The Fifth Gospel
6 October 1913, Christiania
In the lecture yesterday we turned our attention to the life of Jesus of Nazareth from about his twelfth year to approximately the end of his twenties. You will certainly have realised from what I was able to tell you, that during this period many things took place of profound significance not only for the soul of Jesus of Nazareth but for the whole evolution of mankind. For your theosophical studies will have brought you the knowledge that everything in the evolution of humanity is interconnected, and that an event of such importance in the life of a human soul so deeply bound up with the destiny of mankind is also of importance for the whole of evolution. From many different points of view we are learning to realise what the Event of Golgotha signified for the evolution of humanity. In this particular course of lectures we are learning to realise it by studying the actual life of Christ Jesus. And so having turned our minds yesterday to the period described, we will turn once again to the soul of Jesus of Nazareth and ponder what lived in this soul after the significant events had taken place which led up to his twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth years.
We may perhaps begin to glimpse something of what was living in this soul, from the description of a scene which took place when Jesus of Nazareth was approaching the end of his twenties. This scene which I have to relate concerns a conversation between Jesus of Nazareth and his mother — she who since the amalgamation of the two families had for long years been his mother. For all these years there had been a very deep and intimate understanding between Jesus and this mother, a far closer understanding than prevailed between him and the other members of the family in the house. Jesus himself could have understood them but they, on their side, did not quite know what to make of him. Even in earlier years he had spoken with his mother about many of the impressions that had gradually taken shape within him. But in this particular period of his life there took place a memorable conversation which lets us see very deeply into his soul. The experiences through which he had passed had brought him increasing wisdom; infinite wisdom was stamped upon his very countenance. But as is often the case on a lesser scale, a certain inner sadness had come over him. The first fruit of this wisdom had been that the penetrating insight with which he could behold those around him brought him deep sorrow. Added to this, in hours of quietude at the end of his twenties, his thoughts turned more and more to one particular event in his life — to the great inner change, the revolution that had taken place in his twelfth year as the natural result of the transference of the Zarathustra-Ego into his own soul. During the subsequent years he was aware only of the inexhaustible riches of the Zarathustra-Ego within him. At the end of his twenties he still did not know that the Zarathustra-Ego had reincarnated in him, but he knew well that in his twelfth year a tremendous change had come about in him. And now he often felt: Ah! how different was my life before that change! His thoughts often went back to the preceding years and to the infinite warmth of heart that had characterised his life. As a boy he had lived entirely aloof from mundane affairs; he had been keenly sensitive to everything that speaks to man from the world of nature, to the whole greatness and splendour of nature. But he had little talent for the treasures amassed by human wisdom, human learning. Scholarship as such interested him little. It would be a complete mistake to imagine that up to his twelfth year this Jesus child was, in the outward sense, especially gifted. He had an inner gentleness, a profound understanding of human life, deep and sensitive feelings, tenderness, an angelic quality of being. Then, in his twelfth year, it seemed as if all this had been driven out of his soul. And now he was often mindful of how, before his twelfth year, he had lived in the most intimate communion with the deeper spirit of the universe, how open his soul had been to the infinitudes. Then his thoughts went back to what his life had been since his twelfth year, how he had found himself able to assimilate Hebrew learning which seemed, however, to well up quite spontaneously in his soul, how his journeys had then acquainted him with the heathen cults, with heathen knowledge and religion; he thought of how between his eighteenth and twenty-fourth years he had been brought into contact with the external treasures accumulated by humanity, of how, in about his twenty-fourth year, he had entered into the community of the Essenes and had there become acquainted with a secret doctrine and with men whose lives were dedicated to this doctrine. Many a time his thoughts turned to those years. But he also knew that it was only the store of learning accumulated by men since days of antiquity that had risen up into his soul-treasures of human wisdom, of human culture, great moral achievements. And he often thought of what he had been before his twelfth year, when he felt as if he were united with the divine ground of existence, when everything in him was pristine, spontaneous, welling up from a warm and loving heart and flowing into other forces of the human soul.
