Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Buddha on Mars


Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, December 22, 1912:
Between Death and Rebirth. Lecture 5 of 10

I shall not be speaking today about the Christmas Festival as in previous years, for I propose to do that on Tuesday. I would ask you to think of what I shall say as a gift placed under the Christmas tree in the form of an anthroposophical Christmas study — a study which because of the significant knowledge it contains may well be the subject of lengthy reflection and meditation. At this Christmas season we may very properly think of an individual considered by many people to be a mythological or mystical figure but with whose name we ourselves connect the spiritual impulses of Western cultural life. I refer to Christian Rosenkreutz.
With this individuality and his activity since the thirteenth century we associate everything that has to do with the propagation of the impulse given by Christ's appearance on the Earth and the fulfilment of the Mystery of Golgotha. On one occasion I also spoke of what may be called the last Initiation of Christian Rosenkreutz in the thirteenth century. Today I shall speak of a deed he performed towards the end of the sixteenth century. This deed is of particular significance because it linked with the Christ Impulse an achievement of supreme importance in the history of human evolution — an achievement before the time of the Mystery of Golgotha.
One of the innumerable factors which enable us to grasp the supreme significance of the Mystery of Golgotha in the history of mankind on Earth is the deed of Gautama Buddha, the founder of a different religion. Eastern tradition tells us that in the life usually spoken of as the Buddha life, Gautama Buddha rose in his twenty-ninth year from the rank of Bodhisattva to that of Buddhahood. We are aware of what that ascent means and also of the world-wide significance of the Sermon at Benares, the first great accomplishment of the Buddha who had previously been a Bodhisattva. Of all this we are deeply conscious. Today we will think especially of one aspect only, namely, what it signifies in the history of worlds when a Bodhisattva rises to the rank of Buddhahood. The Eastern teaching — which does not differ from that of Western occultism in regard to this event — is that when a human being rises from the rank of Bodhisattva to that of Buddhahood, he need not henceforward incarnate on the Earth in a physical body but can continue his work in purely spiritual worlds. And so we recognise as a valid truth that the individuality who lived on Earth for the last time as Gautama Buddha has since then been present in lofty spiritual worlds continuing to influence evolution and sending impulses and forces from those spheres to further the development and stature of mankind.
We have also spoken of a significant deed of the Buddha, a deed that was his contribution to the Mystery of Golgotha. We have been reminded of the beautiful narrative in the Gospel of St. Luke concerning the shepherds who had gathered together at the time of the birth of the Jesus Child described in that Gospel. [See the Lecture Course entitled The Gospel of St. Luke, given in Basle, 15th–26th September, 1909.] The narrative tells of a song which rang out from Angels and resounded in the devout, expectant souls of the shepherds. ‘Revelations shall tell of the Divine in the Heights and there shall be peace on Earth among men who are of good will.’ It is the song which tells of the revelation of the divine-spiritual forces in the spiritual worlds and the reflection of these forces in the hearts of men who are of good will. We have heard that the song of peace which then rang out was the contribution of the Buddha from spiritual heights to the Mystery of Golgotha. The Buddha united with the astral body of the Jesus Child of whom we are told in St. Luke's Gospel, and the song of Angels announced in that Gospel is to be understood as the influx of the gospel of Peace into the deed subsequently to be wrought by Christ Jesus. The Buddha spoke at the time of the birth of Jesus, and the song of Angels heard by the shepherds was the message from ancient, pre-Christian times, of peace and all-embracing human love which were also to be integrated into the mission of Christ Jesus.
Thereafter the Buddha continued to be active in the advancing stream of Christian evolution in the West and special mention must be made of his further activity. The Buddha was no longer working in a human body but in the spiritual body in which he had revealed himself at the time of the birth of Jesus; and he continued to work, perceptible to those who through some form of Initiation are able to establish relationship not only with physical human beings but also with those sublime Leaders and Teachers who come to men in purely spiritual bodies.
A few centuries after the Mystery of Golgotha, in a Mystery school situated in the region of the Black Sea in the South of Russia, there were Teachers of great significance. What actually took place there can be no more than indicated — and even then half metaphorically. Among the Teachers present in the School in physical incarnations there was one who did not work in a physical body and could therefore be contacted only by pupils and neophytes able to establish relations with Leaders and Teachers who appeared in this Mystery Centre in spiritual bodies. One such Teacher was the Being spoken of as Gautama Buddha. And in the seventh/eighth century after the Mystery of Golgotha this Being had a notable pupil. At that time the Buddha, in his true nature, was in no way concerned with propagating Buddhism in its old form, for he too had advanced with evolution. He had taken the Christ Impulse into the very depths of his being, had actually co-operated in its inception. What had still to be transmitted of the old form of Buddhism came to expression in the general tone and character of what the Buddha imparted in the Mystery Centre referred to above; but everything was clothed in a Christian form. It may truly be said that when the Buddha had become a Being who need no longer incarnate in a human body, he had co-operated from the spiritual world in the development of Christianity. A faithful pupil of his had absorbed into the depths of his soul the teaching which the Buddha gave at that time but which could not become the common possession of all mankind. It was teaching which represented a union of Buddhism and Christianity. It implied absolute surrender to what is super-sensible in human nature, the abandonment of any direct bond with the physical and earthly, complete dedication in heart and soul, not merely in mind and intellect, to what is of the nature of soul-and-spirit in the world; it meant withdrawal from all the externalities of life and absolute devotion in the inner life to the mysteries of the Spirit. And when that being who had been a pupil of the Buddha and Christ, who had learnt of the Christ through the Buddha, appeared again on Earth, he was incarnated as the person known in history as Francis of Assisi. Those who desire to understand from occult knowledge the absolutely unique quality of soul and manner of life of Francis of Assisi, especially what is so impressive about him because of its remoteness from the world and everyday experience — let them realise that in his previous incarnation he was a Christian pupil in the Mystery Centre of which I have spoken.
In this way the Buddha continued to work, invisibly and supersensibly, in the stream that had become part of the process of evolution since the Mystery of Golgotha took place. The figure of Francis of Assisi is a clear indication of what the effect of the Buddha's activity would have been in all subsequent times if nothing else had happened and he had continued to work as he had done while preparing Francis of Assisi for his mission in the world. Numbers and numbers of human beings would have developed the character and disposition of Francis of Assisi. They would have become, within Christianity, disciples and followers of Buddha. But this Buddha-like quality in those who became followers of Francis of Assisi would have been quite unable to cope with the demands that would be made of humanity in modern civilisation.
Let us remind ourselves of what has been said about the passage of the human soul through the various regions of the Cosmos between death and the new birth. We have heard how during that period of existence the soul of a man has to pass through the planetary spheres, to traverse the expanse of cosmic space. Between death and the new birth we actually become inhabitants, in succession, of Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. We then draw our life together again in order to incarnate through a parental pair and undergo the experiences that are possible on Earth but not in other planetary spheres. Since the last death, every soul incarnated on the Earth has undergone the experiences that belong to the heavens. Through birth we bring into our existence on Earth the forces we have acquired in the various heavenly spheres.
