The Gospel of Matthew
4 September 1910, Bern
The ancient Hebrew consciousness of God. The secret of the development of a people, as image of cosmic development. Principal and subsidiary currents in the preparation for the Christ-event
WE have shown that the Hebrew people had received from Abraham a physical organ, enabling them to acquire, through sense knowledge, not merely an inkling, but, as far as was possible, a real knowledge of divine spiritual things. Knowledge of the divinely spiritual there is and has been at all times and in all places. But this, what might be called eternal knowledge of the divine, was reached through initiation into the Mysteries, or at least on the path to initiation.
A distinction must be made between that knowledge of the spiritual worlds acquired by special training or initiation, and that which is normal for any age, and arises as its special mission for human evolution.
In this way the astral clairvoyance prevalent throughout the Atlantean period was normal for that age, but for the age in which the Hebrews flourished an external, exoteric knowledge of the spiritual world was normal, and was gained with the aid of a special physical organ. As already indicated, the people of Abraham arrived at this knowledge in such a way that their innermost being seemed to be dissolved within divine existence. Inner knowledge, or the comprehension of divinity in man's innermost being, became possible through this special physical organ.
But this comprehension of the divine did not make it immediately possible for men to say: ‘I descend into my own inner being, I strive to comprehend as deeply as I can my own inner nature; there I find the drop of divine spiritual existence giving me an understanding of what permeates the external world.’ This first became spiritually possible through the entrance of Christ into human evolution. The possibility of experiencing the divine was first given to the Hebrew people through their Folk-spirit, in which each felt himself not as a single individual but as a member of the whole people; he then felt he belonged through his blood to the whole line of generations, he felt the Divine or Jehovah-consciousness lived in his Folk-consciousness.
In the terms of Occult Science it would be inaccurate to describe the God Jehovah by saying, ‘He is the God of Abraham;’ but we must say, ‘He is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and ofJacob — the Being Who passes from generation to generation, and Who reveals Himself through individual men in the consciousness of the race.’ The Christian perception shows a great advance over this. What the ancient Hebrew perception attained only through meditating on the Folk-spirit, by sinking within the Spirit flowing through the generations, Chistian recognizes in each single individual. I Abraham might have said; ‘In that I am chosen to be the founder of a people whose descendants will spread over the earth, a God will live in the blood flowing through the generations Whom we hold to be the most supreme, and Who reveals Himself to us in the consciousness of our people.’ This was the consciousness normal for that time.
This special form of knowledge was different from the higher knowledge of the Spirit that had been preserved in the Mysteries throughout all ages. In Atlantis, astral-etheric clairvoyance could perceive the divine-spiritual background of existence. By developing their inner life men could there attain knowledge through the Mysteries or Oracles. Even during the period when the Hebrew type of consciousness was normal, men who trained in certain sanctuaries could rise to the perception of the divine. But this was done when outside the body, not within it, as was the way of the people of Abraham. A man could rise to the perception of the eternal divine Spirit by enhancing the eternal in himself. Thus it is easily realized that one thing was necessary to Abraham. He had learnt, in a way peculiar to himself, and by means of a physical organ, to know the divinely spiritual, and in this way he had learnt to recognize the God Who guides the universe. If he were to enter with vivid comprehension into the whole course of evolution, it was of the greatest importance that he should recognize in the God Who revealed Himself in the Folk-consciousness of the people, the same God, Who had been recognized in the Mysteries of all ages as the Creative Deity. Abraham had to be quite certain of the identity of his God with the God of the Mysteries. Certainty of this was brought home to him through a very special revelation.
