Friday, May 31, 2024

Ora Pro Nobis

To me, whether or not you're a Trump supporter is a basic test of your OKness as a human being: are you OK, or is there something seriously wrong with you?

But then again, so is this shit:

Genocide Joe

Rudolf Steiner:  "The destructiveness lies...firstly in everything we can call Americanism, which increasingly tends to invoke fear of the spirit and make the world into a place where only physical life can unfold. This is actually quite different from the British tendency to try to make the world into a trading company. Americanism seeks to make the world into a physical habitation furnished as comfortably as possible, where one can live in comfort and prosperity. That is the political element of Americanism. Whoever does not detect it is blind to the facts and merely shuts his eyes and ears. Man's connection with the spiritual is bound to die out under such an influence. In these forces of Americanism lies what must actually bring the Earth to its end, destruction dooming it at last to death, because the spirit will be shut out from it."

Rudolf Steiner:  "When, from out of this consciousness of the universal whole, we say to ourselves that the old civilization is bursting through its partitions, it is doomed — then to try to save it in its present form would be to work against one's age, not with it. We need a new civilization upon the ruins of the old."

Ain't That America : Revelation 3:14-22

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Rudolf Steiner:  "I can impart no more esoteric a saying than: Christ is seeing us.” 

Alchemy. First-Class Lesson #14 [Given 100 years ago today]


Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland

First-Class Lesson #14

May 31, 1924

My dear friends! We have been studying the position of the human being in relation to the Guardian of the Threshold, and have led the soul in progressive steps into an understanding of the relationship a person has with the Guardian of the Threshold along the path of knowledge. Today we will initially focus our attention on the situation before the Guardian of the Threshold, bringing it once again fully alive before our souls, in order to progress a bit forward by means of this esoteric consideration.

A person must forsake, and here I repeat what is appropriate for today and has been covered in prior lessons, a person must forsake the physical world, in which his customary awareness is in force. He comes to know that the sensory-physical world can be grand and joyful, but also full of sorrow and pain, that it can in fact be majestic, and that he has every reason in the world to remain within it, in his awareness. But he also comes to know that he cannot ever get to know himself if he only directs his contemplative eye and sensitive soul out upon this physical world. And he must say to himself, that it is quite grand, arrayed color upon color and arranged form on form, but that just what he himself springs from and is patterned after cannot be found in the encircling wide reaches around.

Yet even at this moment there rings forth from all sides unto a person, as the most noteworthy challenge in one’s life, the word of self-awareness: O man, know yourself!

And in this way a person will become clearly aware that in customary life he is certainly safeguarded from entering unprepared into what in certainty is the world of his own essential being. Moreover, the Guardian of the Threshold is the same high being who shelters a person as he enters the spiritual world every night in sleep, who shelters the person from consciously experiencing what in sleep is all around him, for otherwise he would be terribly upset in experiencing all this in sleep, if he experienced it unprepared, so much so that he would not be able to continue on in waking life as a human being with strength intact. But at the same time, the Guardian of the Threshold makes it clear to a person that he, the Guardian himself, is the only portal to true, to authentic, knowledge.

At this point a person notices that he comes to an abyss, before entering the realm of knowledge, an abyss displayed as a bottomless chasm. The supporting pillars, that one stands on in the physical world, are gone. One cannot simply march over it. One can only carry himself across when freed of the physical, expressed symbolically, when one “grows wings”, so that one journeys over the abyss as a being of spirit and soul.

But first the Guardian of the Threshold calls out for you to be mindful in regard to the abyss, particularly in regard to the beasts that emerge as spirit-formations from the abyss, for these beasts are the external reflections of impure willing, feeling, and thinking, and these beasts must first be overcome. And in vivid pictures displayed before one’s eyes, willing, feeling, and thinking are revealed in the three beasts, one shown as spectral, one ghoulish, and so forth.

Then the Guardian of the Threshold shows us in greater depth how, in and of themselves, thinking, feeling, and willing can be strengthened, according to whether one has resolved in full awareness to overcome the beasts. And then, before someone actually enters the spiritual world, it is necessary to engage in situational meditations in perceiving the spiritual world, within which to discover how the cosmos speaks to a person, how the hierarchies speak to him, how at first all the things are proclaimed that await him there in the spiritual world.

And we will become progressively more aware, through what is played out before our souls in the mantras, that a person must become something else, if he would stride over the abyss, if he would live within what is on the other side of the abyss. Ever more and more, we will become aware that here on the earth, we are in the company of the beings of the three realms of nature and in the company of people, but over there we are in the company of disembodied souls and in the company of the spirits of the higher hierarchies. A different sort of acquaintanceship is present there. Quite a different constitution of soul is required there for this quite different acquaintanceship.

Once again, it is the business of the Guardian of the Threshold there to forcefully advise a person about how to comport himself, specifically about how to comport himself when striding across the Threshold and actually confronting the things of the spiritual world in their reality, about how in arriving there he must come to possess a wholly different soul-constitution.

There, a person will be aware that within himself two conditions of soul can become a reality: the soul-condition of customary awareness on this side of the abyss, and the soul-condition outside of the physical and etheric bodies on the other side of the abyss, which is the soul-condition of the purely spiritual world.

There, where the difference in these soul-conditions appears, great dangers await a person, dangers however, that initially present themselves in such a way that we have to characterize them as minor departures from normal conditions of soul, but that remain always within the soul when we characterize them properly, for they involve an extreme sickly soul-deformation. It must of course always be said that when one’s path in the higher worlds is undertaken in the way so painstakingly delineated in the book How to Know Higher Worlds, in many smaller published anthroposophical works, and in the second part of my Outline of Occult Science, then straying from a normal soul-constitution should not happen, at least not easily. A person passing over into the spiritual world through healthy human understanding should be as fully aware of knowledge, initially, as one is through initiation. But a person must know that he may emerge in two different ways from the daily condition of soul-life that he is immersed in, if he does not pay attention to the proper signposts along the spiritual world’s pathway.

Here on this side of the Threshold we stand upon the earth, upon the fixed elements of earth. The ground is under our feet. The ground supports us. The watery element is around us, that also takes part in the formation of our own body. This watery element cannot support us in normal life, but infuses throughout us, attaching itself to our blood. It is contained within our forces of growth, within our forces of nourishment. The air is what we breathe. The aeriform, the gaseous element is all around us. Warmth is also all around us, the warmth-ether, the fourth element.

