The Event of the Appearance of Christ in the Etheric World
5. The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric
Stuttgart, 6 March, 1910
There is a certain connection between the past and the future in the evolution of humanity. When one considers this connection, it throws much light on the question that we can perhaps express in this way: what is our task as human beings in any particular period?
When we came together here some time ago, we said various things about the past in the evolution of humanity. Today, something will be said about the connection in the evolution of humanity between the past and the immediate future. In concluding yesterday's lecture, we were able to point to an important indication that says, as if speaking from heaven, that humanity needs a spiritual impulse, something like a new impulse of the age. We can understand how this new impulse must work only if we consider the last millennia before the founding of Christianity in a certain connection with the millennia following Christ, in which we ourselves live.
There is a law according to which certain events are repeated in the evolution of humanity, and we spoke of such repetitions in human evolution in the last Stuttgart lectures. Today I wish to point out particularly that when such regular repetitions are referred to by spiritual science, one should not believe that such repetitions can be constructed intellectually, because the repetitions must be examined, after all, in detail; they must be established in detail through spiritual research. One can go far astray if one uses one or another of these repetitions as a pattern for constructing new ones. There is one repetition that, as a matter of fact, resembles another, that repetition in which fundamental events, important events that were effective before the founding of Christianity, recur in a certain way after the founding of Christianity.
If one observes the last three millennia before the founding of Christianity, it is seen that these three millennia belong to an epoch in the history of the evolution of humanity that is designated as the so-called Dark Age — the lesser Dark Age — Kali Yuga. This Kali Yuga began in the year 3101 before the founding of Christianity. All that we at the present time designate as the great achievements of humanity, what we call the characteristic feature of present human culture, is bound up with this Dark Age. Before this Dark Age, or Kali Yuga, the whole of human thinking, all human soul forces, were still ordered differently in a certain respect. In the period before the year 3101 BC — this is an approximate date, since evolution moved gradually from one kind of character to another — there existed what one can designate as the last residue of the old clairvoyance. In the course of human evolution these periods follow one another: Krita Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga, Kali Yuga. The last interests us today most particularly. With the earlier periods we come back to old Atlantis. In ancient times there still existed remnants of the old clairvoyance, so that before the Dark Age man still had an immediate consciousness of the existence of a spiritual world, because he could see into that spiritual world.
This consciousness of the spiritual world gradually withdrew from human view, and we may say that, on the average, the faculties and forces began to be cultivated that confine human judgment to the world of the senses and yet that also cultivate human self-consciousness. These forces all began during Kali Yuga. While man was not in a position to look into the spiritual worlds during this period, that firm point increasingly developed itself within the physical, sensible world, the point that we call knowledge of self-consciousness. Do not suppose, however, that this knowledge of self-consciousness has already been cultivated to a high degree. It must cultivate itself further. It could never have entered human consciousness, however, had there not been this Dark Age. In the 3,000 years before the founding of Christianity, therefore, man gradually lost his connection with the spiritual world. He no longer had this connection through his direct observation.
During my last visit here, we saw how, at the end of the first millennium, a kind of compensation occurred for the lost vision into the spiritual worlds. This was given to man through the fact that a particular individuality, Abraham, was selected, possessing in special degree that organization of the physical brain through which it was possible to attain consciousness of the spiritual world without the ancient faculties. In spiritual science, therefore, we call the first part of Kali Yuga pre-eminently the period of Abraham — that period in which man loses, to be sure, the direct view into the higher spiritual worlds but in which something like a consciousness of God awakens in him. This gradually grows into his I, so that he increasingly conceives this God as being related to the I-consciousness, the human I-consciousness. The Godhead appears as the World-I to that age, the first millennium in Kali Yuga, which we may call, at its conclusion, the age of Abraham.
This age of Abraham was followed by the age of Moses, in which the God Jahve, the World-I, no longer manifested Itself as a mysterious guiding power in human destinies, as a god of one people alone. As we know, this Godhead revealed itself in the age of Moses in the burning bush as the God of the elements. It was a great advance when the World-I, as the Godhead, was experienced in such a way through the teachings of Moses that one said to oneself: the elements of existence — what we see with physical eyes, lightning, thunder, etc. — are, in the last analysis, emanations, deeds of the World-I, of the single World-I.