To understand this certainty one fact of human evolution must be kept in mind. In my book, Occult Science, reference is made to the ancient Atlantean Initiates, the ‘Priests of the Oracles’ — what they were called is of little consequence — and I said there that the Sun-Initiate was the head of all the Atlantean Oracles, and must be distinguished from the initiates of the lesser Oracles, those of Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, etc. He was the great leader of those people who carried culture from the West to the East, from Atlantis to Central Asia, and founded post-Atlantean civilizations. This great Initiate, for such he was, withdrew into the secret sanctuaries of Central Asia. It was he who made it possible for those mighty sages, the Holy Rishis, to become the teachers of their race and it was this great and mysterious Initiate who imparted initiation to Zarathustra. The initiation given to Zarathustra differed, however, from that imparted to the Rishis, for their missions were different. The initiation given to the Rishis enabled them, after the further development of their inner being, to declare as from themselves, the mighty secrets of existence. They became the great guides and leaders of the pre-Vedic Indian culture. Though developed by artificial means, the initiation of the Rishis was yet to them something which strongly resembled the old Atlantean clairvoyance. Each of the seven Rishis received his training separately, each had his own appointed region, and each his separate mission, just as each Oracle had its own sphere of influence. Yet, when any one of the seven gave forth knowledge of the primal wisdom of the world, he spoke with the voice of the whole collegium. The great Sun-initiate, who brought the ancient Atlantean wisdom from the West to the East, bestowed it upon the Rishis in a special manner so as to enable them to develop post-Atlantean civilization. He gave the ancient Atlantean wisdom to Zarathustra in a different form, so that he could speak as I have already indicated.
The Rishis declared ‘To reach divinity men must regard everything around them, all that is presented to their senses, as Maya or illusion; they must turn away from the outer world and direct their glance inwards then a quite different world will appear from that which is before them.’
Thus the ancient Indian Rishis taught that by turning away from the deceptive world of illusion and developing their inner life, men could rise to divine spiritual spheres. Zarathustra taught otherwise. Instead of turning away from external manifestations and regarding them as Maya he said: ‘This Maya or illusion is the revelation, the true garment, of Divine Existence; our duty is not to turn from it but to investigate it and to see in the physical light of the Sun an external garment within which Ahura Mazdao lives and moves.’
Thus in a certain sense the standpoint of Zarathustra was the opposite to that of the Rishis. The most significant fact of post-Indian culture was that what man gained through his spiritual and mental activities had to be impressed upon the outer world. It has already been shown how Zarathustra passed on his best possessions to Moses and Hermes. In order that the wisdom of Moses might be fruitful and bear seed in the right way, this seed had to be implanted in the race that had Abraham for its progenitor. Abraham was the first who acquired the organ through which the Jehovah consciousness could be evolved, but he had to realize that the God who spoke in him through his physical powers of comprehension, spoke with the same voice as the eternal all-pervading God of the Mysteries; only that He revealed Himself to Abraham in a more restricted manner, that is, in a way Abraham was able to understand.
For such a mighty Being as the great Atlantean Sun-initiate it is not immediately possible to speak in comprehensible words to those living in some age who have a special mission. A Being so exalted — one who in his own individuality leads an eternal existence, and of whom it has been rightly said (indicating his eternal nature) — that he was without name or age, without father or mother — such a great guide of human existence could only reveal himself; to those whom he sought, by assuming a form that could bring him in contact with them. Therefore in order to give Abraham the appropriate illumination, the individual who had been the teacher of the Rishis and of Zarathustra, assumed a form in which he was clothed in the etheric body of a forefather of Abraham — this was the etheric sheath of Shem, the son of Noah — a forefather of Abraham. In the same way as the etheric garment of Zarathustra had been preserved for Moses, this etheric body of Shem had persisted, and was used by the great Sun-initiate so that he might make himself known to Abraham. The meeting of Abraham with the great Initiate of the Sun-Mysteries is described in the Old Testament. It is the meeting of Abraham with the King, the Priest of the Most High God, Melchisedek or Malekzadik. This meeting of Abraham with the great Sun-initiate is of the greatest, the most universal importance. Lest his presence might overwhelm Abraham this great Being only showed himself in the etheric body of Shem, the ancestor of the Semitic race. Most significantly something is here hinted at in the Bible which is, unfortunately, seldom understood; it refers to whence that something came which Melchisedek was in a position to impart to Abraham.
