How the Spiritual World Interpenetrates the Physical
Christ and the Human Soul III
15 July 1914, Norrköping
One of the concepts which must rise up within us when we speak of the relations of Christ to the human soul is that of sin and its debt. We know what the significance of the concepts of guilt and sin has in the Christianity of St. Paul. Our present age is, however, little adapted for a really deep inner understanding of the wider connections between the concepts ‘Death and Sin’ and ‘Death and Immortality,’ that are to be found in Paul's writings. This lies in the materialism of our times. Let us recall what I said in the first lecture of this course, that there could be no true immortality of the human soul without a continuation of consciousness into the conditions after death. An ending of consciousness with death would coincide with the fact, which in that case would have to be accepted, that man is really not immortal. The unconscious continuance of man's being after death would mean that what is the most important of all, that which makes man into man, would not exist after death. An unconscious human soul surviving after death would not mean much more than the sum of atoms acknowledged by materialism, which remain even when the human body is destroyed.
For Paul it was a matter of unshakable conviction that it is only possible to speak of immortality if the individual consciousness is maintained. And as he had to think of the individual consciousness as subject to sin and guilt it may be taken for granted that Paul would think: ‘If a man's consciousness is obscured after death by sin and guilt, or by their results — if after death, consciousness is disturbed by sin and guilt, this signifies that sin and guilt really kill man — they kill him as soul, as spirit.’ The materialistic consciousness of our time is far remote from this. Many modern philosophic investigators are content to speak of a continuance of the life of the human soul, whereas the immortality of man may only be identified with a conscious continuance of the human soul after death.
A difficulty of course arises here, especially for the anthroposophical world conception. To be faced with this difficulty we need only direct our attention to the relationship of the concepts of ‘Guilt and Sin’ and of ‘Karma.’ Many people get over this by saying that they believe Karma to be a debt which a man contracts in anyone of his incarnations; he bears this debt with him, with his Karma, and discharges it later; this, in the course of incarnations, compensation is brought about. Here begins the difficulty. These people then say: ‘How can this be reconcilable with the Christian acceptation of the conception of the forgiveness of sins through Christ?’ And yet again the idea of the forgiveness of sins is intimately bound up with true Christianity. It is only necessary to think of this one example: Christ on the Cross between two malefactors. The malefactor on the left hand mocks at Christ: ‘If Thou wilt be God, help Thyself and us.’ The malefactor on the right held that the other ought not to speak thus, for both had merited their fate of crucifixion — the just award of their deeds; whereas He was innocent, and had yet to experience the same fate. The malefactor on the right added to this: ‘Think of me when Thou art in Thy Kingdom.’ And Christ answered him: ‘Verily, I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.’ It is not permissible merely to gainsay these words and omit them from the Gospel, for they are very significant. The difficulty arises from the question: If this malefactor on the right has to wash away what he has brought about in his Karma, what does it mean when Christ, as it were, pardoning and forgiving him, says: ‘To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise?’ It may appear that the malefactor on the right will have to wash away his debt with his Karma, even as the one on the left. Why is there a difference made by Christ between the malefactor on the right and the one on the left? There is no doubt at all that the conception of Karma is here met by a difficulty that is not easy to solve. It is solved however when we try to probe more deeply into Christianity by means of Spiritual Science. And now I shall approach the subject from quite another side, the nature of which is already known to you, but which can bring certain remarkable circumstances to light.