Now let us remind ourselves of how life flows by on Earth, how at each new incarnation the human being finds that the Earth has changed and that his experiences are quite different. In the course of his incarnations an individual will have lived in pre-Christian times and have been incarnated again after the impulse of the Mystery of Golgotha had been given to evolution. Let us picture with the greatest possible clarity how the Earth evolves, descending from divine-spiritual heights to a certain nadir. The impulse of the Mystery of Golgotha then made an ascent possible in the evolutionary process. The ascent is at present only beginning, but it will continue if human souls receive the impulse of this Mystery and so, later on, rise again to the stage they had reached before the temptation of Lucifer. Let us realise that, in accordance with the fundamental laws of evolution, whenever we return to the Earth through birth we find quite different conditions of existence.
The same applies to the heavenly spheres into which we pass between death and a new birth. Like our Earth, these heavenly bodies also pass through descending and ascending phases of evolution. Whenever we pass into a planetary sphere after death — let us say of Mars, or Venus, or Mercury — we enter different conditions and have different experiences receive different impulses, which we bring back again into physical existence through birth. And because the heavenly bodies are also undergoing evolution, our souls bring back different forces into each incarnation.
Today, because of the profound significance of the Christmas Festival, our thoughts are directed to the spiritual realities of cosmic space itself and we will consider a particular example of evolution. This example is revealed to occult investigation if that investigation is able to penetrate deeply enough into the spiritual nature of other planets and planetary systems as well as into that of the Earth. In the spiritual life of the Earth there was a descending phase of evolution until the time of the Mystery of Golgotha and thereafter a phase of ascent — now latent for the sole reason that a deeper understanding of the Christ Impulse is necessary. Similarly, there were phases of descent and ascent in the evolution of Mars, into whose sphere we pass between death and rebirth. Until the fifteenth/sixteenth century the evolution of Mars was such that what had always been bestowed upon it from the spiritual worlds was undergoing a phase of descent, just as was the case in the evolution of the Earth until the beginning of the Christian era. By the time of the fifteenth/sixteenth century it was necessary that the evolution of Mars should become a process of ascent, for the consequences of the phase of descent had become all too evident in that sphere. As already said, when we pass again into earthly existence through birth we bring with us the impulses and forces gathered from the worlds of stars, among them the forces of Mars. The example of a certain individuality is clear evidence of the change that had come about in the forces brought by human beings from Mars to the Earth.
It is known to all occultists that the same soul which appeared on Earth in Nicolas Copernicus, [Born 1473, died 1543.] the inaugurator of the dawn of the modern age, had been previously incarnated from 1401 to 1464 in Cardinal Nicolas of Kues, Nicolas Cusanus. But how utterly different were these two personalities who harboured the same soul within them! Nicolas of Cusa in the fifteenth century was dedicated in mind and heart to the spiritual worlds; all his study was rooted in the spiritual worlds, and when he appeared again as Copernicus he was responsible for the great transformation which could have been achieved only by eliminating from the conception of space and the planetary system every iota of spirituality and thinking only of the external movements and interrelationships of the heavenly bodies. How was it possible that the same soul which had been on the Earth in Nicolas of Cusa and was wholly dedicated to the spiritual worlds, could appear in the next incarnation in an individual who conceived of the heavenly bodies purely in terms of their mathematical, spatial and geometric aspects? This was possible because a soul who passed through the Mars sphere during the interval between the time of Nicolas of Cusa and that of Copernicus had entered into a phase of decline. It was therefore not possible to bring from the Mars sphere any forces that would have inspired souls during physical life to soar into the spiritual worlds. The souls who passed through the Mars sphere at that particular time could grasp only the physical and material nature of things. If these conditions on Mars had continued without change, if the phase of decline had been prolonged, souls would have brought with them from the Mars sphere forces that would have rendered them incapable of anything except a purely materialistic conception of the world. Nevertheless the results of the decline of Mars were responsible for bringing modern natural science into existence; these forces poured with such strength into the souls of men that they led to triumph after triumph in the domain of materialistic knowledge of the world; and in the further course of evolution this influence would have worked exclusively for the promotion of materialistic science, for the interests of trade and industry only, of external forms of culture on the Earth.
It would have been possible for a class of human beings to be formed entirely under the influence of certain old Mars forces and interested in external culture only; these human beings would have confronted another class of individuals, composed of followers of Francis of Assisi, in other words, of Buddhism transported into Christianity. A Being such as the Buddha, having continued to work until the time of Francis of Assisi as previously indicated, would have been able to produce on the Earth a counterweight to the purely materialistic conception of the world by pouring strong forces into the souls of men. But this would have led to the formation of a class of individuals capable only of leading a monastic life patterned on that of Francis of Assisi; and these individuals alone would have been able to scale the heights of spiritual life.
If this state of things had remained, humanity would have divided more and more sharply into two classes: the one composed of those who were devoted entirely to the interests of material existence on the Earth and the advancement of external culture, and the other class, due to the continuing influence of Buddha, would have consisted of those who fostered and preserved spiritual culture. But the souls belonging to the latter class would, like Francis of Assisi, have been incapable of participating in external, material forms of civilisation. These two categories of human beings would have become more and more sharply separated. As the inevitability of this state of things could be prophetically foreseen, it became the task of the individual whom we revere under the name of Christian Rosenkreutz to prevent such a separation taking place in the further evolution of mankind on the Earth. Christian Rosenkreutz felt it to be his mission to offer to every human soul, living no matter where, the possibility of rising to the heights of spiritual life. It has always been emphasised among us and is clearly set forth in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. How is it Achieved? that our goal in the sphere of occult development in the West is not to rise into spiritual worlds as the result of ascetic isolation from life but to make it possible for every human soul to discover for itself the path into the spiritual world. That the ascent into spiritual worlds should be compatible with every status in life, that humanity should not divide into two categories, one composed of people devoted entirely to external, industrial and commercial interests, becoming increasingly ingenious, materialised and animalised, whereas those in the other category would hold themselves aloof in a life patterned on that of Francis of Assisi — all this was the concern of Christian Rosenkreutz at the time when the approaching modern age was to inaugurate the epoch of materialistic culture during which all souls would bring with them the Mars forces in their state of decline. And because there could not be within the souls of men the power to prevent the separation, it has to be ensured that from the Mars forces themselves there would come to man the impulse to work with his whole being for spiritual aims. For example, it was necessary that human beings should be educated to think in terms of sound natural scientific principles, to formulate ideas and concepts in line with those principles, but at the same time the soul must have the capacity to deepen and develop the ideas spiritually, in order that the way can be found from a natural scientific view of the world to lofty heights of spiritual life.
