Esoteric Christianity and the Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz
VIII. The Christ Impulse as Living Reality II
20 November 1911, Munich
Yesterday [Public lecture, Munich 19th November 1911, ‘From Paracelsus to Goethe’. (Not published in English.) 43Yesterday we heard: in the public lecture in Munich on 19th November 1911 ‘Von Paracelsus zu Goethe’. There is no transcript of the lecture. See the corresponding lecture given in Berlin on 16th November 1911 in — ‘Menschengeschichte im Lichte der Geistesforschung’ (Human History in the Light of Spiritual Research) GA 61 Dornach, 1962. we heard that in still later epochs men will be able to behold Him in even higher forms in the aesthetic and moral spheres. But when we speak in this way of the Christ Impulse we are concerned with ideas which will be resolutely opposed above all by the churches of Christendom. Great and incisive measures have been and are necessary in the onward progress of human evolution in order to promote increasing understanding of the Christ Impulse. Hitherto, indeed, such understanding has been lacking. And anyone who considers modern theology will realise not only the futility of the attitude maintained by the opponents of Christianity, but also by those who claim to be its steadfast adherents. The theosophical movement in the West should have become that stream of spiritual life which out of true and genuine sources awakens understanding for Christianity in the modern age, but such endeavours met with strong opposition.
It is important to understand the real sources of Christianity, but owing to lack of time they cannot all be mentioned today. We shall speak only of those which have been accessible to mankind since the thirteenth century.
Since the thirteenth century the movement connected with the name of Christian Rosenkreutz has been an integral part of the spiritual life of mankind. Spiritual measures of a very definite kind were necessary in the thirteenth century to enable the influence connected with this name to become part of the spiritual life of the modern age. At the time when the spiritual world was entirely shut off from human vision, a council of twelve wise men came together. All the spiritual knowledge then existing, of the world and its secrets, was gathered from their separate different spheres into this council. By means of certain occult processes, the wisdom that had passed over from Atlantis to the holy Rishis had been transmitted to seven of these twelve men. In four others lived the wisdom of the sacred mysteries of the Indian, Persian, Egyptian and Greco-Roman epochs respectively. And what existed in those days of the kind of culture which was to characterise the fifth post-Atlantean epoch constituted the wisdom of the twelfth. The whole range of spiritual life was accessible to these twelve.
Now it was known at that time that a certain individuality who had been a contemporary of the Mystery of Golgotha was to be born again as a child. Meanwhile, through a number of incarnations, this individuality had unfolded a power of deep and fervent piety, devotion and love. The council of the twelve wise men took this child into their care soon after he was born; shut off from the outside, exoteric world, he came under no influence save theirs; they cared for all his bodily needs and were also his teachers. The manner of the child's development was altogether unique; the profound spirituality he bore within him as the fruit of many incarnations came to expression, too, in his outer, bodily form. He was a weak and sickly child, but his body became marvelously transparent. He grew up and developed in such a way that a radiant, shining spirit indwelt a body that had become transparent. Through the processes of a profoundly wise form of education, all the wisdom from the ages preceding and during post-Atlantean times which the twelve wise men were able to give forth, rayed into his soul. By way of the deeper soul-forces, not by way of the intellect, the treasures of all this wisdom united in the soul of this child. He then fell into a strange condition. For a certain period of time he ceased to take nourishment; all external functions of life were as though paralysed, and the whole of the wisdom received by the child rayed back to the twelve. Each of them received back what he had originally given, but now in a different form. And those twelve wise men felt: Now, for the first time, the twelve great religions and world conceptions have been given to us, united into one interconnected whole. And henceforward what we call rosicrucian Christianity lived in the twelve men.
The child lived only a short time longer. In the external world we give the name Christian Rosenkreutz to this individuality. But it was not until the fourteenth century that he was known by this name. In the fourteenth century he was born again and lived then for more than a hundred years. Even when he was not incarnated in the flesh, he worked through his etheric body, always with the purpose of influencing the development of Christianity in its true form as the synthesis of all the great religions and systems of thought in the world. And he has worked on into our time, either as a human being or from his ether body, inspiring all that was done in the West to establish the synthesis of the great religions. His influence today is increasing all the time. Many a person of whom we do not expect it, is a pupil chosen by Christian Rosenkreutz. Already today it is possible to speak of a sign by means of which Christian Rosenkreutz calls to one whom he has chosen. Many people can discover this sign in their life; it may express itself in a thousand ways, but these different manifestations all lead back to a typical form which may be described as follows.
