The Gospel of St. Matthew
9 September 1910, Berne
From everything we have heard in the foregoing lectures it is clear that the essence of the Christ Event may be indicated in the following way. — The stage of evolution denoted by an ascent of the human soul to the realms of the Spirit was attainable in pre-Christian times only within the Mysteries, and through the dimming of the degree of Ego-consciousness then present in man. This stage of evolution was to receive an impulse — the fruits of which still lie, for the most part, in the future — whereby on rising into the spiritual world a man can retain the full Ego-consciousness that is normally his on the physical plane alone. This advance in evolution, made possible by the Christ Event, is truly the greatest advance that has ever taken place or ever will take place in the history of the Earth and of humanity. Whatever else may develop in Earth-evolution in this connection will simply be an elaboration of the mighty impulse given by the Christ Event.
Let us now ask: What was it that was to be brought about by that Event? There was to be a repetition, in a particular case, of certain happenings connected with the secrets of the ancient Mysteries. It was, for example, part of those secrets — and to some extent it is still the same to-day — that on penetrating into his own physical body and etheric body a man experienced in his astral body the temptations of which we spoke yesterday. And in the Greek Mysteries a candidate for Initiation had perforce to encounter all the difficulties and dangers approaching those who pour themselves out into the Macrocosm.
These experiences encountered in one or another mode of Initiation, were undergone by a great and sublime Individuality, by Christ Jesus, as a pattern for mankind. The impulse thus given made it possible for men in the course of their future evolution gradually to achieve the development resulting from Initiation.
What happened formerly in the Mysteries may be described in the following way. — Although Ego-consciousness was dreamlike and dim, certain experiences were nevertheless undergone by the candidate in his inner life of soul. Egoism was aroused in him, making him wish to be independent of the external world. But as was said yesterday, every human being is and must always be dependent on the external world, for the simple reason that he cannot create his means of nourishment by magic or dispense with what he acquires through his physical body. Because this is so he is exposed to the illusion of believing that what is acquired merely through the physical body constitutes the world and its glory. This experience was undergone by every pupil, every candidate for Initiation, but in a condition different from that in which it was undergone at the very highest level by Christ Jesus. Therefore if someone were to describe what happened to a candidate in the ancient Mysteries and then write of the same experiences in the life of Christ Jesus, there would in certain respects necessarily be similarity in the descriptions. For what had come to pass was that happenings formerly shrouded in the secrecy of the Mysteries had now moved to the arena of world-history.
Occurrences such as the following were very frequent in antiquity, especially in the last centuries before the appearance of Christ. — Suppose some painter or scribe, having been told about a certain rite enacted during an Initiation, set to work to portray or describe it. Such a painting or description might well bear a resemblance to the account of the Christ Event given in the Gospels. We can therefore imagine how in many centres of the ancient Mysteries the candidate for Initiation, having completed certain preparations, was bound with outspread arms and hands to a kind of cross in order that his soul might be released from his body. He remained in this condition for a time, undergoing the experiences already described. All this might have been painted or related in writing, and then some scholar, finding it to-day, might assert that what was undergone in the Mysteries had been founded on some older tradition; he might then add that the Gospels themselves are simply repetitions.
Statements to this effect are very widespread. In the book Christianity as Mystical Fact I have explained the sense in which secrets of the ancient Mysteries come to light in the Gospels, and that the Gospels, fundamentally, are repetitions of the descriptions of Initiation in the Mysteries. Why, in relating events in the life of Christ, was it possible to describe the processes enacted in the Mysteries? It was possible because everything that took place in the Mysteries in the inner life of the soul, had become historic fact; because the Christ-Jesus-Event was a re-portrayal of symbolic rites enacted during the process of the old Initiation, but fulfilled now at the higher level of full Ego-consciousness. This fact must always be kept in mind. The similarity of episodes in Christ's life — as narrated in the Gospels — with procedures in the Mysteries will certainly be realised by those who are convinced that such procedures became historic reality through His coming, although they were enacted on an entirely different level of consciousness.
The following could also be said. — Those destined to witness the Christ Event in Palestine observed the fulfillment of the Essene prophecy and were aware of the Baptism by John, the Temptation and what followed it, the Crucifixion, and the ensuing happenings. They could say to themselves: Here is a life lived through by a sublime Being in the body of a man. What are the all-important points in this life? Certain things take place as external events and they are identical with experiences undergone in the Mysteries by candidates for Initiation. We need therefore simply turn to the canon of a Mystery-rite and there we should find the prototype of a process that may now be described as an historical fact!