All these feelings led to a memorable conversation between Jesus of Nazareth and the mother. The mother loved him very deeply and had often spoken with him about all the beauty and greatness of the gifts that had shown themselves in him since his twelfth year. But he had concealed from his mother in earlier years the inner schism caused within him, so that she had seen only what was great and beautiful. Therefore in this conversation which was really like a full confession, much was new to her; but she received it with a warm and tender heart. She had a profound and intimate understanding of his mood of soul, of his yearnings for all that he had been before his twelfth year. And so she tried to comfort him by speaking of all the noble and splendid gifts of which he had shown evidence since then. She reminded him of the revival of the great Jewish doctrines, the Jewish wisdom-teachings and codes of the law. She spoke of all that had revealed itself through him. But his heart grew heavy while his mother was speaking in this way, prizing so highly what he himself felt had been surmounted. And he replied: Be that as it may. If through me or through another it were possible to-day to bring new life to all the spiritual treasures of ancient Hebrew wisdom, what significance would it have for mankind? All this is, in reality, meaningless. If among the humanity around us to-day there were any with ears still able to hear the wisdom of the ancient prophets, then a revival of that wisdom would be of value. But if Elias himself were to come to-day — so said Jesus of Nazareth — and were to proclaim to our humanity the greatest of his experiences in the realms of heaven — there are no men who would listen to the wisdom of Elias, of the older prophets, even of Moses, and back to Abraham. Everything these prophets might proclaim to-day would fall upon deaf ears. Their words would be preached to the winds. Everything that I believed had been bestowed upon me is valueless for the world to-day. —
This was the sense in which Jesus of Nazareth spoke. He also spoke of a man who had been a great teacher and whose words had only lately ceased to be effective. For — so said Jesus of Nazareth — although the good old Hillel [Hillel lived from 75 B.C. to A.D. 4.] could not rank as an equal of the ancient prophets, nevertheless he was a great and profound teacher. Jesus knew well what the aged Hillel had meant for very many souls in the Jewish world even during the days of Herod when it was hard for any teacher to gain authority. He knew how profound had been the words spoken by Hillel. It was said of Hillel: The Thorah [The Thorah is the collection of the oldest and most important Jewish laws.] has disappeared within the Jewish people and Hillel has established it once again. To those who understood him, Hillel seemed as one who had revived and restored to life the primal, original Hebrew wisdom. Hillel was a teacher who, like other teachers of the wisdom, journeyed about the land. He came among the Jewish people like a kind of new Messiah. All this is narrated in the Talmud and can be confirmed by external scholarship. The people were full of praise for Hillel and had much good to say of him. I can only single out one story in order to indicate the mood and vein in which Jesus of Nazareth spoke of Hillel to his mother ... Hillel is described as a man of gentle and mild disposition, who achieved mighty things through this very gentleness and loving-kindness.
One story that has been preserved about him is deeply indicative as showing him to have been a man of infinite patience with everyone who came to him. Two men once laid a wager about the possibility of rousing Hillel's anger; for it was known that nobody could ever make him angry. Having laid a wager, one of the two men said: I will go to any lengths to make Hillel angry. In this way he sought to win his wager. Just at the time when Hillel was most fully occupied, when he was deeply engrossed in preparations for the Sabbath, this man knocked at Hillel's door and shouted rudely, without any form of deferential address — although as chief of the highest ecclesiastical court Hillel was accustomed to be addressed with respect — Hillel, come out, come out quickly! Hillel threw on his garments and came patiently out. The man said brusquely: I have something to ask thee! Hillel answered: What then hast thou to ask me, dear son? I wish to ask why the Babylonians have such narrow heads? Hillel replied gently: The Babylonians have narrow heads because their midwives have so little skill. The man went off. Hillel had remained unruffled. After a few minutes the man came back again and called out gruffly: Hillel, come out, I have something to ask thee! Hillel threw on his mantle, came out, and said: Now what hast thou to ask, dear son? I wish to ask why the Arabs have such small eyes? Hillel answered gently: The vastness of the desert makes their eyes small; the eyes get small because they are always gazing at the great desert. The man who had laid the wager now grew very uneasy. Hillel returned to his tasks. But after a few minutes the man was back again and called out gruffly for the third time: Hillel, come out, I have something to ask thee! Hillel put on his mantle, came out, and asked as gently as before: Now what hast thou to ask me? I wish to ask why the Egyptians have such flat feet? Because the ground there is so swampy, answered Hillel, and went inside the house again. After a minute or two the man returned and said to Hillel that now he had nothing to ask — he had laid a wager that he would make him angry but he saw this was impossible. Hillel answered mildly: Dear son, better it is that thou shouldst lose thy wager than Hillel his temper ...
This legend is told as evidence of Hillel's patience with everyone who importuned him. Such a man — so said Jesus of Nazareth to his mother — is in many respects like one of the prophets of old; many utterances of Hillel sound like a revival of the ancient wisdom of the prophets. He cited many beautiful sayings of Hillel and then he said: The people say of Hillel that he is like an ancient prophet who has come again. Moreover it is dawning upon me that the knowledge I possess does not come from Judaism alone. And in fact Hillel was born in Babylon and only later found his way into Judaism. But Hillel was a descendant of the House of David, was connected from very early times with the House of David from which Jesus of Nazareth and his kinsmen also traced their descent. And Jesus said: Even if I too, as a son of the House of David, could speak as the great Hillel spoke ... to-day there is nobody to listen; such teachings are untimely. In olden days men would have listened to them but there are no longer any ears to hear. It is useless and meaningless to speak of these things. And as it were gathering together what he had to say on this subject, Jesus of Nazareth said to his mother: The revelation of ancient Judaism is no longer suitable for the earth, for the old Jews have passed away; the ancient revelation is worthless on the earth as it is now. With strange feelings in her heart the mother listened to what Jesus was saying about the worthlessness of what she held most sacred. But she loved him tenderly and was aware only of her infinite love. Therefore deep understanding of what he was saying welled up in her heart. Then, leading the conversation further, he spoke of how he had wandered into places where heathen rites were performed and of what he had experienced there. Remembrance came to him of how he had fallen to the ground while standing at the heathen altar, how he had heard the Bath-Kol in its altered form. And then there flashed up within him something that was like a renewal of the old Zarathustrian teachings. He did not yet know with certainty that he bore the Zarathustra-soul within him, but the Zarathustrian teaching, the Zarathustrian wisdom, the Zarathustrian impulse rose up within him during the conversation — and in communion with his mother he experienced the reality of this mighty impulse. All the beauty and glory of the ancient Sun-wisdom came up into his soul. And he reminded himself of the words of the Bath-Kol as I rendered them yesterday, and repeated them to the mother:
Es walten die Übel,
Zeugen sich lösender Ichheit,
Von andern erschuldete Selbstheitschuld,
Erlebet im täglichen Brote,
In dem nicht waltet der Himmel Wille,
Da der Mensch sich schied von Eurem Reich
Und vergass Euren Namen,
Ihr Väter in den Himmeln.