We must understand quite clearly to what extent this was an advance. When we go back beyond the age of Abraham and beyond Kali Yuga, we find that, through their direct vision into the spiritual worlds resulting from remnants of the old clairvoyance, human beings see the spiritual. They see this spiritual in all ancient times, however. We must go a long way back if we wish to find something different. Human beings see the spiritual during Dvapara Yuga, Treta Yuga, Krita Yuga. They see the spiritual in such a way that it manifests itself as a multiplicity of beings. You know, of course, that when we ascend to the spiritual worlds we find there the hierarchies of spiritual beings. These stand, naturally, under spiritual guidance, a unified spiritual guidance. In those ancient times, however, consciousness did not reach as far as this unified spiritual guidance. One saw single members of the hierarchies, one saw a multiplicity of divine beings. Only the initiates were able to bring them together as a unity. Now, however, the World-I, which man first perceived with the physical instrument of the brain that was especially marked in Abraham, confronted the human being. Man now perceived this World-I as manifesting itself in the various kingdoms of nature, in the various elements.
Then a further advance was accomplished for the last millennium prior to the founding of Christianity, in the age of Solomon. We thus can distinguish the three millennia before the founding of Christianity in this way: we call the first millennium the age of Abraham, after that individuality who appears in it and who affects the second. From the beginning of Kali Yuga until Abraham, human beings prepare themselves to recognize the single Godhead behind the appearances of nature, and this possibility emerges with Abraham. In the age of Moses, the One God becomes the ruler of natural phenomena and is sought behind the phenomena of nature. All of this undergoes an intensification in the age of Solomon. We are led through this latter age up to the point of evolution at which the same divine being who was regarded as Jahve in the ages of Abraham and Moses takes on human form. In a spiritual scientific contemplation of this matter, one must adhere strictly to the fact that in this respect the Gospels are right: we may not distinguish Christ from Jahve other than as we distinguish the direct light of the sun from that sunlight reflected back to us by the moon. What kind of light do we have on a moonlit night? It is real sunlight, except that it is reflected to us from the moon. We thus can have this sunlight directly during the day or sent back from the moon on moonlit nights. What we see occurring here in space presents itself also in time in the way in which what finally appeared as a Spirit Sun, in Christ, manifested itself beforehand as though reflected. Jahve is the reflection that precedes Christ in time. Just as moonlight is reflected sunlight, so did the Christ being reflect Himself for Abraham, Moses, and Solomon. It was always the same being. Then He Himself appeared as the Christ Sun with the founding of Christianity. We thus have the preparation for this great event in the ages of Abraham, Moses, and Solomon.
A repetition of these three ages, as they were before the founding of Christianity, now takes place during the time following Christ, but in reverse order. The repetition occurs in such a way that the essential feature of the age of Solomon is repeated in the first millennium after Christ, and, indeed, the spirit of Solomon lives and weaves in the most outstanding spirits of the first Christian millennium. It was fundamentally the wisdom of Solomon, that which had spread abroad as the wisdom of Solomon, through which man sought to grasp the nature and essential character of the Christ event. It was by means of what man had learned through the wisdom of Solomon that he sought to understand the significance of the Christ event.
Then followed the age that can be called the revival of the age of Moses. The age of Solomon after Christ was followed by the age of Moses. When we come to the second millennium after Christ, it is the spirit of Moses that now permeates the best human beings of this time. Indeed, we can find this spirit of Moses revived in a new form. In pre-Christian times the spirit of Moses directed its glance out into the world, toward outer physical nature, in order to find the World-I, to find the World-God as Jahve, as World-I, to find Him in thunder and lightning, to find Him in what can stream in from without as the great law of human action. Just as the World-I streams in from without to Moses, just as the World-I is revealed, as it were, from without, so we find that, in the second age following Christ, the same being proclaims Himself inwardly within the human soul. The impression that was for Moses an outer event, as when he withdrew from his people to receive the Decalogue — this significant event repeats itself. It repeats itself in the second millennium after Christ through a mighty inner revelation. Things are not repeated in the same way but in such a way that what occurs successively appears as a kind of polarity. If, therefore, God revealed Himself to Moses out of the elements of nature, He revealed Himself now, in the second millennium after Christ, out of the deepest foundations of the human soul.