Here, then, is the great secret. What had formerly been shrouded in the darkness of temple-sanctuaries, perceptible — but only in its effects — to those in the outer world possessed of spiritual vision, was now enacted as the Christ Event on the stage of world-history itself. It must of course be realised that in the days of the Evangelists, no biographies were produced of the kind familiar to us to-day. In a biography, let us say, of Goethe, of Schiller, or of Lessing, every detail of their lives is probed into and every scrap of information collected, usually resulting in a mass of unimportant data purporting to convey the essentials of a life-history. Whereas all these details hinder one from discerning the points that really matter, the Evangelists were content to describe what was of central and fundamental importance in the life of Christ Jesus, namely that in this life there was a repetition of the process of Initiation — but enacted here in the great setting of world-history. Is it any wonder that in our time numbers of people have been taken aback by a certain disconcerting development which comes home to us even more forcibly in the light of the following facts. —
Myths and sagas have come down to us from the past. Anyone who understands their origin and character will realise that many of them are narratives of happenings in the spiritual worlds, seen by ancient clairvoyance and clothed in imagery of the sense-world; other myths again are portrayals of happenings in the Mysteries. For example, the myth of Prometheus, among many others, is partly a presentation of acts performed in the Mysteries. We often find the scene described of Zeus with a god of lower rank who is destined, according to the Greek account, to be his tempter. Zeus standing on a mountain being tempted by Pan — this theme is portrayed in many and various ways. What was the purpose of such imagery? It was meant to give expression to the process of man's descent into his inner being, where he encounters his own lower nature, his egoistic Pan-nature, when he penetrates into his physical and etheric bodies.
The ancient world is full of accounts of experiences undergone by a candidate for Initiation along the path leading into the spiritual world, and in the myths and sagas these accounts are given artistic form.
Scholarship of to-day which fails to penetrate below the surface — and this is what bewilders many people who either cannot or will not recognize the facts — declares when it finds the story of Pan tempting Zeus on a mountain that this shows clearly that the story of the Temptation told by the Evangelists is merely the repetition of an allegory already familiar to them. Scholars then draw the conclusion that there is nothing of unique importance in the Gospels, which appear to them to be compilations pieced together from ancient mythology in order to present a fictitious figure called Jesus Christ. In a certain widespread movement in Germany there were many vapid discussions as to whether Christ Jesus ever lived at all. And with a really grotesque lack of understanding — although with ostentatious erudition — all the sagas and myths alleged to contain earlier parallels of the Gospel scenes were enumerated. It is useless to-day to attempt to give an idea of the actual state of affairs, although it is well known to those who are conversant with these matters. But spiritual movements in our time develop along very strange lines!
I should not have spoken of these things if it were not constantly necessary to take a stand against arguments levelled by ostensibly profound scholarship against the facts and expositions of Spiritual Science.
The real truth of these matters is what I have presented in these lectures. Accounts originating in the Mysteries are necessarily recapitulated in the Gospels, but the secret of Initiation is now connected with an Individuality altogether different. The intention is to show that the experiences formerly undergone in a condition of dimmed consciousness were passed through by this Individuality, this Being, without any loss of Ego-consciousness. Therefore when it is said that the Gospels contain hardly anything for which there is no earlier parallel, we need not be surprised but we must realise that in former times it was a matter of the human being having to rise into the Kingdoms of Heaven, because the Kingdoms of Heaven had not then already ascended to Ego. The really new thing was that what could formerly only be experienced in other realms, and through a kind of attenuation of the Ego, could now be experienced in Malkhut in the ‘Kingdom’, with the Ego erect and self-supporting.
Hence after Christ Jesus had undergone the experience described in St. Matthew's Gospel as the Temptation, He began to preach of the ‘Kingdom.’ What was the gist of His teaching? It was this: What a man formerly attained through suppressing his Ego and receiving other beings into himself, is now and henceforward to be attained in full Ego-consciousness. — That is the essential point. Hence it is not repetition of events connected with Initiations only that are repeated in the life of Christ, but the vital point in the ‘preaching of the Kingdom’ is this: Everything promised to those who were formerly admitted into the Mysteries or who accepted their teachings, is now offered to those who learn to experience in themselves the reality of the ‘I’, the Ego, in the way prefigured for mankind by Christ.