The selection may, for example, happen in the following way. A man embarks upon some undertaking; he spares no effort to make it successful and forges straight ahead towards his goal. While he is ruthlessly making his way in the world (he may be a thorough materialist), suddenly he hears a voice saying: ‘Stop what you purpose to do!’ And he will be aware that this was no physical voice. But now suppose that he abstains from his project. Then he will be able to realise that if he had continued ruthlessly towards his goal, he would certainly have been led to his death.
These are the two fundamentals: that he knows with certainty, firstly, that the warning came from the spiritual world, and secondly, that death would have come to him had he persisted in his undertaking. This is therefore revealed to one who is to become a pupil: You have actually been saved, moreover by a warning proceeding from a world which, to begin with, you are not within. So far as earthly circumstances are concerned, death has already come to you and your further life is to be regarded as a gift. And when the person in question realises this he will be led to the resolve to work in a spiritual movement. If the resolve is taken, this means that the choice has been accomplished. This is how Christian Rosenkreutz begins to gather his pupils around him, and many human beings, if they were sufficiently alert, would be conscious of such an event in their life.
The human beings of whom it can be said that they were, or will be, united in this way with Christian Rosenkreutz, are those who should be the pioneers of a deeper understanding of esoteric Christianity. This stream of spiritual life connected with Christian Rosenkreutz provides the highest means for enabling the Christ Impulse to be understood in our time. The beginning was already made long, long ago — a hundred years before the Mystery of Golgotha, through Jeshu ben Pandira, whose essential mission it was to make preparation for the coming of Christ. He had a pupil, Matthew, whose name subsequently passed over to his successor who was living at the time of Jesus of Nazareth. The greatest deed wrought by Jeshu ben Pandira was that he was the originator and preparer of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. The content of this Gospel derives from a ritual of initiation, and passages such as that concerning the temptation, and others, too, originate from enactments in the ancient mysteries. All these processes in the evolution of humanity were to be enacted on the physical plane too. This was written down in outline by the pupil of Jeshu ben Pandira.
Jeshu ben Pandira was not spared from the hard fate he himself predicted; he was stoned, and his corpse was suspended on a cross. The original chronicle was preserved in the hands of a few of his adherents, in deep secrecy. We can best follow what happened to it later on when the great Church father Jerome 44when ... Jerome himself says: see Rudolf Steiner ‘From Jesus to Christ’, Carlsruhe, October 1911; Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1973. himself says that he had received the document of the Matthew Gospel from a Christian sect. The original record was held at that time in the secret keeping of a small circle and through certain circumstances came into the hands of Jerome. He was charged by his bishop with the task of translating it. Jerome himself narrates this; but he says at the same time that because of the form and manner of the transcription, it should not pass into the hands of the outside world. He wanted to translate it in such a way that its secrets would remain secret — and he says, furthermore, that he himself does not understand it. The nature of what came into existence in this way was such that one man could express it in one way and another in a different way in secular language. And this is how it has come down to posterity. In reality, therefore, the world does not yet possess the Gospels in their true form. There is every reason and justification then for spiritual research today, in shedding new light upon the Gospels, to go back to the Akashic Record, because there and there only are they to be found in their original form.
Let there be no mistake about it. Christianity in its true form has yet to be separated out from the trash. One sign among many others indicates how necessary this is. For example, in the year 1873 in France a count was taken of those who could be said to belong inwardly and genuinely to Catholicism. They amounted to one third; the other two thirds proved no longer to be adherents in the real sense — and these two-thirds were certainly not composed of people who never feel the need of religion! Life is such that the religious longings of men do incline towards the Christ, but the true sources of Christianity must be rediscovered. And it is to this end that the stream of spiritual life going out from Jeshu ben Pandira flows into unity with the other stream which, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, is connected with the name of Christian Rosenkreutz.
It is also necessary for us to know that one of the characteristics of the incarnations of the Bodhisattva is that in his youth he cannot be recognised as such. Between his thirtieth and thirty-third year a great revolution takes place in the soul and the personality is fundamentally transformed. For example a Moses or Abraham individuality can be possessed by the personality of a Bodhisattva at this time of his life.
About 3,000 years after our present time this Bodhisattva will become the Maitreya Buddha. And then his influence from the spiritual world will flow into the hearts of men as a magic, moral power. In this way the two streams work together, the stream of the Maitreya Buddha and the Western stream connected with Christian Rosenkreutz.