How, then, could this come before us in a more sublime way than when we hear how a remarkable man of lofty talents preached in such a way that one heard: he proclaims mighty things out of the depths of his soul? One can assume that this preacher was deeply permeated with what one can call Christian mysticism. Then a seemingly insignificant layman came to the locality where he preached and at first listened to his sermons; it afterward turned out, however, that rather than layman he became the preacher's — that is, Tauler's — instructor. Even though he had reached such a lofty level, the preacher Tauler suspending his preaching until he felt himself permeated by what lived in the layman. When, after having opened himself to this inspiration, Tauler once again ascended the pulpit, the powerful impression of his sermon is made clear to us symbolically when we are told that many of his listeners fell to the ground as if dead. This means that everything of a lower nature in them was killed. It was a revelation of the World-I working just as powerfully from within as it had worked out of the elements, with Moses, during the second pre-Christian age. We thus see the age of Moses coming to life again and in such a way that the spirit of Moses permeates and radiates life into the whole spirit of Christian mysticism, from Master Eckhart to the later Christian mystics. It truly lived in these Christian mystics, the spirit of Moses! It was present in such a way that it entered livingly into their souls.
That was the second age following Christ. In it, the whole character of the age of Moses was resurrected. During the first millennium after the Christian era, the second age of Solomon brought shape to the Christian mystery conception, to all that we know as the hierarchies, for example, in the Christian sense; it formed in detail the wisdom, so to speak, of the higher worlds. In the same way, the second age of Moses particularly formed what constituted German mysticism: the deep, mystical consciousness of the One God, Who can be called to life again in the human soul, Who can be resurrected in the human soul. This age of Moses has remained effective in all striving since that time to investigate ever more exactly the World-I, the One God.
According to the course of human evolution, however, a renewal of the age of Abraham will take place, beginning with our times, during which we shall slowly pass into the third millennium. Just as the age of Abraham and the age of Solomon followed each other in pre-Christian times, so they follow each other in the Christian era in reverse order: age of Solomon, age of Moses, and age of Abraham. We are moving toward this age of Abraham, and it must and will bring us mighty things. Let us call to mind the significance of the age of Abraham. It was then that the old clairvoyance vanished, that a consciousness of God was given to man that is closely connected with human faculties. Everything that humanity could acquire from this consciousness of God that is bound to the human brain has gradually been drained off, and only a little still remains for human beings to acquire by means of these human faculties — indeed, little more. On the contrary, we are going in exactly the opposite direction in the new age of Abraham. We are taking the path that will lead humanity away once more from merely physical, sensible contemplation, away from the combining of physical, sensible signs. We are going along the path that will lead human beings back again into those regions in which they once were before the age of Abraham. We are going along the path that allows human beings to enter into conditions of natural clairvoyance, of natural clairvoyant powers. In the age of Kali Yuga, only initiation could lead upward into the spiritual worlds in the right way. Naturally, initiation leads up to high stages to which human beings will be able to ascend only in the distant future, but the first traces of a renewed clairvoyance, which will appear as a natural human faculty, will become manifest relatively soon as we pass into the renewal of the age of Abraham.
After we have won I-consciousness for ourselves, after human beings have learned to know that the I is a firm central point in the inner being, human beings shall again be guided outward, in order again to be able to look more deeply into the spiritual worlds. This is still connected with that age in which Kali Yuga came to its end. Kali Yuga lasted 5,000 years, until the year 1899 AD. The year 1899 was, indeed, an important year for the evolution of humanity. This is once more an approximate year, of course, for these things happen gradually. Just as the year 3101 BC, however, can be designated as the year when humanity was led down from the old clairvoyance to sense perception and intellectual judgment, so was 1899 AD the year when humanity received another sudden thrust forward, so that it could ascend to the first beginnings of a future human clairvoyance. It is allotted to humanity even in this twentieth century, before the next millennium — indeed, for a few human beings during the first half of the twentieth century — to develop the first elements of a new clairvoyance, a clairvoyance that will most certainly appear in humanity when human beings prove themselves capable of understanding it.
We must make clear to ourselves that two things might occur. It is inherent in the fundamental nature of the human soul that such clairvoyant faculties, as natural faculties (we must differentiate between cultivated clairvoyance and what will come into being as a natural clairvoyance), will come into existence for a few human beings even in the first half of the twentieth century, and for more and more human beings during the next 2,500 years, until at last there will be a sufficiently large number of persons who will attain it — that is, the new, natural clairvoyance — if only they win it.