You know how often we speak of Lucifer and Ahriman, and how Lucifer and Ahriman are represented in my Mystery-Plays. When one begins to consider the thing in a human-anthropomorphic sense and simply makes of Lucifer a kind of inner and of Ahriman a kind of outer criminal, there will be difficulty in getting on; for we must not forget that Lucifer, besides being the bringer of evil into the world, the inner evil that arises through the passions, is also the bringer of freedom; Lucifer plays an important role in the universe. In the same way it must be said of Ahriman that he, too, plays an important part in the universe. When we began to speak more of Lucifer and Ahriman, it was our experience that many of those who were associated with us became uneasy; they still had a feeling left of what people have always thought of Lucifer, namely, that he is a fearful criminal in the world, against whom one must defend one's self. Feeling this about Lucifer they could not of course give unqualified assent to a different conception because they must assign to Lucifer an important role in the universe, and yet again Lucifer must be regarded as an opponent of progressive Gods, as a being who crosses the plan of those Gods to whom honor is rightly due. Thus, when we speak of Lucifer in this way, we are in effect ascribing an important role in the universe to an enemy of the Gods. And we must do the same in the case of Ahriman. From this point of view it is quite easy to understand the human feeling that asks: ‘What is the right attitude to adopt towards Lucifer and Ahriman; am I to love them or hate them?’ It should be quite clear from the way in which one speaks of Lucifer and Ahriman that they are beings who, by their whole nature do not belong to the physical plane, but have their mission and task in the Cosmos outside the physical plane, in the spiritual worlds. In the Munich lectures of the summer of 1913, I laid particular emphasis on the fact that the progressive Gods have assigned to Lucifer and Ahriman roles in the spiritual worlds; and that discrepancy and disharmony only appear when they bring down their activities into the physical plane, and arrogate to themselves rights which are not allotted to them. But we must submit to one thing, to which the human soul does not readily submit when these matters are under consideration, and it is this: that our judgment, our human judgment, as we pass it, holds good only for the physical plane, and that this judgment, right as it may be for the physical plane, cannot be simply transferred to the higher worlds. We must therefore gradually accustom ourselves in Anthroposophy to widen out our judgments and our world of concepts and ideas. It is because materialistically-minded men of the present day do not want to widen their judgment, but prefer to hold to that which holds good for the physical plane that they have such difficulty in understanding Anthroposophy, although it is all perfectly intelligible.
If we say: ‘one power is hostile to another,’ or ‘hostility is unseemly,’ it is quite correct from the physical plane. But the same thing does not hold good for the higher planes. On the higher planes the judgment must be widened. Just as in the realm of electricity positive and negative electricity are necessary, so also is spiritual hostility necessary in order that the universe may exist in its entirety; it is necessary that the spirits should oppose one another. Here comes in the truth of the saying of Herakleitos, that strife as well as love constitutes the universe. It is only when Lucifer works upon the human soul, and when through the human soul strife is brought into the physical world, that strife is wrong. But this does not hold good for the higher worlds; there the hostility of the spirits is an element that belongs to the whole structure, to the whole evolution of the universe. This implies that as soon as we come into the higher worlds, we must employ other standards, other colorings for our judgments. That is why there is often a feeling of shock when we speak of Lucifer and Ahriman on the one side as the opponents of the Gods, and on the other side as being necessary to the whole course of the universal order. Hence we must, above all things, hold firmly in our minds that a man comes into collision with the universal order if he allows the judgment which holds good for the physical plane to hold good for the higher worlds.
This is the root of the whole matter and it must again and again be emphasized that Christ, as Christ, does not belong to the order of the other entities of the physical plane. From the moment of the baptism in Jordan, a Being Who had not previously existed on Earth, a Being Who does not belong to the order of earth-beings, entered into the corporeal being of Jesus of Nazareth. Thus, in Christ, we are concerned with a Being Who could truly say to the disciples: ‘I am from above, but ye are from below,’ that is to say: ‘I am a Being of the kingdom of heaven, ye are of the kingdom of earth.’ Now let us consider the consequences of this. Must earthly judgment that is entirely justifiable as such, and that everyone on earth must maintain, be also the judgment of that Cosmic Being Who, as Christ, entered the Jesus body? That Being, Who entered the body of Jesus at the baptism in Jordan, applies not an earthly but a heavenly judgment. He must judge differently from man.