They are disconnected from one another in normal life. Where there is solid earth, there is no water. Where there is water, there is no air. Where there is air, there is no water. Only the fiery warmth presses into and throughout it all, for it is the only one that begins to press itself into everything.

But the moment we take leave, even the first time, my dear friends, the moment we take leave of our physical body, these differentiations cease. The different elements cease to have individual borders. We ourselves enlarge, we extend ourselves out, and we are simultaneously in earth, water, fire, and air. We can no longer differentiate one from another. The attributes held individually by the four elements cease. The earth no longer supports us, for its fixed solidity ceases. Water no longer forms us, for its formative forces cease. In other words, when we plunge into water, it is not as in swimming, where we are separated from the water, but rather it is as if we dissolve into it, as ice dissolves into warm water, as if in becoming one with the water, then we no longer carry, when we pass over into the spiritual world, we no longer carry our blood as a separate element in our vascular circulation, but rather our blood becomes one with the ever-moving watery element of the universe. And just so, air ceases to be a formative breathing-force in us. And warmth ceases to engender our ego-force, ceases to inflame us in warmth to the feeling of individuality. It all ceases. This must be confronted, it must be confronted in the proper manner, this cessation of the differentiation of earth, water, air, and fire.

To do this we may engage, in thought, in having already flown over the abyss. We have arrived on the other side, my dear brothers and sisters. There the Guardian of the Threshold calls out to us, that we should turn, lift our gaze, and face him.

Now think, my dear brothers and sisters, have a lively imagination, imagine a person’s arrival there on the other side, where in certainty the knowledge of the spiritual world is revealed to him. He is there. The Guardian of the Threshold prompts him to look about, to take up the admonitions that he now needs, that in a certain fashion he has now become accustomed to, in the soul-condition that is present there, on the other side of the Threshold, within the spiritual world, there where he lives pressed into the four elements themselves, into earth, water, air, and fire.

Just there a great danger appears, and please forgive the seeming triviality of the expression, my dear brothers and sisters, but if the person has possibly fallen in love with the illusion of disconnectedness of the solid earth, from the formative forces of water, from the creative forces of air, from the ego-awakening forces of warmth, then he may feel delighted merely in spiritual bliss, in giving himself over to the wonder of the spirit, and so he might remain within this spirit-bliss.

A person may be overwhelmed, as the alluring power of Lucifer musters up against him. It depends on his karma, whether a person is more or less susceptible to the alluring power of Lucifer. If he is susceptible, so that he simply totally and completely falls in love with dissolving into earth, water, air, and fire, then the Luciferic attaches itself to him, and he will no longer be able to emerge from this demeanor of soul. He runs the risk, when he once again returns to daily life, of remaining within this soul-demeanor. And so the Guardian of the Threshold must and does call out to him, “You may not do it. You may not fall under the sway of Lucifer. In the dissolution in earth, water, fire, and air you may not simply feel the solitary wonder of bliss. You must take yourself firmly in hand, or else, when you again return to the physical world, as a person in the physical world, when you take up the soul-condition of customary awareness of the physical world, then from then on you will be a person quite confused.”

That is the Luciferic danger, that on the return from the spiritual world, from the other side of the Threshold, a person may be bewildered and no longer have his senses about him, but would be an enthusiastic dreamer, an enthusiastic adherent of idealism, disdainful of customary awareness. That one may not do. And the Guardian of the Threshold admonishes, insistently, that one should be resolutely determined to live in the way corresponding to whatever world one is in, be it earthly or transcendental.

But the Guardian of the Threshold sets down a second admonition. The second admonition is this, that one should take care, when one has arrived on the other side with his thinking, feeling, and willing split apart, one should take care of how much of his thinking, feeling, and willing at hand is still connected to the earthly, is still inclined to the earthly.

There a person can once again be predisposed to remain in what has given him the experiences on this side in the fixed support of earth, to hold on tightly and cross over to the other side of the Threshold with a materialistic soul-constitution, to cross over with the formative forces of water frozen, solidified. Then he can become afflicted with an overweening earthly pride, and can say to himself, “In life on earth I have breathed in, have drawn into myself the very breath, out of which in times past the Father-God has formed human souls, human lives, which I can do also, when freed from earthly life’s confines.”

But if a person carries over into the spiritual world what he perceives in his breath as the creative force of God, then he falls under the sway of the Ahrimanic alluring power. In this condition he cannot return, because before he would return, there in the spiritual world he is enfolded in powerlessness. He would be non-sentient, more or less. His awareness would be disabled, crippled. In this manner, his awareness having been stunted, he would more or less be a sort of tool or implement of the Ahrimanic powers there in the spiritual world.

It is certainly so today, since the beginning of the age of Michael, that the spiritual life of human beings, which today is crass and crude, frozen in materialism, is for the most part carried over as such into the spiritual world. And what this means, what it entails, is that the Ahrimanic powers enfold the human being in their grasp whenever his awareness has been stunted into something other than the condition of full wakefulness, and yes, my friends, this has been in evidence everywhere energetically ever since the outbreak of the great World War.

As I have most certainly said many times since the outbreak of the World War, the history of this war cannot be written about from the physical plane’s standpoint alone. Documents by themselves do not reveal the truth, that of the thirty or forty people who were most certainly engaged in the production of the war, a great number at various times were in a state of clouded awareness, and were therefore implements of the Ahrimanic powers. In this way much of what transpired in the World War was a legacy of Ahrimanic powers. This World War can only be written about in an occult manner. Whatever one has seen after a fashion, in his wanderings on this side of the Threshold, of various leading personalities immediately before the outbreak of the World War, all that can be taken truly to be indicative of the habits of soul that are carried over to the other side of the Threshold, and over there then become stunted, become stunted in awareness, and become, therefore, a working force of the Ahrimanic powers.

A person must be clear and fully self-possessed about this, that he may not carry back to this side, the soul-constitution of the other side of the Threshold. He may not carry the soul-constitution of this side of the Threshold to the other side, but rather, for every domain, this side and the other side of the abyss, a strongly stark human inner awareness must be developed.

