he recognises a relationship. Let us try to create a connecting link between these ideas and those brought before our minds in the last lecture.

We have shown that a particular advance in evolution was brought about through the willingness of certain Beings to sacrifice, but that their sacrifices were rejected and thrown back, and we learnt to recognise in the rejected sacrifice one of the principal factors in the ancient Moon-evolution. One of the most important points in that evolution is the fact that during that period sacrifice was to be offered by certain Beings to Beings even more exalted, and that it was renounced by them; so that, as it were, the smoke of the sacrifice offered by the ancient Moon-Beings pressed up to the higher Beings but was not accepted by them; and that this was sent back as substance into the Beings who had desired to offer it up. We also saw that much of the peculiar character of the Beings belonging to ancient Moon consisted in their feeling within themselves what they had wished to send up to the higher Beings as sacrificial substance. We saw, indeed, that this, which aspired, but was unable to ascend to the higher Beings, remained behind within the Beings themselves — and that thereby was developed in certain Beings, in the Beings of the rejected, the force of Longing. We have still, in all that we experience in our own souls as longing, a legacy from the bygone events on ancient Moon when those Beings found their sacrifice rejected. In a spiritual sense the whole character of the ancient Moon-evolution, its whole spiritual atmosphere, may be described in many respects by saying that Beings were present there who desired to offer sacrifice, but found that this sacrifice was not accepted because the higher Beings resigned it. The peculiar feature of the spiritual atmosphere of ancient Moon was: the rejected sacrifice. And the rejection of the sacrifice offered by Cain, which symbolically represents one of the starting points of the evolution of earthly humanity, appears as a kind of recapitulation of this peculiar feature of the ancient Moon evolution taking place in the soul of Cain, who sees that his sacrifice is not accepted. This is something which reveals to us a sorrow, a pain which gives birth to longing, just as was the case with the beings belonging to the old Moon-existence. We saw in the last lecture, that between this rejected sacrifice and the longing arising in these beings through its rejection, an adjustment was produced through the appearance on the old Moon of the Spirits of Movement. They created a possible way by which the longing arising in the Beings of the rejected sacrifice, could in a sense be satisfied. You must picture the position very clearly in your minds. You have the exalted Beings to whom sacrifice is about to be made; the substance offered in sacrifice to them rejected; and the longing thereby arising within the Beings who desired to offer and now feel: “Had I been able to accomplish my sacrifice, the best part of my own being would be living in those exalted ones; but now I am shut out from them, I am here while they are yonder!” The Spirits of Movement, however, and this can be taken almost literally, bring the Beings in whom the rejected sacrifice glows as a longing for the higher Beings, into such positions that they can approach them from many different sides. That which remains in them as the sacrifice which could not be offered, can at any rate now be adjusted, through the wealth of impressions received from the higher Beings, who are as it were, encircled by the Beings of the rejected sacrifice. So is adjusted what could not be harmonised, because of the rejection of the sacrifice, inasmuch as in the position of these Beings to the higher Beings a relation is established between them which conveys the impression of a presented sacrifice. We can form a clear idea of what this implies, if we think symbolically of the more exalted Beings united as a Sun, and then, in one position, as a planet, the less exalted gathered together. Now suppose that the Beings of the lesser planet wished to make sacrifice to the greater planet — to the Sun, and that the Sun refused to accept it; the substance of the sacrifice must remain in the Beings whose sacrifice was not accepted. Then in their loneliness, their isolation fills their being with longing. Now the Spirits of Movement bring them into the periphery of the more exalted Beings; this makes it first possible for them, in place of the direct upward flow of their sacrificial substance, to set that substance itself in motion and thereby to bring it into connection with the higher Beings. This is exactly like a man who cannot be contented within himself by means of a single great satisfaction, but experiences a number of partial satisfactions; the result of these different experiences being to set all his feelings in motion. This was gone into more minutely in the last lecture. We saw that as the Beings were unable to feel an inner connection with the higher Beings through the sacrifice, impressions came to them outside in the place of this, by which we saw that they were still able to obtain a certain satisfaction.

