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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Four Mystery Plays
GA 14
The Soul's Probation (Written 1911)

Scene 2

A meditation chamber. Prevailing colour violet. Serious, but not gloomy atmosphere.

Benedictus, Maria, then the Spirit-Figures representing soul-powers.

Great conflicts in my soul bid me invoke
Wise counsel from my master in this hour.
Gloomy forebodings rise within my heart.
And I am powerless to withstand the thoughts,
That overwhelm me ever and again.
They pierce me to my being's inmost core;
They seek to lay upon me a command
Which to obey doth seem like sacrilege.
Deceitful powers must be obsessing me;
Oh, I implore thee—lend me aid ... that I
May exorcise them.

Never shalt thou lack
What thou dost need of me at any time.

I know how closely to my soul are knit
Johannes' life and aims. A stony road
Of fate brought us together; and God's will
Hath hallowed in high spirit-realms our bond.
All this stands out before me e'en as clear
As only truth itself can be. And yet—
Horror o'erpowers me that these lips of mine
Must utterance give to sacrilegious words—
And yet—deep in my soul I hear a voice
Which tells me plainly and repeatedly
Despite my utmost will to fight it down:
‘Thou must give up Johannes, let him go.
No longer mayst thou keep him at thy side
If thou wouldst not work evil to his soul.
Alone he must proceed along the road
On which he travels to his longed for goal.’
I know that if thou dost but speak the word
This lying dream will cease to haunt my soul,

Maria, noble grief leads thee astray
To see the truth, yet call it counterfeit.

What I have seen—is truth ... It cannot be!
Between my master's utterance and mine ear
Delusion steals. 0 speak to me again.

What I have spoken, thou hast heard aright:
Thy love is noble, and Johannes stands
Close-knit to thee. But love must not forget
That she is wisdom's sister. Long indeed
For his salvation hath Johannes been
With thee united. Now his soul demands,
For its own progress, freedom to pursue
Its aims unhindered. Fate doth not decree
That ye shall be no longer outward friends;
But this it doth demand with strict decree—
Johannes' freedom in the spirit-realm.

Still do I hear delusion: so let me
Alone continue speaking, for I know
That thou must understand me without fail.
For sure it is no lying shape will dare
To change the words unto thine ear addressed.
My host of doubts were easily dispersed
If earth-life's tortuous course alone it were
That knits Johannes' soul unto mine own.
But to our bond was lofty sanction given
Which knits soul unto soul eternally.
And spirit-powers did speak with blessings meet
The word that bans all doubts for evermore:
‘He hath won truth within the eternal realms
Because in worlds of sense his inmost self
Already was united with thine own.’
What can this revelation mean to me
If now its very opposite is true?

Thou hast to learn that even one to whom
There hath been much revealed, may yet be found
Lacking perfection still in divers ways.
Tangled the paths that lead to higher truths:
And only those may hope to reach the goal
Who walk in patience through their labyrinth.
Thou didst but see one part of what is real
In that great realm of everlasting light,
When with thine inner vision thou didst gaze
Upon a picture of the spirit-land.
Not yet hast thou seen full reality.
Johannes' soul is knit unto thine own
By earthly ties of such complexity,
That it may be allotted unto each
To find his way into the spirit-realm
Through forces borrowed from the other one.
But nothing hitherto hath clearly shown
That ye have conquered each and every test.
To see a picture hath been granted you
Of what the future holds for you in store
When ye can pass unscathed the full ordeal.
That ye have seen the ultimate reward
Of unremitting effort is no sign
That ye have reached the end of all your strife.
Ye have beheld a picture, which your will
Alone can turn unto reality.

Although thy words just spoken fall on me
Like bitter pain that follows hours of bliss,
There is at least one lesson I have learned,
Which is to bow my head to wisdom's light
When it doth prove itself through inward force.
Already something is becoming clear
Which up till now lay hidden in my heart.
But when in highest bliss delusion's snare
Doth wear the mask of truth to human minds,
Darkness of soul is difficult to ban.
I need still more than that which thou hast given
To plumb the depth of meaning in thy words.
Thou once didst lead myself to those soul-depths
Wherein a light was then vouchsafed to me
By which I could behold the lives I spent
In previous incarnations long ago.
Thus was it granted me to learn the way
In which my soul was linked unto my friend's.
My act of bringing, in those days of old,
Johannes' soul unto the spirit-fount
I felt and recognized to be the seed
Which grew and bore such cherished friendship's fruit,
As was found ripe for all eternity.

Thou wart accounted worthy to retrace
Thy path on earth in days long since gone by.
But thou must not forget to look and see
If thou canst be assured with certainty
That of thy past lives none concealed doth stay
When backward thou dost turn thy spirit's eye.

