True Nature of the Second Coming
II. The Second Coming of Christ in the Etheric World
25 July 1910, Stuttgart
In the process of human evolution a certain definite connection exists between the past and the future. Study of this connection sheds a great deal of light upon questions such as: What devolves upon us as men belonging to a particular epoch?
When we were together here some little time ago, many things were said about the past evolution of humanity, and to-day I will add something about the connection between the past and the immediate future. At the end of the lecture yesterday attention was called to a significant sign, telling us as it were from the heavens that humanity needs a spiritual impetus, something like a new impulse for the age. [Mysteries of Cosmic Existence. Comets and the Moon, Stuttgart, 5th March, 1910. See also footnote near end of present lecture, p. 79.] Understanding of how this impulse must work is possible only when we study the last millennia prior to the founding of Christianity in a certain connection with the millennia after it, with the millennia, that is to say, in which we ourselves are living.
There is a law in accordance with which certain happenings are repeated in the process of man's evolution, and we spoke of them in the last lecture-course given here in Stuttgart. [Universe, Earth and Man. Eleven lectures, 4th–16th August, 1908.] Today I want only to emphasise that when reference is made in Spiritual Science to these systematic repetitions in the course of human evolution it must not he imagined that they can be worked up by the intellect; they must be investigated in detail and confirmed by spiritual research. Attempts to construct new repetitions according to the pattern of others can lead one very far astray. There is, however, one repetition which does, in fact, resemble another, the form it takes being that happenings of crucial importance before the founding of Christianity come to pass again afterwards in a certain way.
The last three millennia prior to the founding of Christianity belong to an epoch in the history of human evolution called the Dark Age, the lesser Dark Age — Kali Yuga. Kali Yuga began in the year 3101 B.C. With it is connected everything we recognise nowadays as the great achievements of humanity, as the fundamental characteristics of present-day culture. Before this Dark Age, before Kali Yuga, all human thinking, all the powers of the human soul, were in a certain respect differently organised. The year 3101 B.C. is an approximate date, for in the process of development qualities of one kind passed over gradually into others; but before that time the last vestiges of ancient clairvoyance were still present. In the course of evolution the sequence of the ages is: Krita Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga, Kali Yuga. It is the last that is of particular interest to us to-day. The earlier ages take us back to old Atlantis. In very ancient times, vestiges of the ancient clairvoyance still survived and prior to the Dark Age man was directly conscious of the presence of a spiritual world because he was able to gaze into it. But this consciousness of the spiritual world withdrew more and more from man's vision and speaking generally we can say that the development then begins of those faculties of soul which on the one hand confine his power of judgment to the sense-perceptible world, while, on the other, they promote his self-consciousness; all these powers begin to operate in Kali Yuga. And whereas during this age man was not in a position to look into the spiritual worlds, the firm centre we call the knowledge of self-consciousness developed all the more strongly within him. But do not imagine that even now this knowledge of self-consciousness is already highly developed; it has yet to reach many further stages. But it could never have been experienced by man if there had not been this “Dark Age”.
Thus during the three millennia prior to the founding of Christianity man was losing his connection with the spiritual world to an increasing extent and indeed had no direct perception of that connection.
On the occasion of my last visit here we heard how, at the conclusion of the first millennium of Kali Yuga, a kind of substitute was given for vision of the spiritual worlds. This substitute was made possible through the fact that a particular individual — Abraham — was chosen out because the special organisation of his physical brain enabled him to have consciousness of the spiritual world without the old faculties. That is why in Spiritual Science we call the first millennium of Kali Yuga the Abraham-epoch; it was the epoch when man did, it is true, lose the direct vision of the spiritual worlds, but when there unfolded in him something like a consciousness of the Divine which gradually made its way more and more deeply into his ego, with the result that he came to conceive of the Deity as related to human ego-consciousness. In the first millennium of Kali Yuga — which at its conclusion we can call the Abraham-epoch — the Deity is revealed as the World-Ego.
This Abraham-epoch was followed by the Moses-epoch, when the God Jahve, the World-Ego, was no longer revealed in the form of a mysterious guidance of human destinies, as a God of a single people; in the Moses-epoch this Deity was revealed, as we know, in the burning bush, as the God of the Elements. And it was a great advance when, through the teachings of Moses, the World-Ego as the Deity was experienced in such a way that men realised: the Elements of manifested existence, all that is seen with physical eyes — lightning, thunder, and so on — are emanations, deeds of the World-Ego, ultimately of the one World-Ego. We must, however, clearly understand in what way this denoted an advance.