Everything, therefore, even features of the doctrine, must necessarily appear again in some form. But it must not surprise us that emphasis was laid upon the difference between the old teachings and the new, that it was stressed: What could not, in former times, be attained through the Ego, can now be attained by the Ego itself — in full, consciousness! Let us suppose Christ had wanted to draw attention to the great truth that in former times, according to teachings that had reached them from the Mysteries, men had always looked up to the Kingdoms of Heaven, saying: Blessedness can stream down to us from there — but it does not penetrate into our Ego. — In those circumstances it would have been necessary for Christ still to uphold what was formerly said about the Divine Father-Source of existence, for contact with it was indeed attainable when Ego-consciousness was dimmed, and it was the nuances only that needed to be changed. He would have had to speak to the following effect: If you were formerly bidden to look up to the realms of the Divine Father-Source of existence and wait until His radiance streamed upon you, it may henceforward be said that not only does His radiance stream down to you, but whatsoever is willed on high must penetrate into the deepest core of the human Ego and , be willed there also.
Again, let us suppose that each single phrase in the Lord's Prayer had existed previously, and that the only one needing to be altered was to the effect that when in former times men looked up to the Divine Father-Spirit in the Heights everything there remained unchanged, shining down into the earthly realm. — Christ would now have had to say that the heavenly realm must come down to the Earth where the Ego has its dwelling-place; and the will that is fulfilled above in the Heavens must also be fulfilled upon the Earth. — It follows that those who are possessed of deeper insight and perceive the finer shades of difference, will not be in the least surprised that the phrases used in the Lord's Prayer may also have existed in ancient times. A superficial thinker, however, will not notice these fine shades of difference, for in so far as he does not understand the purpose of Christianity he fails to perceive their importance! And when he finds that these phrases were current in earlier times, he will say: ‘There you have it; the Gospels record the Lord's Prayer — but it was already in existence before they were written!’ The essential shades of difference, however, have escaped him.
You can now realise what a vast difference there is between genuine understanding of the scriptures and extern al study. The important factor is for those who discern the new shades of meaning to compare them with the old. The scholar who lacks the deeper understanding and fails to perceive these shades of difference will continue to insist that the Lord's Prayer had already been in existence before the time of Christ.
Attention must be paid to these things and mention made of them here because anthroposophists ought to be able to some extent to make a stand against the dilettante learning that makes its superficial interpretations and its voice heard to-day and by way of innumerable channels in newspapers and periodicals comes to be accepted as ‘science’.
Let me say something further in connection with the Lord's Prayer. There was once a certain individual who set out to collect from every available ancient tradition, from every relevant passage in Talmudic literature, sentences bearing some sort of resemblance to those of the Lord's Prayer. Mark well: the compilation produced by this learned scholar is nowhere to be found originally in this form; the single sentences have been taken piecemeal from one document or another. Carrying this method to the point of absurdity, we might also say: The first sentences of Faust were put together by Goethe in the same way! It might be possible to produce evidence that in the 17th century there was a student who had failed in his examination and afterwards said to his father: Have I not studied jurisprudence with toil and sweat! And another who had failed in his medical examination said: Have I not studied medicine with toil and sweat! And from this the first sentences in Faust are supposed to have been composed. It is an absurdity, but the principle and method are exactly the same as those of the trend in Gospel criticism to which I allude.
The following sentences, pieced together as stated, are sup-posed to have produced the Lord's Prayer:
‘Our Father which art in Heaven; O Lord Our God, hallowed be thy name, and let the remembrance of thee be glorified in heaven above, and upon earth here below. Let thy kingdom reign over us now and for ever. The holy men of old said: remit and forgive unto all men whatsoever they have done against me. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil thing. For thine is the kingdom, and thou shalt reign in glory for ever and for evermore.’ 1See p. 417, in Christianity and Mythology, by John M. Robertson. Second edition. First published in 1900 by Watts & Co. London. It is stated that this compilation was made more than two centuries ago by the Rev. John Gregorie, from the Jewish Euchologues.
The Lord's Prayer is alleged to have been compiled from these sayings which, as I said, were collected from many sources. But the nuance that would indicate the unique significance of the Christ Event is entirely lacking. Nowhere is it said that the Kingdom of Heaven is to come down. The words are ‘Let thy kingdom rule over us now and for ever’ — not: Thy Kingdom shall come to us! That is the essential point, but superficial scholarship entirely fails to perceive it. And although these sayings came not from one source but from records in many archives, the words of salient importance in the Lord's Prayer are nowhere to be found: ‘Thy will be done on Earth as it is done in Heaven.’ That is to say, the Ego itself is to participate actively. There you have an example of the difference between superficial research and really thorough and conscientious research which pays attention to every detail. The findings of conscientious research are available, if only people will take account of them.