It arises in this manner for all four elements in the admonition of the Guardian of the Threshold. And again, we should delve into this admonition meditatively.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, imagine that you are standing there on the other side of the Threshold. The Guardian has beckoned. You look straight at him. First, he calls out to you, admonishing.

Where is earth’s firmness, that supported you?

One no longer has it. But your heart moves, deep within, and would give an answer. But the heart can be moved inwardly in a threefold manner, an answer emerging by means of and from the cosmos. It can be moved, this heart, by Christ and his force. Then it answers:

I leave its solid ground,

meaning, the earth’s firmness,

as long1 as the spirit carries me.

That is the right demeanor of soul. I relinquish the pillars of earth, as long as the spirit carries me within the spirit-domain, as long as I am outside of the body.

But the heart can also be moved by Lucifer. Then it answers:

I feel delight, that I no longer need the support.

So speaks the person in his lofty pride, in his self-satisfaction, as if he also would not need the support, when he traverses back into the physical world.

Or the heart can be moved by Ahriman. Then it answers:

I will hammer it still harder by the spirit’s might.

The support is referred to here, and carrying the hammered support out and over.

No one should shrink back in fear from meditative soul-consideration of all three answers again and again, in order in this way to be able to choose and align with the first answer in freedom. For one must feel the inherent inward vacillation, the alignment with Lucifer, then with Ahriman. One must place this in meditation firmly within one’s vision. The meditation in this manner must embody the earthen element. [The first part of the mantra was now written on the board.] First the Guardian speaks:

I) Guardian: Where is earth’s firmness, that supported you?

The human heart must give answer. When moved by Christ, it answers:

Christ: I leave its solid ground, as long as the spirit carries me.

If the soul has been moved by Lucifer, it answers in this way:

Lucifer: I feel delight, that I no longer need the support.

The phrase “as long as” [The words “as long as” were underlined.] emerges from the heart, draws the eternal into temporality, and so transforms the sentence. If the heart has been moved by Ahriman, it answers in this way:

Ahriman: I will hammer it still harder by the spirit’s might.

And then, progressing further, so that the soul can fully devote itself to what stands there before it, the second admonition of the Guardian of the Threshold appears, pointing to the formative force of water. This formative force of water is what builds the fixed organs in us, drawing them out of the fluid elements. All that we take in as nourishment must first become fluid, and then the organs are formed out of it. All of a person’s sharply contoured organs have been cast out of fluid elements. This formative force ceases as soon as a person enters the domain on the other side of the Threshold. The Guardian warns, that this is the case. He calls out to us, when we stand there on the other side of the Threshold, our gaze directed onto his stern face. [The second part of the mantra was now written on the board.]

II) Guardian: Where is water’s forming force, that permeated you?

The person answers, if he has been moved in his heart by Christ, “My life extinguishes it, quenches it, as long as the spirit forms me.” The spirit begins to work on you over there, half out of your body.

Christ: My life extinguishes it,

in the sense of quenching it, putting it out, and by “it” is meant the forming force,

as long as the spirit forms me.

Again appears “as long as”, again unobtrusively. [The words “as long as” were underlined.]

If the soul has been moved by Lucifer, however, then the phrase “as long as” is left out, and the sentence emerges with haughty arrogance:

Lucifer: My life expunges it, in the sense of melting it away,

Well, what has been extinguished can be rekindled, but what has been melted away, expunged, remains expunged. “My life expunges it”

that I may be released from it.

If the soul has been moved by Ahriman, then it answers:

Ahriman: My life affixes it, in the sense of holding it fast, that I may carry it to spirit realms.

Please take note, my dear brothers and sisters, how everything in mantric verse is fashioned inwardly, meaningfully, and with confident certainty. Here [The first verse was indicated.] we see, “I leave”, “I feel”, “I will.” The ego speaks in the answer. In the second verse the ego speaks, but not so egocentrically, but rather says, “My life”, as in “My life extinguishes it”, “My life expunges it”, “My life affixes it.” Any entry into all reality is only spoken about properly, if it is spoken about accurately in every aspect. Lassitude in the formation of sentences, which is appropriate for people in the physical domain, may not be carried forward into the spirit-domain. In the spirit-domain speaking must be exact and accurate.

You should also most certainly keep in mind, my dear friends, that it all corresponds to a reality, that this esoteric school has not been constituted out of human intentions, but rather out of those of the spiritual world, as was said at the outset, that all that comes to the fore here in the esoteric school of the Goetheanum, even though it is said through my mouth, is nevertheless a dictum of the spiritual world. This must be so in every rightfully constituted esoteric school, certainly in the present and in times to come, just as it was in the ancient holy mysteries. And this esoteric school is the true Michael School, the institution of those high spiritual beings partaking immediately of the inspiration of the cosmic will of Michael.

Concerning the domain of air, the Guardian of the Threshold once again speaks in admonition,

Where is air’s stimulation,2 that waked3 you?

waking you into existence. As Jehovah, by means of his infusion of the breath of life into humans, transformed simple living beings, by means of the stimulus inherent in his breath, into beings that can perceive, so a person, through sensing, through the stimulus that the external world brings to bear on the senses, becomes a being who perceives. But what exactly are the senses?

My dear brothers and sisters, the senses are most certainly just refined organs of breathing. The breath broadens itself out into all the senses. As it lives in the lungs, so it lives in the eyes. Only that in the lungs it is bound up with carbon, but in the eyes with the more refined silica. In one’s organism carbonic acid is produced. [It was drawn in red and the word carbonic acid4 was written down.] In the senses silicic acid is produced in a much more refined state. [Drawn in yellow, silicic acid5 was written down.] A person lives in his lower pole where oxygen combines with carbonic acid, and in his upper pole, in the domain of his nerve-sense system, where oxygen combines with silicon, with silica, and forms refined silicic acid [green]. A human being lives in such a way, that when the breath forms up in the blood, he produces carbonic acid, and when the breath forms up in the senses, he produces silicic acid [yellow arrows], below and outwardly through the breath carbonic acid, in the senses and returning from the senses within the breathing-process silicic acid in a totally more refined dose.

The Guardian of the Threshold calls out to us concerning what is in the air:

Where is air’s stimulation, that waked you?

