8 September 1910, Berne
It was said yesterday that through the Christ Event the two forms of Initiation became processes of world-historic significance, and when this is fully comprehended it epitomises an essential aspect of that Event.
One form of Initiation consisted in passing through the daily experience of waking from sleep in such a way that on penetrating into his physical and etheric bodies a man's faculties of perception were diverted from the physical environment and directed instead to the processes operating in those bodies. It was above all in the Mysteries and Mystery-centres of ancient Egypt that Initiation took this form. The aspirants were directed and guided in a way that enabled them to avoid the accompanying dangers; in a certain respect they became changed men, able during the process of Initiation to look into the spiritual world — to begin with into the sphere of spiritual forces and beings working in the htiman phsical and etheric bodies.
The Essene Initiation may be described as follows. — When, having lived through the 42 stages, an Essene had gained more intimate knowledge of his inner nature, of his true Eg0-nature, and of what made spiritual vision possible when using the special organs transmitted by heredity, his consciousness was led beyond the 42 stages to awareness of the divine-spiritual Being who as Jahve, or Jehovah, had brought about the formation of the organ first possessed by Abraham; in the spirit the Essene became aware of the essential importance of this organ at that time. He was therefore looking back upon the structure of man's inner nature — itself a product of the same divine-spiritual Being. Knowledge of man's inner nature was the aim of this Initiation.
In the lecture yesterday I spoke in a general sense of what is in store for one who penetrates into his own inner nature. In the first place, egoism in every shape and form is aroused, inducing a man to say to himself: I will marshal all the passions and emotions that are connected with my Ego and are averse from knowing anything of the spiritual world — I will marshal all these forces so that I can identify myself with them, acting and feeling only out of my own Ego-centric nature! — The danger is that a man who penetrates into his own inner nature may become supremely egoistic, and this also as a partisular form of illusion to those who are endeavouring through esotcric development to achieve the same goal. In the latter case egoism takesmany forms which the person in question usually does not recognize; in fact he believes his impulses to be the reverse of egoistic.
Again and again it has been said that the path into the higher worlds demands inner conquests. But there are many who would like to tread this path without any such efforts, who would like to have vision of the higher worlds but are unwilling to undergo the experiences that make this possible; such people dislike having to overcome all kinds of impulscs inherent in human nature and want to reach the higher worlds while at the same time avoiding all such impulses. They are quite unaware that to allow entirely regular and normal occurrences on this path to be the cause of disaffection is often a sign of extreme egoism. Every individual ought really to ask himself: Is it not inevitable that as a human being I should stir up powers of this kind? — But although it has been emphasized over and over again that at, a certain stage something of the sort will happen, these people are still taken aback. In saying this I merely want to indicate the illusions and misconceptions to which everyone is apt to succumb. It must also be remembered that men in our time have become very ease-loving and would prefer to tread the path into the higher worlds with the comforts available to them in everyday life. But comforts much sought after in certain domains of life simply cannot be available along the path leading into the spiritual world.
In former times, a man who found this path through the process of Initiation which led into his inner nature, came into the realm of its own — divine-spiritual Powers at work in his physical and etheric bodies. Such a man was able to testify of the secrets of the spiritual world and to recount to his fellow-men the experiences undergone in the Mysteries while he was being led into his own inner nature and therewith into the spiritual world. But something was connected with this process. When the Initiate came habk from the spiritual worlds he could say I have gazed into the realm of spirtual existence; but I was helped! The helpers of the Initiator made it possible for me to live through the time when the demonic beings from my own nature would have got the better of me. — -But because he owed his vision of the spiritual world to helpers from outside, he remained dependent for the whole of his life upon this ‘Initiation-collegiate’, upon those who had been his helpers. He carried with him into the world the forces of the beings who had helped in his Initiation.