The Evils hold sway,
Witness of Egoity becoming free,
Selfhood-Guilt through others incurred,
Experienced in the Daily Bread,
Wherein the Will of the Heavens does not rule,
In that Man severed himself from Your Kingdom
And forgot Your Names,
Ye Fathers in the Heavens.
And with these words came a realisation of all the greatness of the Mithras worship. He spoke to his mother at length about the grandeur and the glory of what had been contained in the ancient Mysteries of the different peoples, and of how much of this had merged into the Mystery-cults scattered over Asia Minor and Southern Europe. But at the same time his soul remembered how this worship had gradually deteriorated and fallen prey to demonic powers which he himself had experienced in his twenty-fourth year. All that he had experienced at that time came back to him. The ancient Zarathustra-wisdom itself seemed to him to be something which the people of his day could no longer assimilate. And then he made the second significant utterance: Even if all the ancient Mystery-cults were united into one and all that former greatness could be revived, there are no longer any to respond. Those things are of no avail! And if I were to go forth and proclaim to men what I have heard as the altered voice of the Bath-Kol, if I were to disclose the secret of why it is that in their physical life men are no longer able to live in communion with the Mysteries, no human beings would understand. To-day it would all be distorted into demonic teaching. Even if I were to proclaim it, it would neither be heard nor understood. Men have ceased to be able to hear what was once heard and accepted. — For Jesus of Nazareth knew that what he had heard as the altered voice of the Bath-Kol gave expression to a sacred, primeval teaching and had been an all-powerful prayer in the Mysteries everywhere, a prayer once offered by men in the Mystery-Centres but now forgotten. This prayer had been revealed to him when he had fallen to the ground at the heathen altar. But at the same time he realised and emphasised in that conversation that there was no possibility of making it comprehensible to men. And then in this conversation with the mother he went on to speak of what he had learned among the Essenes. He spoke of the beauty, the greatness and the grandeur of the Essene doctrine, of the gentleness and meekness of the Essenes themselves. Then, however, he made the third mighty utterance, arising from his converse with the Buddha in a vision: that it is neither possible nor is it meet for all men to become Essenes. Hillel spoke words of profound truth when he taught: Sever not thyself from the community but toil and labour in the community: for if I stand alone, what am I! But that is what the Essenes do; they separate themselves from men who thereby suffer unhappiness. — And then Jesus spoke memorable words to his mother, telling her of the experience I described in the lecture yesterday. He said: Once when I was leaving after an intimate and most significant conversation with the Essenes, I saw Lucifer and Ahriman fleeing from the gate. Since then I have known that by their mode of living and their secret doctrine the Essenes protect themselves in such a way that Lucifer and Ahriman must flee from their gates; but thereby the Essenes send Lucifer and Ahriman to other human beings, in order that they themselves may live in blessedness. These words struck with tremendous force into the tender, loving heart of the mother. And she felt as if she herself were transformed, she felt as if her very being had become one with his. And Jesus of Nazareth felt as if with this conversation everything he had hitherto borne within him had passed away. He was aware of this and the mother, too, perceived it. The more he spoke and the more the mother listened, the more deeply did she discern all the wisdom that had been alive within him since his twelfth year. But from him it all seemed to have departed. He had laid as it were into the heart of the mother what had lived within him and what he had experienced.
And he too, after that conversation, was as if transformed — so greatly changed that the stepbrothers and other kinsmen around him began to think that he had lost his senses. It is sad, they said, for his knowledge was so great. True, he was always very silent but now he has completely lost his senses. He was given up as hopeless. And indeed for days he went about the house as if lost in dream. The Zarathustra-Ego was on the point of leaving this body of Jesus of Nazareth. And his last resolution took the form of impelling him to leave the house as if mechanically and to make his way to John the Baptist with whom he was already acquainted.