Before the Abraham-epoch and before Kali Yuga, we find that through the direct vision of the spiritual worlds made possible by the remains of the old clairvoyance, men beheld the spiritual, as indeed was the case in all these ancient times. We should have to go infinitely far back to find anything else. Men actually beheld the spiritual during Dvapara Yuga, Treta Yuga, Krita Yuga, beheld it as a multiplicity of Beings. You know that when we rise into the spiritual worlds we find there the Hierarchies of spiritual Beings. They, naturally, are under a unified guidance, but this was beyond the grasp of consciousness in those ancient times. Men beheld the individual members of the Hierarchies, a multiplicity of Divine Beings. To grasp them as a unity was possible only for the Initiates. But now the World-Ego, grasped for the first time by man himself with the physical instrument of the brain — a faculty that had developed in a specially marked way in Abraham — confronted him, and he conceived the World-Ego as manifesting in the different kingdoms of Nature, in the Elements.
A further advance was made in the last millennium before the founding of Christianity, in the Solomon-epoch. Thus the three millennia before the founding of Christianity can be distinguished by calling the first millennium by the name of the individuality who appears and then works on into the second: the Abraham-epoch. From the beginning of Kali Yuga until Abraham men are being prepared to recognise the One God behind the manifestations of Nature. This possibility begins with Abraham. In the Moses-epoch the One God becomes the ruler of the manifestations of Nature and is sought for behind them. All this is then intensified in the Solomon-epoch, and we are led through this last epoch to that point in evolution where the same Divine Being whom the Abraham-epoch and the Moses-epoch, too, beheld in Jahve, where the same Divine Being takes on human form.
In contemplating this subject from the spiritual-scientific point of view it must be firmly realised that in this respect the Gospels are right: Christ may not be distinguished from Jahve otherwise than that the light of the sun reflected by the moon is to be distinguished from the direct light of the sun. Where is the light that floods a bright moonlit night? It is actual sunlight, only it is reflected back to us from the moon. So we can have this sunlight directly by day or rayed back by the moon on bright moonlit nights. What manifests thus in space also manifests in the following way: what was finally to appear in Christ as a Spirit-Sun was revealed beforehand in reflection. Jahve is the reflection which precedes Christ in time. Just as the moonlight reflects the sunlight, so was the Christ Being reflected for Abraham, Moses, Solomon. It was always the same Being. Then He Himself appeared as the Christ-Sun at the time of the founding of Christianity. The preparation for this great event was made in the Abraham-epoch, in the Moses-epoch, in the Solomon-epoch.
A repetition of these three pre-Christian ages takes place in the Christian era, but now in reverse order. The essential and fundamental trend of the Solomon-epoch is repeated in the first thousand years after Christ, in that the spirit of Solomon lives and is active as an impulse in the most outstanding minds of the first Christian millennium. And fundamentally speaking it was the wisdom of Solomon through which men endeavoured to grasp the nature and essence of the Christ Event. Then, following the Solomon-epoch, came the era that can be called the revival of the Moses-epoch ... and in the second millennium after Christ the best minds of this era are permeated by the spirit of Moses. The spirit of Moses does indeed come to life again in a new form. In the pre-Christian age the spirit of Moses had been directed towards the outer world of physical Nature in order to find the Divine World-Ego as Jahve, the World-Ego manifesting in lightning and thunder, in the great revelation from the Elements of laws for men. Whereas the World-Ego streams into Moses from outside, is revealed from outside, in the second millennium after Christ the same Divine Being announces Himself within the soul. The experience which came to Moses as an outer happening when he withdrew from his people in order to receive the Decalogue this significant happening is repeated in the second Christian millennium in the form of a mighty revelation from within man.