This possibility had to be created! And it was created by Christian Rosenkreutz, who towards the end of the sixteenth century gathered around him his faithful followers from all over the Earth, enabling them to participate in what takes place outwardly in space from one heavenly body to another but is prepared in the sacred Mystery Centres, where aims are pursued leading beyond those of planetary spiritual life to the spiritual life of cosmic worlds. Christian Rosenkreutz gathered around him those who had also been with him at the time of his Initiation in the thirteenth century. Among them was one who for long years had been his pupil and friend, who had at one time been incarnated on the Earth but now no longer needed to appear in a physical incarnation: this was Gautama Buddha, now a spiritual Being after having risen to the rank of Buddhahood. He was the pupil of Christian Rosenkreutz. And in order that what could be achieved through the Buddha should become part of the mission of Christian Rosenkreutz at that time, a joint deed resulted in the transference of the Buddha from a sphere of earthly activity to one of cosmic activity. The impulse given by Christian Rosenkreutz made this possible. We will speak on another occasion in greater detail of the relationship between Gautama Buddha and Christian Rosenkreutz; at the moment it is simply a matter of stating that this relationship led to the individuality of the Buddha ceasing to work in the sphere of the Earth as he had formerly worked in the Mystery Centre near the Black Sea, and transferring his activity to Mars. And so at the beginning of the seventeenth century there took place in the evolution of Mars something similar to what had come about at the beginning of the ascending phase of Earth evolution through the Mystery of Golgotha. What may be called the advent of the Buddha on Mars was brought about through Christian Rosenkreutz and the ascending phase of Mars evolution began from then onwards just as on Earth the ascending phase of culture began with the Mystery of Golgotha.
Thus the Buddha became a Redeemer and Saviour for Mars as Christ Jesus had become for the Earth. The Buddha had been prepared for this by his teaching of Nirvana, lack of satisfaction with earthly existence, liberation from physical incarnation. This teaching had been prepared in a sphere outside the Earth but with the Earth's goal in view. If we can look into the soul of the Buddha and grasp the import of the Sermon at Benares we shall witness the preparation of activity that was not to be confined to the Earth. And then we shall realise how infinitely wise was the contract between Christian Rosenkreutz and the Buddha, as the result of which, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Buddha relinquished his activity on the Earth through which he would have been able, from the spiritual world, to influence human souls between birth and death, in order henceforward to work in the Mars sphere for souls between death and rebirth.
This is the momentous outcome of what might be called the transference of the essence of the Christmas Festival from the Earth to Mars. As a result, all the souls of men, in a certain sense, pass through a phase of being followers of Francis of Assisi and thereby, indirectly, of the Buddha. But they do not pass through this phase on the Earth; they pass through their monasticism — to use a paradoxical expression — their adherence to Francis of Assisi, on Mars, and bring forces from there to the Earth. As a result, what they have thus acquired remains in the shape of forces slumbering in their souls and they need not adopt a strictly monastic life in order to undergo the experiences undergone by intimate pupils of Francis of Assisi. This necessity was avoided by the transference of the Buddha to cosmic worlds by agreement with Christian Rosenkreutz whose, work on Earth now continued without the collaboration of the Buddha. If the Buddha had continued his activity on the Earth, all that he could have achieved would have been to make men into Buddhist or Franciscan monks and the other souls would have been abandoned to materialistic civilisation. But because what may be called a kind of ‘Mystery of Golgotha’ for Mars took place, during a period when human souls are not incarnated on Earth, these souls absorb, in a sphere outside the Earth, what they need for their further terrestrial existence, namely, an element of true Buddhism, which in the epoch after Christ's coming can be acquired only between death and a new birth.
We are now at the threshold of a great mystery, a mystery which has brought an impulse still operating in the evolution of mankind. Those who genuinely understand this evolution know that any truly effective influence in life on the Earth inevitably becomes part of the general stream of evolution. The event that may be called the Mystery of Golgotha on Mars was different from the Mystery of Golgotha on Earth — less powerful, less incisive, not culminating in death. But you can have some idea of it if you reflect that the Being who was the greatest Prince of Peace and Love, who was the Bringer of Compassion to the Earth, was transferred to Mars in order to work at the head of the evolution of that planet. It is no mythological fable that Mars received its name because it is the planet where the forces are involved in most bitter strife. The mission of the Buddha entailed his crucifixion in the arena of the planet where the most belligerent forces are present, although these forces are essentially of the nature of soul-and-spirit.
Here, then, we face a deed of a Being whose destiny it was as a great servant of Christ Jesus, to receive and carry forward the Christ Impulse in the right way. We stand face to face with the mystery of Christian Rosenkreutz, recognising his wisdom to have been so great that, as far as lay within his power, he incorporated into the evolution of mankind as a whole the other impulses that had been decisive factors in preparation for the Mystery of Golgotha.
A subject such as this cannot be grasped merely in terms of words or intellect; in its depth and range it must be felt — with the whole heart and soul. We must grasp what it signifies to be aware that among the forces we bring with us in the present epoch when we pass into incarnation on the Earth there are also the forces of the Buddha. Those forces were transferred to a sphere through which we pass between death and the new birth in order to enter in the right way into earthly life; for in this earthly life between birth and death it is our task to establish the right relationship to the Christ Impulse, to the Mystery of Golgotha. And this is possible only if all the impulses work together in harmony. The Christ descended from other worlds and united with the Earth's evolution. His purpose is to give to men the greatest of all impulses with which the human soul can be endowed. But this is possible only if all the forces connected with the evolution of humanity take effect at the right point in the process of that evolution. The great Teacher of the doctrine of Nirvana, who exhorted men to liberate their souls from the urge for reincarnation, was not destined to work in the sphere of physical incarnation. But in accordance with the great Plan designed by the Gods — in which, however, men must participate because they are servants of the Gods — in accordance with this Plan, the work of that great Teacher was to continue in the life that lies in the realm beyond birth and death.
Try to feel the inner justification of this conception and in its light follow the course of evolution; then you will realise why the Buddha had necessarily to precede Christ Jesus, and how he worked after the Christ Impulse had been given. Think about this and you will understand in its true light the phase of evolution and of spiritual life which began in the seventeenth century and in which you yourselves are living; you will understand it because you will realise that before human souls pass into physical existence through birth they are imbued with the forces that bear them forward.
At the time of an important Festival, instead of a seasonal lecture I wanted to lay under the Christmas tree, as a kind of Christmas gift, certain information about Christian Rosenkreutz. Perhaps some or even many of you will receive it as was intended — as a means of strengthening the heart and the forces of the soul. We shall need this strengthening if we are to live with inner security amid the harmonies and disharmonies of existence.
If at Christmastide we can be strengthened and invigorated by consciousness of our connection with the forces of the great Universe, we may well take with us from this centre of anthroposophical work something that was laid as a gift under the Christmas tree and as an encouragement can remain a living force throughout the year if we nurture it during our life from one Christmas season to the next.