He who is moved by Christ in his heart answers:

My soul breathes heaven’s air,

no longer earth’s air, but heaven’s air,

as long as the spirit is about me.

The heart moved by Lucifer answers:

My soul cares not for it in spirit blissfulness.

The heart moved by Ahriman answers:

My soul absorbs it, that I may learn godlike to create.

As Jehovah once created with his breath, so those swayed by Ahriman absorb the air, in order to carry it along while crossing over into the spiritual world.

The Guardian speaks to the man: [The third part of the mantra was now written on the board and at the same time in the Christ-line the words “as long as” were underlined.]

III) Guardian: Where is air’s stimulation, that waked you?

The heart moved by Christ speaks:

Christ: My soul breathes heaven’s air, as long as the spirit is about me

The heart moved by Lucifer speaks:

Lucifer: My soul cares not for it in spirit blissfulness.

The air’s power to stimulate is not noticed at all.

The heart moved by Ahriman speaks:

Ahriman: My soul absorbs it, that I may learn godlike to create.

Concerning the fiery or warmth elements, the Guardian now speaks his last elementary word, admonishing that a person should not lose himself in the element of warmth, but also not carry over into the spiritual world the warmth-element as it is in physical existence, as displayed on earth.

Just before I do this, however, my dear brothers and sisters, I would like to call your attention to this progression along the ascent:

“I” is spoken by the person first.
“My life” is spoken next by the person.
“My soul” is then spoken by the person.

Now the Guardian speaks in warning concerning the fiery elements: [The fourth part of the mantra was written on the board, and at the same time in the Christ-line “as long as” was underlined.]

IV) Guardian: Where is fire’s cleansing,

or cleansing catharsis

that inflamed in you the I?

Our ego lives in warmth, in what presses into and throughout us as warmth. I have often, my dear brothers and sisters, remarked on this in the esoteric school, that the fixed elements remain unconscious within, and also the fluid elements, even though in one’s feeling of satisfaction, one already feels the perfusion of the fluid elements. In satiety or in hunger one experiences the essential nature of the fluid element. The aeriform element is experienced soulfully. A person becomes breathless when not connecting properly with air, and fear comes with breathlessness. This already enters the realm of soul. Warmth is something in which one feels wholly at home. He participates in his condition of warmth or of cold with the whole of his ego. Fire inflames his ego.

The heart moved by Christ answers:

Christ: My “I” blazes in God-Fire, as long as the spirit kindles me.

A person does not need the material warmth of earth when the spirit supplies the spark and ignites his ego. For the ego blazes there not in earthly warmth, not in earthly fire, but within the fire of God.

But the heart moved by Lucifer answers:

Lucifer: My “I” has flaming power through spirit sun-craft.

The heart moved by Ahriman answers, as if the fire begun upon the earth is taken as his own and carried over into the spiritual world, to master the spiritual world with the ego-fire of the physical world.

Ahriman: My “I” has its own fire, that flames purely through self-unfolding.

The ego will not blaze up except by deploying its own fire.

Once again, the progression arising in the formulation first appears in the person speaking “I”.

I leave
I feel
I will

It then becomes more objective, in that the person addresses the things pertaining to himself as “Mine”.

My life extinguishes it
My life expunges it
My life affixes it

It then goes more inwardly, so inner nature becomes objective.

My soul breathes
My soul cares not
My soul absorbs

Now he climbs somewhat further into himself. And take note of the difference, my dear brothers and sisters. Early on is said merely “I”. Then “I” becomes objective, “my I”, as if it were another’s, as one would speak of another’s property. One is externalized even more, one is externalized out of the physical body, even to the extent initially of allowing one to speak fully egoistically of the ego, and one says:

My “I”

as if it were an object. That is the proper way to render it here.

One becomes acquainted with this rendering, my dear brothers and sisters, in all its depth and intensity, when one speaks with souls who have gone through the portal of death and have been in the spiritual world awhile. They do not say “I”, but rather they always say “my I”. I have not yet heard of one departed after death who has said “I”, except at most for a very brief time after death. So some time after death, the dead one says “my I”, because he gazes upon the ego with the eyes of the gods. It becomes objective for him, characteristically objective. Therefore, an account from someone who has been dead for a somewhat longer time cannot be accurate if the departed says “I”, if he does not say “my I”. So here in the fourth progressive section, before the Guardian of the Threshold, the soul says “my I”.

And that, my dear friends, is the wonderful spoken exchange at the Threshold, between the Guardian of the Threshold and the human personality, that actually takes place when one stands there before the Guardian of the Threshold, as illustrated here, which must be attended to, in order to catch the feeling in its essential actuality when deploying and immersing oneself in this dialogue properly in meditation. So you form the words up in meditation properly, my dear brothers and sisters, the mantric words coming to you here today, when in a certain sense you hear the words that you yourself are speaking, but only in the course of the Guardian having been heard to be speaking before us first in a manner of soul. Therefore this is how one meditates, as if hearing four times over the Guardian of the Threshold at the start of each section, concerning earth, water, air, and fire, and then allowing one’s own true soul to answer, but in such a manner that one immediately hears the first answer as if inwardly ensouled by Christ, the second answer in the voice of the tempter, and the third answer in the voice of the pompous materialistic Ahriman-Spirit, who approaches a person with the desire to carry over into the spirit the manner of being of the mineralized human.

Now, in closing today’s esoteric lesson, we will allow the characteristic way this is to be meditated to sound forth with firm effect.

Where is earth’s firmness, that supported you?
I leave its solid ground, as long as the spirit carries me.
I feel delight, that I no longer need the support.
I will hammer it still harder by the spirit’s might.

Where is water’s forming force, that permeated you?
My life extinguishes it, as long as the spirit forms me.
My life expunges it, that I may be released from it.
My life affixes it, that I may carry it to spirit realms.

Where is air’s stimulation, that waked you?
My soul breathes heaven’s air, as long as the spirit is about me.
My soul cares not for it in spirit blissfulness.
My soul absorbs it, that I may learn godlike to create.

Where is fire’s cleansing, that inflamed in you the I?
My “I” blazes in God-Fire, as long as the spirit kindles me.
My “I” has flaming power through spirit sun-craft.
My “I” has its own fire, that flames purely through self-unfolding.