Repetitions do not take the same form but what comes later manifests as a kind of polarity. It was from the Elements, from outer Nature, that the God revealed Himself to Moses; in the second millennium after Christ He reveals Himself from the deepest foundations of the human soul. And how could this be presented to us more impressively than in the story of a great, supremely gifted man of whose preaching it was said that he proclaimed mighty truths from the very depths of his soul! It can be taken for granted that this man was steeped through and through in what can be called Christian mysticism. Then, to the place where he is preaching comes a seemingly unimportant layman who at first listens to the sermons but then turns out to be one who need not be considered a layman but can become the instructor of the preacher — Tauler — and induces him, despite his renown, to suspend his sermons for a time because he does not feel inwardly imbued with what is living in the layman. And when Tauler, after having received the inspiration, ascends the pulpit again, the overwhelmingly powerful impression made by his sermon is described symbolically by saying that many of his listeners fell down as if dead — meaning that everything of a lower nature in them was killed.
This was a revelation of the World-Ego from within — working from within with a power as great as that of the revelation from the Elements to Moses in the second millennium before Christ. Thus we see a revival of the Moses-epoch inasmuch as the spirit of Moses illumined and imbued with life the whole of Christian mysticism, from Meister Eckhart down to the later Christian mystics. Verily the spirit of Moses was alive in the souls of the Christian mystics! This was in the second millennium after Christ when there was a revival of the whole character of the Moses-epoch. Just as in the first millennium of the Christian era the repetition of the Solomon-epoch was responsible for bringing to expression the inner content of the Christian mysteries — for example, the Christian teaching concerning the Hierarchies, the detailed wisdom concerning the higher worlds — so was the second Moses-epoch particularly responsible for the essential character of German mysticism: a deep, mystical consciousness of the One God who can be awakened and resurrected within the human soul. And the influence of this Moses-epoch has persisted in all the endeavours made since that time to fathom the nature of the World-Ego, the Undivided Godhead.
But the course of the evolution of humanity is such that from our time onwards a renaissance of the Abraham-epoch will take place as we pass slowly into the third millennium. In pre-Christian times the sequence is: Abraham-epoch, Moses-epoch, Solomon-epoch; in the Christian era the order is reversed: Solomon-epoch, Moses-epoch, Abraham-epoch. We are moving towards the Abraham-epoch, and this will inevitably bring momentous consequences in its train.
Let us recall what was of essential significance in the pre-Christian Abraham-epoch. It was the fact that the old clairvoyance had disappeared, that there had been bestowed upon man a consciousness of the Divine closely bound up with human faculties. Everything that humanity could acquire from this brain-bound consciousness of the Divine had by now been gradually exhausted and there is very little left to be gained through these faculties. But on the other hand, in the new Abraham-epoch exactly the opposite path is taken — the path Which leads humanity away from vision confined to the physical and material, away from intellectual inferences based upon material data. We are moving along the path leading into the regions where men once dwelt in times before the Abraham-epoch. It is the path that will make states of natural clairvoyance possible for man, states in which natural clairvoyant forces will be in active operation.
During Kali Yuga itself, Initiation alone could lead into the spiritual worlds in the right way. Initiation does, of course, lead to higher stages that will be accessible to men only in the very far distant future; but the first signs of a natural faculty of clairvoyance will become evident fairly soon, as the renewal of the Abraham-epoch approaches.
Thus, after men have acquired ego-consciousness, after they have come to know the ego as a firm inner centre, they are led out of themselves again in order to be able to look with an even deeper vision into the spiritual worlds. The ending of Kali Yuga has to do with this also. Having lasted for five thousand years, Kali Yuga ended in A.D. 1899. This was a year of crucial importance for the evolution of humanity. Naturally, it is again an approximate date, for things happen gradually. But just as the year 3101 B.C. can be indicated as a point of time when humanity was led down from the stage of the old clairvoyance to physical vision and intellectuality, so the year 1899 is the time when humanity received an impetus towards the first beginnings of a future clairvoyance. And it is the lot of mankind, already in this twentieth century before the next millennium — indeed for a few individuals in the first half of this century — to develop the first rudiments of a new faculty of clairvoyance that quite certainly will appear if men prove capable of understanding it. It must, however, be realised that there are two possibilities. It belongs to the very essence of the human soul that natural faculties of clairvoyance will arise in the future in a few people during the first half of the twentieth century and in more and more human beings during the next two thousand five hundred years, until finally there will be a sufficient number who, if they so desire, will have the new, natural clairvoyance. A distinction must, of course, be made between cultivated and natural clairvoyance.
