Mysteries of the Sun and of the Threefold Man
24 August 1918, Dornach
Should anyone wish to understand the age in which he is actually living, he must do so out of wider cosmic connections. The pettiness of this age lies in man refusing, out of these wider connections, to enlighten himself about the impulses, the forces, working into the present time. And to understand what is working anywhere nowadays it will become increasingly necessary to hark back to the conditions through which mankind's development passed at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha — this Mystery of Golgotha — we have presented it from the most various points of view, and have seen how deeply and with what significance it has taken hold of the whole course of evolution, the whole evolution of man. We know how differently men perceived and experienced before and after the Mystery of Golgotha. Naturally one condition did not pass over immediately into the other. But when we make a retrospective survey, we discover what has been stated from so many points of view. Today, so that a certain basis may be made for our further studies, there is one thing to which I should particularly like to point.
If we consider the mood, the condition of man's soul, before the Mystery of Golgotha, we can say in general that in the culture of mankind, the mankind from whom the present cultural life has arisen, a certain capacity existed in the soul to look into the secrets of the cosmic, spiritual world. Before the Mystery of Golgotha it went without saying that men did not look up to the starry heavens in the way they do today. We know how men now look at the stars and say: other planets are connected with our earth and with it revolve around the sun, and there are innumerable other fixed stars also having their planets. And if men notice what kind of thoughts they are harboring in these reflections they have to own that they are thinking of a great world machinery. Present day man has very little idea that anything beyond the forces of this great world machinery is ruling and working; but for man before the Mystery of Golgotha this was more or less self-evident. It was particularly natural for him to regard the Sun, for example, quite differently from the way in which the modern physicist regards it — roughly speaking, simply as a kind of glowing ball in universal space. Before the Mystery of Golgotha men knew that the Sun thus spoken of in physics is only one element of the whole Sun, at the basis of which lies what is of the soul and what is of the spirit. And the Spiritual lying at the Sun's basis the wise men of Greece called the universal good of the world, the goodness of the world, the unity, the good seething through the universe. That was to him the spirit of the Sun. To this Greek sage it would have seemed crass superstition to think as the modern physicist thinks — that there outside in universal space a mere glowing ball is floating. To him this glowing, floating ball was the manifestation of unified goodness, the active centre of the world. With this central good that is of a spiritual nature there was united what was of a soul nature called by the Greeks Helios. Then, third, there came the physical expression of the Good and of Helios, the physical Sun. Thus, where the Sun is, the man of that day saw what was threefold. And with this three foldness then seen in the Sun, the men who were thinking at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, prepared as the were by their knowledge of this Mystery of Golgotha, and also of the ancient mysteries — united the threefold Sun-mystery of the sages with the Christ Mystery, with the Mystery of Golgotha itself. For those who knew, veneration of the Sun was one with veneration of the Christ; for them the Sun-wisdom was united with the Christ-wisdom.
To feel all this in accordance with nature, to experience it as a
matter of course, it was necessary to have the constitution of soul
existing at that time. But this constitution of soul vanished. It was
already vanishing by the eight pre-Christian century, beginning in the
year 747 before the Mystery of Golgotha — 747 the actual date of
the Foundation of Rome. At the time of the Foundation of Rome the old
possibility was vanishing of seeing the spiritual outside in the Cosmos,
and as Rome enters history, what we may call the ‘prosaic element'
comes into human evolution. The Greeks, for instance, preserved in the
whole of their world-conception the power of seeing the other two Suns
behind the Sun — the soul and the spirit of the Sun — and
only because the Mystery of Golgotha did not descend purely into the
wisdom and perception of Greece, but into the wisdom and perception of
Rome, has it happened that knowledge of the connection of Christ with
the spiritual Sun has been cut off. Thus the Christian gathers and
Teachers of the Church have had particularly to concern themselves with
shrouding the Mystery of the Sun, making mankind forget this mystery,
not allowing it to become known. Throughout the further course of the
development of Christianity (as it is called) a veil was destined to be
spread over the deep, the significant and all-embracing wisdom of
Christ's connection with Sun-Mystery. 1Compare The Threefold Sun and the Risen
Compare An Occult Psychology Lecture. I 17.VIII.18.
