Lecture 3 Pt. 2
This Christ-Impulse was prepared for by the religion of Jahve or Jehovah; for this religion taught man how little reliance could be placed on his former decisions. During the time which extended from the old Lemurian epoch to the Revelation on Mount Sinai, we have that age in which man was given the power to choose good or evil, while at the same time he became liable to err in judging between them, and became more and more likely to bring on earth that which is known as ‘Sin.’ Sin then ate its way into the life of the earth. Man became ‘like to the Gods,’ but in return for this he acquired qualities which were in nowise ripe for the likeness to God. What had to happen then? First of all man had to be shown what the Godhead expected from him if he was to become a self-conscious ego. This was shown to him by the announcement made on Mount Sinai in the ‘Ten Commandments.’ The people then heard proclaimed through Moses: ‘The good and evil thou hast already developed are not sufficient. I will show thee how these Commandments should sound if thou hadst not descended, and in return for thy defective qualities, received the power of judging between good and evil.’ The Decalogue, the law, given to man on Sinai, was given to man as he had then become; so that out of the spiritual worlds man heard sounding forth that which was right, in contrast to what he had insufficiently developed. The Ten Commandments stand forth as a law of iron, as a torch, showing man what he had not become. He had to submit himself to that law, with all he had become. Man could not at first have submitted to the Ten Commandments, because he had become lacking in decision, lacking in self-guidance. Therefore, they had to be given to him by one who was inspired, — by Moses — that is to say, they were given him from above by Divine administration. They were, however, given in such a way that they were intended for the ego. They told man how an ego must act, if it is to attain the goal of humanity.
In the lecture on The Ten Commandments of Moses (16th November, 1908) this is traced out in detail. Therein is first shown the right attitude of the ego to the spiritual worlds; this is contained in the first three Commandments. The next ones refer to man's conduct towards his fellow-men in act and deed, and the last Commandments refer to the control of his feelings and sensations. The Ten Commandments give instructions for the education of the ego. This was the preparation by means of which the ego was to learn in its most inward being how to give itself the impulse after having descended into Kali-Yuga, into the age of darkness. At first man was to be given the Law from above. The Law of one's own ego could however, only become what it was to be, when that ego takes into itself the great Prototype of Golgotha, saying: ‘If I take into my soul such thinking as was thought by the Being Who offered Himself in sacrifice on Golgotha, — if I take into myself such feelings as were felt by the Being Who offered Himself as sacrifice on Golgotha, — if I take into myself such willing as was willed by the Being Who offered Himself in sacrifice on Golgotha, then will my being come to a decision within itself to develop increasingly a likeness to God, it will then no longer have to follow the Outer Law, the Ten Commandments, but an inner impulse, its own Law.’
Thus Moses first put before mankind the Law, but Christ gave them the Prototype and the strength which the soul ought to take in, whereby to develop itself. Hence all the spiritual impulses were to be taken into the innermost of the soul, even into the ego itself; they were all to be deepened into inwardness through Christ Jesus. That could only take place if men thought as follows, and Christ Jesus radiated it forth as an impulse: —
Man has descended into the dark age, into Kali-Yuga. Before that dark age men saw into the spiritual world with a dim twilight consciousness. They were then able, not merely to make use of the instruments of the physical body, but when they observed the physical world through their eyes, ears and so on, they perceived the spiritual surrounding all things, flowers, plants, stones, etc. As regards this observation of the spiritual, men were rich in those days. In the older times the spirit was bestowed on them; whereas, in the dark age, as regards the spirit they were reduced to beggary; for the spirit was no longer bestowed upon them. They had become poor in spirit. Kali-Yuga came upon them more and more, that time when men had to say to themselves: In the old days things were different, the spirit was then bestowed on men; they were able to look up into a spiritual world, they were then rich in spirit; the kingdoms of heaven were then accessible to them. Now men are pressed down into the physical world. The gates of the spiritual world are closed to human senses, and no view of the kingdoms of heaven is open to the physical body. But Christ was able to say: ‘Lay hold of the ego, where it must now be apprehended! Then will the Kingdoms of Heaven draw near to you. They will arise within your own ego. Though the spiritual light may be concealed from your eyes behind the external light which is perceptible to the senses, though spiritual sound may be concealed from your ears behind physical sound; yet, when Christ Himself shall raise you, ye shall find the Kingdoms of Heaven within you! ‘Unhappy were those who had become poor in the dark age, who had become beggars as regard the spirit. They can now become blessed, the impulse having been given through which Christ is able, from the spiritual world, from the Kingdoms of Heaven, to penetrate into the very ego or ‘ I ’ of man. Therefore, with respect to man's poverty of spirit, the highest Christian proclamation is this: ‘From henceforward, blessed are they who are beggars in spirit, who no longer receive the spirit bestowed upon them according to the old conception. Henceforth, they can be blessed if they take in the Christ-Impulse; for, through the developing of their ego, the Kingdoms of Heaven will be within them.’
