The Foundation Stone-4
- Chapter IV
In the chapter, "The Stages of Initiation" of Rudolf Steiner’s Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, in which he refers to the importance of the Golden Rule of true spiritual science he points to the extreme need of systematically developed courage and fearlessness. He says: "By self-discipline in this direction, quite definite qualities are developed which ar necessary for initiation into the higher mysteries. Just as man requires nervous force in his physical being in order to use his physical senses, so also he requires in his soul-nature the force which is developed only in the courageous and the fearless. For in penetrating to the higher mysteries he will see things which are concealed from ordinary humanity by the illusion of the senses. If the physical senses do not allow us to perceive the higher truth, they are for this very reason our benefactors. Things are thereby hidden from us which, if realized without due preparation, would throw us into unutterable consternation, and the sight of which would be unendurable. The student must be fit to endure this sight….The forces in the world are both destructive and constructive; the destiny of earthly beings is birth and death. The seer is to witness the working of these creating and destroying forces and to behold the march of destiny. The veil enshrouding the spiritual eyes in ordinary life is to be removed. But man himself is interwoven with these forces and with this destiny. His own nature harbors destructive and constructive forces. His own soul reveals itself to the seer as free from disguise as other objects. He must not lose strength in the fact of this self-knowledge; but strength will fail him unless he brings a surplus on which to draw. For this purpose he must learn to maintain inner calm and steadiness in face of difficult circumstances; he must cultivate a strong trust in the beneficent powers of existence. He must be prepared to find that many motives which had actuated him higher to will do so no longer….He will have to develop quite new motives for his thoughts and actions, and it is just for this purpose that courage and fearlessness are required….If the student has acquired these qualities up to a certain point, he is then ripe to hear the real names of things, which are the key to higher knowledge; for initiation consists in learning to call things of the world by those names which they bear in the spirit of their divine creators. In these, their names, lies the mystery of things. It is for this reason that the initiates speak a different language from the uninitiated, for they know the names by which the beings themselves are called into existence."
The chapter following this one is entitled, "Initiation." Pondering over the closing words of "The Stages of Initiation" and the title of the following chapter, "Initiation," it is deeply moving to notice that in the second parts of the stanzas of the Foundation Stone mantram names are mentioned, and that these names are those we are accustomed to regard as the names of the Trinity, to which we are able to life our thoughts only with dim understanding and humble reverence. If these names are given in the spirit of their divine creators; if in these names are to be found the secrets of the Beings designated by them, and if true names are the keys to higher knowledge, then with the giving of these names the key to higher knowledge is handed over to us, then we are given at this point in the Foundation Stone mantram the task of unlocking with the help of this key, the secret that rests in the names.In the assignment of this task it is assumed that the student has acquired as much courage and fearlessness as the task placed before him demands. Nevertheless, the first feeling that this challenge produces in him is an overwhelming dismay; and before he approaches it he will have again and again to overcome lack of courage, the feeling of fear in face of the immensity of this task.
What the student next realizes is that he must bring the names mentioned in the second part of the stanzas into relation with the spiritual powers which he experienced by meditating on the first part of the stanzas as a spiritual Threefoldness active within his own being. The justification, indeed necessity to seek out the inner relation of the names mentioned in the second part to the spirit-content in the first part of the stanzas is to be found in the little word "for," as mediator between the two parts: "For the Father Spirit of the Heights doth reign in the depths of the world, begetting Being"…."for the Christ-Will encircling doth reign in the rhythms of the world, blessing souls"…."for the Spirit’s Cosmic Thoughts do reign in Cosmic Being, Light imploring."
That the very name which the student is accustomed to regard as the name of the Trinity is indicated as the name for the spiritual powers active within his own being is what at first appalls the student and shakes his courage; for only now does he have an inkling of the tremendous significance of Rudolf Steiner’s description of the nature of Anthroposophy. "Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge which would lead the spiritual in man to the spiritual in the universe." Only now does he realize that the way to the true man leads to a conscious union with the Trinity, for him so unthinkably lofty. Experiencing dimly his own divine spiritual origin and realizing how far he has become separated from it, did he try to lift himself to these sublime creative powers, did he try to be united with them?
