The East in the Light of the West
1. Eternity and Time
23 Aug 1909, Munich
Patience, or the ability to wait, is the inexorable demand in all departments of life. Failures are inevitable, and we must not grieve over them. Nature is not concerned over her countless failures, for the beings behind Nature know that the higher spiritual law is bound to bring to pass the things which have been determined. Even so must students of Anthroposophy learn to wait in faith for events which are to mature in the womb of time. And the central point of this faith, its firm foundation, is the symbol of the Cross — as elucidated by a comprehension of the Christ principle. If we have come to know the reality of the Christ principle, we understand that this Christ principle is a force, a living force, and that it has been connected with human life on earth since the time that in the body of Jesus of Nazareth it united itself with one special human being. Since that time it has been with us, working among us, and we may become participators of its working if we endeavour to apply all means at our disposal to its understanding, in such a way that we make it the very life of our own souls.
When, however, we understand the Christ principle in this way, and know it to be in humanity, here on earth, and are able to come to it and draw water of life from the source, we then have the kind of belief which knows how to wait, not alone for everything which has to mature in the womb of time, but also for that which surely and certainly will mature for us human beings, if we but have patience. When within this transitory existence we grasp the Christ principle, there will mature for us — in the womb of the transitory — the intransitory, the eternal, the immortal. Out of the womb of time there is born for us human beings that which is beyond time. If we stand on this firm support, we base upon it, not a blind belief, but a belief permeated by wisdom, truth and knowledge, and we may say: What must, will come; and nothing prevents us from throwing our best energies into what we believe to be inevitable. Belief is the real fruit of the cross; it is that, which always calls out to us: ‘Look at your failures, which seem to imply the death of your creative work; then look from your failures to the cross, and remember that on the cross hung the source of boundless eternal life, which defeats death not only for itself but for all mankind.’ From belief spring courage and perseverance. But courage, perseverance and belief alone are not sufficient; another necessary factor will have to be established more and more the further we progress towards the future, and must form an increasing part of everything that may be achieved for the future of humanity. And this is that we must become capable of never being confused about an idea when once we have recognised its correctness. We may have to admit a thousand times that it cannot be realised immediately, that we must wait in patience and without faltering, though we believe that the Christ-force is working in the unfolding life of humanity in a way which will bring everything to birth at the right moment in the womb of time. We must, notwithstanding this, be able to judge of the rightness, of the indubitable rightness of the contents of our spiritual life. If we can wait for results, the occasions on which we have merely to wait when it is a question of deciding what is true, wise and right, will become fewer and fewer. The cross alone gives vital courage and belief to our right understanding; but the star of the light-bearer, the star of Lucifer, if we surrender ourselves to it, can enlighten us every moment as to the rightness and the indubitableness of the spiritual ideas within us. That is the other centre of force on which we must take a firm stand; we must be capable of acquiring knowledge which goes into the depths of life, which goes behind the outer, material appearances, which sends its rays from the place where there is light, even when to human eyes and understanding all is dark. It was necessary for the progress of humanity that darkness should reign for a time, and the next chapters will show more and more clearly how necessary it was. This necessity is indicated in a profound way in the Gospel of St. John. This darkness was illumined by what we call the Christ principle, the Christ.
A wonderfully beautiful legend tells us that when Lucifer fell from heaven to earth a precious stone fell from his crown. This precious stone — so the legend proceeds — became the vessel from which Christ Jesus took the holy Supper with His disciples; the same vessel received the Christ's blood when it flowed on the Cross, and was brought by angels to the western world, where it is received by those who wish to come to a true understanding of the Christ principle. Out of the stone, which fell from Lucifer's crown, was made the Holy Grail. This precious stone is in a certain respect nothing else — I will just mention it here, as the fact will be laid more plainly before your souls in the course of the next chapters — than the full power of the Ego. In darkness this human Ego had to be prepared for a new and more intelligent beholding if the radiance of Lucifer's star. This Ego had to school itself by means of the Christ principle, it had to ripen by the aid of the stone fallen from Lucifer's crown, that is to say through Anthroposophical wisdom, in order to become capable once more of bearing the light which comes not from without. This light, which only shines in us when we ourselves have the power to do what is requisite for acquiring it, must shine again in the world. Thus people who look at the future with full understanding know that anthroposophical work is work on the human Ego, which will make it into a vessel capable of again receiving the light which lives in a region where today our sight and intellect apprehend merely darkness and night. An old legend tells us that night was the original ruler. This night, however, is what today is filled with darkness. But if we permeate ourselves with the light which rises for us when we understand the light-bearer, the other spirit Lucifer, then will our night be turned into day. Our eyes cannot see if the outer light does not illuminate the objects round us; our intellect fails if asked to penetrate beyond the outer nature of things. The star of Lucifer, however, which comes to us when clairvoyant investigation speaks, throws its light on what only seems to be night and changes it into day. And this also takes from us all deadening and paralysing doubt. Then we understand the cross of the Christ in the star of Lucifer. It may be said to be the mission of anthroposophical spiritual life for the future to give us on the one hand certainty and strength whereby, firmly rooted in spiritual life, we may become recipients of the light of the Light-bearer, and on the other hand to make us lean firmly on the rock of unquestioning conviction that nothing which is due to happen through the interaction of forces which are in the world shall fail to happen. Only through this two-fold certainty shall we be able to accomplish what we have to do in the world; only through this two-fold certainty shall we succeed in transplanting Anthroposophy into life.
Therefore we must clearly recognise that we have not only the task of understanding the star of Lucifer, as it shone throughout human evolution till the precious stone fell out of Lucifer's crown, but that we have to receive this precious stone in its transformed character as the Holy Grail, that we must understand the Cross in the star; we must know that we have to understand the luminous wisdom which shone in the world during primeval ages, and which we deeply revere as the wisdom of pre-Christian times. To this we must indeed look up in full devotion, and add to it that which could be given to the world through the mission of the Cross. Not the least fraction of pre-Christian wisdom, of the light of the East, must be lost to us. We look up to Phosphoros, the Light-bearer; and indeed we revere this Light-bearer as the being through which alone we learn to understand the whole of the deep, inner meaning of the Christ; but side by side with Phosphoros we see Christophoros, the Christ-bearer, and we try to conceive of the mission of Anthroposophy in such a way that it only can be fulfilled if the symbols of these two worlds really ‘unite themselves in love.’ If this is our conception of the mission of Anthroposophy, Lucifer will guide us to the safety of a luminous spiritual life, and the Christ will guide us to the inner warmth of the soul which trusts and believes that that will come about which may be called the birth of the Eternal out of the Temporal.
And we shall further recognise that there is a light of the West, that shines in order to make that which originates in the East more luminous than it is through its own power. A thing becomes luminous through the light by which it is illuminated. Therefore let no one say that any falsification whatever of Eastern wisdom takes place when the light of the West shines on it. It will appear that what is beautiful and sublime seems most beautiful and sublime when illuminated by the noblest light. If we feel this idea and receive it into our souls, letting it fill them, we shall be able to learn in small things, through feeling and realisation, what will come to pass in great matters. We shall say: we stand firmly rooted in our truths and wait patiently for their realisation, however long deferred it may be.
Thus we work from one point of time to another in the firm belief that if we comprehend our mission rightly; we are working for that for which man ought to work, for eternity. For as far as human work is concerned, Eternity is the birth of that which has matured in Time.