And then there took place the event I have often described — the Baptism by John in the Jordan. At that conversation with the mother, the Zarathustra-Ego had withdrawn. The being whom Jesus of Nazareth had been up to his twelfth year was present once again, but now with an added greatness. And at the Baptism in the Jordan the Christ Being sank into this body. At the moment of this Baptism in the Jordan, the mother too was aware of something like the climax of the change that had come about in her. She was then between her forty-fifth and forty-sixth years. She felt as though pervaded by the soul of that mother who had died — the mother of the Jesus child who in his twelfth year had received the Zarathustra-Ego. Thus the spirit of the other mother had come down upon the mother with whom Jesus had held that conversation. And she felt herself as the young mother who had once given birth to the Jesus child of St. Luke's Gospel.
Let us try to picture the infinite significance of this event! Let us try to feel it deeply and also to realise that an absolutely unique Being was now living upon the Earth: the Christ Being within a human body, a Being who until now had never lived in a human body, had had no earthly life, had dwelt only in spiritual realms, to whom the worlds of Spirit were known, not the world of Earth! Of the earthly world this Being knew only what had been garnered as it were in the three bodies: physical body, ether-body and astral body of Jesus of Nazareth. The Christ Being sank into these three bodies, into what these bodies had grown to be under the influence of that life of thirty years. He therefore passed through His first earthly experiences as a Being completely free of all antecedents.
The Akasha Chronicle and the Fifth Gospel reveal to us that the Christ Being was led, first of all, into “the loneliness.” Jesus of Nazareth, in whose body the Christ Being dwelt, had abandoned everything that had previously connected him with the rest of the world. The Christ Being had just come down to the Earth. To begin with, He was drawn to the impressions, engraved paramountly in the astral body, which had been made upon that body and had remained as it were in the memory. It was as though the Christ Being said to Himself: This is the body which experienced the fleeing of Ahriman and Lucifer, the body which perceived that the Essenes, by their very aspirations, drive Ahriman and Lucifer to other human beings. It was to these other human beings who had been delivered into the power of Ahriman and Lucifer that the Christ Being felt Himself drawn; for it is with these powers that men have to battle. And so the Christ Being, living for the first time in the body of a man, went out into the loneliness to the contest with Ahriman and Lucifer.
I believe that the following description of the Temptation scene is very largely correct. But it is very difficult to observe such things in the Akasha Chronicle and I therefore emphasise that one point or another could be slightly modified. But the essentials hold good. The Temptation scene is, of course, included in other Gospels but it is narrated there from different standpoints, as I have often stressed. I have made great efforts to investigate this scene of the Temptation and will relate it as it actually transpired.
First of all, the Christ Being within the body of Jesus encountered Lucifer in the loneliness — Lucifer with all his power and influence, who draws near to men when they prize the Self too highly and are lacking in humility and self-knowledge. Lucifer's aim is to play upon the false pride, the tendency to self-aggrandisement in man. Now he confronted Christ Jesus and spoke approximately as recorded in the other Gospels: Behold me! The other kingdoms into which man's life has been set, the foundations of which were laid by the primeval Gods and Spirits — these kingdoms have grown old. I will establish a new kingdom. If thou wilt enter my realm I will give thee all the beauty and the glory contained in these old kingdoms. But thou must sever thyself from the other Gods and acknowledge me! And Lucifer described all the glories of his world, everything that makes an appeal to the human soul whenever an iota of pride exists. But the Christ Being came from the spiritual worlds and knew who Lucifer is, knew how souls on earth must act if they desire to resist the temptation of Lucifer. Untouched as He was by this temptation, the Christ Being knew how the gods are truly served — and He had the power to repel the onslaught of Lucifer. Then Lucifer made a second attack but called Ahriman to his support and both addressed the Christ. The one, Lucifer, desired to goad His pride; the other, Ahriman, to play upon His fear. Therefore it came about that the one Being said to Him: If thou wilt acknowledge me, through my spiritual power, through what I can give to thee, thou wilt be able to dispense with what is now essential for thee inasmuch as thou, the Christ, hast entered into a human body. This body subjugates thee, compels thee to obey the laws of gravity. But I have power to cast thee down, since the human body prevents thee from breaking through the law of gravity. If thou wilt acknowledge me, I will nullify the effects of the fall and no harm will come to thee! Ahriman said: I will keep thee from fear: cast thyself down! And both set upon Him. But as in their onslaught the one held the balance against the other, Christ Jesus could save Himself from them. He found the strength that man must find on earth if he is to stand firm against Lucifer and Ahriman. Then Ahriman spoke: Lucifer, I cannot use thee, thou dost but hinder me, thou hast not enhanced my power but weakened it. Then Ahriman bade Lucifer depart, made the final attack as Ahriman alone, and spoke words of which the Gospel of St. Matthew contains an echo: Turn mineral substance into bread! Turn the stones into bread if thou wouldst boast of Divine power! Then said the Christ Being: Men do not live by bread alone, but by the spiritual forces which come from the spiritual worlds. None knew this better than He for He had just descended from the spiritual worlds. Then Ahriman said: Thou mayest indeed be right but that cannot prevent me from keeping a certain hold upon thee. Thou knowest only how the Spirit acts, the Spirit who descends from the heights; thou hast not yet lived in the world of men. There below, in the human world, there are men who must perforce makes stones into bread, who cannot draw their nourishment from the Spirit alone. That was the moment when Ahriman communicated to Christ something that could indeed be known on earth but that the God who had for the first time come to earth could not yet know. He did not know that there below it was necessary to turn mineral substance — metal — into money, into bread. Ahriman had said that men on the earth below must nourish themselves by means of “gold.” That was the point where Ahriman still retained power. And he said: I shall use this power. That is the true account of the Temptation. And so one thing remained unsolved at the Temptation. The questions were not all of them finally solved: the questions of Lucifer, yes; but not the questions of Ahriman. For that, something more was necessary.
