Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts
7. The Michael-Christ-Experience of Man
When with deep and earnest feeling a human being takes the inner vision of Michael's being and his deeds into his outlook on life, there will dawn upon him the true understanding of the way in which this world is to be taken by man — this world which is neither the Divine Being, nor the Manifestation, nor Active Working, but the Accomplished Work of the Gods. To look with knowledge into this world is to have before us forms and formations which speak aloud of the Divine; in which, however — if we are under no illusion about it — independent, living, Divine Being cannot be found. Nor must we consider merely our knowledge of the world. It is true that with respect to knowledge this configuration of the world, as it surrounds man at the present day, is revealed most strikingly. But more essential for everyday life is our feeling, our willing and work in a world which — though in its formation we may well feel it to be Divine — cannot really be experienced as actively imbued with Divine life. In order to bring real moral life into such a world, the ethical impulses I have described in my book Philosophy of Freedom are necessary.
For the man who feels truly, Michael's Being and his present world of deeds can shine forth in this world of the Divine accomplished work. Michael does not enter into the physical world as a phenomenal appearance. He keeps himself with all his activity within a supersensible region — albeit one which borders directly upon the physical world of the present phase of world-evolution. Thus it can never happen that men's view of Nature will be led away into the fantastic through the impressions they receive from the Being of Michael; nor will they be inclined thereby to shape their ethical and practical life in this world — Divine as it is in its form, but void of Divine life — as if impulses could be there in it which did not require to be sustained, ethically and spiritually, by man himself. If we transplant ourselves into the Spiritual, be it in thinking or in willing, we shall always be obliged to approach Michael.
We shall thereby live spiritually in the following way. We shall accept both our knowledge and our life in the manner in which we are obliged to accept them since the fifteenth century. But we shall hold fast to Michael's revelation. We shall let this revelation shine like a light into the thoughts we receive from Nature; we shall carry it as warmth in our hearts when we have to live in accordance with a world which is the accomplished work of the Divine. We shall then place before us not only the observation and experience of the present world but also that which Michael makes possible for us, namely a past condition of the world — one which Michael, through his Being and his deeds, brings into the present.
If it were otherwise — if Michael were to work in such a manner that he carried his deeds into the world which at the present time man must know and experience as the physical — man would now learn of the world, not that which in reality is in it but that which was in it. This illusory conception of the world, when it takes place, leads the human soul away from the reality that is suited to it and into another — into a Luciferic one.
The manner in which Michael brings the past into activity in present human life is the one which is in accordance with the true spiritual progress of the world and contains nothing Luciferic. It is important that in the human mind there should be a correct idea of the way in which, in Michael's mission, everything Luciferic is avoided.
To have this attitude towards the light of Michael which is dawning in human history means at the same time to be able to find the right way to Christ.
Michael will point out the right road with respect to the world which lies about man, for him to know and be active in it. The way to Christ will have to be found within.
It is quite comprehensible that, during the period in which the knowledge of Nature has the form given to it by the last five centuries, the knowledge of the supersensible world should also have become such as humanity now experiences.
Nature has to be known and experienced in such a manner that the Gods are nowhere in it. In consequence of this, man in this form of his relation to the world, experiences himself no longer. Inasmuch as he is a supersensible being, the position of his Self with respect to Nature which is in accordance with this age yields him nothing at all regarding his own being. Nor, if he has this position alone in view, can he live ethically in a manner in keeping with his true humanity.
Naturally, this causes people to prevent the modern way of knowledge and of life from entering into anything that relates to the supersensible nature of man, nay to the supersensible world at all. They separate this latter realm from anything accessible to human knowledge. A sphere of Revelation by Faith, apart from science or above it, is set up in contradistinction to the sphere of what is knowable.
But over against this there stands the purely spiritual activity of Christ, who since the Mystery of Golgotha can be reached by the human soul. The soul's relation to Christ need not remain indefinite or dimly mystical in feeling; it can become one that is quite concrete, humanly deep and clearly experienced.
Then, from the life together with Christ, there flows into the human soul what it ought to know regarding its own supersensible being. The religious revelation must then be felt in such a manner that the living experience of Christ continually streams into it. It will become possible for life to be filled with Christ, through Christ being perceived as the Being who gives to the human soul the knowledge of its own supersensible nature.
Thus the Michael experience and the Christ experience will in the future be able to stand side by side. Through Michael man will find the path into the supersensible world in the right way with respect to the outer world of Nature. Our view of Nature, without being falsified in itself, will then be able to stand by the side of a spiritual view of the world and of man inasmuch as he is a cosmic being.
Through his true attitude to Christ man will be able, in the active intercourse of his soul with Christ, to experience what he could otherwise only receive as a traditional revelation by faith. He will be able to experience the inner world of the soul's life as one that is shone through by the Spirit; and he will also experience the outer world of Nature as one that is upborne by the Spirit.
If man were to gain information about his own supersensible nature without his life in union with Christ, this would lead him out of his own reality and into that of Ahriman. Christ bears within Himself, in a manner true to the whole Cosmos, the impulses for the future of humanity. To unite with Christ signifies for the human soul to receive into itself, in a manner true to the Cosmos, its own seeds for the future. Other beings who already at the present time manifest forms which will be cosmically right for man only in the future, belong to the Ahrimanic sphere. To unite ourselves with Christ in the right way is also to preserve ourselves in the right way from the Ahrimanic.
Those who strictly demand that the revelations of religious faith shall be preserved from the invasions of human knowledge are unconsciously afraid that by such ways as this man might come under Ahrimanic influences. This fact must be appreciated. But it should also be appreciated that it is to the honour and true recognition of Christ when that gift of grace, which is the inflowing of the Spiritual into the human soul, is ascribed to the living experience with Him.
Thus in the future the Michael experience and the Christ experience can stand side by side; man will thereby find his right path of freedom between the Luciferic deviation into illusions in thought and life, and the Ahrimanic allurement into forms of the future which may satisfy his pride but cannot as yet be his present forms.
To fall into Luciferic illusions means not to become fully Man — not to wish to progress to the stage of spiritual freedom but to wish to halt, as God-Man, at a premature stage of evolution. To succumb to Ahrimanic temptations means not to be willing to wait until at a certain stage of human development the right cosmic moment will have come, but to wish to forestall this stage.
Michael-Christ will stand in future as the guiding word at the entrance to the path upon which man may arrive at his world-goal, in a way that is cosmically right, between the Luciferic and the Ahrimanic powers.
Further Leading Thoughts issued from the Goetheanum for the Anthroposophical Society (with reference to the preceding study)
115. Man goes on his way through the Cosmos in such manner that his looking back into past ages can be falsified by the impulses of Lucifer, and his thinking into the future deceived by the allurements of Ahriman.
116. To the falsifying influences of Lucifer he finds the right relation when he imbues his attitude to life and knowledge with the Being and the Mission of Michael.
117. Moreover, in so doing he provides against the allurements of Ahriman. For the path of the Spirit into external Nature, which Michael inspires, leads to a right relation to the domain of Ahriman, inasmuch as a true and living experience with Christ is also found thereby.