But it is an undeniable fact that that which was to have been offered up would have continued its existence within the higher Beings in a different fashion from its state within the lower Beings. The actual conditions necessary to that existence are in those higher Beings. It became necessary, therefore, for different conditions of existence to arise in the lower Beings. This again can be symbolically expressed. If the whole substance of a planet could flow into the Sun and it were not rejected, the Beings of that planet would find different conditions of existence within the Sun from those they would have met with in the planet outside if the Sun throws them back: an estrangement of what we must call the “contents of the sacrifice” takes place, it is alienated from its origin.

Now bear in mind the thought that certain Beings are compelled to retain within them something which they would gladly have offered up in sacrifice, and concerning which they both feel and perceive that it could only attain its real meaning, if it could be offered up.

If you can picture the feelings of such Beings, you will have an idea of what may be called: “The exclusion of a certain number of Cosmic Beings from their actual meaning, their great cosmic purpose.” Certain Beings have within them something, which, speaking symbolically, could only fulfil its purpose elsewhere. The consequence of this is that the “displacement” — if we may once more speak symbolically — of the rejected incense, of the rejected sacrificial substance, excludes it at first from the rest of the cosmic process.

If you grasp these thoughts with your feeling — not with your reason, for that does not extend to matters such as these — you will perceive that this represents something like a rending away from the universal cosmic process. To the Beings who rejected the sacrifice it is only something they put away from them; to the other Beings, those within whom the sacrificial substance is retained, this is a something on which an alien character is imprinted. Thus there are Beings in whose substance this estrangement from its origin is imprinted. If we can present these things to our soul through inner feelings, we are reminded of something in which an alien character is inherent: that is Death! Death is none other than that which necessarily enters the universe with the rejection of the sacrificial substance of those Beings who then had to retain it within themselves. Thus we advance from the resignation, the renunciation of what has been rejected by the higher Beings — which we encounter at the third stage of evolution — to Death.

In its true significance death is neither more nor less than the nature of essential contents, contents which are shut out and not in their proper place. Even when death comes to a man in concrete form it is fundamentally the same thing. For when we look at the corpse left behind in the world of Maya, we know that it consists of nothing but matter which at the moment of death was shut out from the Ego, astral body, and etheric body, alienated from that within which alone it had a meaning. The physical human body without the etheric body, astral body, and Ego has no meaning, it is purposeless; at that moment it is excluded from its purpose. That which we can no longer perceive when a man dies, is then for us in the macrocosm. On account of the Cosmic Beings who belong to higher spheres having rejected what was to have been brought to them in sacrifice, the rejected sacrificial substance within the Beings to whom it was thrown back lapses into death, for death signifies the exclusion of any cosmic substance or cosmic being from its actual purpose.

We have now come to a spiritual characteristic of what we call the fourth element in the Universe. If fire represents the purest sacrifice — and wherever we encounter fire or heat, behind it there is its spiritual counterpart: Sacrifice — if behind all the air spread out around our earth there really lies the virtue of giving, a really flowing virtue; if we may describe flowing water or the element of fluidity as spiritual resignation or renunciation, so must we describe the element of Earth, which alone can be the bearer of death — for death would not exist without it — as that which has been severed from its purpose by renunciation. Now we have something in a concrete form, showing how the solid is formed from the fluidic. For this too reflects a spiritual process, in a certain sense. Suppose ice forms in a pond; the water then becomes solid. The real reason of this is that the water in becoming ice is cut off from its purpose. This gives us the spiritual process of solidification, the spiritual process of the Earth's becoming; for as far as the distinguishing marks of the four elements are concerned, ice too is earth, and fluid alone is water. Earth is the element in which death appears and may be experienced.