And now let us consider the whole import of the words spoken on Golgotha. The malefactor on the left believes that in the Christ merely an earthly being is present, not a being whose realm is beyond the earthly kingdom. But just before death there comes to the consciousness of the malefactor on the right, ‘Thy kingdom, O Christ, is another; think of me when Thou art in Thy kingdom.’ At this moment the malefactor on the right shows that he has a dim idea of the fact that Christ belongs to another kingdom, where a power of judgment other than that obtaining on the earth, holds sway. Then, out of the consciousness that He stands in His kingdom, Christ can answer: ‘Verily, because thou hast some dim foreboding of My kingdom, this day (that is with death) thou shalt be with Me in My kingdom.’ This is a reference to the super-earthly Christ power that draws up the human individuality into a spiritual kingdom. Earthly judgment, human judgment, must of course say: ‘As regards his Karma, the right-hand malefactor will have to make compensation for his guilt even as the one on the left,’ for the heavenly judgment, however, something else holds good. But that is only the beginning of the matter, for of course it might now be said: ‘Yes, then the judgment of heaven contradicts that of the earth. How can Christ forgive where the earthly judgment demands karmic retribution?’
It is a difficult question, but we will try to approach it more closely in the course of this lecture. I lay special emphasis on the fact that we are touching here on one of the most difficult questions of Spiritual Science. We must make a difference which the human soul does not willingly make, because it does not like following the thing to its ultimate consequences; there are difficulties in following it up to its ultimate consequences. We shall find it, as I have said, a difficult subject, and you will perhaps find it necessary to turn the thing over in your souls many times in order to get at its real essence.
Firstly, we must make a distinction. We must consider the one element that fulfils itself in Karma in an objective retribution. Here we must clearly understand that man is certainly subject to his Karma; that he has to make karmic compensation for unjust deeds, and when we think more deeply about it, a man will not actually wish otherwise. For suppose that a man has done another person wrong; in the moment of this wrong he is less perfect than before he had done it, and he can only attain the grade of perfection which was his before he committed the wrong by making compensation for it. He must wish to make compensation for the wrong; for only in such compensation does he create for himself the stage of perfection which was his before the act was committed. Thus, for the sake of our own perfecting we can wish nothing else than that Karma is there as objective justice. When we grasp the true meaning of human freedom, we can have no wish that a sin should be so forgiven us; that if, for example, we were to put a man's eyes out, the sin would be so forgiven us that we should no longer need to wipe it away in our Karma. A man who puts out the eyes of another is more imperfect than one who does not, and in his later Karma it must come to pass that he does a corresponding good act, for then only is he again the man that he was before he committed the act. So that when we rightly consider the nature of man, there can be no thought within us that when a man has put out the eyes of another it will be forgiven him, and that Karma will be in some way adjusted. It is fully justified in Karma that we are not excused a farthing, but that the debt must be paid to the uttermost.
But there is another element with regard to the guilt. The guilt, the sin with which we are laden, is not merely our own affair, it is an objective cosmic concern, it means something for the universe also. This is where the distinction must be made. The crimes that we have committed are compensated in our Karma, but the act of putting out another's eyes is an accomplished fact; if we have, let us say, put someone's eyes out in the present incarnation, and then in the next incarnation do something that makes compensation for this act, yet for the objective course of the universe the fact still remains that so many hundred years ago we put someone's eyes out. That is an objective fact in the universe. So far as we are concerned we make compensation for it later. The guilt that we have personally contracted is adjusted in our Karma, but the objective cosmic fact remains — we cannot efface that by removing our own imperfection. We must discriminate between the consequences of a sin for ourselves, and the consequences of a sin for the objective course of the world. It is highly important that we should make this distinction. And I may now perhaps introduce an occult observation which will make this matter clearer.
When a man surveys the course of human evolution since the Mystery of Golgotha and approaches the Akashic Record without being permeated with the Christ-Being, it is easy, very easy indeed to be led into error, for in this he will find records which very often do not coincide with the karmic evolution of the individuals. For example, let us suppose that in, say the year 733, some man lived and incurred heavy guilt. The person now examining the Akashic Record, may at first have no connection with the Christ-Being. And behold! the man's guilt cannot be found in the Akashic Record. Examination of the Karma in a later incarnation of this man reveals that there is something still in his Karma which he has to wipe out. That must have existed in the Akashic Record at a certain point of time, but it is not there.