When Christ Jesus went out of the loneliness He felt transported above everything He had experienced and learned from His twelfth year onwards; He felt that the Christ Spirit had united with all that had been alive in Him before His twelfth year. He felt no longer any connection with what had become old and withered in humanity. He was indifferent even to the speech used in His environment — and to begin with, he kept silence. He wandered around Nazareth and still further afield, visiting many places He had known previously as Jesus of Nazareth. And then a very singular thing happened. — Remember, please, that I am relating the contents of the Fifth Gospel and there would be no point in looking for contradictory passages in the other four Gospels. I am narrating from the Fifth Gospel. — In quiet reticence, as if having nothing in common with the environment, Christ Jesus wandered, to begin with, from one dwelling-place to another, working among the people and with the people wherever He went. Ahriman's words concerning bread had left a deep impression upon Him. And everywhere He found people who already knew Him, with whom He had worked before. They recognised Him and He found among them those to whom Ahriman actually had access, simply because it was necessary for them to turn stones into bread — to turn money, metals, into bread. His presence was not, after all, essential among those who observed the moral precepts given by Hillel or by other teachers. Christ Jesus consorted with those whom the other Gospels call the publicans and the sinners for it was their lot to make stones into bread. He was constantly among these men.
But now this strange thing happened. Many of these men had known Him in the period preceding his thirtieth year, for He had already been among them. They had come to know His gentle, tender wisdom when He had gone about as Jesus of Nazareth, and in every house, in every dwelling, He had been deeply loved. This love had remained. In these dwellings the people spoke much of the man Jesus of Nazareth who was so dear to them, who had visited their houses and villages. And the following happened — as if through the operation of Cosmic Law. I am narrating scenes which were very frequent and are revealed again and again to clairvoyant investigation. There were families among whom Jesus of Nazareth had worked and who after their labours would sit together after sunset, liking to speak of the man who as Jesus of Nazareth had come among them. They spoke constantly of His love and gentleness, of how their own hearts and souls had warmed when He had lived under their roof. In many of these dwelling-places, when for hours together they had been talking in this way, it would happen that the picture of Jesus of Nazareth appeared to them in the room, as a vision shared by every member of the family. He came to them in the Spirit, or they, on their side, conjured up a spiritual picture of Him. You can imagine how deeply such families were moved when He appeared to them in a vision in which they all shared, and what it meant to them when after the Baptism in the Jordan He came back again and they recognised His outward form ... only now the light in His eyes was stronger; they gazed at the radiant countenance that had once been so dear to them and the Being whom they had seen among them as a spiritual Presence. You can imagine, too, what an extraordinary stir was created among such families, among the publicans and sinners whose karma had brought them into an environment where all the demonic beings held sway at that time! And now, through the presence of Christ in Jesus of Nazareth, the change in this Being was revealed very clearly to these particular men. In earlier years they had felt His love, His goodness, His gentleness; but now a magic power went forth from Him. If in former days they had merely felt comforted by His presence, now they felt that they were actually healed. They went to their neighbours when they too were in distress and brought them to Christ Jesus. And so it was that after He had conquered Lucifer and only the sting of Ahriman remained in men under Ahriman's domination, Christ Jesus was able to perform the deeds described in the Bible as the expulsion of the devils. Many of the demonic beings He had seen when He was lying as if dead at the heathen altar, now departed from the people when He stood before them as Christ Jesus. The demons recognised their adversary. And as He passed in this way through the land, the behaviour of the demons in the souls of men reminded Him ever and again of how He had lain at that ancient altar where instead of gods, demons had gathered and where He had not been able to perform the sacrificial rites. Inevitably His thoughts turned to the Bath-Kol which had proclaimed to Him that ancient Prayer of the Mysteries of which I have spoken to you. And the middle line of the Prayer, especially, came into His mind: “Experienced in the Daily Bread.” These men among whom He sojourned were compelled to turn stones into bread; there were many who depended for their sustenance on bread alone. And the words from that ancient, heathen Prayer, “Experienced in the Daily Bread,” engraved themselves deeply in His soul. He realised and felt the whole process of man's incorporation into the physical world. He felt that because physical embodiment was a necessity in the evolution of humanity, men were prone to forget the “Names of the Fathers in the Heavens,” the names of the Spirits of the higher Hierarchies. And He felt that there were no longer any ears to hear the voices of the old prophets. Now He knew that what had severed men from the Heavens, what must inevitably drive men into egoism and lead them into the clutches of Ahriman, was the life that is bound up with the “Daily Bread.”