This was all to be changed and such dependence brought to an end. Aspirants for Initiation were to become less and less dependent upon those who were their teachers and initiators. For this help involved a factor of fundamental importance. In our everyday consciousness a clear and distinct feeling of ‘I’ wakens in us at a certain moment of our existence. This has often been spoken of, and my book Theosophy too refers to the point of time when the human being begins to be aware of himself as an ‘I’, an Ego — an experience that is not possible for an animal. If an animal were to look into its inner nature in the way a human being does, it would not find an individual Ego, but a group-Ego; it would feel itself belonging to a whole group. This feeling of of egohood, was suppressed in the ancient Initiations while a man was rising into the spiritual worlds and from everything I have said you will realise that this was a beneficial measure. For all the individualistic impulses, passions and so forth which tend to separate man from the external world are bound up with the feeling of egohood. If passions and emotions were to be prevented from reaching a certain strength, it was necessary for the feeling of egohood to be dimmed. Consciousness during Initiations in the ancient Mysteries was not like that of dreams, but the feeling of egohood was suppressed. The goal now, since the Mystery of Golgotha, was that a man should undergo Initiation while maintaining full awareness of the Ego functioning in him during the hours of waking life. The clouding of the Ego that was always part of the process of ancient Initiation, was to cease. This, of course, can only come about gradually in the course of time, but in fact it has already been achieved to-day to a considerable extent in all rightly constituted Initiations; the feeling of egohood is not extinguished when a man rises into the higher worlds.
We will now study in greater detail an Initiation of pre-Christian times, for example, that of the Essenes. Suppression of the feeling of egohood was, in a certain sense, associated with this Initiation too. That which gives man the feelng,of ‘I’, of egohood, in earthly existence, enabling him to have external perceptions — this had to be suppressed. You need think only of a very elementary aspect of everyday life to realise that in the different state of existence during sleep, when man is in the spiritual world, he has no consciousness of ‘I’. It is only in waking life that he has has consciousness, when he has withdrawn from the spiritual world and his gaze is directed to the physical world of the senses. So it is in men to-day and so too it was in those among whom Christ worked on the Earth. In a man belonging to the present era of Earth-existence the ‘I’ is not, in normal conditions, awake in the spiritual world. The essence of Christian Initiation, however, is that the ’I’ remains fully awake in the higher worlds as in the external, physical world.
Think of the moment of waking. Man emerges from a higher world and descends into his physical and etheric bodies. At this moment, however, he does not become aware of the inner processes in these bodies because his faculty of perception is diverted to the environment. Now everything upon which man's gaze falls at the moment of waking, everything that comes within his purview — whether by physical perception through eyes or ears, or grasped with the intellect bound up with the physical organ of the brain — everything, in fact, that he perceives in the physical environment, was designated in the Hebraic secret doctine as Malkhut, 1One of the ten Sephirot. See note on p. 148. the ‘Kingdom’. This was the expression used for everything in which the 'I' of man could participate consciously. The most accurate rendering of what was conveyed in Hebraic antiquity by the expression the ‘Kingdom’, is this: That in which the human ‘I’ can be consciously present, Primarily, the Kingdom denoted the world of the senses, the world in which man lives in the waking condition with full Ego-consciousness.
Let us now follow the stages of ancient Initiation while a man was penetrating into his own inner nature. The first stage, before he could penetrate into his etheric body and become aware of its secrets, is not difficult to picture. As we know, the external sheaths of a human being consist of the astral body, the etheric body and the physical body. An aspirant for this kind of Initiation must be able consciously to see through his astral body as it were from within. He must first experierice his astral body from within if he is to penetrate into the inner nature of his physical and etheric bodies. That is the portal through which he must pass. New, ever new, experiences await him — experiences as objective as those confronting him in the external world.
If we were to designate as the ‘Kingdom’ the objects which our present constitution enables us to perceive in our physical environment, we should distinguish three kingdoms: mineral, plant and animal. In the terminology of the ancient Hebrews no such definite distinction was made; the three kingdoms were comprised in one. Just as we perceive the animals, plants and minerals through the Ego when we gaze into the world of the senses, so does the gaze of one in process of penetrating into his own inner nature fall upon everything that can be perceived in the astral body. Now, however, he does not perceive directly through his Ego; the Ego is using the instrument of the astral body. And what a man sees when using a different faculty of perception — that is, when his Ego is functioning in the world with which his astral organs connect him — was always designated in the language of the ancient Hebrews by three expressions. just as we have an animal kingdom, a plant kingdom and a mineral kingdom, the trinity perceived when a man's consciousness was functioning in his astral body was designated by three words: Netzah, Yesod and Hod. To translate these expressions into our language with any degree of accuracy it would be necessary to probe deeply into the feeling for words that existed in ancient Hebraic culture, for the renderings usually given in dictionaries do not help at all. For example, Hod as a combination of sounds would have conveyed the meaning of ‘spirit revealing itself outwardly.’ The word would have signified spirituality manifesting itself outwardly, striving to express itself outwardly, but spirituality that must he conceived of as astral. The word Netzah would have been the term denoting this urge for outward expression in a much denser form. The word ‘impermeable’ may perhaps convey some indication of the meaning.