What could Melchisedek give to Abraham? He could impart to him the secret of the Sun-existence which sprang from the same source as the revelations prophetically foretold, in the first place, by Zarathustra. Naturally, these could only be comprehended by Abraham in his own way. Let us picture the facts told by Zarathustra to his chosen pupils. He spoke to them of Ahura Mazdao who dwelt spiritually behind the sunlight, and said: ‘Behold, behind the sun is something not yet united with the earth, but which will one day stream forth into earthly evolution and descend to earth.’ We must realize that Zarathustra could here only be prophesying of the Sun Spirit, the Christ, of Whom he said, ‘He will come in a human body.’ If we accept this, we must also accept the fact that still deeper revelations of the Sun Mysteries had to be given to those whose mission it was to prepare for the incarnation of Christ on earth. This took place when Zarathustra's own instructor came in contact with Abraham, and the outpouring of power that came from him emanated from the same source as that which came from Christ. This is indicated symbolically in the Bible, where it says: ‘When Abraham met Melchisedek, the King of Salem — this priest of the most high God brought to him bread and the juice of the grape.’ Bread and the juice of the grape were dispensed on another occasion. In the same way as bread and wine were to become the expression of the Mystery of Christ in the institution of the Last Supper for those who believed in Him, this mystery was expressed here also. The similarity of the two sacrificial acts is described with such clearness that it shows that Melchisedek drew from the same source as the Christ.
Thus an indirect outpouring of that which was destined to come to earth at a later period took place through Melchisedek. This influence was to have direct results on Abraham, the great preparer of what took place later. The result of Abraham's meeting with Melchisedek was that he now had some understanding that the outpouring of power he felt stirring within him and which he referred to as Jehovah — the highest to which his thought could rise — had the same origin as the consciousness of the Initiates — the highest wisdom attainable by man—and that it emanated from the mighty God Who fills all worlds with life and movement. This was the new consciousness that dawned in Abraham. He now knew that in the Hebrew blood, passing down from generation to generation, there actually flowed something that could only rightly be compared with what clairvoyant vision beheld when it reached forth to the mystery of existence, and understood the language of the cosmos.
I have already said that in the Mysteries the secrets of the cosmos were expressed in a language of the stars, that the teachers there made use of words and images derived from the constellations. In the movements of the stars, in their relative positions one to another, they saw pictures by means of which they sought to express man's spiritual experiences when he raised himself to what was divinely spiritual.
What did the Mystery wisdom read in the starry script? It read there the secrets of the Godhead, of Him Who lives and weaves in and through the world. The disposition of the stars was a visible expression of this Godhead. Raising his eyes to the firmament man would say, ‘There God reveals Himself; and the way in which He makes Himself known is indicated in the order and harmony of the stars.’ Thus according to this conception, the God of the universe revealed Himself through the stars. If this God was to manifest in a special way in the mission of the Hebrew people, He must do so in accordance with the plan set forth in the starry courses of the heavens. This means that in the blood of the generations, which was the external instrument for the manifestation of Jehovah, a similar ordering should obtain as that expressed in the ordering of the stars. In the line of descent from Abraham, there had to be something which in the course of generations would be a reflection of the starry script. Accordingly, it was promised to Abraham, ‘Thy descendants shall be ordered as the stars in Heaven,’ this is the true rendering of the statement usually given as, ‘Thy descendants shall be as numerous as the stars in Heaven,’ which only refers to the number of the descendants. The statement is not concerned with the numbers but indicates how the same order should rule in Abraham's descendants as was found in the grouping of the stars — the language of the gods.
People looked up to the Zodiac; and in the position of the planets to the Zodiac, constellations were expressed in which they found a language expressing the deeds of the gods. The close connection existing in the Zodiac and in the relation of the planets to the twelve signs of the Zodiac, had to be expressed in the descendants of Abraham. Thus, in the twelve sons of Jacob, and in the twelve tribes of the Hebrew people, we have the reflection of the twelve signs of the Zodiac. As the language of the gods finds expression above in the twelve starry signs, so Jehovah is manifested in the blood flowing through the generations of the twelve tribes that descended from the twelve sons of Jacob. What was ordered within the constellations of the Zodiac we designate by the names of the planets as Venus, Mercury, Moon, Sun, etc., and that which throughout the ages played a special part in different periods of the life of the Hebrew people we have compared with the course of the planets through the Zodiac. For instance, we showed how David, the kingly singer, has to be compared with Hermes or Mercury; and the period of the Babylonian captivity, that is, the form the manifestation of Jehovah assumed through the entrance of a new impulse six hundred years before our era, with the planet Venus.
It had to be indicated to Abraham, for instance, that the position in the race held by such a personality as David, was on parallel lines with that of Mercury in the Zodiac. The tribe of Judah corresponding to the constellation Leo, the entrance of David into that tribe in the course of Jewish history, corresponded in the cosmos to the occultation of Leo by Mercury.