Let us pass on to the etheric body, which is the builder of the physical body. What has entered that? Illness only expresses itself in the physical body. The trouble itself is first in the etheric body; that then expresses itself in a subsequent incarnation as illness in the physical body. ‘Now, however, something has entered the world,’ so Christ Jesus had to say, ‘whereby an impulse may arise within gradually to clear away the auction from the etheric body. Blessed may those now be who have an affliction attached to their etheric bodies if they take up the Christ-Impulse; for they have something within them which lifts them above the suffering and teaches them to find inner comfort, the inner paraclete, the inner comforter!’
Now what had the astral body become through the luciferic influence? It had become less perfect than before. It had been given the possibility which we have described as a good quality: of being able to be aglow for what is great and good, to feel enthusiasm for the sublime treasures of the true, the beautiful and the good. On the other hand it has to purchase this at the price of feeling little or no sympathy or antipathy for the treasures of the earth. But a man who takes up the Christ-Impulse learns to control the astral body, which stirs his physical body to opposition to the treasures of the earth, he learns to bring it under the power of the spirit; and in so doing he becomes happy or blessed. ‘Blessed will he be who makes his astral body indifferent to the things of earth; which will thereby fall to his share. For when he is all afire for the things of earth, feeling both emotion and sympathy or antipathy for them, he casts away that which they might become to him; but when the astral body is brought under the power of the spiritual and he grows indifferent to the things of earth, the Kingdom of Earth is added as a reward.’
Let us now ascend to that which works as sentient soul within the astral body. Herein we still possess in a dim sort of way, a ruling ego, an ego which has not yet wholly emerged and hence is still developing the most egotistical passions. As long as the ego is still really within the sentient soul, it develops the most selfish egoism. The wish that others should have the same as we have is lacking. Egoism dims the sense of justice, for the ego wants everything for itself. But if the ego transmutes itself in imitation of the Christ-Impulse, it will hunger and thirst after justice for all the beings around us. ‘Blessed will be those who hunger and thirst after the feeling of justice in their sentient-soul; for they shall be satisfied. ‘They will be able to bring about conditions all over the world corresponding to the proper new spirit of justice in the depths of the soul.
Let us further ascend to the intellectual or mind soul. This principle brings about to a still greater extent the consideration of one man for another, not merely as a feeling of justice such as is produced by the sentient soul, but as compassion, a true compassion for the sorrows of others and a sharing in their joy. One who takes in the Christ-Impulse grows to feel what others feel, not only what he feels himself; he immerses himself in the ego of others and in so doing feels bliss in his intellectual or mind soul. Blessed is he who develops fellow-feeling; for only by feeling himself within the soul of others, does he stimulate them to feel themselves in him. He will receive the sympathy of others when he himself radiates fellow-feeling for them. ‘Blessed are those who feel with others, for others shall feel with them.’
You will now see how, having gone a little further in our study of these connections, we are able to understand in a different way from the very depths of the nature and being of man, those words in St. Matthew's Gospel, generally known as the Sermon on the Mount. Each sentence of the Sermon on the Mount relates to one of the nine principles of man. In the next lectures we will go further into this. The Sermon on the Mount must become transparent to our spiritual eyes as that deed of Christ Jesus by means of which he turned what was contained in the Old Law of Moses into something quite inward, an inner impulse enabling man's ego to become active, as it must become in all the nine principles of man for if the ego takes up the Christ-Impulse, it affects all these.