I have purposely read you these sentences which are quoted in Robertson's book. It has now been translated into German as a kind of modern gospel, in order that it may become widely known; for until now, a certain Professor 2Dr. Arthur Drews. who has given a number of lectures on the subject of whether Jesus actually lived, was obliged to read it in English. The book has quickly become famous and the translation of it has meant that people need no longer make the effort to read it in a language not their own. It has been possible for a Professor at a German Academy to travel about lecturing on the question: ‘Did Jesus live?’ — and then, on the basis of the facts I have mentioned, to give the answer that there is no documentary evidence whatever to prove that a personality such as Jesus ever lived. Robertson's book is also recommended as an excellent work of reference. Anthroposophists should, however, be warned that they will hear many other things from these investigations into New Testament texts, and I want still to speak of something particularly characteristic.
The book attempts to show that versions of the Lord's Prayer existed not only in the Talmud but also in chronicles of great antiquity. To strengthen the contention that the Lord's Prayer was a compilation of phrases previously in existence and needed no Christ to utter it for the first time, the book quotes certain lines from a prayer in the Chaldaic language, inscribed on tablets, invoking Merodach, the ancient Babylonian god. Listen to this passage which occurs in a footnote: 3Op. cit. pp. 418-
‘In the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society for October, 189x, Mr. T. G. Pinches published for the first time a translation of a tablet found at Sippara in 1882, in which there occur, in an invocation of Merodach, the lines: “May the abundance of the world descend into thy (the city's) midst; may thy command be accomplished in time to come... may the evil spirit dwell outside of thee.” ’
And the learned scholar who was so deeply impressed by this passage, adds: ‘Here we have prayer norms, on the lines of the Lord's Prayer, dating perhaps from 4000 B.C.’
Can you detect any similarity between the Lord's Prayer and these sentences? Nevertheless the author of the book regards them as prayer-norms of which the Lord's Prayer is simply a copy! Such things are accepted to-day as the findings of genuine research.
There is another reason for bringing this to the notice of anthroposophists, for they must be able to reassure their consciences which might well be troubled by hearing that something or other has been established by external research, or by reading in newspapers or journals of the discovery of a tablet in Asia proving that the Lord's Prayer was already in existence 4,000 years before Christ. A very necessary question would be: Upon what basis has this been proved? — I am trying to show you the kind of foundations underlying many things that are said to-day to be ‘scientifically established’. Such examples are everywhere to be found and it is well for anthroposophists to realise the worthlessness of much that is so often held against Spiritual Science. — But we will proceed.
The all-essential point is that Christ Jesus inaugurated an evolutionary process based upon the human Ego, upon the retention of fill Ego-consciousness. The Initiation of the Ego — that was what He inaugurated. We can say that the Ego, the is the kernel of man's whole being, that all human nature to-day centres in the Ego, and that what was brought through the Christ Event to the Ego, and hence into the world, can also lay hold of, all the other members of man's being. But this, naturally, will have to take place in a very particular way and in keeping with the evolution of humanity.
These lectures show clearly what it is that can be developed. Properly speaking, knowledge of the surrounding physical-material world acquired by man not through the senses alone but also through the intellect using the brain as its instrument, has been possible only since times shortly preceding the Christ Event. Before then, men were endowed with a kind of clairvoyance. As you know from my lectures, this was the case from the early epochs of Atlantis onwards. But the faculty that was still universal and functioning in full strength during the first epochs of post-Atlantean evolution, gradually declined. Until the time of the Christ Event, however, there were still many human beings who in intermediate states of consciousness between waking life and sleep, were able to gaze into and participate in happenings of the spiritual world. Such participation did not merely mean that a man endowed with clairvoyance to a slight extent was able to assert: ‘I know that behind everything physical and material there is the spiritual, for I actually see it.’ — This was not all. Human nature in ancient times was such that it was possible, without difficulty, to enable a man to partake in the happenings of the spiritual world, To-day it is very arduous, relatively speaking, to undergo the true esoteric training leading to the attainment of clairvoyance. Natural clairvoyance manifests to-day as a last remnant, a heritage from olden times, in somnambulistic and kindred conditions. These conditions cannot be regarded as regular in our age; but in the distant past they were normal and could be sublimated and enhanced by certain measures. — Something else, too, was connected with this.