Teenagers can no more make sound judgments than a baby still in the womb can hear or see.


Rudolf Steiner:  "It is absurd for such young people to judge issues or to have a say in cultural life. A young person under the age of twenty has an as yet undeveloped astral body, and can no more make sound judgments than a baby still in the womb can hear or see."

Related posts:

Source: December 1, 1906. GA 55

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Christ: Master of all Bodhisattvas


Rudolf Steiner:

Everything that had hitherto appeared on Earth was reborn in higher guise through Christianity. Everything that constitutes all spiritual cultures that had ever existed on Earth existed for the reason that Christ, the great leader of Earth evolution, sent to Earth those to whom he had given the task of preparing on Earth for what he had to fulfill. While still in the heights of heaven, he sent his emissaries ahead. They, the great founders of religions, were to prepare humankind for his coming. The last of these heralds was Buddha, who brought the teaching of compassion and love. There were other early Bodhisattvas, and there will be more in future whose task it will be to build upon all that has been brought to Earth through Christ Jesus.

It will be beneficial for human beings to pay heed to what those later Bodhisattvas have to tell, for they are servants of Christ. Each time a Bodhisattva of the future appears — for example, in around three thousand years — we will be helped, somewhat the better to understand the Christ, who irradiates all things. Christ it is who is the utmost profound of all beings, and the others exist with the sole objective that the Christ be better understood. This is why we say that Christ sent the Bodhisattvas ahead in order to prepare humankind for his coming; and he sends them also after the event so that this greatest of deeds in Earth evolution shall be ever more fully understood. We are only at the very beginning of comprehending this being, and we will realize his being ever betteer the more wise men, sages, and Bodhisattvas come to Earth. By dint of all the wisdom thus poured out into Earth existence we will become ever more capable of recognizing the Christ.

We exist on Earth as seeking human beings. We have made a start at struggling toward an understanding of the Christ. What we have recognized about him we have put to use — and will in future be putting to use — whatever those future Bodhisattvas will teach us, with the aim of better comprehending that Master of all Bodhisattvas, the fulcrum, the turning point of all our structures and systems. In this way humanity will increase in wisdom and will become ever more adept at recognizing the Christ. Humankind will only encompass him when the last of the Bodhisattvas has fulfilled his duty to its very conclusion, having brought the necessary teachings to empower us to conceive of this most profound of beings in all Earth existence: Christ Jesus.