In modern textbooks of Physics you will find a statement that should really count as a definition only, but logic has not been taken into consideration. It is said that physical bodies are ‘impermeable’; but the definition of a physical body ought in reality to be that at the place where it is, no other body can be at the same time. This should count as a definition, but instead of that a dogma is created, and it is said: bodies of the physical world have the quality of impermeability — whereas the correct phraseology would be that two bodies cannot be at the same place simultaneously. That, however, is a matter belonging to philosophy. Self-manifestation in space so that everything else is excluded was expressed by the word Netzah — this would be a much denser nuance of Hod. What lies between the two was indicated by the word Yesod.
Thus there are three different nuances. First, an astral reality revealing itself outwardly — Hod; when densification or coarsening has occurred to such a degree that things become physically impermeable, the Hebraic term would have been Netzah; Yesod indicated the intermediate degrees. It may therefore be said that these three words designated the three different qualities or attributes of the beings of the astral world.
We can now follow the experiences of the aspirant for Initiation through the further stages leading into his inner nature. Having first passed through the necessary stages in his astral body, he penetrated into his etheric body, where he became aware of realities higher than those designated by these three words. Why higher? — you may ask. There is a particular reason for this — one of which account must be taken if you want to understand the inner structure of the world and of man. You must remember that it is the very highest spiritual forces that have worked on what appear to us as the lowest manifestations of the external world. Your attention has often been drawn to this, especially in connection with the nature and constitution of man.
We describe man as consisting of physical body, etheric body, astral body and Ego. The Ego or ‘I’ of man is in a certain sense the highest of his members; but at the stage at which it is to-day, it is the ‘baby’ among the four. At present the ‘I’ is actually at the lowest stage, yet it contains the rudiments of the highest perfection attainable by man. On the other hand, the physical body is, in its way, the most perfect member — although this is due, not to man himself but to the work performed by divine-spiritual Beings through the evolutionary epochs of Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon, The astral body too has already reached a stage of greater perfection than that of the Ego. The Ego is the member of our being with which we identify ourselves. Anyone who does not deliberately close his eyes to reality need only look within himself to find his Ego. On the other hand, just think how far man is from understanding the mysteries of his physical body! Divine-spiritual Beings have been working at the human physical body not for millions of years only but for millions upon millions to perfect its present structure. Between physical body and Ego are the astral body and the etheric body. Compared with the physical body, the astral body is an imperfect member, having within it desires, passions, emotions and so forth. Owing to the forces and nature of the astral body man enjoys many things that are directly injurious to the constitution of the physical body, although the etheric body, lying between them, acts as a check. Man enjoys many things that are poison for the heart; if he depended on the astral body alone his health would very soon be undermined. He owes his health entirely to the fact that the human heart is so perfectly constructed that it is able for many decades to withstand the attacks of the astral body. The more deeply we penetrate into man's constitution, the higher are the spiritual forces that have worked at its members. It could he said that our ‘I’ has been bestowed upon its by the youngest gods, the youngest divine-spiritual Powers; and much older gods have produced in our lower members that perfection which man today hardly even begins to comprehend; still less is he capalslc of producing with the instruments at his disposal the marvellous structure created by the divine-spiritual Beings.
This perfection was perceived and experienced in a very special sense by those who through an Essene Initiation, for example, penetrated into the inner regions of man's being. An Essene Initiate said to himself: When I have completed the first fourteen stages I pass into my astral. body; there I am confronted by all the passions and emotions associated with it, by whatever harm I have done to my astral body during my incarnation. But I have not yet been able to do as much injury to my etheric body as to my astral body. My etheric body is still much more godlike, much purer; it reveals itself to me when I am passing through the. second fourteen stages. — And he had the feeling that having resisted the attacks of his astral body, he had overcome the greatest stumbling-block connected with the first fourteen stages and had now passed into the light-filled spheres of his etheric body, the forces of which he had not vet been able to injure to a like extent.
What a man beheld at this second stage was indicated in the secret doctrine of the ancient Hebrews by three expressions, all of which arc extremely difficult to render in our modern language. The three expressions were Gedulah (or Hesed), Tipheret, Geburah. Let us try to picture the three realms of experience designated by these words.