In every detail — in the descent, in the conferring of the kingly or priestly dignities, in the struggles and victories of one or other of the tribes, in the whole history of the Hebrew people we can see what corresponds to the occultation of the several constellations in outer space. This lies in the significant words: ‘Thy descendants shall be ordered in accordance with the harmony of the stars in Heaven!’ We must not only see in documents that are founded on occultism the trivialities usually seen there, but we must recognize their profound depth.
When studied in this way we see that order did in fact exist in the sequence of the generations as related in the Gospel of Matthew; and that the Evangelist shows us the unique composition of the blood of that body which the individuality of Zarathustra assumed in order that he might be the means by which the manifestation of Christ on earth could be brought to pass.
Let us therefore ask: What was attained in the course of the forty-two generations from Abraham to Joseph? What was attained was, that in the last of the generations a blending of the blood in accordance with the laws of the stars — as taught in the Holy Mysteries — had been accomplished. In this blending of the blood necessary to the Zarathustra individuality for the accomplishment of his great work, there was an inner order and harmony that corresponded to one of the most beautiful and significant arrangements of the stellar system. The blending of blood, prepared throughout many generations for the reincarnating Zarathustra, was therefore a reflection of the whole cosmos.
All this is to be found in that great original Scripture, which, if I may venture to say so, lies before us in weakened form in the Gospel of Matthew. It is based on the profound mystery of the development of a people as the reflection of a cosmic development. This was felt by those who first knew something of the mighty Mystery of Christ. To them it already seemed that in the blood of the Jesus of Nazareth of Whom this Gospel tells, they could perceive a reflection of the Spirit that rules the whole cosmos. They gave expression to this Mystery in the words: In the blood which is to be the abode of the Ego of Jesus of Nazareth lives the Spirit of the whole cosmos. Therefore, if this physical body is to be born, it must be an image of the Spirit of the whole cosmos, the Spirit ruling the whole world.
This was the original form of expression. It declared the power inherent in the blended blood of Zarathustra — of Jesus of Nazareth — to be the power of the Spirit of our whole universe — even that Spirit, who, after the separation of the sun from the earth, brooded over and permeated the development of that which had separated itself out in the course of worldly evolution.
From the lectures given in Munich, referred to above, it was shown that the words of Genesis, ‘B'raschit bara Elohim eth haschamajim v'eth h'areths,’ must not be translated lightly according to modern methods which have lost touch with the ancient meaning. If their true meaning is sought, it must be given as follows: ‘In everything that came over from the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions, the thought of the Elohim brooded in cosmic activity; in all that manifested outwardly, as in all that stirred inwardly. Darkness reigned over all this. But permeating it and brooding over it, filling it with warmth, as a hen broods over its eggs, was the Creative Spirit of the Elohim, Ruach.’
The Spirit that brooded there was the same, in every respect, as the Spirit that created the harmonious order which finds expression in the starry constellations. The original Initiates of the Christian Mysteries recognized in the blending of the blood of Jesus of Nazareth an image of the work accomplished by the Ruach-Elohim throughout the universe. Therefore they said of the blood which was thus prepared for this Great Event that it was ‘created by the Spirit of the Universe,’ the Spirit who is described in the opening chapter of Genesis as ‘Ruach’ in that most important passage beginning — ‘B'raschit bara Elohim ...’
This holy meaning, a meaning far beyond the usual trivial rendering, lies at the root of what is called ‘the Conception out of the Holy Spirit of the Universe.’ It lies at the root of the saying, ‘She who gave birth to this Being was filled with the power of the Spirit of the Universe!’ We need but sense the full greatness of such Mystery to know that the fact presents something infinitely higher than the exoteric idea of the ‘immaculate conception.’
References to two things in the Bible will suffice to deflect the mind from the usual trivial explanation of the immaculate conception and lead it to the recognition of the true point of view. One is, why should the writer of the Gospel of Matthew give the whole line of descent from Abraham to Joseph if he wished in any way to show that the birth of Jesus of Nazareth was unconcerned with the sequence of the generations? He is very careful to tell how the blood of Abraham passed down to Joseph. What sense would there be in saying that this blood had no connection with the blood of Jesus of Nazareth? The other fact that must be taken into consideration is that ‘Ruach-Elohim,’ who, in the Bible, is called the ‘Holy Spirit’ or ‘Holy Ghost’ is of the feminine gender in the Hebrew language.