There are two different possibilities of what might happen, however. One is that human beings will have the aptitude for this clairvoyance but, during the coming decades, materialism will triumph and humanity will sink into a materialistic swamp. Isolated human beings will appear who will say that it seems to them as if they saw something in physical man like a second man; yet, if materialistic consciousness goes so far as to declare that spiritual science is folly and to stamp out all consciousness of the spiritual world, people simply will not understand these first capacities. It will depend upon humanity itself whether what then takes place turns out to be a blessing or a curse, since what is really to occur might pass by unnoticed.
The other situation might arise in which spiritual science will not be trampled. Then one will understand that such qualities are not only to be cultivated in the secret schools of initiation but also to be cherished, when they appear toward the middle of our century, as delicate saplings of human soul life in this or that person. Such a person will say, as if from an awakened soul force, “I see something like a reality, just as it is described in anthroposophy as the second man within physical man.” Still other faculties will appear, for instance, a faculty that human beings will notice in themselves. They will perform some deed. When they look up from this action, something like a dream picture will stand before their souls, from which they will know, “This has some connection with my action.” People will know on the basis of spiritual science, “If such an after-image of my deed appears before me — which is essentially different, however, from this deed — it can have no other meaning than to show me the karmic effect of my action that is to appear in the future.”
A few individuals will come to have such karmic understanding in the middle of our century, because Kali Yuga has run its course and because from epoch to epoch ever-new faculties appear in human beings. If understanding is not created, however, if this faculty is trampled to death, so to speak, if one who talks about these faculties is locked up as a fool, it will prove disastrous for humanity. Human beings will decay in the swamp of materialism. All of this will depend upon whether an understanding is awakened for spiritual science or whether the materialistic counter-current succeeds — whether Ahriman succeeds — in repelling what spiritual science does with good purpose. Then, to be sure, those people who are mired and choking in this materialistic swamp may say jeeringly, “Yes, indeed, those were fine prophets who said human beings would see a second man beside the physical man!” Certainly, nothing will manifest itself if the necessary faculties have been trampled to death. If these faculties do not become apparent in the middle of the twentieth century, however, it will be no proof that the human being is not so endowed but will only prove that human beings have crushed under foot the budding young shoots. What has been described today is there and can develop if only humanity wills it.
We stand, therefore, directly before such an evolution. We are retracing our steps, so to speak, along the path of evolution. With Abraham, consciousness of God was led into the brain; as we enter into a new age of Abraham, this consciousness of God is in turn led out of the brain and, during the next 2,500 years, we shall come gradually to know human beings who will have what the exalted secrets of initiation yield as the great spiritual teachings about the mysteries of the universe. Just as the spirit of Moses ruled in the age that has run its course up to our time, so does the spirit of Abraham now begin to reign in order that, having led humanity into a consciousness of God within the world of the senses, he may now lead humanity out again. It is an eternal cosmic law that each individual must perform a particular deed repeatedly. He must, above all, perform the deed twice — one time as though doing the opposite of the other time. What Abraham brought down for humanity into physical consciousness he will carry up again for humanity into the spiritual world.
We thus see that we are living in important, essential conditions in this age, and we understand that to disseminate spiritual science today is not something one does by preference but something demanded by our times. To prepare humanity for great moments in evolution is one of the tasks of spiritual research. Spiritual science exists in order that human beings shall know what they see. Whoever is true to the age in which he lives cannot help thinking that knowledge of the spirit must come into the world so as not to allow what will come in the future to go unnoticed by humanity.
These things are bound up with still others. In certain other respects, everything renews itself in such similar repetitions. We are approaching a time when ever more of what existed in the pre-Christian centuries will be renewed for humanity, but everything will be immersed in what humanity has been able to win through the great Christ event. We have seen that humanity has now experienced again in Christian inwardness the great moment that Moses experienced through his impressions of the burning bush and the lightning-fire on Sinai. Now, the Taulers and the Eckharts know clearly that, when there arises within them what Moses called Jahve, it is the Christ. It is, however, no longer the reflected Christ being but the Christ Himself who rises from the depths of the heart. What had been experienced by Moses was actually experienced again by the Christian mystics but in a Christianized form — in a form altered through the Christ impulse. What was experienced in the pre-Christian age of Abraham will be experienced in a completely altered, new form. What will this be? All things and events that appear normally in human evolution cast their lights ahead, as it were. (I do not wish to repeat the triviality that is often uttered, that events “cast their shadows,” but that they cast their lights.) Thus, in a certain respect, something connected with events of the future is cast ahead in light in what we call the conversion of Saul to Paul — the event of Damascus.