We began by putting the question as to whether anything real could be found in our world of illusion and Maya, whether there is anything in it corresponding to a reality. I want you to hold clearly to the idea we have just been considering. At the beginning of this course I told you that the concepts to be considered were somewhat complicated. It will therefore be necessary that we should not only try to understand them, but also to meditate upon them; for only then will they be clear to us. Now let us take this conception of death, that is, of the earthly; for it presents a truly remarkable aspect. Whereas concerning all our other concepts we could say that there was nothing real in all the world of Maya around us, but that the reality must be looked for in the spiritual behind it — we have now ascertained that within the world of Maya there is that, which, precisely because it is divided from its purpose, because it ought to be in the spiritual world, may be called death. Thus something is cut off in Maya, which actually ought not to be there. In the whole wide realm of Maya, or the great illusion, we have nothing but deception and illusion before us. Yet there is something there which corresponds to a reality, because it is cut off from its true meaning in the spiritual; and as soon as it enters Maya it encounters annihilation and death. That declares to us nothing less significant than the great occult truth: “In the whole world of Maya one thing only shows itself in its reality — Death! All other phenomena must be traced back to their reality; all other phenomena entering into Maya have reality behind them; death is the single reality in Maya for it consists in the fact that something was cut off from reality and taken into Maya, That is why death is the one and only reality in Maya. And now if we turn from the universal Maya to the great principles of the world, a very important and essential consequence of this statement, that in our world of Maya, Death is the only reality, presents itself to occult science.

We can approach what I want to say from yet another side. We can begin by considering the beings of the other kingdoms surrounding us. We may ask: do minerals die? To the occultist there could be no sense in saying that minerals die. It would be just the same as saying that our finger-nails die when we cut them. The finger-nail is nothing which as complete being has claim to existence; but it is part of us, and when we cut it off we separate it from ourselves, tear it away from the life it has in connection with us. In reality it dies only when we ourselves die. In the same sense, according to occult science, the minerals do not die. They are merely members of one great organism, just as a finger-nail is a member of our own, and although a mineral may appear to perish, it is in reality only severed from this great organism, just as the piece of finger-nail is severed from our organism when we cut it off. The destruction of a mineral is no death; for the mineral has no life in itself, but only in the great organism of which it is a member. The plant as such is not independent; it is a member — not of one great organism, like the mineral — but of the whole organism of the earth. To occult observation there would be no sense in speaking of individual plant-organisms, only of the organism of the earth of which the plants everywhere form part. And when we bring them to their “death” it is just as when we cut away one of our finger-nails. We cannot say that the fingernail has died. Just as little can we say that of the plants; for they belong to a great organism that is identical with the whole earth, an organism which falls asleep in spring, sending forth the plants as its organs towards the Sun; and in autumn it takes them back into itself when it gathers their seeds into itself. There is no sense in considering the plants as independent, for the whole earth organism does not die when its separate plants fade — just as we ourselves do not die when our hair goes grey, although we cannot restore its colour by natural means.

We are, however, in a different position from the plants. But the earth may in this respect be compared to a man who could restore his grey hair to its natural colour. The earth does not die; what is observed in the fading of the plants is a process that takes place on the surface. So we can never say that the plants really die. And even of the animals we cannot actually say that they die, as we die. For in reality a separate animal does not exist; what really exists is its group-soul, which is in the super-sensible world. The reality of the animals is only to be found on the astral plane as group-soul, and the individual animal is condensed out of that. The death of an animal means the casting off a member of the group-soul, which replaces it by another.

Thus what we encounter at death in the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms is only apparent death, only in the world of Maya is that “death.” In reality man alone dies, for he has developed his individuality so far that it descends into his physical body, in which during the earth-existence he must become real. In reality death has only meaning for the Earth-existence of man.

If we grasp this we must say: Man alone can truly experience death. Thus for man there is, as we learn through occult research, a real overcoming of death, a real victory over death. For every other being death is only apparent, and does not in reality exist. If again we were to ascend higher — from man to the Beings of the Hierarchies — we should find that they do not know death in the human sense; so that in reality actual death, that is death on the physical plane, comes only to those beings who have to acquire something on that plane. Now man has to acquire his ego-consciousness there. Without death he could never find it. Neither with respect to the beings below man in rank, nor to those higher than man is there any meaning in speaking of actual death. But on the other hand as regards the Being whom we call the “Christ-Being it must clearly be impossible to obliterate his most significant earth deed. For indeed we have seen that the most essential event to be considered in connection with the Christ-Being is the Mystery of Golgotha; that is, the conquest of death by life. But where can this conquest of death alone be accomplished? Can it be accomplished in the higher worlds? No! For even as regards the lower beings referred to as the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms — as they have their true being in the higher, super-sensible worlds — we cannot speak of death. And in the course of our studies this winter we shall further show that neither among the Higher Beings can there be a question of death; only of change, metamorphosis, transformation. Only with regard to man can we speak of the incision into life that we call “death.” Man can only experience this death on the physical plane. If man had never descended to the physical plane, he would know nothing of death; for no being who has not trodden the physical plane knows anything of death. In other worlds there is no such thing as that which we call death, nothing but transformation, metamorphosis. Would Christ undergo death He must descend to the physical plane! There alone could He experience it.