The words of the first parts of the Foundation Stone mantram summon the student to self-knowledge. They disclose to him his own spirit-origin and his spirit-goal and they point out to him a way to a union of his spirit-origin and his spirit-goal, through himself, as human being living, feeling, and thinking in accord with reality. In the second part the student is again summoned to self-knowledge. Connecting the names of the Trinity with man’s own being, they reveal the true name of man, that name which he bears in the spirit of his divine creator.
A high degree of fearlessness is needed to stand firm before the true name of one’s own ego; for, surmising that the secret of the ego lies in its lofty origin, the student realizes again with alarming clarity how far he has wandered from his own spirit-origin, from his own spirit-goal. When the words of the Foundation Stone mantram, revealing these cosmic secrets, arise in the student as self-knowledge, then an insurmountable dejection threatens to take possession of his soul. For, learning to know the lofty origin of his own being, the student becomes conscious of his tremendous responsibility for the further development of his own being in line with the progress of human evolution toward the Earth’s goal.The appeal to the Hierarchies, praying that They may act as helping spirits, that They may mediate between the human soul and the loftiest of Spirit-Beings, this appeal alone can help the student to overcome his deep dejection. The appeal is first to the Spirits of Strength, the First Hierarchy, with the prayer: "Let from the Heights ring forth what in the Depths its echo doth find." That is, "Let ring forth ex deo nascimur," "from God are we born," for this is the call that will find its echo in all realms above and below man.
When this call and the response from all spheres become inwardly audible to the student, then he feels himself enveloped in a protecting, supporting sheath; and the call sounding and resounding from all sides can find its echo within him too. He feels himself to be the focal point of the spheres from which the call rings forth and, joining in it, he strengthens the call resounding now from his own innermost being, "My Self takes origin from Self Divine," and the response from the supporting spheres rings out, "From the Divine springeth Mankind?"
The present form of this call and response acts as a consoling and reassuring force. The student experiences a present event, lying neither far back in the inaccessible past nor in an unattainably distant future. He experiences it as an eternally present event in which each individual soul can participate at any moment. This consciousness strengthens his courage and his confidence; it invigorates his will to continue on the path of knowledge which leads the Spiritual in man to the Spiritual in the Universe, trusting in the help of the Hierarchies.
First of all the student will seek the inner relation of the names mentioned in the second part of the stanzas to the threefold activity within his own being experiences in the first part. He can feel the name Father-Spirit, a thoroughly fitting name of the destiny-forming spiritual-physical activity, since he has experienced the smallness, the weakness, the nothingness of his own will in contrast to this wisdom filled goal-conscious Spirit-Power and he knows that he can recognize only retrospectively the effect of this power upon his own life, that he can come into harmony with Him only when he can say "Yes" to his destiny, when he can feel as a child toward its father, "Thy will be done." At the time however in which an event occurs, the student cannot at first find a connection with His spiritual-physical activity, because he experiences his own, his innermost being in conscious soul activity. The Father Spirit, however, eludes the student’s consciousness, his thinking, feeling and willing!
That Spiritual power, of Whose soul-spiritual activity the student is conscious, Who leaves him inwardly free, Who does not intervene in his life to determine his destiny, or nullify his own will, Who nevertheless is ready at any moment to guide him to a relationship with the world of truth and to a life within the earthly world in conformity with the world of truth. This guiding Spirit the student can experience as intimately connected with his innermost being. Christ-Will is the name which he must connect with this soul-spiritual power. Christ means one who has been sent; and the Christ-Will is a will which wills nothing for itself. The student can experience the Christ-Will as mediator between his own being and the earthly world. If he wishes to acknowledge the Christ-Will as his guide to truth and goodness, he must purge his soul-being of egotism and self-love, and he must entrust to his purified feeling, as love of truth, the guiding authority within his own soul. Directed by love of truth, the will annuls itself, it turns inward and becomes pure supporting power, true devotion. Thinking directed inward by love of truth, surrenders itself in silence to the world of truth; it metamorphoses into an organ of spirit-awareness.