Let us make it clear to ourselves what this event had to signify for Paul. Until this event took place, Paul was acquainted with all that was inherent in the old Hebraic esoteric doctrine. What did Paul know? Paul knew, through his ancient Hebraic esoteric doctrine, that some day an individuality would descend to earth representing for humanity the one who would overcome death. He knew that an individuality would appear once in the flesh. Through His life He would show that the spirit lives beyond death in such a way that death would mean nothing other than another physical event for this individuality, within His incarnation on earth. This Paul knew. He also knew from his ancient Hebraic esoteric doctrine that when the Christ, the Messiah Who was to come, had been present in the flesh, when He had risen from the dead and had won a victory over death, as it were, the spiritual sphere of the earth would be transformed; clairvoyance would experience a transformation. Whereas previously a clairvoyant could not see the Christ being in the spiritual atmosphere of the earth but only when looking up to the Sun Spirit, Paul knew that, through the Christ impulse, such a transformation in earthly existence must occur that after the victory over death the Christ would be found, for clairvoyant consciousness, in the earthly sphere. When, therefore, the human being becomes clairvoyant, he must behold the Christ in the earthly sphere as the active Earth Spirit. What Paul could not convince himself of while he was still Saul, however, was that the one Who had lived in Palestine, Who had died on the cross, about Whom His disciples said that He had risen from the dead, was really the one about Whom the ancient Hebraic esoteric doctrine had spoken. The significant thing is that Paul was not convinced of what is related in the Gospels through what he had seen physically. He began to have the conviction that Christ was the predicted Messiah only when that forward-cast light manifested itself in him, when he became clairvoyant as though through grace and discovered the Christ in the earthly sphere.
“He has, then, already been here; he has already risen from the dead,” he must have said to himself. After Paul himself saw the Christ clairvoyantly in the spiritual sphere of the earth, he knew: now He is here. From that moment on, he felt completely convinced regarding Christ Jesus. The fundamental event was therefore that, through the event of Damascus, he discovered Christ Jesus clairvoyantly in the earthly sphere. If Paul had not been able to hear the accounts in Palestine of the deeds of Christ Jesus, if he had not been able to have the personal experience of hearing the Gospels but had lived somewhat later, it might have happened that he would simply have experienced at a later time this Christ event of Damascus. He would then have arrived, however, at the same conviction, because this event revealed to him the fact that the Christ was there! He who reveals Himself there in the earthly sphere is the one about whom the ancient Hebraic esoteric doctrine speaks!
This Christ event is not limited to one point in time. In the case of Paul, it simply followed quickly in order that Christianity would be able to pursue its course through Paul. Now, to be sure, during the ensuing time of Kali Yuga until 1899, the development of humanity was not such that a person could, without further ado, experience an event such as Paul's; human faculties had not ripened to this extent. It could therefore be experienced by grace, and others also experienced similar events by grace. We are now living, however, in the age in which that mighty, revolutionary change is to occur in which the first seeds of a natural clairvoyance will evolve. We are coming into the age of Abraham; we are being led out into the spiritual world. Through this, the possibility is given that a certain number of human beings, and then more and more, shall experience during the next 2,500 years a repetition of the event of Damascus. The greatness and power of the next age will consist in the fact that for many people the event of Damascus will come to life; that through these faculties of which I have just spoken the Christ will become perceptible in the spiritual sphere of the earth. He will radiate into these faculties. As human beings become capable of seeing the etheric body, they will learn to see the etheric body of Christ Jesus, even as Paul saw it.
This is what is beginning as the characteristic of a new age, and it will become manifest between 1930 and 1940 to 1945 in the first forerunners among human beings who have these faculties. If human beings are attentive, they will experience this event of Damascus through direct spiritual observation, and with it clarity and truth about the Christ event.