Thus we see that even in the historical development of man, the reality of the higher worlds plays its part in Maya, in a remarkable way. Whereas concerning every other historical event we can only interpret it correctly by saying: “This historical event took place here on the physical plane, but the cause of it is up above in the spiritual world, we must look for it there”; we cannot say of the event of Golgotha, “this event is here below on the physical plane and something corresponding to it exists in the higher worlds.” Christ Himself belongs to the higher worlds and came down to the physical plane. But there is no prototype above of what was accomplished on Golgotha, such as we must look for with respect to other historical events. That was enacted on the physical plane alone! Among the many proofs of this fact which occult science is able to provide, is the following: That the event of Damascus will, in the course of the next three thousand years, as we have often said, be renewed for a sufficiently great number of mankind. This means, that capacities will be developed in man which will enable him to perceive the Christ as an etheric figure on the astral plane, as Paul saw Him on the road to Damascus. The event of man's gradually becoming able to perceive the Christ by means of the higher faculties which will be developed in the next three thousand years, has its beginnings in our twentieth century. From now on these capacities will gradually arise, and in the course of that span of time a vast number of persons will know, by personal vision into the higher worlds, that Christ is a reality; that He lives; they will learn to know Him in the life He lives now. And not only will they know the nature of His present life, but they will also be convinced just as Paul was — that He died, and rose again. But the foundation for this cannot be laid in the higher worlds: it must be laid on the physical plane. Thus if anyone comes to have an understanding of these things, if even at the present time he understands that the development of Christ Himself is progressing — and that at the same time certain human capacities are also developing, if his understanding of modern Anthroposophy has taught him this, then there is nothing to prevent him, when he has passed through the portal of death, from taking part in this event when it actually appears as a first shining forth of Christ in the world of man. So that a man who prepares himself in his physical body to-day for this event, maybe able to experience it in the intermediate life, between death and re-birth. But those who do not prepare for it, who acquire no understanding in this incarnation, will, in the life immediately following this — the life between death and re-birth — know nothing of what is taking place with respect to the Christ for the next three thousand years from our present century. They will have to wait until they are again incarnated and then make necessary preparations on the earth. The death at Golgotha, which is enacted on earth as the origin of all the subsequent Christ development can only be understood in the physical body. Of all the facts important to our higher life, this alone is comprehensible in the physical body. It is then further developed and perfected in the higher worlds, but we must first have understood it while in the physical body. Just as the Mystery of Golgotha could never have taken place in the higher worlds and has no prototype there, but is an event which — since it includes death — is confined to the physical plane, so, too must the comprehension of it be acquired on this plane. Indeed, it is one of the tasks of man on earth to acquire this understanding in some one of his incarnations.

So that we must say: we have found pre-eminently on the physical plane something which displays an undeniable reality, a direct truth. What then is real on the physical plane On the physical plane, so that we can recognise it as real, we have a reality, death — death in the world of man, not in the other kingdoms of nature. When we wish to study the historical events that occur in the course of the earth's development, we must look for a spiritual prototype for each one of them — but not for the Mystery of Golgotha! There we have something which in itself directly belongs to the world of Reality!