To-day, people are not guided by true history and what they happen to believe decides what is or is not historical fact. But however strongly it may be doubted, the truth is that up to the time of Christ, processes of healing, for instance, could be made effective by inducing clairvoyance. In the present age, when humanity has descended more deeply into the the physical world, this is no longer possible. But in those earlier times it was still easy, by applying certain specific measures, to enable the soul to become clairvoyant and to penetrate into the spiritual world. And because the spiritual world is health-giving, in itself and sends its forces into thc physical world, it was possible to bring about healings in this way. In a case of illness certain processes were put in motion, enabling the person concerned to see into the spiritual world. And the streams of the spiritual world flowing down into his whole being had a curative effect. This indeed was the usual method of healing. (The ‘temple healing’ spoken of nowadays is sheer dilettantism.) The fact that souls have lost the clairvoyance that was universal in former times, signifies an advance in evolution. But the earlier clairvoyant condition could be so sublimated that healing forces streamed from the spiritual into the physical world and in the case of certain illnesses cures could be effected, We need not therefore be surprised when it is said by the Evangelists that as a result of the Christ Event not only those possessed of the old clairvoyance would be able to reach the spiritual world, but also those who, owing to the evolution of humanity, had lost contact with it.
In ancient times the riches of the spiritual world were revealed to men's clairvoyant vision. Now, however, it could be said: Evolution has progressed and those who can no longer gaze into the spiritual world have become poor in spirit, beggars for the spirit. But because, through Christ, the forces of the Kingdoms of Heaven can now flow into the Ego, even when the Ego is functioning on the physical plane, those who have lost the old clairvoyance and the riches of the spiritual world, they too can experience the spirit in themselves and be blessed. Hence the momentous words: From now onwards, not only those who through the old clairvoyance are rich in the things of the spirit are blessed; but those too who are beggars for the spirit, are blessed; for when the path has been opened for them by Christ the Kingdoms, of Heaven flow into their Ego.
In earlier times the nature of the human physical organism was such that even in the normal state the soul was able to some extent to emerge from the body; this meant that a man became clairvoyant, rich in the treasures of the spirit. The densification of the physical body — for which, admittedly there can be no anatomical proof — meant that man could no longer be rich in the things of the spiritual world, of the Kingdoms of Heaven. In describing existing conditions, one would have to say: Man has become a beggar for the spirit; but the powers brought down by Christ enable him to experience within him-self the Kingdoms of Heaven. — That, then, is what might be said in reference to the processes of the physical body.
If it were a matter of describing what actually took place in man as an Ego-being, one would have to show how each of his members could be blessed inwardly, in a new way. The new truth relating to the physical body is expressed in the words: Blessed are they who are beggars for the spirit; for within themselves they will find the Kingdoms of Heaven.
In regard to the etheric body, this could be said: In the etheric body lies the principle of suffering. Only a living being can suffer as the result of injury to the etheric body — an astral body must, of course, be there as well — but the seat of the suffering must nevertheless be looked for in the etheric body. To express the new truth applying to healings brought about in earlier times through forces streaming from the spiritual world, one would have to say: Those who suffer can henceforth find consolation not only by passing out of their bodies and thus being linked with the spiritual world as was formerly the case; if they now establish a different relationship with the world they can find consolation within themselves, because through Christ a new force has been imparted to the etheric body. Hence concerning the etheric body it could be said: Those who suffer can now be blessed not only through reaching a spiritual world and in a clairvoyant condition allowing the forces of that world to stream upon them; now, if they can find the path to Christ, to the new truth, they can find within themselves consolation for all suffering.