Examination of the Karma reveals that the man has to make amends; the guilt of the incarnation must have been inscribed in the Akashic Record, but it is not there. Here is a contradiction. This is an objective fact which may occur in numerous cases. I may meet with a man to-day, and if through grace I am permitted to know something about his Karma, I may perhaps find that some misfortune or stroke of fate stands in his Karma, that it is the adjustment of earlier guilt. If I turn to his earlier incarnations and examine what he did then, I do not find this fact registered in the Akashic Record. How does this come about? The reason of this is that Christ has actually taken upon Himself the objective debt. In the moment that I permeate myself with Christ, I discover the deed when I examine the Akashic Record with Christ. Christ has taken it into His kingdom, and He bears it further, so that when I look away from Christ I cannot find it in the Akashic Record. This distinction must be observed: karmic justice remains; but Christ intervenes in the effects of guilt in the spiritual world. He takes over the debt into His kingdom, and bears it further. Christ is that Being Who, because He is of another kingdom, is able to blot out in the Cosmos our debts and our guilt, taking them upon Himself.
What is it that the Christ on the Cross of Golgotha really conveys to the malefactor on the left? He does not utter it, but in the fact that He does not utter it lies the essence. He says to the malefactor on the left: ‘What thou hast done will continue to work in the spiritual world also and not merely in the physical world.’ To the malefactor on the right He says: ‘To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.’ That is to say: ‘I am beside thine act; through thy Karma thou wilt have later on to do for thyself all that the act signifies for thee, but what the act signifies for the universe,’ if I may use a trivial expression, ‘that is My concern.’ This is what Christ says. The distinction made here is a very important one, and the matter is not only of significance for the time after the Mystery of Golgotha, but also for the time before the Mystery of Golgotha.
A number of friends will remember that in earlier lectures I have called attention to the fact that it is not a mere legend, but that Christ actually did descend to the dead after His death. He thereby also accomplished something for the souls who in previous ages had laden themselves with guilt and sin. Error now also comes in when a man without being permeated with Christ, investigates in the Akashic Record the time before the Mystery of Golgotha. Such a man will continually make errors in his reading of the Akashic Record. For this reason I was not in the very least surprised that, for example, Leadbeater, who in reality knows nothing about Christ, should have made the most abstruse statements concerning the evolution of the Earth in his book, Man, How, Whence and Whither. For only when a man is permeated with the Christ-Impulse is he capable of really seeing things as they are, and how they have been regulated in the evolution of the earth on the basis of the Mystery of Golgotha, though they occurred before the Mystery of Golgotha.
Karma is an affair of the successive incarnations of man. The significance of Karmic justice must be considered with that judgment that is our earthly judgment. That which Christ does for humanity must be measured by a judgment that belongs to worlds other than this earth-world. And suppose that were not so? Let us think of the end of the earth, of the time when men shall have passed through their earthly incarnations. Most certainly it will come to pass that all will have to be paid to the uttermost farthing. Human souls will have had to pay off their Karma in a certain way. But let us imagine that all guilt had remained in existence in the earth that all guilt would go on working in the earth. Then at the end of the earth period human beings would be there with their Karma adjusted, but the earth would not be ready to develop into the Jupiter condition; the whole of the earth-humanity would be there without a dwelling-place, without the possibility of developing onwards to Jupiter. That the whole earth develops along with man is the result of the Deed of Christ. All the guilt and debt that would pile up would cast the earth into the abyss, and we should have no planet for our further evolution. In our Karma we can take care of ourselves, but not of humanity as a whole, and not of that which in earth-evolution is connected with the whole evolution of humanity.