In connection with the Christ-Will the second Hierarchy is called upon in the Foundation Stone mantram: "Ye Spirits of Light! Let from the East be enkindled what in the West taketh form." For help in understanding the designations "East" and "West" as cosmic directions, we may turn to the fifth scene in the drama, The Portal of Initiation by Rudolf Steiner, who calls it a rosicrucian Mystery.
In the hidden Mystery Place of the Hierophants Benedictus occupies the place in the East, and he describes himself as companion of the other hierophants in the realm of the eternally existing, whose mission as messenger of the spirit, consists in bringing to man the treasures of the temple. "I have revealed to him (to Johannes Thomasius) the light which guided him to his first spirit-awareness." Benedictus, as the messenger of spirit, belongs to the hosts of Michael; as representative of the Spirits of Wisdom, he occupies the place to the East within the Mystery-temple. Theodosius, whose archetype is revealed during the course of the drama to be the Spirit of Love, occupies the place to the South. He begins with the words: "Thus speaks the power of Love, which unites the worlds and fills beings with Life." He says that the student of Spiritual Science must realize that he can draw near to the Cosmic Spirit only by giving up the vain illusion of his self-hood, and that love will give him strength for this sacrifice, "and so create for him the ear to hear the Cosmic-Word."
Romanus, whose archetype is revealed in the course of the drama as the Spirit of Action, occupies the place to the West in the hidden Mystery-temple. He says that the student who tries to live in the spiritual world shall pass into those spheres where spirits act creatively. "They will reveal themselves to him, demanding of him deeds. He will fulfill them willingly."
In the second part of the second stanza of the Foundation Stone mantram the student can experience himself as placed to the South, figuratively speaking. He may direct his prayer for help to the Spirits in the East, to the Spirits of Light, when he strives to establish a relationship to the world of truth and to attain the capacity to conduct his life within the earth-world in accord with the world of truth. The character of the help these spirits can give is expressed in the mantram: "Let from the East be enkindled what in the West taketh form" This means, let what is being formed in action glow with the fire of lofty enthusiasm; let it be irradiated by Wisdom’s gracious, shining light.
As the third name in the second part of the stanzas the student finds "Spirit’s Cosmic Thoughts." And he must now seek an inner connection with that Spiritual power whose activity he experiences as purely spiritual when he devotes himself to truth-bearing words. When he surrenders himself to them, these cosmic Thoughts live in him as he lives in them.Spirit’s Cosmic Thoughts are thoughts which bear the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit. The student cannot feel this purely spiritual power intimately united with his own being like the soul spiritual power whom he experiences as Self within himself. The Spirit’s Cosmic Thoughts are at first concealed from him as thoughts are imprisoned in earthly darkness. The truth-bearing thoughts of Spiritual Science do not reveal their true nature immediately, but they carry over the student’s thinking into their own sphere where they can reveal themselves to his spirit-awareness.By surrendering himself to truth-bearing thoughts a union establishes itself with the Spirit of Truth just as a relationship to a phenomenon of the outwardly visible world establishes itself when man directs his attention to the phenomenon. He first receives merely a perception, which would give no evidence as to the nature of the phenomenon if, with the human eye, there could not be united the truly creative force of man, that is, the spiritually creative force of thinking which has been given to him as faculty. By means of this force man sees in thoughtful observation more than the mere phenomenon presents to his senses. By methodical practice he can acquire the ability to unite this spiritually creative foce with perceptions which do not belong to the outwardly perceptible world of phenomena. If the student directs this truly creative force to the content of truth-bearing thoughts, that is, to a phenomenon not outwardly perceptible, then this force acts as an organ of supersensible perception which is able to transmit the purely spiritual content living in truth-bearing thoughts.In general, no one will feel impelled to a methodical training of this sort, unless he has come to a profound realization of the incompetence, indeed the impotence, of his intellectual thinking with regard to the phenomena and events of life, unless he realizes that this kind of thinking lacks creative force.