As with these thoughts He went about the country, those who were most deeply aware of the change that had come about in Jesus of Nazareth became His disciples and followed Him. From many dwelling-places one or another went with Him, followed Him — followed Him because of the feeling and conviction I described. And so very soon a band of such disciples had gathered together. In these disciples He had around Him people who in their whole mood and attitude of soul were new beings, who had become, through Him, quite different from those men of whom He had once been compelled to say to His mother that they had no longer any ears capable of listening to the ancient wisdom.
And then there dawned in Him ... it was the earthly experience of the God: What I have to tell human beings is not how the gods prepared the path from the Spirit to the Earth but how men can find the path leading upwards from the Earth to the Spirit. And now there came back to Him the voice of the Bath-Kol, and He knew that the ancient supplications and prayers must be re-cast, made new; He knew that now man must seek the path into the spiritual worlds from below upwards. He transposed the last line of the old Prayer, adapting it to the needs of men living in the new era and making it bear reference now not to the multiple spiritual Beings of the Hierarchies but to the one supreme Spirit: “Our Father in Heaven.” And the second line He had heard as the penultimate line of the Mystery-Prayer: “And forgot Your Names,” He transposed into: “Hallowed be Thy Name” as the words must run for men of the new era. And the third line from the end of the old Prayer: “In that Man severed himself from Your Kingdoms,” He transposed into: “To us may Thy Kingdom come.” And the line: “Wherein the Will of the Heavens does not rule,” He transposed into the form suitable for the ears of men now, since they had no ears to hear the old setting of the words — He transposed them because the direction of the path leading into the spiritual worlds was to be completely reversed: “Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” And the mystery of the Bread, of incarnation in the physical body, the mystery of the sting of Ahriman which had now been fully revealed to Him, He transposed so that men should discern the truth that the physical world too issues from the spiritual world even if this truth is not within their immediate ken. He made this line concerning the Daily Bread into a supplication: “Give us this day our Daily Bread.” And the words: “Selfhood-Guilt through others incurred,” He transposed into: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us.” The line which came second in the old Mystery-Prayer: “Witness of Egoity becoming free,” He transposed into: “But deliver us,” and the first line: “The Evils prevail,” He changed into: “From the evil. Amen.” And so the altered voice of the Bath-Kol heard by Jesus of Nazareth when he fell at the heathen altar, was transposed into the “Lord's Prayer” known to Christianity ... it was the Prayer of the new Mysteries taught by Christ Jesus, it was the new Lord's Prayer. In a similar manner — and much remains to be said about this — arose the Sermon on the Mount and other teachings given by Christ Jesus to His disciples.
Christ Jesus worked upon His disciples in a strange and wonderful way. Please remember that I am simply relating what is to be read in the Fifth Gospel. As Christ Jesus went about, His environment was affected in a strange way. He was together with the Apostles and disciples and in communion with them, but — because He was the Christ Being — not as if He were merely present there in the body. As He went about the country, many a one felt as if He, Christ Jesus, were reigning within his own soul, as if this Being were actually within him, and he would begin to speak words which, in reality, only Christ Jesus could have spoken. This band of disciples went about and came into contact with the people ... and the one who spoke was by no means always Christ Jesus, but was often one of the disciples, for everything — even His wisdom — was shared with the disciples. I must confess that I was astonished in the highest degree when I discovered that the words in the conversation with the Sadducees related in St. Mark's Gospel were not spoken by Christ Jesus out of the body of Jesus but out of the lips of one of the disciples. It was a frequent phenomenon, too, that sometimes when Christ Jesus left the band of disciples, He was nevertheless still among them. He either went about with them spiritually or He appeared to them in His ether-body while He was actually far away. His ether-body was among them and also went about the land; and often it was not possible to distinguish whether He was present in the physical body or whether it was the ether-body that had become visible. Such was the manner of the intercourse with the disciples and with individuals among the people when Jesus of Nazareth had become Christ Jesus.