Now it is extremely interesting that another aspect of what has just been said, can also be seen. It is really remarkably significant to observe that this event of Golgotha as a real event is to-day denied, and that people say — speaking of external history — that it cannot be proved by any historical connection. Among vital historical facts there is hardly one so difficult to prove on external realistic, historical grounds, as the Mystery of Golgotha. Just think how easy it is in comparison with this to work on historical ground if we wish to prove the existence of a Socrates, a Plato, or any of the Greek heroes, in so far as they were of significance to the progress of man in the external world, and how up to a certain point it is perfectly justifiable to say that “no history can assert that there ever was a Jesus of Nazareth!” This statement cannot be contradicted historically! This cannot be dealt with like other historical facts. It is very remarkable that this Event, which occurred on the external physical plane has this in common with all super-sensible facts: they cannot be “proved.” Much the same people who deny the existence of a super-sensible world lack the capacity for grasping this fact, which is not super-sensible. Its existence can be surmised by its effects. But, these people think that effects such as these might also appear, even without the real event having occurred in history; and they attribute these effects to sociological relations. To one who knows the inner course of the world's development, the idea that effects such as those produced by Christianity could be brought about without having a power behind them, is just as wise as it would be to say cabbages could grow in a field without having been sown there! Indeed we might go yet further, and admit that it was not possible for those who took part in the final shaping of the Gospels to prove the historical event of the Mystery of Golgotha — as historical event — on historical grounds! For it went by leaving hardly any trace perceptible to outer observation. Do you know how those who took part in the later compiling of the Gospels convinced themselves as to these events, with the exception of the writer of the John-Gospel, who was an immediate contemporary? They could not above all convince themselves by historical documents, for they had nothing but oral traditions and the Mystery-Books (as is set forth in Christianity as Mystical Fact). They were able to convince themselves of the actual existence of Christ Jesus by the star-constellation, for they were then still very learned as to the connection between the Macrocosm and the Microcosm. They knew how to set up a map of the heavens for that point of the world's history (as can still be done to-day); and they concluded: if the stars were in such and such a position, then He whom they call the Christ must have lived on earth at that time. In this very way the writers of the Gospel of Matthew, Mark and Luke convinced themselves of the historical event; they obtained the rest clairvoyantly. But first they convinced themselves in the same way as we can make sure to-day that any particular event can happen on the earth; through the constellations in the Macrocosm. Anyone who knows anything of this cannot but believe in them. It is a fruitless task to prove the inaccuracy of what is brought against the historical status of the Gospels. Rather should we, as anthroposophists, understand that we must take a very different stand: one which is only possible through an insight into occult science.

With reference to this I should just like to mention a point I already endeavoured to establish elsewhere. That is, that the realities of which Anthroposophy speaks cannot be injured by any objections, however correct these may be in themselves. No matter how correctly people may argue from the knowledge they themselves may possess, that does not disprove Anthroposophy. In the lecture I gave entitled: “How can Theosophy be established?” [Not published in English.] I made use of the example of the little boy in a village whose duty it was to fetch rolls for the family breakfast. Now in that village each roll cost two kreuzers and he was always given ten kreuzers. The baker gave him a number of rolls, and being no great arithmetician, he did not trouble to count them, but brought them home. But a foster-son entered the family and was sent for the rolls instead of the other boy. This lad was a good reckoner and he said to himself: “I have been given ten kreuzers, each roll costs two kreuzers, therefore I must bring home five rolls;” off he went, bringing back six rolls. He said to himself: “This must be wrong, I ought not to have so many, and as my reckoning is correct, to-morrow I must only bring back five rolls.” The next day he took the ten kreuzers, and again he received six rolls. The reckoning was correct — only it did not correspond with the reality; for that was a different matter. The reality was that it was the custom in that place to give six rolls instead of five to anyone who spent ten kreuzers. The boy's argument was quite correct; but did not accord with reality.

In like manner the cleverest thought-out objections to Anthroposophy may all agree with each other, yet need have nothing to do with the reality; for “reality” may be based on very different foundations. The example quoted is quite practical, and serves to explain, even scientifically, what is correctly calculated, and what is actual fact.

We have tried to trace the world of Maya back to reality and in doing so we have shown that all Fire is sacrifice, everything of the nature of Air is the generous flowing virtue of giving, and Fluid the result of renunciation and resignation. To these three truths we have to-day added the fact that the true nature of the Earth or solid matter is death, the cutting off of any substance from its cosmic purpose. Because this severing has entered, death itself enters the world of Maya or illusion as a reality. Even the Gods themselves could not taste death at all without descent into the physical world in order to comprehend death in the physical world, the world of Maya, or illusion. This is what I wished to add to-day to the concepts we have already formed. But once more let it be said that if we wish to arrive at a clear understanding of these concepts which are so necessary, and if we are thoroughly to enter into the various ideas in St. Mark's Gospel, the only possible way of doing so is by careful meditation and by bringing these things again and again before the soul. The Gospel of St. Mark can only be understood if based on the greatest and most significant cosmic conceptions.