Thus we see the profound truth of what I have already indicated here once before: that in Kali-Yuga Christ made the ego of man capable of discovering something in the physical world which can lead man up into the spiritual world, into the Kingdoms of Heaven. Christ has made the ego of man a participator in the spiritual world. On ancient Saturn the physical body was taken straight out of the spiritual world. It was still within that world, because the physical body was at that time much more spiritual and was not aware that it could separate from the spiritual worlds. The etheric body was added on the Sun and the astral body on the Moon, but only on the earth was it made possible — through the development of the ego — to set oneself free from the divine-spiritual. In consequence of this, as the ego must be led back again, God had to descend to the physical plane, and on that plane show man how to find the way back to the Kingdoms of Heaven.
A most important event was brought about through the Christ-Impulse. Now just ask yourselves this question: Did all those living at the time when Christ Jesus worked on earth know that such an important event was taking place? Just reflect that Tacitus — the great historian, mentions the Christians as an almost unknown sect. A hundred years after Christ he only mentions the Christians as a sect living in a side-street in Rome, whose teacher was a certain Jesus; they are simply mentioned as living there. For a long time after the Christ-Event many people in Rome believed Jesus was a contemporary of theirs, as though he had only just appeared. In short, important events can take place in the evolution of man, without contemporaries noticing that anything has happened. The most important things may come about and pass unobserved if people do not cultivate the understanding for them. They would then miss the experience, and as far as that was concerned they would be barren and dried up. ‘Change your hearts! The Kingdoms of Heaven have approached!’ That was the proclamation of John the Baptist and of Christ Jesus Himself. They hinted to those who had ears to hear that something most important was occurring. That nothing is known in the world of an important happening is no proof that it is not taking place. Those whose business it is to-day to point out the signs of the times, are aware of what is taking place to-day. They must point to an occurrence which, though not one of the most cogent, is yet important. True it is that just in our own time something of infinite significance is developing. Just as John pointed to Christ, and Christ Himself pointed to the approach of the Kingdoms of Heaven, to the ego; so must we to-day point to another important event.
Christ descended once to the earth in a body of flesh; He spent the first years of our era on earth, in the flesh. In accordance with the wise guidance of our world-evolution it is not ordained that men should again see Christ in the flesh, as a physically incarnated man; nor is it necessary that they should. For Christ will not return in the mesh. Why? Because what we call the dark age — the Kali-Yuga — was completed at the end of the nineteenth century, and because with the twentieth century began a new age, in which men must prepare to develop new capacities, those faculties which were lost in the dark age. Slowly and gradually these are being prepared. These faculties will develop so far that single individuals will be here who will possess them as natural tendencies. These faculties will be seen in a certain number of persons, particularly between the years of 1930 and 1940, and by means of these a number of people will enter into new relation with the Christ.
This indicates an important point in human development. Spiritual Science is here to open the understanding of men to these new faculties which will be developed in the world of men. Anthroposophy has not come into the world because a few people are in sympathy with it and would like to make it further known; it has come because it is wanted if people wish to understand what will take place in the first half of this century. For it is only by means of that which Spiritual Science can give mankind that it will become capable of understanding this. When people become capable of perceiving in the spirit that which will then occur, they will also be incapable of confusing that event with their mistaken representations. For as materialism spreads further, it will extend even to the spiritual conception of the world where it will have a particularly evil influence. In that realm it might tend to prevent men from understanding what should be spiritually comprehended. What should really be grasped in the spirit they will seek in the world of matter. Because we are to enter into a new relation to Christ in the course of the first half of our century, it must over and over again be emphasised during the next decades and until the event occurs, that false Messiahs, false Christs will arise who will knock at the doors of those who are only able to be materialists in the realms of Spiritual Science, and can only imagine a new relation to Christ if they see Him before them in the flesh. A number of false Messiahs will turn this to their own use, saying: ‘Christ has reappeared in the flesh!’
Anthroposophical wisdom has the duty of preparing the relation which can be attained during the first half of our century by purely human capacities. The responsibility of the Anthroposophical effort becomes ever greater and greater, for it has to prepare for a coming event which will only be understood if Anthroposophy makes its way into the souls of men and thus becomes fruitful for the further development of humanity. The alternative is that men will neglect to accept and make use of the instrument of Spiritual Science, through which this Event can be understood; in that case it will pass humanity by uncomprehended. For if men so entirely reject Spiritual Science that nothing of it should remain, they would not know that this event is there or would interpret it wrongly. The fruit of this event would then be lost to the future of humanity, and man would thus be thrust down into dreadful misery.
I have thus hinted at a new relation to the Christ which is germinating in the souls of men and which they will be able to evolve in a comparatively near future.