When a man became aware of the realities revealed to him in his etheric body, the effect expressed by the first word, Gedulah was a picture, a conception, of majesty and grandeur in the spiritual world, of everything that gives the impression of overwhelming power On the other hand, the word Geburah, although related to Gedulah, expressed a quite different nuance of greatness — greatness deprived of a certain quality through activity. Geburah expressed that nuance of greatness, of power, which manifests outwardly in order to project itself, to assert itself in the outer world as an independent force. Whereas the expression ‘Gedulah’ implied that the effect produced was due to intrinsic excellence, Geburah conveyed the impression of a kind of aggressiveness, of something asserting itself outwardly through aggressive behaviour. Tipheret was the word used to designate greatness at rest within itself, inner richness which manifests outwardly but without any clement of aggressiveness, giving expression to spiritual greatness through its own nature. To convey what was implied by this word would only be possible by combining our two concepts of Goodness and Beauty. A being bringing its inner richness to expression in its outer form appears beautiful to us; and a being bringing its own intrinsic excellence to expression outwardly, appears good to us. But in the secret doctrine of the ancient Hebrews these two concepts belong together — as Tipheret. — Thus it was by penetrating into his etheric body that a man came into contact with beings expressing themselves through these three qualities.
The nex stage was the penetration into the physicl body. Here a man came to know the most ancient among the divine-spiritual Beings who have worked at his creation. Remind yourselves that in the articles contained in the book From the Akashic Chronical 2Published in 1959 (American edition) with the title Cosmic Memory. and in Occult Science — an Outline, it was said that the very first rudiment of the human physical body came into existence on Old Saturn. Very sublime spiritual Beings, the Thrones, sacrificed their own will-substance in order that the first rudiment of man's physical body might arise; and sublime spiritual Beings worked on this rudiment during the further course of evolution through the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions. In the lectures on Genesis, given in Munich, I described how these lofty spiritual Beings continued their work through these earlier periods, organising and elaborating this rudiment of the human physical body to higher and higher stages, culminating in the marvellous physical organism in which the human being, consisting of etheric body, astral body and Ego can incarnate to-day.
When a man was able to penetrate into his inmost nature he became
aware of what was described in the Hebraic secret teachings as the
embodiment of qualities only to be conceived of by reflecting on the
very highest wisdom attainable by the human soul. Man regards wisdom as
an ideal; he feels lifted to a higher level when be can imbue any part
of himself with wisdom. Those (among the Esscnes) whose consciousness
penetrated into the physical body knew that they were now approaching
Beings whose very nature and substance consisted of what can be acquired
by man in a very small measure only, when he strives for wisdom not
attained through acts of ordinary cognition but through hard and heavy
experiences of the soul, gained wonly in the course of many
incarnations. Even then only a certain amount of wisdom is acquired;
for not until it has been sought in every possible form could anyone be
said to possess it fully. At this stage of Initiation an Essene became
aware of Beings revealing themselves as Beings of Wisdom, Beings whose
intrinsic quality manifested itself as pure, awe-inspiring wisdom..
quality was expressed in the secret doctrine of the ancient Hebrews by the word Hokhmah,, rendered to-day as ‘Wisdom’.
A particular nuance of this attribute or quality of wisdom is again a certain densification. This is present in man but in his individuality he acquires it to a small extent only. On penetrating into the physical body from within, however, a man again encounters Beings who possess this quality — it is a densification of wisdom — in such a marked degree that it seems literally to radiate from them. It is the quality expressed by the word Binah in the secret doctrine of the ancient Hebrews, and is akin to what can be evoked in man his reason is called into play. Man acquires the power of reason to a certain limited degree only. But when the word Binah is used we must think of Beings entirely permeated by what can he born of reason. Binah is a denser nuance of Hokhmah. Hence when reference was made in the Hebraic secret doctrine to the original creative Wisdom out of which worlds were born, Hokhmah was compared to a spring of water, and Binah to a sea — indicating a certain degree of densification.
And the very loftiest experience attainable through penetration into the physical body was designated by the word Keter. It is almost impossible to find an adequate translation for this word. The quality which conveyed an inkling of the attributes of divine-spiritual Beings of the greatest sublimity could only be indicated by a symbol expressing the fact that a man was raised above his own level, invested with a significance greater than was normally his. The expression designating the lofty nature of this quality was Keter, ‘Crown’.