Should we wish to define the task of the Church, the Church that owed its origin to Christianity having come down into all that was Roman, we should have to say that this Christian Church, colored as it was by Rome, had the particular task of shrouding as far as possible the Christ-Mystery, as far as possible keeping people in ignorance of it. The organisation the Church experienced through Romanism was especially suited to keep men as far as possible from knowledge of the Christ-Mystery. By this, the Church has become an institution for holding back the mystery of Christ, an institution for admitting the world as little as it could to the Christ-Mystery. This is something that today must become ever clearer to mankind, for the age must begin that is in the position to work with other concepts than those of Rome. Roman concepts are precisely those that have the hard outlines, the hard form of the corpse. The concepts that are developed to grasp, for example, the truth about man, as I drew him on the blackboard for you a week ago, in what I might call his normal aura, the concepts necessary for man's true reality to be grasped again and through that the reality of the world, these concepts must be flexible, they should not have sharp outlines. For reality is not rigid, it is something that is becoming. And should we want to understand reality with our concepts and ideas, we have with these to pursue the flow, the becoming of reality.
When this fluidity of the concept is ignored there arises what to the undoing of mankind can be observed today in countless places. Take a phenomenon that forces itself on the attention of any observer of the world who is wide awake and in earnest. It is as follows: you will allow it to be true that we have among us in the world men of learning in the most various spheres. These learned ones are the champions, the keepers of knowledge. Although modern man is not a believer in authority, in spite of having rid the world of such superstition, he takes on trust everything upheld in the various spheres by the learned. And these among themselves, always believe their brethren concerning a matter outside their own sphere. Men today do not willingly see into these connections for should they do so they would be shocked at the disconnected and chaotic nature of our culture. We have, however, experienced the following, for example. Let us suppose some learned man — and we can always pick one out of the various spheres has for his particular sphere, let us say, Egyptology — I will take something exotic, so let it be Egyptology. So, we will agree that his profession is to instruct other men, unable to avail themselves of the sources of such knowledge, concerning the particular qualities of the Egyptian people. He gives these men instruction also concerning the relations of the Egyptians to other peoples of antiquity. It is the part of these men to take all this on trust for the instructor is an authority on Egyptology. Now something most unfortunate is a feature of our age — a great number of these learned men who represent such special subjects have not remained silent. It would have been better had they kept silence but this they have not done; for instance, they have today applied their way of thinking, their thought structure, under the impression of these events to their own people and its relation to other peoples. Here we have a good opportunity of seeing what nonsense is talked. Now from this we have to draw our conclusions, and conclusions founded on reality in thought. We may say that quite a number who are authorities in the domain of Egyptology, and are thought to hold incontestable concepts in regard to the particular qualities of the Egyptian people and their relations to other peoples, now, suddenly at the present time, are talking utter nonsense about their own people and the relation of these to other folk: Do you really believe that they are talking, have talked, more intelligently about the Egyptians and their relations to other peoples? When Balfour speaks today about the relation of his people to the rest of the world, or when Houston Stewart Chamberlain is continually uttering rubbish about the connections between men, one can gather without much reflection that they are simply talking nonsense — pure nonsense: And now Chamberlain has written The Foundation of Culture in the Nineteenth Century, and a number of other books for which there has not been the opportunity to verify the history. In these he will naturally have talked exactly the same nonsense.
Already now the time of testing has come, the time of trial, when we have at last to see that it is not a matter simply of delivering judgment that only has limited value by being right in a certain sphere — that is true of almost every judgment, the most false is right in some particular — but what matters is to seek for that flexible, fluid judgment that presses on to the reality, and only through spiritual science can that be found.