But there are two possibilities. The one is that although men have indeed the aptitude for this clairvoyance, materialism may triumph in the next decades and humanity sink in its morass. True, even then there will be individuals here and there who assert that they see in the physical man something like a second man; but if materialistic consciousness gets to the point of declaring Spiritual Science to be sheer craziness and stamping out all consciousness of the spiritual world, then these incipient faculties will not be understood. It will depend upon humanity itself whether what will then take place turns out to be for the good or ill, because what ought to come about might pass unnoticed.
Or the other situation is possible, where Spiritual Science is not trampled underfoot. Then men will understand how to cultivate such faculties not only in the secret schools of Initiation but also to foster them when, towards the middle of this century, they appear like delicate buds of the life of soul in individuals here and there. They will say, as if from a power that has awakened within them: I see as a reality something that is described in Anthroposophy as the second man within the physical man. But still other faculties will appear — for example, a faculty that a man will notice in himself. After he has performed some deed, there will appear before his soul a kind of dream-picture which he will know to be connected in some way with what he has done. And from Spiritual Science he will realise: When an after-image of my deed appears in this way, although it is essentially different from the deed itself, it reveals to me what the karmic effect of my deed will be in the future.
This understanding of karma will develop in certain individuals during the middle of our century. The explanation is that Kali Yuga has run its course and that from epoch to epoch new faculties appear in men. But if no understanding is developed, if this particular faculty is stamped out, if those who speak about faculties of this kind are put away as if they were insane, disaster is inevitable and humanity will sink in the morass of materialism. Everything will depend upon whether understanding is awakened for Spiritual Science, or whether Ahriman will succeed in suppressing its intentions. Then, of course, those who are choking in materialism may say scornfully: They were fine prophets who stated that a second man will be seen beside the physical man! Nothing will be apparent if the faculties for seeing it are crushed out. But even if these faculties do not become evident in the middle of the twentieth century, this will be no proof that the rudiments of them are not within man, but only that the seed of the young buds has been crushed. The faculties that have been described to-day exist and can be developed, provided only that mankind is willing.
This stage of evolution therefore lies immediately ahead of us. We are, as it were, retracing the path of development. In Abraham, consciousness of the Divine was brought down into the brain; in passing into a new Abraham-epoch, consciousness of the Divine will in turn be brought out of the brain, and during the next two thousand five hundred years we shall find more and more human beings who possess knowledge of the great spiritual teachings of the cosmic secrets yielded by the mysteries of Initiation. Just as the spirit of Moses prevailed in the epoch that is now over, so in our time the spirit of Abraham begins to prevail, in order that after men have been led to consciousness of the Divine in the material world, they may now be led out of and beyond it. For it is an eternal cosmic law that each individuality has to perform a particular deed more than once, periodically — twice at all events, the one as the antithesis of the other. What Abraham brought down for men into the physical consciousness he will bear upwards again for them into the spiritual world.
Thus it is obvious that we are living at a vitally important time and that to disseminate Spiritual Science to-day is not a matter of preference but something that is demanded by our age. To prepare mankind for great moments in the process of evolution is among the tasks of spiritual investigation. Spiritual Science exists in order that men may know what it is they are seeing. Anyone who is true to his age cannot but be mindful of the fact that spirit-knowledge must be brought into the world to prevent what is coming from passing by humanity unnoticed.
These things are connected with others. In certain other respects everything is renewed in similar repetitions. A time is approaching when more and more of what existed in pre-Christian centuries will be renewed for humanity, but everything will now be steeped in what men have been able to acquire through the mighty Christ Event. We have heard that the great impulse experienced by Moses through the vision of the burning thorn bush and lightning on Sinai was experienced again inwardly, in its Christianised form. For men such as Tauler and Eckhart knew with all certainty that when there dawned within them the power known to Moses as Jahve, that power was the Christ, no longer the reflected Christ but the Christ Himself, arising from the depth of the heart. What had been experienced by Moses was experienced by the Christian mystics in a Christianised form, in a form changed through the Christ Impulse. And what was experienced in the pre-Christian age of Abraham — that, too, will be experienced in a new and different form. And what will this be? All things, all events that come about normally in the evolution of humanity cast their lights in advance (instead of the trivial saying, “cast their shadows”, I prefer to say, “cast their lights”). Thus in certain respects a light indicative of future happenings was cast in advance by the event of Damascus, the conversion of Saul into Paul.