The following, then, are the qualities or attributes of the Beings whose realm a man reaches when he penetrates within himself into his own inner nature. 3The ten Sephirot of kabbalistic literature, See note at end of lecture, p. 148.
Gedulah (or Hesed)
Malkhut, the Kingdom, Ego.
You can picture to yourselves that in an Essene Initiation entirely new experiences were undergone by a man, when the qualities and attributes referred to became realities to him.
How did an Essene Initiation contrast with the character and form of Initiation enacted among the neighbouring peoples? All ancient Initiations were adapted to cause the suppression of the feeling of ‘I’ that a man has when he is gazing at Malkhut, the Kingdom. The feeling of ‘I’ was to be eliminated. Hence in Initiation a man could not be as he was in the physical world. True, he was led upwards into the spiritual world, but as an Initiate he could not be man in the sense that he was man in the Kingdom, in Malkhut. In connection with ancient Initiations, therefore, a sharp distinction was made between what a man experienced as an Initiate on the one hand and within his Ego on the other.
If one wanted to give a brief indication of the conditions attaching to Initiation in the secret schools of ancient times compared with those obtaining in public life, one would have to say the following. — Let nobody believe that he can retain the same feeling of egohood that he has in the Kingdom, in Malkhut, if he aspires to become an Initiate. Wonderful and glorious experiences of I lie three times three attributes in their reality come to him as he reaches higher and higher stages; but he must entirely discard the feeling of egohood that is his in the external world. Experiences designated by the words Netzah, Yesod, Hod, and so forth, cannot be carried. down into Malkliut, cannot remain associated with man's ordinary feeling of egohood. That was the conviction held universally. And anyone who might have dared to contradict this principle in ancient times would have been regarded as a fool, a madman and a liar.
The Essenes were the first to teach that the time would come when everything that is above would be carried down, so that man would be able to experience it while maintaining his feeling of egohood intact. The Greeks spoke of Βασιλεια τωυ ομραυωυ (the Kingdoms of Heaven). It was the Essenes who first taught of the coming of One who would bring down for the ‘I’, for the Ego living in Malkhut, what is above in the ‘Kingdoms of Heaven.’ And this too was taught in words of awe-inspiring power by Jeschu ben Pandira to the Essenes and to a few of those around him. The gist of his teaching as transmitted in the immediate future through his pupil Mathai (Matthew) may be indicated briefly in the following way. —
Inspired as he was by the successor of Gautama Buddha, by the Bodhisattva who will eventually become the Maitreya Buddha, Jeschu ben Pandira taught to this effect. — Hitherto the Kingdoms of Heaven could not be brought down into Malkhut, into the realm to which the Ego of man belongs. But when the three times fourteen generations have taken their course and the time is thus fulfilled, there will be born from the progeny of Abraham, from the stem of David, the stem of Jesse (Jessians=Essenes), One who will bring the nine attributes of the Kingdoms of Heaven into the realm in which the ‘I’ of man is actively present. — This teaching led to Jeschu ben Pandira being stoned as a blasphemer, for it was held to be the grossesst violation of the principles of Initiation by those who refused to admit or to recognise that because humanity progresses, something that is right for one period is not necessarily right for another.
Then came the time when prophecy was fulfilled, when the three times fourteen generations had run their course and when there could arise from the blood of the people a bodily constitution in which Zarathustra was able to incarnate, and subsequently, having achieved. further development by the means available in the body of the Nathan Jesus, to offer up that body to the Christ. 4See lecture 12, p. 209; also The Gospel of Luke, notably Lectures Four to Seven, Rudolf Steiner gives a condensed account of these happenings in The Spiritual Guidance of Man, Lecture Three. The time had come of which Christ's forerunner had declared that the Kingdoms of Heaven would draw near to the Ego which lives in the external world, in Malkhut.
We shall now realise the nature of the task facing Christ after the Temptation. He had withstood the Temptation through the power of His own being, through the principle which in a man to-day, we call the ‘I’, the Ego. He had been victorious over all the attacks and temptations confronting one who penetrates into his own astral, etheric and physical bodies. This is clearly shown in the story. Egoism in all forms is present in such a way as to reveal it in its greatest possible intensity.