The experience He Himself underwent was as I have indicated. Whereas in the first periods the Christ Being had been comparatively independent of the body of Jesus of Nazareth, He had more and more to become one with it. And the longer His life continued, the more closely was He knit with the body of Jesus of Nazareth. In the last years, the union with the body of Jesus of Nazareth — which had itself become increasingly frail — caused Him deep suffering. Nevertheless a great multitude now accompanied Christ Jesus as He went about the country. Here or there one among the band of the Apostles would speak — here or there, another — and the people might easily believe that the speaker was Christ Jesus, for He spoke through all of them. One can listen to the scribes speaking together to this effect: It would be possible, after all, to pick out any one of these followers and put him to death in order to frighten the people; but it might be the wrong one, for they all speak alike. Such an act would be of no use to us, for the real Christ Jesus might still be living. We must find which one He really is. — Only the disciples themselves could distinguish Him but they most certainly did not divulge to the enemy who was the right one. But because of the question that had remained unsolved, the question that Christ could not solve in the spiritual worlds but only on the earth, Ahriman had gained sufficient power. As a result of the most terrible of all deeds, Christ must experience what it means to turn stones into bread. For Ahriman made use of Judas from Karioth. On account of the way Christ worked, there would have been no spiritual means of discovering among the men who revered Him which was, in truth, the Christ. For wherever the Spirit was working, wherever even a trace of convincing power was working, He could not be taken. Only where there was one who employed the means which Christ did not know, which He could only learn to know as the result of the most terrible deed wrought on earth — only where Judas was working could He be seized. The only means of recognising Him was through one who placed himself in the service of Ahriman, who in actual fact betrayed Him for the sake of money alone. Christ Jesus was connected with Judas because at the Temptation there remained something which, in a God, is comprehensible — He did not know that it is only true in the heavens that stones are not needed for bread. Because Ahriman had retained this sting, the Betrayal took place. And then Christ must come perforce under the dominion of the Lord of Death — and Ahriman is the Lord of Death. Such is the connection of the story of the Temptation and the Mystery of Golgotha with the Betrayal by Judas.
Much more could be said about the contents of this Fifth Gospel than has been said here. But as the evolution of humanity proceeds the other portions of this Gospel will assuredly also come to light. What I have tried to do by means of the narratives selected is rather to give you an idea of its character. At the conclusion of these lectures there comes before me what I said at the end of the first, namely, that it is a necessity of the times to speak now of this Fifth Gospel. And I would beg you, my dear friends, to treat what has been said as it should be treated. We have quite enough enemies to-day already and the way they act is really very curious. I do not propose to enlarge upon this for you probably know about it from the News Sheets. You are certainly aware of another strange fact. There are people who have been saying for a long time that the teaching I give is tainted by every kind of bigoted Christian dogma, even by Jesuitism. This malicious allegation is made chiefly by certain devotees of “Adyar Theosophy” as it is called and they talk sheer, unscrupulous nonsense. But our teachings have also been indescribably falsified from a quarter which had violently attacked the intolerance, the distortions and the allegations. A man from America who spent weeks and months getting to know our teachings, transcribed and carried them off in a watered-down form to America, where he has given out a plagiarised “Rosicrucian Theosophy.” True, he says he learnt a good deal from us over here but that he was afterwards summoned to the Masters and learnt more from them. He keeps silence, however, about the source of the deeper information contained in the then unpublished lecture-courses. When something like this happens in America, one may of course emulate the aged Hillel and be lenient; nor need one stop being lenient when these things make their way across to Europe. In a quarter from which the most violent attacks were launched, a translation was made of what these circles in America had taken from us and it was said in an introduction to this translation: True, a Rosicrucian conception of the world is making its appearance in Europe too, but in a bigoted, Jesuitical form; this kind of thought can really only thrive in the pure air of California. Well ... here I will pause! Such are the methods of our opponents. We may regard these things with leniency and even with compassion — but we should not shut our eyes to them. When things like this happen it behoves even those who for years have been remarkably forbearing with people who acted so unscrupulously, to be wary. Perhaps one day everyone will have their eyes opened. If the service of truth did not demand it, I should much prefer not to speak about these matters, but they must be faced fairly and squarely.
Even if on the one side these allegations are spread by others, we are not protected, on the other side, against the battle waged by people — and such there are — who find these things displeasing for rather more honest reasons. I will not bother you with all the foolish stuff which between them these two parties have written. The curious writings of Freimark, Schalk, Maack and others now being published in Germany may be ignored, for they are really too second-rate. But there are people who cannot bear the very thought of anything that resembles the nature of this Fifth Gospel. And perhaps no hatred was as sincere as that voiced by the critics who at once rose up in arms when something of the mystery of the two Jesus children — which also belongs to the Fifth Gospel — reached the outside world. True Anthroposophists will treat this Fifth Gospel which has been given in good faith, as it should be treated. Take it with you, speak about it in the groups, but also say how it ought to be treated! See that it is not irreverently bandied about among those who may scoff at it!