Let us be clear what this signified for Paul. Up to then he had acquired a thorough knowledge of the Hebraic secret doctrines. From these teachings he knew that some day an Individuality would descend to the earth, representing to humanity the One who conquers death. He knew: an Individuality will appear in the flesh, showing through his life that the spirit triumphs over death so completely that for this Individuality in his earthly incarnation death has no more significance than any other physical happening. Paul knew this. And he knew something else as well from the ancient Hebraic teachings, namely that when the Christ, the Messiah who was to come, had lived in the flesh, when He had resurrected and had won the victory over death, the spiritual sphere of the earth would be transformed and clairvoyance would undergo a change. Whereas before then a clairvoyant would not have seen the Christ Being in the spiritual atmosphere of the earth, but only when he looked upwards to the Sun Spirit, Paul knew that through the Christ Impulse there would take place in earth-existence a change signifying that, having gained the victory over death the Christ would be found by clairvoyant vision in the sphere of the earth. When, therefore, a man was clairvoyant, he would behold the Christ in the earth-sphere as the living spirit of the earth. But that of which Paul, while he was still Saul, could not be convinced was that the One who had lived in Palestine, had died on the Cross and was said by his disciples to have been resurrected, was indeed the One to whom the ancient Hebraic doctrines referred.
The salient point is that Paul had not been convinced by what he had seen physically of the things narrated in the Gospels. Conviction that the Christ was the predicted Messiah first came to him when the light cast in advance revealed itself to him, when as though by Grace from above he became clairvoyant and, finding Christ in the sphere of the earth, was compelled to say to himself: He has been here in very truth and has risen! It was because Paul himself had beheld Christ in the spiritual sphere of the earth that he knew: Now He is here! And from that moment he was convinced regarding Christ Jesus.
The essence of what happened at Damascus, therefore, was that Paul had discovered Christ Jesus clairvoyantly in the sphere of the earth. Thus, if he had not, for example, heard tell of the deeds of Christ in Palestine, if he had not himself actually heard the stories told in the Gospels but had lived somewhat later, he might have experienced the Christ Event of Damascus only later: but even so he would have arrived at the same conviction. For this event revealed to him the reality of Christ's presence! He knew: He who is now revealed in the sphere of the earth is the One of whom the ancient Hebraic secret doctrine tells.
The Christ Event is not confined to one point of time only. In the case of Paul it came very early, in order that through him Christianity might pursue its course.
Now, as long as Kali Yuga lasted — this was until the year 1899 — the evolution of humanity had not reached the stage at which Paul's experience could be repeated without more ado; human faculties were not mature enough for that. Hence there was one who experienced it through Grace; and others, too, experienced similar events through Grace. But we are living now in the age when there is to be a revolutionary change: the first rudiments of natural clairvoyance are developing. We are passing into the Abraham-epoch and are being led out into the spiritual world. This means that it will be possible for a certain number of human beings, and more and more in the next two thousand five hundred years, to experience a repetition of the event of Damascus. The great and momentous feature of the coming era will be that many human beings will experience this event. The Christ, now to be found in the spiritual sphere of the earth, will be perceptible to those faculties which, as we have said, will make their appearance. When men become able to see the etheric body, they will learn to see the etheric body of Christ Jesus, as did Paul. This is what is beginning as the characteristic trait of a new age, and between the years 1930-40-45 it will already become evident in the first forerunners of human beings possessed of these faculties. If men are alert they will experience this event of Damascus through direct spiritual vision and therewith clarity and truth concerning the Christ Event. A remarkable parallelism of happenings will come about.
During the next two decades men will be more and more inclined to abandon the texts of the Gospels because they will no longer understand them. Superficial scholars are everywhere at pains to “prove” that the Gospels are not historical records, that there can be no question of any historical Christ. The historical documents will lose their value and the number of people who deny Christ Jesus will steadily increase. Men who may still believe that these events can be substantiated by history are short-sighted. Those who mean well by Christianity will not reject understanding of the spiritual proof of the existence of Christ Jesus, for this spiritual proof will be provided through the cultivation of the faculties which enable men to behold the Christ as a real Presence in His etheric body. Those who place reliance only on documents may call themselves good Christians, but in point of fact they are destroying Christianity; however vociferously they proclaim the knowledge they have gleaned about Christianity from documentary records, they are destroying it because they are rejecting a spiritual teaching through which, in actual vision, the Christ will become a reality for men in our century.