Source: November 19, 1909. GA 117
Deeper Secrets of Human Evolution, pp. 120-121

Monday, August 28, 2023

Heavenly Treasures


Once [August 28, 1991] when Swamiji, out of the overflowing kindness of his heart, had just given me a mantra, he said "This mantra bestows twelve blessings: peace; intelligence; wisdom; brilliance; prosperity — not material prosperity —" We both laughed.

Matthew 6:19-34
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.


A broken and a contrite heart
receiving the Word

The Word Is Love

Psalm 51

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar

O Spirit of God: fill me,
Fill me in my soul,
In my soul bestow a strengthening force,
Strengthening force too for my heart,
For my heart that seeks union with you,
Seeks union with deepest longing,
Deepest longing for good health,
For good health and strong courage,
Strong courage that streams through my limbs,
Streams as precious divine gift,
Divine gift from you, O Spirit of God,
O Spirit of God: fill me!

—Rudolf Steiner

O Gottesgeist, erfülle mich,
Erfülle mich in meiner Seele,
Meiner Seele schenke Stärkekraft,
Stärkekraft auch meinem Herzen,
Meinem Herzen das dich sucht,
Sucht durch tiefe Sehnsucht,
Tiefe Sehnsucht nach Gesundheit,
Nach Gesundheit und Starkmut,
Starkmut der durch meine Glieder strömt,
Strömt wie edles Gottgeschenk,
Gottheschenk von dir, O Gottesgeist,
O Gottesgeist, erfülle mich.

Rudolf Steiner:

Feel how in the heights of heaven
selfhood selflessly can live
if in spirit-fullness it will follow
powers of thought and striving to the heights
and courageously receive the Word
that, with blessing from heights above,
rings forth true being into man.

Fühle wie in Himmelshöhen
Selbstsein selbstlos leben kann,
Wenn es geisterfüllt Gedankenmächten
In dem Höhenstreben folgen will
Und in Tapferkeit das Wort vernimmt,
Das von oben gnadevoll ertönet
In des Menschen wahre Wesenheit.

Rudolf Steiner:  "In older languages the self was not specifically designated, for it was contained within the verb. The 'I' was not directly mentioned. The verb was used to show what one was doing, and this was what indicated that one was speaking about oneself. There was no name for the self. It only came about in later times that the human being gave his self a name, and in our German language that name [ich] contains the initials of Jesus Christ, which is an important symbolic fact." [Iesus CHristus: ICH]

Anthroposophy : Jñāna Yoga : The redemption of the human being through the redemption of thinking



Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, January 26, 1923:

In my last lectures I spoke of man's fall into sin and of an ascent from sin. I spoke of this ascent as something that must arise in the present age from human consciousness in general, as a kind of ideal for man's striving and willing. I have pointed out the more formal aspect of the fall of man, as it appears in the present time, by showing how the fall of man influences intellectual life. What people say concerning the limitations of our knowledge of Nature really arises from the view that man has no inner strength enabling him to reach the spiritual, and that he must therefore renounce all efforts that might lift him above earthly contemplation. I said that when people speak today of the limits of knowledge, this is only the modern intellectual interpretation of how man was cast down into sin; this was felt in older times, and particularly during the Middle Ages. Today I should like to speak more from a material aspect, in order to show that modern humanity cannot reach the goal of the evolution of the Earth if the views acquired in a more recent age — especially in the course of an intellectual development — do not change. Through the consciousness of sin, the general consciousness of today has, to a certain extent, suffered this very fall of man. Modern intellectualism already bears the marks of this fall and decay; indeed, the decay is so strong that unless the intellectual civilization of the present time changes, there is no hope of attaining mankind's goal in the evolution of the Earth. Today it is necessary to know that, in the depths of the human soul, forces are living that are, as it were, better than the present state of the consciousness of our civilization. It is necessary to contemplate quite clearly the nature of the consciousness of our civilization.
The consciousness of our civilization arose, on the one hand, from a particular conception of the thinking human being, and, on the other hand, from a particular conception of the willing human being. Today man uses his thinking chiefly in order to know as much as possible of the outer kingdoms of Nature, and to grasp human life with the methods of thinking gained through the usual way of looking at Nature. Today natural science teaches us to think, and we consider social life, too, in the light of this thinking, acquired through the natural sciences as they are known today.
Many people believe that this conception of the thinking human being, of man who observes Nature and thinks, is an unprejudiced conception. All kinds of things are mentioned that science is unprejudiced, and so on. But I have shown repeatedly that these arguments are not of much value. For everything that a thinker applies when he is bent on his scientific investigations (according to which other people then arrange their life) has evolved from earlier ways of thinking. Modern thinking is the direct outcome of Medieval thinking. I have pointed out already that even the arguments of the opponents of Medieval thinking are thought out with the methods of thinking that have evolved from Mediaeval thinking. An essential trait of Medieval thinking which entered modern thinking is that the activity of thought is contemplated only in the form in which it is applied in the observation of the outer phenomena of Nature. The process of thinking is ignored altogether and there is no philosophy leading to the contemplation of thinking itself. No notice at all is taken of the process of thought and of its inner living force.
The reason for this lies in the considerations that I have already set forth. Once I said that a modern man's thoughts on Nature are really corpses: all our thoughts on the kingdoms of Nature are dead thoughts. The life of these thought corpses lies in man's pre-earthly existence. The thoughts that we form today on the kingdoms of Nature and on the life of man are dead while we are thinking them; they were endowed with life in our pre-earthly existence.
The abstract, lifeless thoughts that we form here on Earth in accordance with modern habits of thinking were alive, were living elementary beings, during our pre-earthly existence, before we descended to a physical incarnation on Earth. We lived then in these thoughts as living beings, just as today we live in our blood. During our life on Earth these thoughts are dead, and for this reason they are abstract. But our thinking is dead only as long as we apply it to Nature outside: as soon as we look into our own selves it appears to us as something living, for it continues working there, within us, in a way which remains concealed from the usual consciousness of today. There it continues to elaborate what existed during our pre-earthly life. The forces that seize our organism when we incarnate on Earth are the forces of these living thoughts. The force of these living, pre-earthly thoughts makes us grow and forms our organs. Thus, when the philosophers of a theory of knowledge speak of thinking, they speak of a lifeless thinking. Were they to speak of the true nature of thinking, not of its corpse, they would realize the necessity of considering man's inner life. There they would discover that the force of thinking, which becomes active when a human being is born or conceived, is not complete in itself and independent, because this inner activity of thought is the continuation of the living force of a pre-earthly thinking.
Even when we observe the tiny child (I will not now consider the embryo in the mother's body) and its dreamy, slumbering life on Earth, we can see the living force of pre-earthly thinking in its growth and even in its fretful tempers, provided we have eyes to see. Then we shall understand why the child slumbers dreamily and only begins to think later on. This is so, because in the beginning of its life, when the child does nothing but sleep and dream, thoughts take hold of its entire organism. When the organism gradually grows firmer and harder, the thoughts no longer seize the earthly and watery elements in the organism, but only the air element and the fire or warmth element. Thus we may say that in the tiny child, thought takes possession of all four elements. The later development of a child consists in this: that thought takes hold only of the elements of air and fire. When an adult thinks, his force of thinking is contained only in the continuation of the breathing process and of the process which spreads warmth throughout his body.
Thus the force of thinking abandons the firmer parts of the physical organism for the air-like, evanescent, imponderable parts of the body. Thus thinking became the independent element that it now is, and bears us through the life between birth and death. The continuation of the pre-earthly force of thinking asserts itself only when we are asleep, i.e. when the weaker force of thinking acquired on Earth no longer works in the warmth and air of the body. Thus we may say that modern man will understand something of the true nature of thinking only if he really advances toward an inner contemplation of man, of himself. Any other theory of knowledge is quite abstract.
If we bear this in mind rightly we must say that whenever we contemplate the activity that forms thoughts and ideas, our gaze opens out into pre-earthly existence.
Medieval thinking, still possessing a certain amount of strength, was not allowed to enter pre-earthly existence. Man's pre-existence was declared dogmatically as a heresy. Something that is forced upon mankind for centuries gradually becomes a habit. Think of the more recent evolution of humanity — take, for instance, the year 1413; people habitually refrained from allowing their thoughts to follow lines that might lead them to a pre-earthly existence, because they were not allowed to think of pre-earthly existence. People entirely lost the habit of directing their thoughts to a pre-earthly existence. If men had been allowed to think of pre-earthly life (they were forbidden this, up to 1413), evolution would have taken quite another direction. In this case we should very probably have seen — this is a paradox, but it is true — indeed we may say that undoubtedly we should have seen that when Darwinism arose in 1858, with its exterior theories on Nature's evolution, the thought of pre-earthly existence would have flashed up from all the kingdoms of Nature, as the result of a habit of thinking that took into consideration a pre-earthly existence. In the light of the knowledge of human pre-existence, another kind of natural science would have arisen. But men were no longer accustomed to consider pre-earthly life, and a science of Nature arose which considered man — as I have often set forth — as the last link in the chain of animal evolution. It could not reach a pre-earthly, individual life, because the animal has no pre-earthly, individual life.
Therefore we can say: When the intellectual age began to dawn, the old conception of the fall of mankind was responsible for the veto on all thoughts concerning pre-existence. Then science arose as the immediate offspring of this misunderstood fall of man. Our science is sinful — it is the direct outcome of the misunderstanding relating to the fall of man. This implies that the Earth cannot reach the goal of its evolution as long as the natural sciences remain as they are; man would develop a consciousness that is not born of his union with a divine-spiritual origin, but of his separation from this divine-spiritual origin.
Hence present-day talk of the limitations of knowledge is not only a theoretical fact, for what is developing under the influence of intellectualism positively shows something that is pushing mankind below its level. Speaking in Medieval terms, we should say that the natural sciences have gone to the devil.
Indeed, history speaks in a very peculiar way. When the natural sciences and their brilliant results arose (I do not mean to contest them today), those who still possessed some feeling for the true nature of man were afraid that natural science might lead them to the devil. The fear of that time — a last remnant of which can be seen in Faust, when he says farewell to the Bible and turns to Nature — consisted in this, that man might approach a knowledge of Nature under the sign of man's fall and not under the sign of an ascent from sin. The root of the matter really lies far deeper than one generally thinks. Whereas in the early Middle Ages there were all kinds of traditions consisting in the fear that the devilish poodle might stick to the heels of the scientist, mankind has now become sleepy, and does not even think of these matters.
This is the material aspect of the question. The view that there are limits to a knowledge of Nature is not only a theory; the fall and decay of mankind, due to its fall in the intellectual-empirical sphere, indeed exists today.
If this were not so, we should not have our modern theory of evolution. Normal methods of research would show, reality would show, the following: There are, let us say, fish, lower mammals, higher mammals, man. Today, this represents more or less the straight line of evolution. But the facts do not show this at all. You will find, along this whole line of evolution, that the facts do not coincide.
Marvels are revealed by a real scientific investigation of Nature; what scientists say about Nature is not true. For, if we consider the facts without any prejudice we obtain the following: Man, higher mammals, lower mammals, fish. (Of course, I am omitting details.) Thus we descend from man to the higher mammals, the lower mammals, etc. until we reach the source of origin of all, where everything is spiritual, and in the further evolution of man we can see that his origin is in the spirit. Gradually man assumed a higher spirituality. The lower beings, also, have their origin in the spirit, but they have not assumed a higher spirituality. Facts show us this.