Blackboard (left side)
Blackboard (left side)
Blackboard (right side)
Blackboard (right side)
Blackboard Text for the Fourteenth Lesson

Hüter: Wo ist der Erde Festigkeit, die dich stützte?
Christus: Ich verlasse ihren Grund, so lang der Geist mich trägt.
Lucifer: Ich fühle wonnig, daß ich fortan der Stütze nicht bedarf.
Ahriman: Ich will durch Geistes Kraft fester noch sie hämmern.

Hüter: Wo ist des Wassers Bildekraft, die dich durchdrang?
Christus: Mein Leben verlöscht sie, so lang der Geist mich formt.
Lucifer: Mein Leben zerschmilzt sie, daß ich erlöst von ihr werde.
Ahriman: Mein Leben befestigt sie, daß ich sie in Gestgebiet versetze.

Hüter: Wo ist der Lüfte Reizgewalt, die dich erweckte?
Christus: Meine Seele atmet Himmelsluft, so lang der Geist um mich besteht.
Lucifer: Meine Seele achtet ihrer night in Geistes Seligkeit.
Ahriman: Meine Seele saugt sie auf, daß ich göttlich schaffen lerne.

Hüter: Wo ist des Feuers Reinigung, die dir das Ich erflammte?
Christus: Mein Ich lodert im Gottesfeuer, so lang der Geist mich zündet.
Lucifer: Mein Ich hat Flammenmacht durch Geistes Sonnenkraft.
Ahriman: Mein Ich hat Eigenfeuer, das rein durch Selbstentfaltung flammt.

Guardian: Where is earth’s firmness, that supported you?
Christ: I leave its solid ground, as long as the spirit carries me.
Lucifer: I feel delight, that I no longer need the support.
Ahriman: I will hammer it still harder by the spirit’s might.

Guardian: Where is water’s forming force, that permeated you?
Christ: My life extinguishes it, as long as the spirit forms me.
Lucifer: My life expunges it, that I may be released from it.
Ahriman: My life affixes it, that I may carry it to spirit realms.

Guardian: Where is air’s stimulation, that waked you?
Christ: My soul breathes heaven’s air, as long as the spirit is about me.
Lucifer: My soul cares not for it in spirit blissfulness.
Ahriman: My soul absorbs it, that I may learn godlike to create.

Guardian: Where is fire’s cleansing, that inflamed in you the I?
Christ: My “I” blazes in God-Fire, as long as the spirit kindles me.
Lucifer: My “I” has flaming power through spirit sun-craft.
Ahriman: My “I” has its own fire, flaming purely through self-unfolding.

Source: May 31, 1924

Piercing the Veil of Maya. The Occult Significance of the Bhagavad Gita [Jesus: Krishna, redeemed by Christ]


The Occult Significance of the Bhagavad Gita. Lecture 4 of 9

Rudolf Steiner, May 31, 1913:

We have seen that if man would enter into the realm to which, among other things, the woven fabric of our dreams belongs, he must take with him from the ordinary world something we designated as an intensified self-consciousness. There must be a stronger and fuller life in his ego than he needs for his purposes on the physical plane. In our age this excess of self-consciousness is drawn forth from our soul by the experiences we gain through occult exercises such as I have given. Thus the first step consists in strengthening and intensifying one's inner self.

Man instinctively feels that he needs this strengthening, and for this very reason a kind of fear and shyness comes over him if he has not yet attained it. He tends to shrink from the prospect of developing into higher worlds. We must continually bear in mind that in the course of evolution the soul of man has passed through many different stages. Thus, in the period of the Bhagavad Gita it was not yet possible for a human soul to intensify its self-consciousness by such occult exercises as may be practiced today. In that ancient time, however, something else was still present in the self; I mean, primeval clairvoyance. This is also a faculty man does not really need for his ordinary life on the physical plane, if he can be content with what his epoch offers him. But the men of that ancient time still had the remnants of primeval clairvoyance.

So, we can look far back and put ourselves in the place of a person living at the time when the Bhagavad Gita originated. If such a man were to express his experience he would say, “When I look out into the world around me I receive impressions through my senses. These impressions can be combined by the intellect, whose organ the brain is. Apart from that I still have another faculty, a clairvoyant power that enables me to acquire knowledge of other worlds. This power tells me that man belongs to other realms, that my human nature extends far beyond the ordinary physical world.” This very power, by means of which there arises in the soul the instinctive knowledge that it belongs not only to the physical world — this power is actually a stronger kind of self-consciousness. It is as though these last remnants of ancient clairvoyance still had the power to surcharge the soul with selfhood. Today man can again develop in himself such surplus forces if he will go through the right occult exercises.

Now, a certain objection might be made. You know that in anthroposophical lectures we must always forestall objections that the true occultist is well aware of. It might be asked, “Why should it occur to present-day man to want to undertake occult exercises at all? Why isn't he content with what his ordinary intellect offers him?” That, my friends, is a big question because we touch something here that is not only a question but an actual fact for every thoughtful soul in the present cycle of evolution. If man did not reach out to anything more than what his senses and his brain-bound intellect can show him, he would certainly be content with his existence. He would observe the things and events around him, their relationships, and how they come into being and pass away again, but he would ask no questions about this ebb and flow of activity. He would be content with it as an animal may be content with its existence. In fact, if man were really the being that materialistic thinking considers him, he could quite well accept his life as such and ask no questions. This is the life of the animal, being content with all that arises and passes before its senses. Why isn't this the case with man?

Remember that we are speaking of present-day man, for even in ancient Greece the human soul was different in this respect from what it is today. When we today give ourselves with our whole soul to the study of natural science, or when we consider all the events of historical evolution and gain knowledge of the external science of history — with all this something else finds its way almost imperceptibly into our soul, something that has no purpose or sense for physical life. Many comparisons have been made to illustrate this fact. I would like to mention one of them because people often make use of it without considering its deeper significance. A famous medical authority in the last third of the 19th century, wishing to enhance the honor of pure science, once drew attention to a Greek philosopher who was asked, “What do you think of the philosophers who spend their time speculating on the meaning and purpose of life? How does their occupation compare with the activities of ordinary men who pursue some useful calling and play a useful part in community life?” The philosopher replied, “Look at a fair or market; men come to buy and sell and everyone is busy, but there are a few among them who do not want to buy or sell but simply want to stroll about and watch what is going on.” The philosopher implied that the market represented life, people busy in all sorts of ways; but the philosophers are not busy with such affairs, instead they look at what is happening and try to learn all about it.