So let us realize that Karma will not be taken from us, but that our debts and sins will be blotted out as regards the earth-evolution through what took place in the Mystery of Golgotha. We must, of course, realize to the full that all this cannot be bestowed on man without his co-operation — it cannot be his unless he too does something. And that is clearly brought before us in the utterances from the cross of Golgotha which I have quoted. It is very definitely shown to us how the soul of the malefactor on the right received a dim idea of a supersensible kingdom wherein things proceed otherwise than in the earthly kingdom. Man must fill his soul with the substance of the Christ Being; he must, as it were, have taken something of the Christ into his soul, so that Christ is active in him, and bears him into a kingdom in which he has not indeed the power to make his Karma ineffective, but in which through Christ it comes to pass that debt and sin are blotted out for our external world. This has been most wonderfully represented in painting.
There is no one upon whom such a picture as ‘Christ, as Judge at the Last Day’ (by Michelangelo) in the Sistine chapel can fail to make a deep impression. What really underlies such a picture? Let us take, not the deep esoteric fact, but the picture that is here presented to our soul. We see the righteous and the sinners. It is possible to present this picture differently from the way in which Michelangelo, as a Christian, has done. There is the possibility that at the end of the earth, men, seeing their Karma might say to themselves: ‘Yes, I have indeed wiped off my Karma, but everywhere in the spiritual there stand, written on tablets of brass, my guilt and sin, and these are of serious import for the earth; they must destroy the earth. As far as I am concerned, I have made compensation, but there the guilt stands, everywhere.’ That would not, however, be the truth; it might be there, but it would not be the truth. For through the fact of Christ's death upon Golgotha, man will not see the tables of his guilt and sin, but he will see Him Who has taken them upon Himself; he will see, atoned in the Being of Christ, all that would otherwise be spread out in the Akashic Record. In place of the Akashic Record, the Christ stands before him, having taken all upon himself.
We are looking into deep secrets of the earth's existence. But what is necessary in order to fathom the true state of things in this domain? It is this that men, no matter whether they are righteous or whether they are sinners, should have the possibility of looking upon Christ, that there should be no empty place where the Christ ought to stand. The connection with Christ is necessary, and this malefactor on the right himself shows us his connection with the Christ in what he says. And even though the Christ has given to those who work in His Spirit the behest to forgive sins, it never means that thereby Karma is to be encroached upon. But it does mean that the earthly kingdom will be rescued for him who stands in relationship to Christ, rescued from the spiritual consequence of guilt and sin, which are objective facts even when a later Karma has made compensation for them.
What does it signify for the human soul when one, who may so speak, says in the Name of Christ: ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee’ It means that he is able to assert: ‘Thou hast indeed to await thy karmic settlement; but Christ has transformed thy guilt and sin so that later thou mayest not have the terrible pain of looking back upon thy guilt in such a way as to see that thou hast in it destroyed a part of the earth's existence.’ Christ blots it out. But a certain consciousness is necessary, one that is demanded, one that those who would forgive sins have the right to demand — consciousness of the guilt, and consciousness that Christ has the power to take it upon Himself. For the saying: ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee’ denotes a cosmic fact, and not a karmic fact.
Christ shows His relation to this so wonderfully in a certain passage — so wonderfully that it penetrates deep, deep into our hearts. Let us conjure up in our souls the scene where the woman taken in adultery comes before Him, with those who are condemning her. They bring the woman before Him, and in two different ways Christ meets them. He writes in the earth; and He forgives, He does not judge at all, He does not condemn. Why does He write in the earth? Because Karma works, because Karma is objective justice. For the adulteress, her act cannot be obliterated. Christ writes it in the earth.
But with the spiritual and not the earthly consequence it is otherwise; Christ takes upon Himself the spiritual consequence. ‘He forgives’ does not mean that He blots out in the absolute sense, but that he takes upon Himself the consequences of the objective act.