How remarkable it is what conflict today comes to the surface between sound thinking and the thinking of the times. Recently we have heard of a religious discussion that has taken place in what was St. Petersburg. A religious discussion right in the midst of Bolshevism: About a religion and its development there spoke Socialists, Priests of the Greek Church, and it goes without saying, all kinds of bourgeois folk who naturally were not the most intelligent of the speakers. And from the discussion that was carried on there — which was of course tinged with modern colour, but throughout had recourse to the most rigid and ancient concepts — from this discussion, as it appears, it was possible to learn much. For instance, one Priest brought forward something of the greatest interest. He felt himself obliged, it seems, to speak as he was accustomed to address his flock. Now formerly he had naturally told his flock that everything in the world — including Czarism, of course and indeed everything — was from God. And what can this good Priest do now? Naturally he still has somehow to follow the same theme that he used in speaking to his flock — no longer now his flock — for he has no wish to take on new concepts. So he says: The world is from God, all comes from God. As we now have Soviet rule that is from God too. Bolshevism is certainly sent man by God. Since everything is from God, Bolshevism as well must come from Him. — What else was he to say? I am quite sure that the deduction could be pressed further; why should it not be made beautifully plausible that the devil is from God? Naturally the devil is appointed by God — according to the same deduction. This is how things are — by getting deeper light on what is necessity, it is natural that one should meet on all sides with the strongest opposition. But no one can go to sleep who has undertaken to play a part in the remodeling of man's powers of conception.
Now concepts worked out by materialism — concepts that pass current as being incontestable belong to all that must be most thoroughly overcome. Nothing meets us with more persistence from the so-called authority of science than what is known as the law of the conservation of energy and of matter, of force and of substance. That has grown very near to man's heart. It is true, is it not, that the world conception that has become entirely mechanistic and physical, wants to be deaf in face of the actual presence of the spirit. As it refuses to recognise the spirit it cannot ascribe to it either duration or eternity so it ascribes eternity to its little idol, the atom, or anyhow to some matter or force. But the truth is, my dear friends, that of all that is extended around you as what you can look upon with your senses, what surrounds you in the world as matter and forces — of all this in accordance with normal laws there will be nothing left by the time of the Venus age. We know that after the Earth evolution there follows that of Jupiter, after the Jupiter evolution that of Venus, and then that of Vulcan. As man finds himself again in different incarnations, so the earth finds itself as Jupiter, from the Jupiter evolution as Venus and then again as Vulcan. What today from any experiment in physics is found as matter and the structure of matter, will not be there after the Venus existence. There is no conservation of matter and force, the matter and force of which physicists speak, beyond the existence of Venus. The whole law of the conservation of matter and of force is pure superstition, and is something by which all concepts in physics are governed. Something is concealed, however, when the world is spoken of as consisting of indestructible matter that is continuously being submitted to different grouping, different arrangement. And what is thus concealed is the answer to the question: what then remains of all that is so widely spread out before our senses when this is no longer there — when the Venus age has come or when it is already half way through its term? What then remains? Where is there anything? What is still there?
Now, my dear friends, direct your gaze outside into the vast circumference that you can see. Look at everything, look at the whole of the kingdoms of mineral, plant, animal and man; look at all you can see in the way of stars, light-phenomena; see what happens in air and water; look wherever you like, include everything that can possibly be included in your external sense perceptions — then ask yourselves: Where is anything in which there will remain a vestige of our present existence? And the answer is: In no animal, in no plant, in no mineral, not in any air, or any water — nowhere but in man: Of what you see today man himself alone contains anything that in accordance with law continues beyond the Venus existence — Nowhere else can you seek anything permanent, anything that can be referred to by the concept of eternity — nowhere save in man. That is to say, if we are looking for the seeds of the real future of the world where have we to seek? We must seek them in man. We cannot look for them in any other creation or any other kingdom. But before the Mystery of Golgotha, men of old naturally in spirit — saw through the kingdoms the cosmic All. If we take the representative, the Sun, they saw a glowing ball, but through the glowing ball they saw Helios and the Good. Nevertheless this glowing sphere of the Sun will not exist beyond the Venus age; it will then disappear. And everything through which man, in ancient times, saw in a veiled way, the constituents of some spiritual existence will also disappear. And of all that is here now there will remain for the future only what is planted seedwise into man.