Somehow a great respect for the philosophers who do not seem to take part in any productive activity has penetrated deeply into the minds of the so-called intellectuals among mankind. The philosophers are honored just because their science is independent, detached, self-sufficient. Yet this comparison ought to give us food for thought, for it is by no means so banal as it might appear at first sight. After all, it is curious that philosophers should be compared to idlers in the market-place of life, useless folk, while their fellows labor. One might indeed think of it in this way, but we must realize that judgments are passed that originally are quite correct but become altogether wrong if they linger on for centuries, or as in this case for thousands of years. Therefore we ask again if these people who stroll about in life are really to be judged as idlers. That depends upon the standards by which we value human life. Certainly there are those who regard the philosophers as useless loiterers and think they would do better to carry through some productive work. From their point of view they may be quite right, but when man today observes life through the senses and considers it by means of the brain-bound intellect, something steals into his soul that obviously has no connection with the outer world of the senses. That is the point.

This can be seen clearly in books that try to construct a satisfactory picture of the world and life on a purely materialistic basis. It usually turns out that the big questions do not arise until the end. These books claiming to solve the riddle of the universe actually begin to set forth those riddles only in their concluding pages. In effect, when one begins today to study the external world that is the subject treated in such books, the thought slips in that either man exists for other worlds besides, or else the physical world deceives us and makes fools of us because it is continually putting questions we cannot answer.

An enormous part of our soul life is meaningless if life really ends with death; if man has no part in, no connection with, a higher world. Indeed, it is not the longing for something he does not have but the lack of sense for what he has that impels man to follow up these questions and ask what it is that comes into the soul that does not belong to this world of the senses. Thus he is driven to cultivate something evidently without foundation in the external world. He is impelled to take up occult exercises. We would not say man has an inward longing for immortality and therefore invents the idea of it, but rather that the external world has implanted something in his soul that would be meaningless, unreal, if the whole of existence were included between birth and death. Man is impelled to ask the very nature, not of something he does not have, but of something he has.

In fact, present-day man is no longer quite in the position of a mere loiterer or onlooker, so he cannot appeal now to the Greek philosopher. In those times the comparison held good, but today it does not. Today we might say that buyers and sellers come and go. When at length they close the market and make up accounts they find something that certainly could neither have been bought nor sold, nor can they find out whence it came. That never happens in an ordinary market, but so it is in the market of life. (Every comparison has its flaw, and this one is all the better for it.) As we go on living we are continually finding things that life opens to view, yet no explanation for them is to be found in the world of sense. That is the deeper reason why there are people in the world today who despair of life yet at the same time have vague, unrecognized longings. Something is active in them that does not belong to the physical world but keeps on putting forth questions about other worlds. For this reason we now have to acquire a spiritual culture. Otherwise we shall be overcome by hopelessness and despair.

What today we have to acquire, a man like Arjuna had, simply because he lived in the ancient age of primeval clairvoyance. Yet it also was a period of transition, because he belonged to that time in evolution when only the last remnants and echoes of that clairvoyance remained. If we are to understand the Bhagavad Gita it is important to realize that at the time of its origin men were entering an age in which this old clairvoyance gradually became lost. In this lies the deep undercurrent of that sublime poem; or we may say, the source of the breath poured out through it. For this song resounds with tones of a great turning-point in time, when, from the twilight of the old clairvoyance, a night was to begin in which a new force could be born to mankind. Only in that night could a force be born that the soul of today possesses, but that souls of that time did not yet possess. About Arjuna, then, we can say that ancient clairvoyance is still present in his soul but it is flickering out. It is no longer a strong, spontaneous force but requires such a harrowing experience as I have described to re-awaken it. What then can Arjuna perceive through this awakening of the ancient power of vision, which at other times was dying away within him? He sees the Spiritual Being who is called Krishna.

Here it is necessary to point out that though man may lift his soul today into that realm where his dreams are woven, this is no longer enough to give him a full understanding of Krishna's being. Even if we develop the forces enabling us to consciously pass into the region of dream-consciousness, we still are not able today to fully discover what Krishna is. Referring again to what was said yesterday, let us call our everyday consciousness the lowest realm. About it lies a realm we are unconscious of in daily life, or rather that reaches us in a kind of phantom picture veiled in our dreams. When we push these aside, impressions from another world enter. Into all the experiences man has of his physical environment something now enters that is like a kind of overflow in his soul and belongs really to other worlds, to inner supersensible worlds. Now he has an experience that cannot be described as a reminiscence of ordinary life, because the world now has a different aspect from anything known on the physical plane. We discover that we are seeing something we do not see in the ordinary world. Though we often imagine that we see light, in reality it is not so. On the physical plane we never see light, only color and different shades of color, darker and lighter colors. We see the effects of light but light itself speeds invisibly through space. We can easily convince ourselves of this fact. When a ray of light strikes through the window we see a kind of streak of light-rays in the room, caused by dust in the air. We see reflections of light from the glittering particles of dust, the light itself remaining invisible.

After lifting his experience to the higher realm we have spoken of, man really does begin to see the light itself. There he is surrounded by flowing light, just as in the physical world he lives in flowing air. Only he does not enter this world with his physical body. He has no need to breathe there. Man enters that world with the part of his being that needs the light as in the physical world his body needs the air. In this region light is the element of life — light-air we might call it — and it is a necessity for existence.

Further, that light is permeated and transfused with something not unlike the cloud-forms shaping and re-shaping in our atmosphere. The clouds are water, but up there what meets us like floating forms is nothing else than the weaving life of sound, the music of the spheres. Still further we shall perceive the flowing of life itself. Thus we may begin to describe the world into which our soul enters, but the terms of our description must remain meaningless for the physical world. Perhaps he who uses words most lacking in meaning for the physical world will best describe that other world that has a far higher reality.