Thursday, March 30, 2023

Evil is always ultimately in the service of the greater good.


Evil is always ultimately in the service of the greater good.

Rudolf Steiner:  "But this very pain, this tragedy, contains the most precious seeds of the new, constructive life that has to be built up in the midst of our decaying culture. For the truth is that everything in life that flowers and bears fruit is an outgrowth of pain and suffering."

But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.  — Job 23:10

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,

And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:

(For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:

And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)

But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:

Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

For our God is a consuming fire.

Source: February 13, 1923. GA 257

Rudolf Steiner died 98 years ago today


Rudolf Steiner:  "Some people are destined by karma to announce prophetically what all of humanity will gradually, bit by bit, accept as the meaning of an epoch."

Rudolf Steiner:  "Whoever does not believe in all humility that his wisdom is the sum of all wisdom – that his judgement represents the highest judgment – will soon be able to observe that there are people apart from himself who have more wisdom and judgment [than himself], and he will listen to these beings and allow himself to be instructed by them. He will, when he gains some insight, become aware that he still has a path to follow that others have gone long before him. The more understanding a person obtains, the humbler he becomes. The clearer the realization how much he still has to learn, the more he will be inclined to find those he can still learn from. Anyone who thinks that he has nothing to learn from others only proves thereby that he or she has still not advanced very far. The more advanced a person is, the more he comes to recognize that human beings are on different levels of development and that there have always been those who were more advanced than their brethren – the spiritual leaders of humanity who are more advanced in their development, the highly developed, the most advanced individualities of humankind."

This is what reading Rudolf Steiner is like

The Gospel of Thomas, Saying 8: 

And he said, "The one is like a wise fisher who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of small fish. Among them the wise fisher discovered a fine large fish. He threw all the small fish back into the sea, and with no hesitation picked the great good fish. Whoever has ears, listen!"

"Wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it."

— Proverbs 8:11

"You should be leading lives of joy   deep inner joy in the truth! There is nothing in the world more delightful, nothing more fascinating, than the experience of truth."  — Rudolf Steiner


"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."  — John 8:32

Here's a thought experiment: If you could send a message to your 12-year-old self, and you were limited to 2 words, what would your message be?

For me the answer's easy: "Rudolf Steiner"

Steiner! Steiner! and more Steiner! always more Steiner!

Once, driving home from Ithaca, Darlene told me that I should have a t-shirt reading

Ask me about Rudolf Steiner

Which is funny because it's true. A couple of miles further down the road a car passed us whose license plate was

RS Mania

I said to Darlene "And you think I have it bad."

The name of him whom Providence has chosen

That wondrous things on Earth he should achieve,
Whom I may often praise, though ne'er sufficing,
Whose destiny we scarcely can believe,
His name — it is Humanus, Saint and wise one,
The best of men whom I did e'er perceive:

                --from "The Mysteries" by Goethe

“To create centers of peace & love in which the Christ can resurrect.”
~written on the urn that holds the ashes of Rudolf Steiner

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

"Do I dare to eat a peach?"



Rudolf Steiner:  "Language originates in the totality of mankind, and the more mankind still senses the language, so much more will there be movement in his speech. It is extraordinary how for instance in England, where the process of withdrawal of a connection with the surroundings is most advanced, it is regarded as a good custom to speak with their hands in their trouser pockets, held firmly inside so they don't enter the danger of movement. I have seen many English people talk in this way. Since then I've never had my pockets made in front again, but always at the back, for I have developed such disgust from this quite inhuman non-participation in what is being said. It is simply a materialistic criticism that speech only comes from the head: it originates out of the entire human being, above all from the arms, and we are — I say it here in one sentence which is obviously restricted — we are on this basis no ape or animal which needs its hands to climb or hold on to something, but we have them as free because with these free hands and arms we handle speech. In grasping with our arms, creating with our fingers, we express something we need in order to model language."