If, with this insight, one turns toward the path of knowledge pointed out by Rudolf Steiner, his training will be sustained by the wish, by the prayer: "Light in my thoughts." And following this path of knowledge he can learn to experience the purely spiritual power in truth-bearing thoughts as a healing power bringing freedom from blindness and error, pressing forward toward realization of itself.
In the second part of the third stanza, in connection with the Spirit’s Cosmic Thoughts, the Spirits of Soul, the third Hierarchy, are called upon: "Let prayers arise from the Depths which in the Heights will be heard." That is, let man express what he truly longs for; let him pray for light for himself and also in the name of the Cosmic Thoughts imprisoned in earthly darkness, let him pray for what is lacking in the kingdoms of the Depths. And when from the human soul there flows forth the prayer borne by good will and directed by the love of truth, "Light in my thoughts," this prayer can be taken up by the Spirits of Soul, and echoes by them, be borne upward. What is asked thus in the name of all kingdoms of the Depths, can be heard in the Heights.
Love of truth, and reverence for truth, knowledge and life are indeed prerequisites for spirit discipleship, for these alone make possible a relationship with the world of truth. The Spiritual Threefoldness can unite with purified human soul-forces to celebrate true communion with man.
Cosmic Thoughts founded in Eternity are the self-sustaining, self-supporting, truth-and-life bearing essence of the World of Truth.
Truth-bearing thoughts are upheld and sustained by indwelling life.
Life is power pressing toward realization; it is pure Will.
Pure Will, as power pressing toward its goal brings forth truth, the life-bearing essence of the World of Truth.
The World of Truth is realization of the Truth through itself.
Self-creating, self-sustaining Truth is creative power, Life, spirit.
Through the student of Spiritual Science who, meditating, conceives truth-bearing thoughts in his innermost being, the essence of the world of truth, founded in eternity, is carried down from the timeless repose of the World of Truth into the stream of time borne by human souls. Implanted in the soul-world, in this ever moving, ever metamorphosing world of human experience, the Spirit of Truth dwells within the student’s soul; He incarnates in him as it were. Born in the human soul the Spirit of Truth unfolds the power of His creative life.
When man experiences the Christ-Will in this soul-blessing creative life within himself then, lifted beyond himself to life and experience in the World of Truth, he can realize St. Paul’s words: "Not I,--Christ in me." No other experience, no other enthusiasm approaches the warmth, beauty, and sublimity of this true communion of man.
In surrendering his very Self man learns to know the meaning of "In Christo morimur," and at the same time he experiences "In Christ death becomes life," and when his Light-imploring prayer is heard in the Heights, then, in the name of all the regions of the Depths, he can bear witness to the reality of "Per Spiritum Sanctum reviviscimus," to the inwardly audible call, resounding through the worlds, "In the Spirit’s Cosmic Thoughts the soul awakens."
In the creative power of the truth pressing toward realization, the student can recognize the Father Spirit of the Heights. Now he is able in freedom to unite himself with this destiny-forming power in devotional surrender: "Thy will be done."
Enlightening human heads and warming human hearts, the Spirit of Truth gives impulse to love-borne deeds illuminated by truth. Unfolding His creative power in human souls, the Spirit of Truth lives and reveals Himself in continuous activity within the ever-moving stream of time from Aeon to Aeon.
Den Sinn der Welt verwirklicht
Die von Weisheit durchleuchtete und
Von Liebe durchwaermte Tat
Des Menschen. (R. S.)
The meaning of the world is fulfilled
in the deed of man made luminous
by wisdom, warmed through love.
*******Thanks for this, Sheila.