And what would have to be said about the astral body? In former times, when a man was striving to subdue the emotions, passions and egoistic impulses of his astral body, he turned his gaze to higher spheres, pleading that strength might be vouchsafed to him from the Kingdoms of Heaven; through certain measures to which he was then subjected, the harmful instincts of his astral body were quelled. But now the time had come when through Christ's Deed he was able to receive into his Ego the power to curb and tame the passions and emotions of his astral body. The new truth relating to the astral body would therefore be expressed as follows: Blessed are those who have become meek through the power of their own Ego; for it is they who will inherit the Earth! This third Beatitude is indeed profound. Let us study it in the light of what we have learnt from Spiritual Science. — The astral body was incorporated into human nature during the Old Moon period of evolution. The Luciferic beings who had gained influence over man, established themselves in his astral body, and in consequence of this he could not, at the beginning, hope to reach his highest earthly goal. As we know, the Luciferic beings had remained at the Old Moon stage and prevented man from progressing in the right way along his path of development. But now that Christ had come down to the Earth and the Ego gould be filled with His power, it was possible for man to fulfil the essential principle of Earth-existence, inasmuch as he could now find within himself the power to curb the astral body and expel the Luciferic influences. Hence it could be said: He who curbs his astral body, he whose own inner strength keeps him from being moved to anger without the consent of his Ego, he who is inwardly serene and at the same time strong enough to keep his astral body in check — such a man will fulfil the purpose of Earth-evolution. Infinite light is thus shed by Spiritual Science on the third Beatitude.
How will man succeed in bringing about the sublimation and beatification of the other members of his nature through the Christ-power within him? He will succeed if his soul and body alike are laid hold of worthily by the power of the Ego. Concerning the Sentient Soul we can say : If a man desires to experience the Christ within himself, he must develop in his Sentient Soul a longing as strong as the instinctive longing he otherwise feels in his body and calls hunger and thirst. He must be capable of thirsting after the things of the soul with the same intensity as the body hungers and thirsts for food and drink. What man can develop through the Christ-power within him has always been referred to as ‘thirst after righteousness’. And when he fills his Sentient Soul with the Christ-power, he can find within himself the possibility of satisfying his thirst after righteousness.
The fifth Beatitude, as might be expected, is especially note-worthy, for it concerns the Intellectual or Mind-Soul. Anyone who has studied the book Occult Science, or Theosophy, and has also followed what has been said for years in lectures, knows that the three members of the human soul — Sentient Soul, Intellectual or Mind-Soul and Spiritual Soul (Consciousness-Soul) are held together by the Ego is present in the Sentient Soul in a dull condition; in the Intellectual or Mind-Soul it lights up and only then does man become wholly and completely man. Whereas in the lower members of his being, in the Sentient Soul too, he is ruled by divine-spiritual Powers, he becomes a self-dependent being in the Intellectual or Mind-Soul. Here the Ego flashes up and is active. Therefore when the Intellectual or Mind-Soul has received into itself the CHrist-power, this cannot be expressed in the same way as in the case of the lower members of human nature. In the lower members — physical body, etheric body, astral body and Sentient Soul too — man is connected with certain divine Beings who penetrate into these members, and whatever qualities he develops there are carried up again to these divine Beings. But whatever evolves in the Intellectual or Mind-Soul will be an essentially human attribute when it develops the Christ-quality. When a man begins to be conscious of the working of the Intellectual Soul, this makes him less and less dependent upon the divine-spiritual Powers around him. When he takes the Christ-power into himself he can unfold in the Intellectual or Mind-Soul those qualities which pass like to like, which are not besought from Heaven but which go forth from and return again to the same being. We must therefore feel that something streams from the qualities of the Intellectual or Mind-Soul and that something of a like character a truly wonderful way the fifth Beatitude points to this very quality. The wording here differs from that of all the other Beatitudes, and although the various translations are not particularly good, they have not been able entirely to conceal the essential point. — Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.'‘What streams forth streams back again — these words convey the true meaning when understood in the light of Spiritual Science.
With the sixth Beatitude, relating to the Spiritual Soul, we come to that principle in man in which the real nature of the the Ego, comes fully into expression; ascent to the spiritual world can now take a new form. As we know, the Intellectual or Mind-Soul came to active expression in the epoch when Christ appeared. We are living now in the epoch when the Spiritual Soul must come to expression and when man is to rise again to the spiritual world. Whereas consciousness of self first lights up in man in the Intellectual or Mind-Soul, in the Spiritual or Consciousness-Soul his ‘I’ unfolds to the -full extent and now ascends again into the spiritual world. A man who takes the Christ-power into himself will find the way to his God when he pours his ‘I’ into the Spiritual Soul. In experiencing Christ in his Ego at the level of the Spiritual Soul, he will find his God. — Now it has been said that the expression of the Ego in the physical body is the blood; the blood has its centre in the heart. Therefore the sixth Beatitude will have to indicate that through the quality imparted to the blood and to the heart, the Ego can experience God. What are the words? ‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.’ Again this is not an entirely adequate translation but it suffices.