Source: September 29, 1921. GA 343. Foundation Course, pp. 145-146

The goal of yoga : to become Atman, the Holy Grail

Some work of noble note may yet be done

Not unbecoming men that strove with gods....

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

My 76-year-old self and my 12-year-old self have decided to come together in this guy.

Our names are Parzival, Albion, and Martyrion:

one equal temper of heroic hearts

Our motto is "From Strength To Strength"


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

Rudolf Steiner:  "Gratitude is the vessel that we lift to the Gods that they may fill it with their wonder-gifts. If in all earnestness we foster the feeling of thankfulness, then gratitude, living devotion, must be there to the invisible spiritual givers of life; and it is the most beautiful way to be led from one's personality to the supersensible if this guidance goes through gratitude. Gratitude ultimately brings us to veneration and love of the life-bestowing spirit of man. It gives birth to love, and love makes the heart open for the spirit-powers pervading life. If after every meditation we arouse in ourselves the feeling of gratefulness and reverence — a feeling that we can call a mood of prayer — and be aware in what grace we are taking part, we shall realize that we are on the right path for spiritual worlds to approach us."

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.  —Luke 9:23-24

"Wisdom is crystallized pain."
 Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner:  "Let us suppose that a person intended to accomplish something in the world through inner spiritual means. The individual has to prepare himself or herself by learning above all to suppress his or her wishes or desires. And while one becomes stronger in the physical world if one eats well and is well nourished and thus has more energy, one will achieve something significant in the spiritual world — this is a description, not advice — when one fasts or does something to suppress or renounce wishes and desires. Preparation that involves relinquishing the wishes, desires, and will impulses arising in us is always part of the greatest spiritual endeavors. The less we will, the more we can say that we let life stream over us and do not desire this or that, but rather take things as karma casts them before us; the more we accept karma and its consequences; the more we behave calmly, renouncing all that we otherwise would have wanted to achieve in life — the stronger we become."

The Himalayan Institute's Meditation Shrine


Do all the good you can.
By all the means you can.
In all the places you can.
At all the times you can.
To all the people you can.
As long as ever you can.

              — John Wesley

Rudolf Steiner:  "We must seek to enlighten people by every means at our disposal; that is what is important today."

May wisdom shine through me

May love radiate from me

May strength course through me

That in me may arise

A helper of humankind

A consecrated servant

Selfless and true

               — Rudolf Steiner

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

"Eons cannot erase the traces of my days on Earth."
— Goethe

The Esoteric Lord's Prayer, by Rudolf Steiner


You who were, are, and will be in our inmost being:

May your name be glorified and praised in us.

May your kingdom grow in our deeds and in our inmost lives.

May we perform your will as you, Father, lay it down in our inmost being.

You give us spiritual nourishment, the bread of life, superabundantly in all the changing conditions of our lives.

Let our mercy toward others make up for the sins done to us.

You do not allow the tempter to work in us beyond the capacity of our strength.

For no temptation can live in your being, Father, and the tempter is only appearance and delusion, from which you lead us, Father, through the light of knowledge.

May your power and glory work in us through all periods and ages of time. 


Where I start each day:
The Himalayan Institute's meditation shrine
Photo by Ransom Hare

May God's protecting, blessing ray
Fill my growing soul,
That it may lay hold of
Strengthening forces everywhere.
My soul shall vow
To awaken to full life in itself
The power of Love,
And thus see God's strength
On its life's path,
And act in accordance with God
With all that it has.

                    — Rudolf Steiner

"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."  — John 8:32

"In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."  — John 16:33

“To create centers of peace & love in which the Christ can resurrect.”
~written on the urn that holds the ashes of Rudolf Steiner


Life is the unfolding glory of the rose of expiation

Related posts:

The Holy Grail

Today is my 76th birthday

A Fitting Frame of Mind

A surefire spiritual shortcut 

500 months at the Himalayan Institute

Swaha the whole enchilada

Well met, fellow pilgrim!  

Do all the good you can

The Color Violet

None but the brave