A stubborn factor arising in one who is striving for esoteric development is the tendency to occupy himself solely with ins own personality. It is precisely in those who want to find their way into the spiritual world that the habit is so often found of loving to talk about their own cherished personality, concerning themselves with it every moment of the day. Whereas in other circumstances people may deliberately refrain from adopting this attitude when they make efforts to develop or perhaps when they first become anthroposophists, they now begin to pay great attention to their own Ego; and then illusions arise on all hands, illusions from which they were formerly diverted by the ordinary demands of life. Why does this happen? It is because such people are incapable of coping with what rises up from their own inner nature. They are utterly at a loss to know how to deal with what is happening in themselves. Formerly they were alert and readily attracted by the external world; now they are diverted to their own inner world and all sorts of feelings and emotions that were within them begin to rise up. Why is this? What such a person really wants is to be an an Ego, entirely independent of the external world. But then he often falls into the error of wanting to be treated like a child who is told clearly what he must do. He wants to be anything rather than a man who sets his own direction and aim in accordance with what esoteric life teaches him. He has not yet begun to reflect about it, but he has the feeling that dependence upon the external world is a disturbing factor, especially when he wants to be absolutely untrammelled and give all his attention to the dictates of his own egoism. But there is one fact, trivial though it may seem, that prevents him from detaching his bodily life at least from the surrounding world; this fact is that human beings are obliged to eat! It is a trivial fact but it is fatally true. We can learn from it how powerless we are without the world around us. It is a trenchant example of our dependence upon the surrounding world without which we could not live; we are really like a finger on our hand: if we cut it off it withers. A quite trivial consideration can therefore show us the extent to which we are dependent upon the surrounding world.
Egoism at its highest pitch may take the form of the wish: If only I could become independent of the surrounding world; if only I were myself capable of conjuring into existence by magic that which as an ordinary human being I need in physical life but which causes me to be so strongly aware of my dependence upon the world around! Such a wish may actually arise in those who are seeking to attain Initiation. Even hatred may be aroused by the realisation that one is dependent on the environment and incapable of conjuring the means of nourishment into existence by magic. It seems strange to say this, but although wishes that soon arise on a small scale when a person is striving to develop, appear paradoxical, in their extreme form they become downright absurdity. A man is usually quite unaware that he has such wishes. In point of fact no human being has them so strongly that he is deluded into claiming the power to create food by magic, to sustain life by something not derived from the external world, from Malkhut. But in an extrernesase someone might believe: If only I were able to live so entirely in my astral body and Ego that I could rely for my needs entirely on my own wishes, I should no longer be dependent on the surrounding world!
This form of temptation does arise. And in the case of the One who was to undergo it in its greatest intensity, it is characterized by the saying that the Tempter .confronting Christ Jesus bade Him turn stones into bread. This is temptation in its extreme form. The descent into a man's own inner being is described most wonderfully in St. Matthew's story of the Temptation.
The second stage comes after the aspirant for Initiation has penetrated into his astral body and is confronted by all the emotions and passions that could have made him into an utter egoist. Perceiving all this, instead of resisting and overcoming it, a man would like to cast himself down into the etheric body and physical body. This is a situation that may well he described as hurling oneself into the abyss. And this is how it is actually described in St. Matthew's Gospel: man casts himself down into what he has not hitherto been able to spoil to any considerable extent — namely, the etheric and physical bodies. But the passions and emotions must first have been overcome. The Christ Being knows this and facing the Tempter, having overcome the forces by His own power, declares: Thou shalt not tempt the Being to whom thou shoulds't surrender thyself !
Then comes the tthird stage — the penetration into the physical body. When this descent into the physical and etheric bodies takes the form of temptation, it is an experience that may come to every human being during the process of Initiation at the stage when he sees himself from within. He then perceives everything that is contained in the three highest attributes. This is like a world to him but, to begin with, a world of illusion only, a world he cannot see as intrinsic truth unless he penetrates through the sheath of the physical body and rises to those spiritual Beings who are not themselves actually within the physical body but only work in it. If we do not rid ourselves of egoism it is always the tempter of the physical world, Lucifer or Diabolus, who wishes to deceive us about our own being. He promises us everything that confronts us — although it is merely the product of our own maya, our own illusion. If this spirit of egoism does not leave us, we behold a whole world, but a world of deception and lies. Lucifer promises us this world. Let us not believe it to be a world of truth I We enter this world but remain in maya if we do not eventually free ourselves from it.