What then has actually happened? Before the Mystery of Golgotha men used to look out into the wide Cosmos; they saw stars upon stars, they saw Sun and Moon, air and water, the various kingdoms. But they did not see them in the same way as modern man, for they saw them all with the divine spiritual being behind. And behind all that, they saw the Christ who had not then descended to earth. In those olden times Christ was seen to be united with the cosmos; he was seen outside the earth. There is nothing in which Christ was thus seen that will last beyond the Venus age. Everything through which the spiritual and also Christ in the cosmos were revealed to man before the Mystery of Golgotha will last only to the Venus existence. Before the Mystery of Golgotha men lived with the heavens, but these heavens are so physical that they too will vanish with the Venus existence. What will last longer than that has its seed in man alone. The Christ had to come to man out of the cosmos if He wished to tread with man the path to eternity. Because all that I have described to you is so, Christ descended from the cosmos in order henceforth to be with what as seed in man, will last on into eternity.
That is the great cosmic event that must be understood. Before the Mystery of Golgotha men could worship the God, the Christ, in the cosmos. Since the Mystery of Golgotha the time has come when the seed for the eternal future of the world is increasingly only in man; and the men who were to come after had to have a Christ who is not outside in the cosmos which will disintegrate, but be united with man, united with the human organisation, with the human kingdom. It is literally true that what are there for the senses in the whole wide circumference as stars, as heavenly bodies, will pass away. 2See Whitsuntide lecture Dornach 6-9-24 page 7. But the word will remain, the Logos, who has appeared in the Christ and is united with the eternal essential being of man. And this is literally true, as things in the real occult, religious primal record are literal truth.
That is also the reason why a double name has to be given — I have already given indications of this — the double name Christ-Jesus. It must not be forgotten that on the one hand we must recognise the Christ who belongs to the cosmos beyond the earth, the spiritual being who before the mystery of Golgotha was not bound up with man on earth. Then He descended and united Himself with human nature — with the Jesus. In the twofold name Christ-Jesus there lies what it is necessary to understand. In the Christ we have to see the cosmic, the spiritual; in Jesus we must see that through which this cosmic, spiritual being entered historic evolution, binding Himself to mankind in such a way that He can now live on with the seed of man into eternity.
And as the centuries flowed on it was the task of the Church to conceal, to misrepresent, this mystery of Christ which was connected with the ancient mysteries. Just try really to study what during all those early centuries was passed through by man, try to see clearly how it was with the individual man who really wanted to seek Christ-Jesus, who really wanted to find the path to Him — it was a long path of martyrdom. Christ-Jesus had always to be sought in defiance of convention — as even today he must be sought against the stream of those conventions that still persist.
One cannot, however, come near the Christ-Mystery if one does not connect it with the mystery of nature. For you see what we have placed before our souls, namely, the necessity for the descent of Christ from cosmic heights to the seed in man, the mystery of Christ becoming Jesus, can be understood only when the study of nature, the study of the world, cosmology, the knowledge of man's becoming, and of the divine in man — when all these form a unity. In a certain sphere it is sought to prevent natural science becoming at the same time spiritual science, or spiritual science becoming natural science. That is what most theologians try to do, and, in another domain, what most modern physicists try to do — to erect a barrier between physical science, on the one side, spiritual science on the other. On no account must anything be said about Christ-Jesus that is connected at the same time with the evolution of the earth; nor anything be said about earth-evolution, that is, about its details, that is connected with the great spiritual mystery.
Touching on these things, one actually touches on what is of most importance, of supreme importance in the life of modern man. For confused chatter about all kinds of spiritual things, that has indeed been brought to one's attention by our friends, brought to one's attention ad nauseam — this sort of confused chatter profits no one. I am referring to how constantly people come to one saying: Just listen: So and so has been speaking quite theosophically — or anthroposophically he has said such and such a thing: This facile looking around for support in the present confusion is not what we are meant to be striving for: we should stand on the firm ground that spiritual science will surely give us. The time is too grave for further compromise, particularly in this sphere. For to build the bridge between the knowledge of nature, that is, the knowledge of anything perceived, and the knowledge to which belong sin and redemption, in short, the religious truths — to set up a bridge between these two domains can be done only when man finds the courage really to penetrate to the spiritual. And what is more, should he not have this same courage he will never be able to discover reason where the truths of life are concerned. For penetrating spiritual reality we need above all the possibility of being able to in some measure look back to the threefold Sun-Mystery of olden days, to look back, however, in the new way suitable for present-day mankind. Precisely in the same way as the sun is a trinity so also is man. But it is important that we should really study this threefold man, and this study is of the utmost importance at the present time. Today I should like to give you diagrammatically something of a preparatory nature that can guide you to the path that must really be sought for the understanding of threefold man. Tomorrow and the day after we shall bring this important subject to a close.