Higher Mammals
Lower Mammals

Correct views of these facts could have been gained if human habits of thinking had not obeyed the veto on belief in pre-existence or pre-earthly life. Then, for instance, a mind like Darwin could not possibly have reached the conclusions set forth above; he would have reached other conclusions deriving from habits of thought, not from necessities dictated by scientific investigation.
Goethe's theory of metamorphosis could thus have been continued in a straight line. I have always pointed out to you that Goethe was unable to develop his theory of metamorphosis. If you observe with an unprejudiced mind how matters stood with Goethe, you will find that he was unable to continue. He observed the plant in its development and found the primordial plant (Urpflanze). Then he approached the human being and tried to study the metamorphosis of the human bones. But he came to a standstill and could not go on.
If you peruse Goethe's writings on the morphology of the human bony system you will see that, on the one hand, his ideas are full of genius. The cleft skull of a sheep, which he found on the Lido in Venice, showed him that the skull-bones are transformed vertebrae, but he could not develop his idea further than this.
I have drawn your attention to some notes that I found in the Goethe Archives when I was staying at Weimar. In these notes Goethe says that the entire human brain is a transformed spinal ganglion. Again, he left it at this point. These notes are jotted down in pencil in a notebook and the last pencil-marks plainly show Goethe's discontent and his wish to go further. But scientific research was not advanced enough for this. Today it is advanced enough and has reached long ago the point of facing this problem. When we contemplate the human being, even in his earliest embryonic stages, we find that the form of the present skull-bones cannot possibly have evolved from the vertebrae of the spine. This is quite out of the question. Anyone who knows something of modern embryology argues as follows: what we see in man today does not justify the statement that the skull-bones are transformed vertebrae. For this reason we can indeed say that when Gegenbauer investigated this matter once more at a later date, results proved that as far as the skull-bones and especially the facial bones were concerned, matters stood quite differently from what Goethe had assumed.
But if we know that the present shape of the skull-bones leads us back to the bones of the body of the preceding incarnation, we can understand this metamorphosis. Exterior morphology itself then leads us into the teaching of repeated lives on Earth. This lies in a straight line with Goethe's theory of metamorphosis. But the stream of evolution that finally led to Darwin and still rules official science cannot advance as far as truth. For the misunderstood fall of man has ruined thinking and has caused its decay. The question is far more serious than one is inclined to imagine today.
We must realize that the consciousness of mankind has changed in the course of time. For instance, we may describe something as beautiful. But if we ask a philosopher of today to explain what beauty is (for he should know something about these things, should he not?), we shall receive the most incredibly abstract explanation. “Beautiful” is a word which we sometimes use rightly, instinctively, out of our feeling. But modern man has not the slightest notion of what, for instance, a Greek imagined when he spoke of the beautiful, in his meaning of the word. We do not even know what the Greek meant by “Cosmos.” For him it was something quite concrete. Take our word “Universe.” What a confused jumble of thoughts it contains! When the Greek spoke of the Cosmos, this word held within it something beautiful, decorative, adorning, artistic. The Greek knew that when he spoke of the whole universe he could not do otherwise than characterize it with the idea of beauty. "Cosmos" does not only mean "Universe" — it means Nature's order of laws which has become universal beauty. This lies in the word “Cosmos.”
When the Greek saw before him a beautiful work of art, or when he wished to mould the form of a human being, how did he set to work? By forming it in beauty. Even in Plato's definitions we can feel what the Greek meant when he wished to form the human being artistically. The expression that Plato used means more or less the following: “Here on Earth man is not at all what he should be. He comes from heaven and I have so portrayed his form that men may see in it his heavenly origin.” The Greek imagined man in his beauty, as if he had just descended from heaven, where of course, his exterior form does not resemble that of ordinary human beings. Here on Earth human beings do not look as if they had just descended from heaven. Their form shows everywhere the Cain-mark, the mark of man's fall. This is the Greek conception. In our age, when we have forgotten man's connection with a pre-earthly, heavenly existence, we may not even think of such a thing.
Thus we may say that “beautiful” meant for the Greek that which reveals its heavenly meaning. In this way the idea of beauty becomes concrete. For us today it is abstract. In fact, there has been an interesting dispute between two authorities on aesthetics — the so-called “V” Vischer (because he spelt his name with a “V”), the Swabian Vischer, a very clever man, who wrote an important book on aesthetics (important, in the meaning of our age), and the formalist Robert Zimmermann, who wrote another book on aesthetics. The former, V-Vischer, defines beauty as the manifestation of the idea in sensible form. Zimmermann defines beauty as the concordance of the parts within the whole. He defines it therefore more according to form, Vischer more according to content.
These definitions are really all like the famous personage who drew himself up into the air by his own forelock. What is the meaning of the expression “the appearance of the idea in sensible form?” First we must know what is meant by “the idea.” If the thought-corpse that humanity possesses as “idea” were to appear in physical shape, nothing would appear. But when we ask in the Greek sense: what is a beautiful human being? this does indeed signify something. A beautiful human being is one whose human shape is idealized to such an extent that it resembles a god. This is a beautiful man, in the Greek sense. The Greek definition has a meaning and gives us something concrete.
What really matters is that we should become aware of the change in the content of man's consciousness and in his soul-disposition in the course of time. Modern man believes that the Greek thought just as he thinks now. When people write the history of Greek philosophy — Zeller, for instance, who wrote an excellent history of Greek philosophy (excellent, in the meaning of our present age) — they write of Plato as if he had taught in the 19th century at the Berlin University, like Zeller himself, and not at the Platonic Academy. When we have really grasped this concretely, we see how impossible it is, for obviously Plato could not have taught at the Berlin University in the 19th century. Yet all that tradition relates of Plato is changed into conceptions of the 19th century, and people do not realize that they must transport their whole disposition of soul into an entirely different age if they really wish to understand Plato.
If we acquire for ourselves a consciousness of the development of man's soul-disposition, we shall no longer think it an absurdity to say: In reality, human beings have fallen completely into sin, as far as their thoughts about external Nature and man himself are concerned.