A striking parallelism of events will take place, because in the next two decades human beings will gradually fall away from the letter of the Gospels and will no longer understand them. We see even today how trivial scholars “prove” to people everywhere that the Gospels are not historical documents, that one cannot refer at all to a historic Christ. The historical documents will lose their value for humanity; the number of those who deny Christ Jesus will become greater and greater. Those human beings are shortsighted who will still be able to believe that one can preserve Christianity by means of the mere story. Those whose intentions are honest regarding Christianity are not the ones who reject an understanding of the spiritual proof of Christ Jesus. The spiritual proof of Christ Jesus will be provided through nurturing the faculties of human beings, through the fact that they shall behold the truly existing Christ in His etheric body. After all, no matter how much those persons who wish to rely only on documents call themselves good Christians, they destroy Christianity; no matter how much they raise a hue and cry and how loudly they proclaim what they know about Christianity through the documents, they destroy Christianity. They destroy it because they reject a spiritual teaching according to which Christ in our century will become truth for human beings through vision.
When our era began, human beings had been descending into the Dark Age for more than three millennia and were dependent upon their outer faculties. At that time Christ could have revealed Himself to the faculties that were necessary for human evolution in no other way than through physical incarnation. At that time the physical faculties had reached the peak of their development, and Christ had to appear in a physical body. Humanity would not have advanced a single step, however, if it could not become capable of finding the reality of Christ in higher worlds through higher faculties. Just as Christ had to be found with purely physical faculties at that time, so will human beings with the newly developed faculties find Christ in that world in which only etheric bodies are seen, for there is no second physical incarnation of Christ. Only once did He appear in the flesh, for only once were human faculties dependent upon having Christ in a physical body. Now, however, with the higher faculties, human beings will be able to perceive the much more real etheric body of the Christ.
This is what one can call the mighty event that lies ahead of us — the reappearance of Christ Jesus — taking place gradually, at first only for a few, then for more and more human beings. It is an event that has significance not only for those human beings who will then still be incarnated in the flesh. A number of human beings who are incarnated today will still be incarnated at the time when this Christ event takes place. They will experience it as it has been described. Others will have gone through the portal of death. Just as we once learned here that the event of Golgotha was not only an event for the physical world but carried its effect over into all spiritual worlds — just as the descent of Christ into the underworld was a real fact — so will the Christ event, which will present itself in our century, have its effect also in the world between death and a new birth, though in a different form from the one man will find here on earth. One thing will be necessary, however. Those faculties through which one will be able to perceive the Christ event between death and a new birth cannot be acquired between death and a new birth; they must be acquired here on the physical plane and must be carried with one into the life between death and a new birth.
There are faculties that must be acquired on earth, as it is not for nothing that we are placed on the physical earth. Anyone who believes that we have been put on the physical earth for nothing is on the wrong track. We must acquire faculties here that we cannot acquire in any other world. The faculties for an understanding of the Christ event, of which we have spoken, and of the following events, must be acquired here on earth. Those human beings who acquire these faculties now, here on this earth, through the teachings of spiritual science, will carry these faculties through the portal of death. Not merely through initiation but through the understanding acceptance of the teachings of spiritual science one acquires these faculties, the possibility of perceiving the Christ event also in the spiritual world between death and a new birth. Anyone who has deaf ears, however, must wait until a subsequent incarnation to acquire the faculties that one must acquire here, in order to be able to experience the Christ event there, in the spiritual world. No one, therefore, should harbor the belief that the revelation of the Christ event, which can be understood only through the whole of spiritual scientific teaching, will not bear fruit for him if he has already passed through the portal of death at the time when it takes place. It will bear fruit for him.
We thus see that spiritual research is a preparation for a new Christ event. Those, however, who absorb the essence of the teaching of the spirit as the content of their whole soul life — as vital life — should then really grow upward to a spiritual understanding of the matter. They should then make it clear to themselves that they must learn through spiritual science to understand our newly awakening age thoroughly. We must learn to understand that in the future we are not to look on the physical plane for the most important events but outside it, just as we shall have to look for Christ on His return as etheric form in the spiritual world.