When the Christian era began, men had been descending into the Dark Age for more than three thousand years, had been thrown back upon the faculties of their outer senses. At that time Christ could not have revealed Himself to the faculties necessary for the evolution of humanity in any other way than through physical incarnation. Because man's physical faculties had then reached the peak of their development, Christ was obliged to appear in a physical body. But no progress at all would be possible unless with higher faculties men were able to discover Christ as a reality in the higher worlds. Just as Christ had once to be discovered with purely physical faculties, men will find him with the newly developed faculties in that world where etheric bodies alone are to be seen. There can be no second physical incarnation of Christ. He came once in a physical body of flesh because it was at one period only that human faculties were dependent upon His presence in such a body. But now, with the higher faculties, men will be able to perceive the etheric body of Christ as an even greater reality.
The momentous event in store for us can be called: the Reappearance of Christ Jesus ... a gradual reappearance, to begin with for a few and then for more and more human beings. It is an event that has significance not only for those who will then still be incarnated in bodies of flesh. A number of human beings living to-day will still be in incarnation at the time of the Christ Event ... they will experience it in the way that has been described. Others will have passed through the gate of death. As we once heard in a lecture here, [This reference is to a lecture given 14th November, 1909: The Tasks and Aims of Spiritual Science.] the Event of Golgotha was an event that affected not only the physical world; its influences reached into all the spiritual worlds. Christ's descent into the underworld was an actual fact and the effects of the Christ Event that is to take place in our century will also work — though not in the same form as on earth — into the world in which man lives between death and rebirth.
But there is one essential. The faculties by means of which men will be able, between death and rebirth, to behold the Christ Event, cannot be acquired in that world; they must be acquired on the physical plane and carried from there into the life between death and a new birth. There are faculties which must be acquired on the earth, for we have not been placed on the physical earth for nothing. It is an error to believe that there is no purpose in living on the earth. Faculties have to be acquired there that can be acquired in no other world — they are the faculties for understanding the Christ Event and the events that will follow it. Those human beings who now develop these faculties on the earth through the teachings of Spiritual Science will carry them through the gate of death. It is not through Initiation only, but through a clear-minded acceptance of spiritual-scientific knowledge, that the faculties are acquired which make it possible also to be aware of the Christ Event in the spiritual world between death and a new birth. But those who turn deaf ears to this knowledge must wait until a later incarnation to acquire the faculties that must be acquired here on earth in order that the Christ Event may be experienced in yonder world. Therefore let nobody imagine that the announcement of the Christ Event — an event which the teachings of Spiritual Science alone can make intelligible — will bear no fruit for him if he has already passed through the gate of death. It will indeed bear fruit.
Obviously, therefore, spiritual research prepares the way for a new Christ Event. But those who receive into themselves the essence of the teaching of the spirit as part of their whole life of soul, as a quickening, vital force, must then grow on to a spiritual understanding of these things, realising that through Spiritual Science they must learn to understand our newly dawning age thoroughly and fundamentally. We must come to realise that in the future the most important events must be sought, not on the physical plane but outside and beyond it, just as Christ must be sought in the spiritual world when He appears in His etheric form.
What has here been said will be repeated again and again in the coming decades. But there will be people who misunderstand it and who will say: So Christ is to come again! Because this view will be tinged with the belief that this is a physical return, such people will support all the false Messiahs who will appear. And in the middle of the twentieth century there will be plenty of them, making use of the materialistic beliefs, the materialistic thinking and feeling of men in order to proclaim themselves as Christ. There have always been false Messiahs. For example, in the South of France, before the Crusades, there appeared a false Messiah whom his followers regarded as a kind of Christ incarnate in a physical body. Before then a false Messiah had appeared in Spain, attracting a large number of followers. In North Africa, a man who announced himself as the Christ created a great sensation. In the seventeenth century a man who appeared in Smyrna, alleging himself to be the Christ, drew a vast crowd of followers; his name was Shabbathai Zewi. Pilgrims journeyed to him from Poland, Austria, Spain, Germany, France, from all over Europe and from wide provinces of Africa and Asia.