Here we must remember something which people today never bear in mind — indeed, something which they may even look upon as a distorted idea. We must remember that the theoretical knowledge of today, which has become popular and which rules in every head even in the farthest corner of the world and in the remotest villages, contains something that can only be redeemed through the Christ. Christianity must first be understood in this sphere.
If we were to approach a modern scientist, expecting him to understand that his thinking must be saved by the Christ, he would probably put his hands to his head and say: “The deed of Christ may have an influence on a great many things in the world, but we cannot admit that it took place in order to redeem man from the fall into sin on the part of natural science.” Even when theologians write scientific books (there are numerous examples in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, one on ants, another on the brain, etc., and in most cases these books are excellent, better than those of the scientists, because the style is more readable), these books also breathe out, even more strongly, the need of taking a true Christology seriously. This means that particularly in the intellectual sphere we need a true ascent from sin, which must work against man's fall.
Thus we see that intellectualism has been contaminated by what has arisen out of the misunderstandings relating to the consciousness of sin — not out of the Fall as such, but from the misunderstandings with regard to the consciousness of sin. This consciousness of sin, which can be misunderstood so easily, must place the Christ in the center of the evolution of the Earth, as a higher being, and from this point it must find the way out from the Fall. This requires a deeper and more detailed study of human evolution, also in the spiritual sphere.
You see, if we study Medieval scholasticism as it is usually studied today, let us say as far back as Augustine, we shall achieve nothing. Nothing can result, because nothing is seen except that the modern scientific consciousness continues to evolve. The higher things, extending beyond this, are ignored.
In this hall I once tried to give an account of Medieval scholasticism, showing all the connections. I gave a short course of lectures on Thomism and all that is connected with it. But it is a painful fact, and one that is of little help to our anthroposophical movement, that such ideas are not taken up. The relationship between the brilliant scientific conditions of today and the new impulse which must enter science is not sought. If this is not sought, then our scientific laboratories, which have cost so much real sacrifice, will remain unfruitful.
For these, progress would best be achieved by taking up such ideas and by avoiding futile discussions on atomism. In all spheres of fact, modern science has reached a point where it strives to cast aside the mass of sterile thoughts contained in modern scientific literature. Enough is known of the human being, anatomically and physiologically, to reach, by the right methods of thoughts, even such a bold conclusion as that of the metamorphosis of the form of the head from the bodily form of the preceding life. Naturally, if we cling to the material aspect, we shall not reach this point. Then we shall argue, very intelligently, that the bones must in this case remain physical matter, in order that they may undergo a gradual material metamorphosis in the grave! It is important to bear in mind that the material form is an external form and that it is the formative forces that undergo a metamorphosis.
On the one hand thinking has been fettered, because darkness has been thrown over pre-existence. On the other hand, we are concerned with post-existence, or the life after death. Life after death can be understood only with the aid of supersensible knowledge. If supersensible knowledge is rejected, life after death remains an article of faith, accepted purely on the ground of authority. A real understanding of the process of thinking leads to a pre-existent life, provided such thoughts are not forbidden. A knowledge of post-existent life can, however, only be acquired through supersensible knowledge. Here the method described in my Knowledge of the Higher Worlds must be introduced. But this method is rejected by the consciousness of our times.
Thus two influences are at work: on the one hand, the continued effects of the decree prohibiting thought of man's pre-existence; on the other hand, the rejection of supersensible knowledge. If both continue to work, the supersensible world will remain an unexplored region, inaccessible to knowledge, i.e. it will remain an article of faith, and Christianity, too, will remain a matter of faith, not of knowledge. And Science — that which claims the name of “science” — will not allow itself to have anything to do with the Christ. Thus we have our present-day conditions.
At the beginning of today's considerations I said, with regard to the consciousness that is filled today with intellectualism, that humanity has slipped entirely into the consequences of the Fall. If this persists, humanity will be unable to raise itself. This means that it will not reach the goal of the evolution of the Earth. Modern science makes it impossible to reach the goal of the evolution of the Earth. Nevertheless, the depths of the human soul are still untouched: If man appeals to these soul-depths and develops supersensible knowledge in the spirit of the Christ-impulse, he will attain redemption once more, even in the intellectual sphere: redemption from the intellectual forces that have fallen — if I may express it in this way — into sin.
Consequently, the first thing which is needed is to realize that intellectual and empirical scientific research must become permeated with spirituality. But this spirituality cannot reach man as long as the content of space is investigated merely according to its spatial relationships, and the events taking place in the course of time are investigated merely in their chronological sequence.
If you study the shape of the human head, especially with regard to its bony structure, and compare it with the remainder of the skeleton (skull-bones compared to cylindrical bones, vertebrae, and ribs) you will obtain no result whatever. You must go beyond time and space, to conceptions formed in spiritual science, for these grasp the human being as he passes from one earthly life to another. Then you will realize that today we may look upon the human skull-bones as transformed vertebrae. But the vertebrae of the present skeleton of a human being can never change into skull-bones in the sphere of earthly existence. They must first decay and become spiritual, in order to change into skull-bones in the next life on Earth.
An instinctively intuitive mind like Goethe's sees in the skull-bones the metamorphosis of vertebrae. But spiritual science is needed in order to pursue this intuitive vision as far as the domain of facts. Goethe's theory of metamorphosis acquires significance only in the light of spiritual science. For this reason it could not satisfy even Goethe. This is why a knowledge gained through anthroposophical science is the only one that can bring man into a right relationship to the Fall and the re-ascent from sin. For this reason too, anthroposophical ideas are today something which seeks to enter into human evolution not only in the form of thoughts but as the content of life.