Maria (after a pause betokening deep reflection):
How, could I be so blinded, so misled?
The rapture which I felt on looking back
Over a period of bygone times
Deluded me to vain forgetfulness
of manifold shortcomings. Not till now
Did I foresee that I must turn my gaze
Into the darkness ere I comprehend
The road that leads back from this present life
To olden days when my friend's soul sought mine.
To thee, my master, will I make my vow
Henceforth to bridle my soul's arrogance ...!
Now for the first time do I realize
How pride of knowledge leads the soul astray;
So that, instead of its imbibing strength
From freely offered stores of spirit-wealth,
It misapplies the gift in wanton use
And only holds the mirror up to self.
I know at last from my heart's warning call,
To which thy words lend added power, how far
I am to-day e'en from the nearest goal.
No more will I be overswift to read
A meaning into words from spirit-lands.
I will esteem them power wherewith my soul
May shape its course—, not as some message sent
To free me from the need of finding out
The goal of action in my daily life.
Had I paid earlier heed unto this truth
And gone my way in due humility,
I had not failed to see that only then
When he decides to tread a path not traced
By me beforehand, can my friend unfold
To fullest bloom his richly-gifted soul.
And now that this is clear I shall not fail
In finding strength sufficient to fulfil
What love and duty may require of me.
Yet do I feel assured this very hour
More clearly than I ever was before
That some grave testing of my soul draws nigh.
For mostly, when men tear from out their hearts
That of themselves which in another lives,
Love hath been changed into its opposite.
Themselves they change the ties that coupled them,
Yet passion's impulse gives to them the power.
Whilst I must of mine own free will uproot
The workings of my soul's life, which I saw
Accomplishing themselves in my friend's acts;
And still unchanging must my love abide.

If thou wouldst steer thy course direct, thou must
Become aware of what thou most didst prize
In this thy love. For once thou knowst the force
That leads thee all unknown within thy soul,
Thou wilt find power to do what duty bids.

By saying this thou giv'st e'en now that aid
Of which my soul so sorely stands in need.
I must investigate mine inmost self
With earnest questionings: and so I ask,
What potent cause impels me in my love?
I see my own soul's life and strength at work
In my friend's nature and activities.
So that which I desire to satisfy
Is nothing but the hunger of myself,
Which I, deluded, call unselfishness.
Thus it hath been concealed from me till now
That in my friend I mirror but myself.
It was the dragon Selfishness who veiled
The truth from me in wrappings of deceit.
And selfishness can take an hundred forms:—
see it clearly now. And when one thinks
The enemy subdued, behold him rise
Out of defeat and stronger than before.
Moreover 'tis a foe with added skill
To hide the truth with cloak of counterfeit.

(Maria sinks into deep thought.)

(The three Spirit-Figures of the soul- owers appear.)

O ye my sisters, whom
I find in Being's depths,
Whene'er my soul expands
And guides itself within
The cosmic distances:
The powers of sight for me
From ether's heights release
And lead to earthly paths
That I may know myself
As I exist in Time
And may direct my course
From out old ways of life
Unto new spheres of Will.

I will myself imbue
With soul's aspiring light
From my heart's inmost depths:
I will breathe deep within
Will's might that giveth life
From out the spirit powers:
Dear sister, that thou may'st
Experience the Light
I thine old ways of life.

I will weave self-hood in
All conscious of itself
With Love's submissive will;
I will release forthwith
The budding powers of Will
From fetters of desire
And change thy yearning weak
To spirit certainty;
Dear Sister, that thou may'st
In distant paths on earth
Unravel thine own self.

The self-denying powers
Of heart will I call forth,
And will make hard and fast
Enduring soul-repose
Then shall they wed, and raise
The powerful spirit light
From out the depths of soul.
They shall impenetrate,
And force Earth's bounds to heed
The listening spirit ear;
Dear Sister, that thou may'st
Find in Time's vast expanse
The traces of thy life.

If I could only tear
My 'wildered self away
And give myself to you
That ye from cosmic space
Might thus reflect my soul;
Then could I loose myself
From out this sphere of life
And find myself again
In other states of being,

(Long pause, then the following:)

In you, my sisters, I see spirit-beings
Quickening the souls of men from cosmic founts,
Ye bring to fruitage in the self of man
The seedling forces from eternity.
Through my soul's gates oft have I found the way
Into your, kingdom, and have there beheld
The primal shaping of this earthly globe
With inner vision. Now your help I crave
Since I am bidden to retrace the way
That stretches back far from my present life
To long past ages of humanity.
Release my soul from consciousness of self
In time-enclosed existence, and reveal
The duties laid on me by former lives.

A Spirit-voice,—the spiritual conscience:
Her thoughts are seeking now
For Clues in Time's vast space.
What as debt she still loth owe,
What as duty is imposed,
Arise from out her inmost depths of soul,
From whose deepness dreaming
Mankind doth guide his life,
In whose deepness straying
Mankind himself doth lose.

Curtain falls; everybody still standing on the stage