Of course our materialistically minded friends will find it easy to refute us. Their arguments against what the occultist has to say are plausible enough. The occultist himself knows how easily such objections are made, for the very reason that the higher worlds are best described by words not suitable for things of the physical plane. For example he would speak of light-air, or air-light. On the physical plane there is no such thing, but over there, there is. Indeed, when we penetrate into that realm we also discover what it is to be deprived of this life element, to have insufficient light-air. We feel a pain of suffocation in our soul, comparable to losing our breath for lack of air on the physical plane. There we also find the opposite condition — a fullness of pure, holy light-air — when we live in it and when we perceive spiritual beings who manifest themselves in full clearness in this element of airy light and have their life in it. Those are the beings who stand under the guidance of Lucifer. The moment we enter that realm without sufficient preparation, without proper training, Lucifer gains the power to deprive us of the light-air we need. We can say he suffocates our souls.

It is not quite the same effect as suffocation on the physical plane. But like a polar bear transported to the South, we thirst and long for something that can reach us from the spiritual treasure, the spiritual light of the physical plane. That is just what Lucifer desires, for then we do not pay attention to all that comes from the higher hierarchies but thirstily cleave to all that Lucifer has brought onto the physical plane. This is what happens if we have not sufficiently trained ourselves in preparation. Then when we stand before Lucifer he takes away the light-air from us. We crave breath, and long for the spiritual that comes from the physical plane.

Let us suppose that someone goes through a training that brings him far enough to enter the higher worlds, to reach this upper region. But suppose he has not done all that belongs to the training; suppose he has forgotten that with all his exercises he must at the same time be ennobling his moral sense, his moral feelings, that he must tear all earthly ambitions and lust for power from his soul. Indeed a man can reach the higher worlds even though he is vain and ambitious, but then he takes these qualities with him. When a person has not purified his moral feelings Lucifer takes the light-air away from him, so that he perceives nothing of what is really there, and instead he longs for the things on the physical plane. He breathes in, so to say, what he has been able to perceive on the physical plane. So he may imagine that he perceives something only to be seen spiritually in the light-air. He imagines that he sees the different incarnations of various human beings. But it is not so. He does not see them, because he lacks the air-light. Instead, like a thirsty being, he sucks up into that realm things of the physical plane below, and describes all manner of things acquired there as though they were processes in the higher region. Actually there is no more harmful way of raising one's soul into the higher worlds than by means of vain and earthly love of power! If one does this, one will never be able to bring down true results of knowledge. What one brings will be a mere reflection, a phantom picture, of the speculations and conjectures one may have made in the physical world.

Here we have been describing what may be called the general scenery of that realm. There are also Beings we meet there, whom we may call Elemental Beings. In the physical world we often speak of the forces of nature. In that higher realm these same forces manifest themselves as real beings. There we make a definite discovery. Through the actual facts that meet us we discover that whereas on the physical plane good and evil exist together, in that higher realm there are separate, specific forces of good and evil. Here in the physical world good and evil are combined and interwoven in each human soul. One has more of a tendency to good, another less. In that realm there are evil beings who exist to battle against the work of good beings. On entering that realm, therefore, we already have occasion to make use of the strengthened self-consciousness we mentioned yesterday. We have need of the more acute power of judgment that must come with our enhanced self. Then we may really be in a position to say that here in the higher realm there must needs be beings who have the mission of evil. Such beings have to exist alongside those who have the mission of good.

We often hear it asked, “Why didn't the all-wise God of the universe simply create the good alone? Why isn't it everywhere, always?” Now we gain this conviction, however, that if only the good were present the world would become one-sided, it would not bring forth all the fullness of life that it does yield. The good must have something to oppose it. This, in fact, can already be realized on the physical plane, but in that higher realm we perceive it with far greater force. There we see that only people who are content with a merely sentimental and dreamy outlook can imagine that good beings alone could bring about the purposes of the universe. In the realm of everyday life we might do with sentimentality, but we cannot tolerate it when we enter the stern realities of the supersensible world. There we know that the good beings alone could not have made the world. They would be too weak to mold this universe. In the totality of evolution those forces must be included which come from the evil beings. There is great wisdom in this fact that evil is mingled in cosmic evolution. Thus, one of the things we have to get rid of when we enter spiritual life is sentimentality. Bravely and unflinchingly we must approach the dangerous truths that dawn upon us when we perceive the battle that is fought in just this realm — the battle between the good and evil beings that can there be revealed to us. All these are experiences we have when we have trained and adapted our souls to entering consciously into this realm.

So far we have only entered the realm of dreams. We human beings live in still another realm, one for which we are so little adapted in ordinary life that we generally have no perceptions whatever in it. It is the realm through which we live in dreamless sleep. Here already an absolute paradox appears, for sleep after all is characterized by the complete cessation of consciousness. In normal human life today man ceases to be conscious when he falls to sleep, and he does not regain consciousness till he wakes up again. In the age of primeval clairvoyance this realm too was something the soul could experience. If we go back into those ancient periods of evolution there was actually a condition of life corresponding to our sleep in which, however, man could perceive in a still higher, still more spiritual world than the world of dreams. This was true even in early post-Atlantean times. There we find conditions that, in regard to the usual human processes, are exactly like the condition of sleep, but are not, because they are permeated by consciousness. When we have reached this height we do not see the physical world, even though we still see the world of light-air, of sound, of cosmic harmony, and of the battle between the good and evil beings. The world we see may be said to be still more fundamentally different from all that exists in the physical world. So it is yet more difficult to describe than the world we find on entering the region of dream consciousness. I would like now to give you an idea of how one's consciousness in this realm works, and of its actual effects.

Anyone who describes that sublime world into which our dreams find their way, and about which I have given the merest hint, will be labeled a fantastic visionary by the bigoted intellectualism of today. If anyone begins to speak of that still higher realm through which man ordinarily sleeps, then people, if they take any notice at all, do not stop at abusing him as a visionary. They altogether lose their heads. We have already had an example of this. When my books were first published in Germany, the critics, who are supposed to represent the intellectual culture of today, attacked them with all sorts of insinuations. In one point, however, their criticism ran absolutely wild; in fact, they became foolish in their fury. I mean the point where I had to call attention to something that could only originate in the spiritual realm we are now considering. This was the question of the two Jesus children mentioned in my book The Spiritual Guidance of Mankind.