Just imagine the following. What I am now sketching is only meant as a diagram. (see diagram 1). Imagine you had a figure that was merely a picture, an image, having no meaning in itself, in fact an image. I shall draw it like this — in a simple circle (see blue in diagram 1) a circular surface, that is, a form that is the image of something else, but through being an image has entirely consumed that something, of which it is the image. It sounds strange when I say the following but just consider it. In our cupola, in the small cupola, four ladies are working. Let us suppose these four ladies — two on either side — paint their own portraits, and that this has a particular sequel. Imagine these four ladies painting their own pictures in the small cupola, portraying themselves there, imagine that this self-portraiture has a quite definite sequel — the ladies disappear, pass over into their image and cease to exist. Having completed their work they no longer are there. Through the coming into existence of their images they are no longer there. Behind what I have here sketched, picture to yourselves a figure like that, a figure that has originated through being made by something of which it is the image but this something being absorbed, sucked up by the existence of the image. Now what is thus absorbed is not alone in the world. Picture to yourselves that we have not finished with these four ladies. Very good; these four ladies have disappeared — they have painted their own portraits and disappeared but the pictures are still there. And they are not alone there in the cosmos, the cosmos is still there with its forces besides. The ladies have vanished and have been as it were sucked up by the pictures; but by the pictures being there substance is assembled again out of the cosmos and the ladies are built up anew, as children new, it is true, but new; they gradually grow up again, grow up near by. And so, by the side of this figure, its original image blossoms anew (see yellow in diagram). I must make a little addition to the drawing, put it by the side — this is the archetypal image. It is the archetype, the prototype, but there is a very loose connection between the image and its prototype, a very loose connection indeed. The one has almost nothing to do with the other. The image has definitely hardened and has almost lost all connection with its prototype.
And now imagine a second figure. I will sketch the second figure so that I make it also as an image (see violet in centre diagram), only the first is inside the second. Thus I boldly draw the second over the first. This is again an image of the same kind. Again an image resembling another that I will draw here also (see red in diagram); but these have now to be more closely connected. Therefore, as the matter stands, I cannot use the same comparison as I did earlier with the four ladies, but now when I want to make a comparison with regard to this picture and its image I must say: The four ladies are there: they are painting in the small cupola, and as they paint something actually — goes out from them, is sucked out. They are, however, only half sucked out, and finally they are — no I will say something else that will not call up an inartistic comparison — from one the left half of the body is sucked up while the right projects out of the picture; from the other the right side is sucked out, the left still projecting. Thus they are partly sucked out and partly still jut out. That is the second.
Now picture a third that again embraces the first and also the second (see green in diagram.) This, however, is to a great extent connected with its image, not yet separated from it. So that if I want to keep strictly to the comparison I have to say: The ladies are painting, but they are still there as ladies, and everything I have before me as a whole is the ladies and their images — that is there (see orange in diagram) and the greatest part is also present in the prototype.
So you have here drawn diagrammatically, first above, an image grown hard, crystallized, that has as little as possible to do with its prototype; the latter being by the side of it, newly arising. That is indeed your head, the most material and the hardest part of human nature. Its prototype has just nothing to do with it, arises afresh. And when you reach twenty-eight years of age, your head becomes so that out of itself nothing is forthcoming, nothing is to be developed. In the constitution of man the greatest materialist is the head.
A second figure is breast and breathing and everything belonging to these. I could almost use the second as a model. That is rather more connected, spirit and matter depending more upon each other; here it is more permeated with spirit. All that is lung and breathing process is for the earth already more spiritual.
And what remains, the limb system in connection with all that has to do with sex, there spiritual and physical are one, there they are still together. This belongs to the third diagram. And you have threefold man.
Today I have been able to draw this only diagrammatically on the board. This majestic and profound mystery, at the same time wonderful and fearful, is connected with the Mystery of the threefold Sun. This again is connected with all the truths that we need, as we need the bread of life, for everything that must be put in place of what is chaos, what has reached a blind alley, and has led to the present human catastrophe.
We shall speak of this further tomorrow.