With things of this nature, based as they are upon the clairvoyant investigation that is necessary for our time, we stand opposed to the whole present age, above all to the kind of learning by which the age is dominated. Of this too we have tried to be mindful. Those of us who were together when the Foundation Stone of our Building was laid, tried to envisage the urgent need for spiritual teachings to be proclaimed with faithful observance of truth. We tried to picture what a wide distance separates the culture of our times from this search for the truth. It can verily be said that the cry for the Spirit rings through the age but that men are either too arrogant or too limited to be willing to know the actual truths of the Spirit. The sense of truth in the degree essential for understanding the proclamation of the Spirit, has yet to grow. For in spiritual culture as it is to-day, this sense of truth is not present in the requisite degree and — what is worse — its absence is not noticed. Treat what has been given here in connection with the Fifth Gospel in such a way that it is treated reverently in the groups. This we must ask, not out of egoism but for quite other reasons. For the Spirit of Truth must abide in us and the Spirit must stand before us in Truth. People to-day talk of the Spirit but even when they do so, they have no inkling whatever of the realities of the Spirit. There is a man — and why should names not be given — who has won great respect simply because he is forever talking about the Spirit. I refer to Rudolf Eucken. He talks the whole time of Spirit, but when one reads through all his books (just try it sometime) one finds ad infinitum: The Spirit exists, we must experience the Spirit, commune with the Spirit, be mindful of the Spirit ... and so on, in endless phrases running through every one of these books. Spirit, Spirit, Spirit! This is how men speak of the Spirit to-day because they are too lazy or too arrogant to go to the very wellsprings of the Spirit. And such men are greatly respected nowadays. For all that, it will be difficult in the modern age to make headway with anything drawn from the Spirit in such a concrete form as was necessary in describing the contents of the Fifth Gospel. Earnestness and an inner sense of truth are required for this. One of Eucken's most recent publications is a volume entitled: Können wir noch Christen sein? [Leipzig, 1911. An English translation, Can we still be Christians? was published in 1914.] Pages and pages follow one another merely reiterating Soul and Spirit, Spirit and Soul, and so it goes on through many volumes. For one gains immense repute and authority if one declares to the people that one knows something about the Spirit. In their reading, however, people do not perceive the inner untruthfulness of it all ... One would like to think that ultimately people really will learn how to read ... On one of the pages we find the sentence: Humanity to-day has passed beyond the stage of believing in daemons; one cannot any longer expect people to believe in daemons! But at another place in the same book there is this remarkable sentence: The daemonic arises when Spirit touches Soul. Here the man is speaking seriously of daemons, after having spoken, on another page of the same book, the words I quoted. Is not this the very deepest inner untruth? The time must come at last when such inwardly untruthful teachings about the Spirit are refuted. But I have never noticed that many of our contemporaries are alive to this inner untruthfulness.
And so when we serve the truth of the Spirit to-day we stand opposed to the times. This has to be remembered in order that we may see clearly what we have to do in our hearts if we would be co-bearers of the proclamation of the Spirit, co-bearers of the new life of the Spirit that is essential for mankind. When efforts are made through spiritual teaching to lead the souls of men to the Christ Being, how can one hope for much response in face of contemporary thought which contents itself with truths put forward to-day by all the shrewd philosophers and theologians: that there was a Christianity in existence before Christ! Evidence is produced to show that the cult and also certain typical narratives were already current in the East in pre-Christian times. And then these clever theologians explain to everyone who will listen to them that Christianity is simply the continuation of what was already there before. This kind of literature commands great respect, really tremendous respect among our contemporaries and they have not the slightest inkling what the real relationship is. When the Christ is said to have come down to the Earth as a Spiritual Being and then, later on, is found to be worshipped in forms of cult the same as those connected with the worship of heathen gods — and when such arguments are used, as they are to-day, to disavow the Christ Being ... this is a kind of logic of which the following is an illustration. Somebody or other goes into a house and leaves his clothes behind. It is known that the clothes belong to this particular man. A little later, such a man as Schiller or Goethe comes to the house and owing to certain circumstances is obliged to put on these clothes. Then he comes out in the clothes belonging to the other. And now somebody who has seen Goethe in these clothes, goes about saying: What are people talking about? Why is he supposed to be a man of special importance? I have examined the clothes minutely and I know that they belong to so-and-so who is a person of no importance whatever. Because the Christ Being made use of the garments, so to speak, of the ancient cults, there come these clever people who do not understand that the Christ Being clothed Himself in these forms as a garment only, and that the spiritual reality present in these old ritualistic forms now, is the Christ Being Himself.
And now — look through whole libraries, look through the countless dissertations of scientific monism to-day. All this kind of literature brings evidence concerning the garment around the Christ Being — and moreover the evidence, in itself, is correct! Dabblers in the field of the evolution of culture stand in high repute to-day and their science is accepted as profound wisdom. This is the picture we must have before us if we desire to realise not only intellectually but also in our feeling, what the communication of this Fifth Gospel means. It means that together with the truth known to us we must be alive to how and where we stand in the world to-day, realising how impossible it is to make the new tidings of the Spirit comprehensible to the thought-life of the past. And so when we have again to take leave of one another, reference may be made to words from the Gospel. With the way of thinking now prevailing in humanity, no progress is possible in the coming phase of spiritual evolution. Therefore this way of thinking must be changed, must be given another direction! Those who like to compromise and are unwilling to form a clear picture of things as they are and must be in the future, will not be able to contribute much to the spiritual teachings and spiritual service necessary for mankind.
It was my duty to speak of the Fifth Gospel which is very sacred to me. And I take leave of your hearts and souls with the wish that the bond created between us by many other things, may have been strengthened through this spiritual investigation of the Fifth Gospel — for this investigation is precious to me. Your hearts may perhaps be warmed by the thought that even if we are physically separated in space and in time, nevertheless we will remain together and feel together what we must inwardly assimilate and what is demanded by the duty laid upon the souls of men to-day by the Spirit. May the labours of every individual soul further our aims in the right way.