Now let us think of all that it signifies when the human soul is able to say to itself: ‘Yes, I have done this or that in the world; it does not impair my evolution, for I do not remain as imperfect as I was when I committed the deed; I am permitted to attain my perfection in the further course of my Karma, in that I make compensation for the deed. But I cannot undo it for the earth evolution.’ Man would have to bear unspeakable suffering if a Being had not joined Himself with the earth, a Being Who undoes for the earth that which cannot be changed by us. This Being is the Christ. He takes away from us, not subjective Karma, but the objective spiritual effects of the acts, the guilt. That is what we must follow up in our hearts, and then for the first time we shall understand that Christ is, in truth, that Being Who is bound up with the whole of earth-humanity. For the earth is there for the sake of the Will of Mankind. Christ is connected with the whole earth. It is the weakness of man, as a consequence of the Luciferic temptation, that although he is indeed able to redeem himself subjectively in Karma, he cannot redeem the earth at the same time. That is accomplished by the cosmic Being-Christ.
And now we understand why many theosophists cannot realize that Christianity is in full accord with the idea of Karma. These people bring into theosophy the most intense egoism, a super-egoism; they do not certainly put it into words, but still they really think and feel: ‘If I can only redeem myself in my Karma, what does it matter to me about the world? Let it do what it will!’ These theosophists are quite satisfied if they can speak of karmic adjustment: but there is a great deal more to be done. Man would be purely a Luciferic being if he were to think only of himself. Man is a member of the whole world, and he must think about the whole world in a sense of sacrifice. He must think about it in the sense that he can indeed be egoistically redeemed through his Karma, but that he cannot at the same time, redeem the whole earth-existence. Christ enters into that. At the moment we decide not to think only of our Ego, we must think about something other than our Ego. Of what must we think? Of the ‘Christ in me’ as Paul says; then indeed we are united with Him in the whole earth-existence. We do not then think of our self-redemption, but we say: ‘Not I and my own redemption — not I, but the Christ in me, and the earth-redemption.’
Many believe they may call themselves true Christians, and yet speak of others — anthroposophical Christians for instance — as heretics! There is surely very little true Christian feeling here. The question may perhaps be permitted: ‘Is it really Christian to think that I may do anything, and that Christ only came into the world for the sake of taking it all away from me and to forgive my sins, so that I may have nothing more to do with my Karma, with my sins?’ I think there is another word more applicable to such a mode of thought than the word ‘Christian’; perhaps the word ‘convenient’ would be better. ‘Convenient’ it certainly would be, if a man had only to repent, and then all the sins that he had committed in the world were obliterated for the whole of his later Karma. The sin is not blotted out from Karma; but it can be blotted out from the earth-evolution, and this it is that man cannot do because of the human weakness that is the result of the Luciferic temptation. Christ accomplishes this. With the remission of sins we are saved from the pain of having added an objective debt to the Earth-evolution for all eternity. When we have this understanding of Christ a greater earnestness will manifest itself in many other things as well. Many elements will fall away from those conceptions of Christ which may well seem full of triviality and cynicism to the man whose soul has absorbed the Christ-conception in all seriousness. For all that has been said to-day, and that can be proved point by point from the most significant passages of the New Testament, tells us that all that Christ is to us comes from the fact that He is not a Being like other men, but a Being Who, from above, that is, ‘out of the cosmos,’ entered into the earth-evolution at the baptism by John in Jordan. Everything proves the cosmic nature of Christ. And he who deeply grasps Christ's attitude towards sin and debt, may speak thus: ‘Because man in the course of the earth's existence could not blot out his guilt for the whole earth — a cosmic Being had to descend in order that it might be made possible for the earth-debt to be discharged.’ True, Christianity must needs regard Christ as a cosmic Being. It cannot do otherwise. Our soul must be deeply permeated by what is meant in the words: ‘Not I, but Christ in me.’ For then from this knowledge there radiates into our soul something that I can only express in these words: ‘When I am able to say: “Not I, but Christ in me” in that moment I assert that I shall be removed from the earth-sphere, that in me there lives some thing that has significance for the cosmos, and that I am counted worthy, as man, to bear a super-earthly element in my soul just as I bear within me a super-earthly being in all that has entered me from Saturn, Sun and Moon.’