This point we will consider later. For the moment let it only awaken within us a feeling for the grandeur of the idea which lies at the very root of this Mystery.
The Event taking place at the beginning of our era, and only known to the wise men who were initiated into the secrets of the Universe, found expression first in the Aramaic language, in an ancient document upon which the Gospel of Matthew was based. It can be proved, not only by occult means, but by philological investigation, that this document, which is the foundation of the Gospel of Matthew, existed as early as the year 71 A.D. The true origin of this Gospel is given in my book, Christianity as Mystical Fact. Here, however, as we are concerned with Occult Science not Philology, reference need only be made to one thing in the literature of the Talmud, which is fully confirmed by Jewish erudition. In this literature it is stated that Rabbi Gamaliel II. was involved in a lawsuit with his sister about a legacy from his father, who died fighting against the Romans in the year 70 A.D. We are told that the Rabbi Gamaliel II. appeared before a judge who was a Jewish Christian. Such individuals existed in the courts ofjustice established for the Jews by the Romans. In this case a strange thing happened. Rabbi Gamaliel contested with his sister his father's inheritance; he declared before the judge, who knew something of Christianity, that according to Jewish law, the son only and not the daughter could inherit, and therefore he was the sole inheritor. The judge, stating that in the circle in which he practised the Thora was set aside, said that since Gamaliel sought justice and judgment from him he could not give it merely according to Jewish law, but according to the law set up in its stead. The Rabbi's only way now was to bribe the judge. He did so, and the following day the judge made a citation that was in reality a plagiarism from the original Aramaic script of the Matthew Gospel. He said, ‘Christ did not come into the world to break the law of Moses, but to fulfil it.’ He thought to stifle the pangs of conscience for deflecting the law in Gamaliel's favour by saying that he judged nevertheless according to the Christian doctrine.
From this we know that in the year 71 there existed a Christian document containing words found to-day in the Gospel of Matthew. This is, therefore, an external proof of the existence of the Aramaic document, or part of it, from which the Gospel is derived.
The results of occult investigation have still to be given, but the above has been mentioned to show that when seeking the aid of external Science, it is not wise to consider every other kind of literary evidence and yet ignore the Talmud literature, as is often done — for the latter is of great importance for what one can know of these things exoterically. Thus there is good external justification for placing the Gospel of Matthew comparatively early, and regarding its compilers as men not far removed in time from the events of Palestine. It is even externally certain that it would have been impossible at that time to deny that Jesus Christ had lived, and to say: He of whom we speak, did not live at the beginning of our era. Half-a-century had not yet elapsed, so that men were still able to speak to eye-witnesses who would not state what could not be proved. Exoterically these things are of importance, and we only mention them in confirmation of the esoteric view.
We have seen how, through cosmic mysteries, a body had been prepared in the course of human evolution, as it were, from the filtrated blood of the Hebrew people and how into this body, in which the great initiate Zarathustra incarnated, the order of the Universe itself had entered. It is of this Zarathustra-individuality and none other that Matthew speaks.
It must not be imagined that what we have described out of the profoundest Mysteries of earthly evolution was perceived as clearly by everyone. Even to contemporaries this was deeply veiled, and was only comprehended by a few Initiates. Hence the deep silence is comprehensible concerning all that could then be disclosed about the greatest event in human evolution. If the historians of to-day turn to their records and find these records silent, it should not occasion surprise; such silence is entirely natural.