The Christ Being lived through these three stages of temptation before the eyes of mankind as a model and an example to be followed. Inasmuch as the Temptation was once undergone outside the sanctuaries of the Mysteries, resisted through the power of a Being indwelling the three human sheaths, the impulse was given whereby it was made possible for man in the future course of evolution to rise into the spiritual world with the ‘I’-consciousness belonging to the external realm of Malkhut. The two worlds were no longer to be separate and man was to be capable of rising into the spiritual worlds with the ‘I’ that lives in Malkhut. This was achieved for humanity through the victory over the Temptation as related in the Gospel of St. Matthew. A Being living on the Earth had now provided the model for the ascent of the human ‘I’ from the kingdom of Malkhut into the higher worlds and realms of existence.
What was the result of the Christ Being having lived through as an historical event, an experience hitherto undergone only in the secrecy of the Mysteries? The natural result was the preaching of the Kingdom. The Gospel of St. Matthew therefore relates the Temptation first and then proceeds to describe the stages of the ascent of the Ego, the ‘I’, that henceforth will be able in itself consciously to experience the spiritual world. The secret of the ‘I’ that in accordance with the mode of consciousness prevailing in the external world rises into the spiritual word — this secret, as the Gospel of St. Matthew relates, was now to be unveiled through the Christ Being during the time following the Temptation. Then come the chapters beginning with the Sermon on the Mount and therewith presenting the conception given by Christ of the Kingdom, of Malkhut.
Such are the profundities to be fathomed in the Gospel of St. Matthew. The sources and basic elements of this Gospel must be sought in the secret teachings not only of the Essenes but in those existing in the whole world of ancient Hebraic and Greek culture. We then feel for such a text the profound reverence which, as was said in the Munich lectures,5See Genesis: Secrets of the Bible Story of Creation, notably the beginning of Lecture VI (p. 73) and the end of Lecture VIII (pp. 99-100) arises when, enriched with the findings of spiritual-scientific investigation, we turn to the records bequeathed to us by the seers of olden time. We feel that such records speak to us across the ages. It is as though a spirit-language in which great Individualities converse with one another through the centuries were becoming audible — audible, of course, only to those who understand the words of the Gospel: ‘He who hath ears to hear, let him hear!’ But just as in the remote past many things had to happen in order that physical ears might become part of our organism, so it is in the case of the spiritual ears through which we comprehend what is said in those great spiritual records.
The purpose of modern Spiritual Science is to enable us to read and decipher these spiritual records. Not until we have acquired insight into the true nature of the in the Kingdom, in Malkhut, shall we able to understand the chapter in St. Matthew's Gospel beginning: Blessed are they who are beggars for the Spirit; for through themselves, through their own Ego, they shall find the Kingdoms of Heaven!
An Initiate of ancient times would have said to a man: In your own Ego you search in vain for the Kingdoms of Heaven. But Christ Jesus said: The time has come when in their own Egos men will find the Spirit when they seek the Kingdoms of Heaven.
The historic Christ Event consists in the carrying of profound Mystery-secrets into the external world. In this sense we shall be studying that Event still more closely, and then you will understand how to interpret the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount.
In a lecture on the subject given by Rudulf Steiner in Doruach, 10th May, 1924, to the workmen engaged on building the second Goetheanum, he answered the question put by one of them as to what the Jews meant by the ‘Sephirot-Tree.’ He said that the ten Sephirot were expressions designating ‘the forces by which man is connected with the spiritual world’, adding that these ten forces of the universe were pictured by the ancient Hebrews as working in upon the human being from all sides and directions. The lecture dealt in detail with the qualities connected with each of the ten forces.
In kabbalistic literature, various synonyms are used fur the ten Sephirot, e.g. potencies, emanations, attributes, principles. There are also many variations in the actual names and in their spelling. The Sephirot are often depicted in the form of a tree and its branches (a picture of organic life) and are charted at definite points on a figure representing Adam Kadmon (‘Primeval Man’). This figure was also used to illustrate the lecture to the workmen referred to above.
A useful article on the Sephirot will be found, for example, in the Standard Jewish Encyclopedia, and for students of Jewish mysticism who are able to read German, the following book written by a learned kabbalist and anthroposophist is strongly to be recommended: Der Sohar and seine Lehre, by Ernst Muller, with a Preface by Professor A. Bergman (Origo Verlag, Zurich, 1951).