Man's consciousness of being filled with Christ will become of great import. And with St. Paul's saying: ‘Not I, but the Christ in me,’ he will connect the feeling that his inner responsibility to Christ must be taken in deep, deep earnestness. Anthroposophy will bring about this feeling of responsibility in the Christ consciousness in such a way that we shall not presume on every occasion to say: ‘I thought so, and because I thought so, I had a right to say it.’ Our materialistic age is carrying this further and further. ‘I was convinced of this and therefore I had a right to say it.’ But, is it not a profanation of the Christ in us, a fresh crucifixion of the Christ in us, that at any moment when we believe something or other, we cry it out to the world, or send it out into the world in writing, without having investigated it?
When man realizes the significance of Christ in all seriousness, a feeling will arise that he must prove himself worthy of the Christ who lives within him — this cosmic principle that is in him.
It may be readily believed that those who do not want to receive Christ as a cosmic principle, but who at every opportunity are ready to regret their offence, will first tell all kind of lies about their fellow men and then want to efface the lies. He who would prove himself worthy of the Christ in his soul will first prove to himself whether he ought to say a thing about which he happens at the moment to be convinced. Many things will be changed when a true conception of Christ comes into the world. All those people who write to-day or disfigure paper with printers' ink because they promptly write down things, of which they have no knowledge, will come to realize that they are thereby putting the Christ in the human soul to shame. And then the excuse will cease: ‘Yes, I thought so; I said it in quite good faith.’ Christ wants more than ‘good faith,’ Christ would fain lead men to the Truth. He Himself has said, ‘The Truth will make you free.’ But where has Christ ever said that when people imagine that they are thinking as He would have them think, this, that, or the other may be shouted out or proclaimed in writing to the world, when they really know nothing about it? Much will be changed! A great deal of modern writing will be unable to exist any longer when men start from the principle of proving themselves worthy of the saying: ‘Not I, but the Christ in me.’ The canker of our decadent civilization will be rooted out when there is a cessation of those voices which, without real conviction, cry everything out into the world, or cover paper with printers' ink irresponsibly, without being first convinced that they are speaking the truth. In this connection we have had to experience many things in the theosophical movement.* [Note by Translator. — In the following passage reference is made to the expulsion from the Theosophical Society of the German Section, of which Dr. Steiner was General Secretary. Those who are unfamiliar with the facts of the case should read the book by Eugene Levy, Mrs. Besant and the Present Crisis in the Theosophical Society, notably pages 48-50.]
How readily was the excuse to hand: ‘Yes, but the person who made the statement was at that moment convinced of its truth.’ What does ‘conviction’ of this kind amount to? It is nothing but the greatest irresponsibility — pure nonsense. It is for no personal reasons, but because of the seriousness of the situation, that I have ventured to draw your attention to the fact that there is no excuse for the lady President of the Theosophical Society to have placed before that Society the irresponsible untruth of the Jesuit fairy-tale. Afterwards people said: ‘But the President withdrew it after a few weeks.’ So much the worse when one in a responsible position trumpets forth something that, after a few weeks, has to be withdrawn, for then comes the world-judgment, and not the personal judgment. And let us add such knowledge as this to that distinction which must be made between the subjective Karma in the Ego of man and that which may be called objective Karma. For no word shall be lost; every man must make compensation for the harm that he has done; there we haven't to talk, we have to take the fact as Christ took it in the case of the adulteress: He wrote the sin in the earth. It must be clearly understood that an objective and not a merely subjective judgment of the world is necessary. That which may, in a certain sense, be called the ‘Christian Conscience’ will arise in an increasing measure as human souls become more and more conscious of the presence of Christ, and the saying of Paul becomes true: ‘Not I, but the Christ in me!’
More and more will the consciousness enter into souls that man ought not to say merely what he ‘thinks,’ but that he must prove the objective truth of what he says.
Christ will be to the soul a teacher of truth, a teacher of the highest sense of responsibility. He will fill souls with this when they come to experience the whole import of the saying: ‘Not I, but Christ in me.’
We shall speak further of these things in the next lecture.