Guidelines - Gnosis and Anthroposophy
Gnosis and Anthroposophy
When the Mystery of Golgotha took place, "Gnosis" was the manner of thinking of a part of humanity who could provide not merely a feeling but also a cognitive understanding of the event which had the greatest impact in the earthly history of mankind.
If one wishes to understand the mentality of those in whom Gnosis was prevalent it is necessary to bear in mind that the age of Gnosis was that of the Comprehension or Sensitivity Soul. Due to this fact one can also find the reason for the almost complete disappearance of Gnosis from history. This disappearance is perhaps one of the strangest occurrences in human evolution.
The unfolding of the Comprehension or Sensibility Soul was preceded by that of the Sentient Soul and the latter was preceded by that of the sentient body. When world events were perceived through the sentient body, all human knowledge was in the senses. The world was perceived in colors, tones and so forth; but in the colors, tones and warmth states a world of spiritual beings was conceived. One didn't speak about "matter" in which colors, warmth states and so forth appeared; one spoke of spiritual beings which were revealed by what the senses perceived.
The unfolding of "comprehension", which later lived in man alongside sense perception, did not yet exist in that age. Either one concentrated on the outer world, in which case the gods revealed themselves to him through his senses, or his soul withdrew from the outer world and he felt a faint sense of life within him.
A meaningful transition took place with the Sentient Soul developed. The manifestation of the divine through the senses diminished. In its place appeared the more or less divine-less sense impressions, the color and warmth states, etc. In his interior the divine revealed itself in spiritual form, in pictorial ideas. Thus he perceived the world from two sides: from outside through sense impressions, from within thorough impressions of spiritual ideality.
Man then had to be able to perceive the spirit-impressions in as clear and as defined a form as he previously had perceived the divine through the senses. He could do so as long as the Sentient Soul age persisted. From his inner being pictorial ideas rose up fully formed. From within he was filled with sense-free spiritual content, which was a mirror of cosmic-content. The gods who previously appeared to him clothed in the senses now appeared in spiritual garments.
This was the age when Gnosis arose and lived. A marvelous cognition existed in which one could participate if he developed his inner self in purity in order that divine content could manifest itself therein. From the fourth and into the first millennium before the Mystery of Golgotha this Gnosis prevailed in the most knowledgeably advanced portion of humanity.
Then the age of the Comprehension or Sensibility Soul began. The pictures of the divine world no longer emerged on their own from the human being's inner self. He had to use inner strength in order to draw them out of his soul. The outer world with its sense impressions became questionable. Only when he used inner strength to draw the divine world-pictures from his soul did he obtain answers.
But the pictures were pale compared to their previous form. This was the mental constitution of the humanity which developed so wonderfully in Greece. The Greek felt himself to be in the sensible outer world and felt in it a magical strength as an impetus for the unfolding of world-pictures. In philosophy this mental constitution developed in Platonism.
But behind it all stood the Mysteries, in which what existed from the age of the Sentient Soul in Gnosis was faithfully preserved. Human souls were trained for this faithful preservation. In normal evolution the Comprehension or Sensibility Soul developed. Through special training the Sentient Soul was revivified. Thus during the Comprehension or Sensibility Soul Age a richly developed world of the Mysteries existed. In this world lived the world-images of the gods, also insofar as they included rituals. One looks into the interior of these Mysteries and views the universe in the images of the most wonderful ritualistic acts.
Those who experienced that also perceived the Mystery of Golgotha, when it took place, in its most profound cosmic significance. But the Mysteries were kept completely apart from the outer world's disorder in order to maintain the purity of the world of spiritual images. And for human souls this became ever more difficult.
Then spiritual beings descended from the spiritual cosmos into the highest Mystery sites in order to help those who were striving for knowledge. In this way the impulses of the Sentient Soul age unfolded further under the influence of the "gods" themselves. A Mystery-Gnosis arose, about which only a few had the barest notion. Beside it existed what could be absorbed by means of the Comprehension or Sensibility Soul. This was exoteric Gnosis, remnants of which have come down to posterity.
In esoteric Gnosis, people became less able to raise themselves to the unfolding of the Sentient Soul. This esoteric wisdom gradually became the sole possession of the "gods". And this is a secret of the historical evolution of humanity: that from the first Christian centuries until the middle ages "Divine Mysteries" were active in it.
In these "Divine Mysteries" angelic beings preserved for human beings what they could no longer preserve themselves. Thus Mystery-Gnosis persevered while exoteric Gnosis was being eradicated.
The World-Picture-Content, which in the Mystery-Gnosis was preserved in a spiritual way by spiritual beings as long as it was to be active in human evolution, could not be grasped by conscious human understanding. But its feeling content was to be preserved, and in the right cosmic moment it was to be given to the people who were prepared for it, in order that by means of its soul-warmth the Consciousness Soul could penetrate later into the spirit realm in a new way. Thus spiritual beings built the bridge between the old and the new cosmic contents.
Indications of this secret about human evolution exist. The sacred Jasper cup of the Grail which Christ used when he broke bread and in which Joseph of Arimathea caught the blood from Christ's wounds, therewith containing the Mystery of Golgotha, was according to the legend taken in custody by angels until Titurel could build the Grail Castle and let it descend to the human beings prepared to receive it.
Spiritual beings bore the World-Pictures in which the secrets of Golgotha lived. They sank the feeling content (not the picture-content, for that was not possible) into humanity when the appropriate time arrived.
This implanting of the feeling-content of ancient knowledge can be only a stimulus, but a most powerful stimulus, which in our age of the Consciousness Soul, and in light of Michael's activity, can develop a completely new understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha.
Anthroposophy strives for this new understanding. From the foregoing description one sees that it cannot be a renewal of Gnosis, which depended on the kind of knowledge derived the Sentient Soul for its content; but that it [anthroposophy] must bring an equally rich content from the Consciousness Soul in a completely new way.
Goetheanum, January, 1925