Having explained the greatest event of our evolution from the side of Zarathustra, it is well that we should now consider another stream of influence preparatory to this great Event. Very many things took place immediately before and immediately after the Christ Event in human evolution. Preparation had been made for it a long time in advance. Just as it was prepared for externally in the sending forth of Moses and Hermes by Zarathustra, and by the work of Meichisedek on the outer sheath of Jesus of Nazareth in the Sun-Mysteries, it was prepared for in another way through what might be called a ‘neighbouring stream’ to the main great current. This ‘neighbouring stream’ was slowly prepared in centres of which external history informs us when dealing with those people described by Philo as the Therapeutze. The Therapeuta were members of a secret sect who sought the purification of their souls by inward paths, trying to drive out what had been debased in them through external intercourse and external knowledge, and to raise themselves to pure spiritual spheres. An offshoot of this sect, among whom this neighbouring stream of culture was carried still further, were the Essaers or Essenes. All the people who were united in the sects of the Therapeutae and Essenes were under a certain common spiritual guidance. They are briefly described in my book, Christianity as Mystical Fact. If you would know something of this spiritual guidance exoterically, you need only recall the lectures given last year on the Gospel of St. Luke. The Mystery of Gautama Buddha, as given exoterically in Oriental literature, was there dealt with, and we explained that he who seeks to become a ‘Buddha’ must in the course of evolution first become a ‘Bodhisattva.’ We explained further that the individual known to history as the ‘Buddha’ had previously been a Bodhisattva. He was a Bodhisattva until the twenty-ninth year of his physical existence, during which time he lived as the son of King Sudhodana. It was only in his twenty-ninth year, through inner soul-development, that he evolved from a Bodhisattva to a Buddha. There is a long sequence of Bodhisattvas in human evolution, and he who attained Buddhahood six hundred years before our era is one of these Bodhisattvas who guided human evolution. An individual who rises from the dignity of Bodhisattva to that of Buddha does not again incarnate in a physical body on earth.
It was explained in the course of the lectures referred to above how Buddha was manifest at the birth of the Jesus of the Gospel of St. Luke in that he united himself with the etheric body of him who is known as the Nathan Jesus; and it was shown that this is a different Jesus from the one spoken of in the first part of the Gospel of Matthew.
The attainment of Buddha-hood by the son of King Sudhodana must be regarded as the close of an ancient evolution. It was in fact the same stream of evolution as is connected with the Holy Rishis of India. As soon as a Bodhisattva attains Buddha-hood a successor always appears in his place. This is mentioned in an ancient Indian legend where it tells that the Bodhisattva, before he came to earth as the son of King Sudhodana when he was to attain the dignity of Buddha-hood, and while still in spiritual realms, passed on his Bodhisattva crown to his successor.
Ever since that time there has been a successor to the Bodhisattva who then attained Buddha-hood; and the new Bodhisattva, who continued working as such, had a special task for human evolution. The task appointed to him was to guide spiritually the movement then making itself felt among the circles of the Therapeutac and the Essenes. There his influence worked. In the follower of Gautama Buddha we have to recognize the spiritual guide of the Essenes. During the reign of King Alexander Jannai (circa 125-77 B.C.), this Bodhisattva sent a particular individual to lead the Essenes; he was, therefore, the leader of the Essenes about a century before Christ. He is well known to occultism and to the external literature of the Talmud. Thus, a century before our era, before the appearance of Christ on earth, there was an individuality, who has nothing to do with the Jesus of the Luke-Gospel and nothing to do with the Jesus of the Matthew-Gospel, who was a guide and leader in the Essene Community. He is known under the name of Jesus, the son of Pandira, Jeschua ben Pandira. Jewish literature has fabricated many things regarding this individual, and these fables have recently been revived. He was a great and noble personality, and must not be confused, as is done by some students of the Talmud, with Jesus of Nazareth, the subject of these lectures. We recognize this Essene forerunner of Christianity in Jesus, son of Pandira, and we know that he was stoned to death by those who, at that time, saw blasphemy in the teachings of the Essenes. After being accused of blasphemy and heresy he was stoned and hanged on a tree, so that this disgrace might be added to the punishment already inflicted. This is an occult fact, and is also to be found in the literature of the Talmud.
In this Jeschua ben Pandira we have to recognize a personality under the protection of the Bodhisattva who succeeded the Bodhisattva, son of Sudhodana, who later became Buddha. The matter is absolutely clear; we have to recognize here a kind of preparation, a neighbouring stream to the main stream of Christianity, springing from the successor of that Buddha. He is the present Bodhisattva who will one day become the Maitreya Buddha, and who sent his messenger among the Essenes to bring that to pass which will be described in the succeeding lectures.
Thus we have to seek the name ‘Jesus’ in the individual of Whom the Gospels of Matthew and Luke speak; but we have also to seek it a hundred years before our era in the circle of the Essenes, in that noble personality regarding whom all that the Talmud literature relates is calumny; who was accused of blasphemy and heresy, stoned, and hanged upon a tree.