For those of our friends who have not heard of this I may say once more that it appeared as a result of occult research, namely, that at the beginning of our era not only one but two Jesus children were born. One was descended from the so-called Nathan line of the House of David, the other from the Solomon line. These two children grew up side by side. In the body of the Solomon child lived the soul of Zarathustra. In the twelfth year of the child's life this soul passed over into the other Jesus child and lived in that body until its thirtieth year. Here we have a matter of the deepest significance. Zarathustra's soul went on living in the body that until its twelfth year had been occupied by a mysterious soul. And then, only from the thirtieth year onward, there lived in this body the Being Whom we call the Christ, Who remained on Earth altogether for three years.

We really cannot take amiss the reaction of the critics to this statement, as it is natural that they should want to have something to say about the matter from their scholarly viewpoint. But what they set out to criticize comes from a realm in which they are always fast asleep! So we cannot expect them to know anything about it. Yet a healthy human understanding is able to grasp this fact. People only will not give themselves a chance to understand. In their haste they change their power of understanding into bitterness and fury.

Such truths as that about the two Jesus children, which are to be found in this higher realm, never have anything to do with sympathy and antipathy. We find such truths; we never experience them in the way we gain experience in the usual manner of knowledge in the physical world, or even in the realm of dream life. In both these areas we are there, so to say. We are present at the origin of our knowing or perception. This is true also of those occultists who are conscious only as far as the realm of dreams. We can say that a person witnesses the birth of his knowledge, of his perceptions, in that realm, but truths like this concerning the two Jesus children can never be found in this way. When truths come to us in that higher realm and enter our consciousness, the moment in which we actually acquired them has long since passed. We experienced them long before we met them with our full consciousness, as we have to do in our time. We have them already in us. So that when we reach these truths — the most important, the most living and essential of all truths — we distinctly have the feeling that when we gained them we were in an earlier time than the present; that we are now drawing out of the depths of our soul what we acquired in an earlier time and are bringing it into our consciousness. Such truths we discover in ourselves, just as in the outer world we come across a flower or any other object. Even as in the outer world we can think about an object that is simply there before us, so can we think about these truths when we have discovered them in ourselves, in our own self.

In the outer world we can only judge an object after we have perceived it. In the same way we find those sublime truths objectively in ourselves, and only then do we study them, in ourselves. We inwardly investigate them as we investigate the external facts of nature. Just as it would have no meaning to ask of a flower whether it is true or false, there would be no sense in asking about these truths that we simply come upon in ourselves whether they are true or false. Truth and falsehood only come into the picture when it is a question of our power to describe what we find or what arises in our consciousness. Descriptions can be true or false. Truth and falsehood do not concern the facts, they concern the manner in which any thinking being approaches or deals with those facts. Thus, when we do research and get results in this realm we are really looking into a region of the soul we have lived in before but did not look into with our consciousness.

In carrying on our occult exercises we are best able to enter this realm if we pay positive attention to those moments when from the depths of our soul not mere judgments arise, but facts; facts that we know we did not consciously take part in originating. The more we are able to wonder at the things there unveiled, like the objective things of the outer world — the more astonishing it all is for us — the better are we prepared to enter into this realm. So, as a general rule, we do not make a good entrance if we have all sorts of conjectures and constructions in our minds. For example, there is no better way of finding nothing at all about the previous incarnations of some person than to speculate as to who they may have been earlier. Let us say you wanted to investigate the earlier incarnations of Robespierre. The best way of finding out nothing at all about him would be to search about for historical personalities you think might possibly have been his previous incarnations. In that way you never can discover the truth. You must get out of the habit of making conjectures and theories and forming opinions.

He would become a true occultist who would set himself to making as few judgments as possible about the world because then he will most quickly attain the condition in which the facts can meet him. The more a man cultivates silence in his conjectures and opinions, the more will his soul be filled with the actual truths of the spiritual world. Someone, for example, who had grown up with a particular religious bias, with definite feelings and ideas or perhaps views about the Christ — such a person in general would not be the most adapted to discover a truth like the history of the two Jesus children. Just when one feels a little neutral about the Christ event one is well prepared for such a discovery, provided of course he has made all the other necessary preparations. People with a Buddhistic bias will least easily be able to talk sense about Buddha, just as those with a Christian bias will least easily be able to talk sense about Christ. This is always true.

If we would enter into the third realm just described, it is necessary that we go through all the bitterness — for in ordinary life we cannot help feeling it in this way — of becoming, so to say, a twofold person. We are, in fact, twofold beings in ordinary life, even if we make no conscious use of the one-half of our existence, for we are both waking and sleeping beings. Different as these two conditions are, so is that third realm in the higher worlds different from this physical world. That realm has a peculiar existence of its own. There also we are surrounded by a world, but one so altogether new and different that we get to know it best if we extinguish not only the sense impressions of this world of ours but even our feelings and sentiments and all the things that have the power to arouse our passions and enthusiasms. In ordinary life man is so little fitted for conscious experience of that higher world that his consciousness is extinguished every night. He can only attain experience there if he is able to become a twofold man. Those who have the power at will to forget and to blot out all their interests in this physical world are then able to enter that higher realm. The world between — that is to say, where our dreams are woven — is made of the materials of both worlds, it is penetrated by reflections of the higher worlds of which man is generally not aware, and by reminiscences of ordinary consciousness. That is why no one can perceive the true causes of events in the physical world who is not able to penetrate with understanding into that third realm.

Now if a man of today wishes to discover through his own experience who Krishna is, he can only make that discovery in the third realm. Arjuna's impressions, which in the sublime Gita are described to us through the words of Krishna, have their origin in that world. For this reason I have had to prepare the way today by speaking of man's ascent into the third realm. Only so will you be able to understand the origin of the strange and wondrous truths that Krishna speaks to Arjuna — truths that sound so altogether different from anything that is spoken in ordinary life.

These lectures are to help us gain knowledge of Krishna; that is to say, of the very essence of the Bhagavad Gita. Also, the occult principles of this wonderful Song are to give you something which, if you really make use of it, can enable you to find the way into the higher worlds because the way is open to every man. We have only to realize that the grain of gold with which we must begin is ours once we are aware of how many things there are in which the highest spiritual beings live and work and are interwoven in our everyday life.