Spiritual Science sheds light upon the whole structure of these wonderful words spoken by Christ Jesus to his intimate disciples after the Temptation. The further Beatitudes relate to the development of the higher members of man's being: Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, Spirit-Man. Therefore the words do no more than indicate what man will experience in the future and what only a few chosen ones are able to experience at the present time.
The seventh Beatitude relates to the Spirit-Self : Blessed are they who draw to themselves the Spirit-Self as the first purely spiritual member of their being; for they will be called the children of God. — The first member of the higher triad has entered into them. They have received the Divine into themselves and have become an outward expression of the God-head.
But it is now clearly shown that only chosen ones, only those who fully understand what the future is to humanity as a whole can succeed in unfolding the Life-Spirit. What men of the future, having received Christ into themselves in the fullest sense, will call the ‘Life-Spirit’ is now within the reach of a few individuals only. But because they are chosen individuals, the others are unable to understand them and they are persecuted. With reference, therefore, to those who are persecuted because as individuals they represent a stage that belongs only to the future, the words are uttered: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for in themselves they find the Kingdoms of Heaven.
And the last Beatitude concerns the closest, most intimate disciples only; it refers to the ninth member of Man's being: Spirit-Man. — ‘Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you... for my sake.’
And so these wonderful utterances relating to the nine members of man's being show how the when filled with Christ, works in the different members and brings them blessedness. In the verses following the account of the Temptation, the Gospel of St. Matthew expresses with majestic grandeur the effect of the Christ-power in the ninefold nature of man, first in the present and then in the immediate future, when those into whom the Spirit-Self already shines are called ‘children of God’ — although of these there are only a few specially blessed ones. What is so wonderful is that the indications are quite definite when concerned with members of man's being that have already developed, but become indefinite in the later utterances which relate to the distant future.
But once again we have an example of superficial scholar-ship. Suppose someone were investigating the question of whether similar utterances are also to be found elsewhere and whether the Evangelists might have strung them together from other sources. And suppose this investigator had no notion of the all-important point—that the Beatitudes apply to the Christ-filled Ego! Failing to notice the wonderful enhancement indicated in the utterances, he might well quote the following — and indeed two or three pages later in the book already mentioned, 4Christianity and Mythology, p. 422. in a chapter entitled ‘The Beatitudes’, reference is made to an ‘Enoch’ — who is not the usual (Ethiopic) Enoch — and nine so-called ‘Beatitudes’ are cited. The author admits that the original record can be assigned to the first period of the Christian era but he considers that the utterances we have characterized as being so profound could have been copied from the following nine 'Beatitudes’ of the 'Slavonic' Enoch: 5From the Book of the Secrets of Enoch, trans. from the Slavonic by W. R. Morfill, and edited, with introd. notes, by R. H. Charles. (Clarendon Press, 1896).
1. Blessed is he who fears the name of the Lord, and serves continually before his face.
2. Blessed is he who executes a just judgment, not for the sake of recompense, but for the sake of righteousness, expecting nothing in return: a sincere judgment shall afterwards come to him.
3. Blessed is he who clothes the naked with a garment, and gives his bread to the hungry.
4. Blessed is he who gives a. just judgment for the orphan and the widow, and assists every one who is wronged.
5. Blessed is he who turns from the unstable path of this vain world, and walks by the righteous path which leads to eternal life,
6. Blessed is he who sows just seed; he shall reap sevenfold.
7. Blessed is he in whom is the truth, that he may speak the truth to his neighbour.
8. Blessed is he who has love upon his lips, and tenderness in his heart.
9. Blessed is he who understands every word of the Lord, and glorifies the Lord God.
Certainly there is beauty in these sayings. But when you study their whole construction and realise that they simply set forth a few principles suitable for any epoch but not specifically for the one of drastic transformation due to the inauguration of the power of the ‘I’ — then, if you still think it possible to place these Slavonic sayings on a par with the Beatitudes of St. Matthew, you will not be far removed from those who make superficial comparisons between the various religions of mankind and whenever they come across similarities at once insist that there is uniformity, ignoring what is of essential importance.
To understand these things is to realise that human evolution progresses, that humanity advances from stage to stage, and that a man is not born in a new physical body in a later millennium in order to repeat experiences already undergone, but to experience in what respects humanity has advanced in the intervening time. That is the purpose alike of history and of human evolution. And of this the Gospel of St. Matthew speaks on every page!