What has been said now will be said again and again in the next decades. There will be human beings who will misunderstand this, however, and they will say, “The Christ is to come again!” Since they will carry into this idea the belief that it is a physical return, they will supply nourishment to all those who will appear as false messiahs. There will be many such persons in the middle of the twentieth century who will use the materialistic beliefs of human beings, who will use the materialistic thinking and feeling of human beings to pass themselves off as the Christ. There have always been false messiahs. There was, for instance, the age before the Crusades when a false messiah appeared in the south of France, in whom his followers saw something like a Christ incarnated in a physical body. Before that, a false messiah had appeared in Spain and found many followers. In North Africa one who presented himself as the Christ created a great sensation. In the seventeenth century a man appeared as Christ in Smyrna and gained a huge following. He was called Shabattai Tzevi. People from Poland, Hungary, Austria, Spain, Germany, France — from the whole of Europe and from a large part of Africa and Asia — made pilgrimages to see him.
In the past centuries this was not so terrible, because the demand had not yet been made of humanity to distinguish the true from the false. Only now have we come to the age when it could be disastrous if human beings should fail to pass the spiritual test. Those will pass it who know that human faculties go through a further evolution; that those faculties for seeing Christ in the physical were limited to seeing Him thus only to the time of the founding of Christianity but that humanity would not advance if it did not find the Christ again in our century in a higher form. Those who strive after spiritual science will have to prove themselves to be the ones who can distinguish the false messiahs from the one Messiah, Who will appear, not in the flesh but as a spiritual being for the newly awakened faculties.
The time will come when human beings will again look into the spiritual world and will see the land there from which those streams flow down that give true spiritual nourishment to everything that happens in the physical world. We have, indeed, always seen that it was possible for human beings with the old clairvoyance to look into the spiritual world. The Oriental writings contain in their traditions something like a record handed down about an ancient spiritual land that human beings were once able to behold, from which they could draw all that could flow into the physical world from the super-sensible. Many descriptions of that land, which human beings were once able to reach and which seems to have withdrawn, are full of melancholy. This land was, indeed, once accessible to human beings, and it will now be accessible to them again, since Kali Yuga, the Dark Age, has run its course.
Initiation, however, always led into that mysterious land, which is spoken of as a country that seemed to have vanished out of the sphere of human experience. It withdrew during Kali Yuga, but for those who had received initiation there was always the possibility of guiding their steps into it. The accounts of this ancient country are touching. It is the same land to which the initiates again and again repair in order to fetch from it the new streams and impulses for all that is to be given to humanity from century to century. Again and again those who stand in this relationship with the spiritual world enter this mysterious land, which is called Shamballa. It is the primal fountainhead, into which clairvoyant sight once reached but which withdrew during Kali Yuga. It is spoken of as one would speak of an ancient fairyland, one that will return, however, into the realm of human beings. There will be Shamballa again after Kali Yuga has run its course. Humanity, through normal human faculties, will again grow into the land of Shamballa, from which the initiates bring strength and wisdom for their mission. There is Shamballa; there was Shamballa; Shamballa will come to be again for humanity. Among the first visions that human beings will have when Shamballa shows itself again will be Christ in His etheric form. Humanity has no other leader than the Christ to take it into the land that Oriental writings declare to have vanished. Christ will lead humanity to Shamballa.
It is this that we must inscribe into our souls. It can come to pass for humanity if we interpret in the right sense the omen of Halley's Comet that we mentioned yesterday. If humanity understands that it must not sink deeper into matter, that it must reverse its course, that a spiritual life must begin, there will arise, at first only for a few, then — in the next 2,500 years — for more and more human beings, the light-woven, light-gleaming Shamballa, abounding in infinite fullness of life and filling our hearts with wisdom. For those who wish to understand, for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see, this must be described as the event that signifies the greatest turning point in the evolution of humanity, at the dawn of the age of Abraham following the founding of Christianity. It will be the event through which human beings will understand to a higher degree the Christ impulse. For the peculiar thing will be that, through this, wisdom will suffer no loss. The more visions human beings win for themselves, the greater Christ will appear to them, the mightier He will appear! When once human beings are able to immerse their gaze into Shamballa, then only will they be able to understand various things that are indeed contained in the Gospels. To recognize what is given in the Gospels they will need a kind of event of Damascus. Thus, at the time when human beings will be most unbelieving regarding documents, the new profession of faith in Christ Jesus will arise through our growing into the sphere in which we shall encounter Him, through our growing into the mysterious land of Shamballa.