In past centuries this kind of happening was not so deplorable, for the demand to distinguish the true from the false had not yet been made of humanity. Only now are we living in the age when disaster might befall if men were not equal to the spiritual test. Those will be equal to it who know that human faculties develop to higher stages, that the faculties on account of which it was necessary for Christ to be seen physically were dependent upon a physical manifestation at the time of the founding of Christianity but that no progress would be made if in this present century men were not to find Him again in a higher form. Those who are striving in the sense of Spiritual Science will have to prove that they are the ones able to distinguish the false Messiahs from the One Messiah who does not appear in the flesh, but appears as a spiritual Being to the newly awakened faculties of men.
The time will come when men will again see into the spiritual world and there behold the land whence flow the streams of true spiritual nourishment for everything that happens in the physical world. Again and again we have heard that it was once possible for men to look with clairvoyant vision into the spiritual world. Oriental writings also contain the tradition of an ancient spiritual land [See note 1 at end of lecture.] into which men were once able to gaze and whence they could draw the super-sensible influences that were available for the physical world. Many descriptions of this land, that was once within reach of men's vision but has withdrawn, are full of sadness. This land was indeed once accessible to men and will be so again now that Kali Yuga, the Dark Age, is over. Initiation has always led thither, and it was always possible for those who had achieved Initiation to guide their steps into that mysterious land which is said to have disappeared from the sphere of human experience. Deeply moving are the writings which tell of this ancient land, whither the Initiates repair ever and again in order to bring from there the new streams and impulses for everything that is to be imparted to mankind from century to century. Those who are connected with the spiritual world in this way resort again and again to Shamballa — the name of this mysterious land. It is the deep fount into which clairvoyant vision once reached; it withdrew during Kali Yuga and is spoken of as an ancient fairyland that will come again into the realm of man. Shamballa will be there again when Kali Yuga has run its course. Mankind will rise through normal human faculties into the land of Shamballa, the land whence the Initiates draw strength and wisdom for the missions they are to fulfil. Shamballa is a reality, was a reality, will be a reality again for humanity. And when Shamballa reveals itself again, one of the first visions to come to men will be that of Christ in His etheric form. Into the land declared by Oriental writings to have vanished there is no Leader other than Christ. It is Christ who will lead men to Shamballa.
We must inscribe into our souls what can come to pass for humanity if the omen [See note 2 at the end of this lecture.] referred to in the lecture yesterday is rightly understood. If men realise that they dare not allow themselves to sink more deeply into matter, that their path must be reversed, that a spiritual life must begin, then, at first for a few and in the course of two thousand five hundred years for a greater and greater number of human beings, there will arise the experience of the land of Shamballa — woven of light, shone through with light, teeming with wisdom. Such is the event which for those who have the will to understand, for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see, must be described as denoting the most momentous turning-point in the evolution of humanity at the dawn of the Abraham-epoch in the Christian era. It is the event through which men's understanding of the Christ Impulse will be enhanced and intensified.
Strange as it may seem, wisdom will thereby lose nothing of its value. The more insight men achieve, the greater and mightier will Christ appear to them to be! When once their gaze can penetrate into Shamballa, they will be able to understand much of what is indeed contained in the Gospels but for the recognition of which they will need to experience a kind of event of Damascus. Thus at the time when men are more sceptical of the original records than they have ever been, the new form of belief in Christ Jesus will arise when we grow into the realm where He will first be encountered: the mysterious land of Shamballa.
Halley's Comet. The following passages are from the lecture to which Dr. Steiner is referring: Mysteries of Cosmic Existence. Comets and the Moon. “... Halley's Comet has a quite definite task and everything else that it brings with it is definitely related to this task. Halley's Comet — we are speaking of its spiritual aspect — has the task of impressing human nature as a whole in such a way that human nature and the human being always take a further step in respect of the development of the Ego when the Comet comes near to the Earth. It is the step in development which leads out the Ego to concepts connected with the physical plane. ... When it is said that Halley's Comet may be an omen, that its influence, working alone, might make men superficial and lead out the Ego more and more on to the physical plane, and that precisely in our days this must be resisted — it is not said for the purpose of reviving an old superstition. The resistance can come about only by a spiritual view of the world like that of Anthroposophy taking the place of the trend of evolution brought about by Halley's Comet ...”
See also, Lecture-Course 17, The Christ Impulse and the Development of the Ego-Consciousness. Lecture 5.