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Mystery Centers
GA 232

Lecture VI

2 December 1923, Dornach

When today man speaks of the “word” he means, as a rule, only the weak human word, which, in the presence of the majesty of the universe is of little significance. But we know that the John Gospel begins with the deeply significant words: “In the Primal Beginning was the Word, the Logos. And the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”

Anyone who meditates on this significant commencement of the John Gospel must ask himself: What is really indicated when the Word is placed at the very beginning of all things? What is really meant by this Logos, this Word? And how is this meaning connected with our puny human word, so insignificant in the presence of the majesty of the universe?

The name of John is connected with the city of Ephesus, and he who, equipped with Imaginative insight into world history confronts these significant words: “In the Primal Beginning was the Logos. And the Logos was with God. And the Logos was a god,” is continually referred back along an inner path to the ancient temple of Diana of Ephesus. To him who is initiated to a certain degree in the cosmic mysteries that which sounds forth as a riddle in the first verses of the John Gospel points to the Mysteries of the Temple of Artemis or Diana at Ephesus; so that it must seem to him, through enquiry of the Mysteries of Ephesus something could be obtained which would lead to the understanding of the beginning of the John Gospel.

Let us therefore today, equipped with what has been brought before our souls in the last two lectures, look for a while into the Mysteries of the Temple of Diana at Ephesus. Let us look back into a time six or seven centuries or even earlier before the Christian era, in order to see what was done in this sanctuary so sacred to the ancients. We find that the instruction given in the Mysteries at Ephesus centred in the first place in that which sounds forth in human speech. We learn what took place in those Ephesian Mysteries not from any historical presentation (for human barbarism has taken sufficient care for the destruction of historical records), but we learn it from the Akashic Record, that Chronicle of etheric thought accessible to spiritual cognition, in which the events of the world's history are inscribed.

In this Record there comes again and again to our perception the way in which the pupil was directed by the teacher to concentrate on human speech. Again and again the pupil was urged as follows: “Learn to feel in your own instrument of speech what really takes place in it when you speak.”

The processes which take place when a man speaks cannot be apprehended by coarse perceptions, for they are delicate and intimate. Let us consider first of all the external side of speech, for it was with this external side of speech that the instruction given in the Ephesian Mysteries began.

The attention of the pupil was first directed to the way in which the word sounds forth from the mouth. He was told over and over again: “Notice what you feel when the word sounds forth from the mouth.” The pupil had first to notice how, to a certain extent, something from the word ascends in order to take up into itself the thought of the head; and then, how something from the same word descends into man so that he might experience inwardly the content of feeling.

Again and again the pupil was directed to drive the greatest possible range of speaking through his throat, and at the same time to observe the surging up and sinking down, which is to be perceived in the word which presses forth from the throat. He had to make a positive and a negative assertion, “I am-I am not.” This he had to force through his throat in the most articulate way possible, and then observe how, in the words “I am” the feeling of that which rises is predominant while in the words “I am not” the feeling of that which descends prevails.

The pupil's attention was then directed even more closely to the intimate inner feeling and personal experiences of the word. He had to experience the following: From the word there mounts up towards the head something like heat, and this heat, this fire, catches hold of the thought. Downwards there flows something like a watery element, this pours downwards, as a glandular secretion pours forth within man. It was made clear to the pupil in the Mysteries of Ephesus that man makes use of the air in order to let the word sound forth. But in speaking, the air transforms itself into the next element, into fire, into heat, and draws down the thought from the heights of the head and envelopes it.

Again, because an alternating condition arises—this sending up of fire, and the sending down of that which is embodied in the word—the air, like a glandular secretion, trickles downwards as water, as a fluid element. By means of this latter process the word becomes inwardly perceptible, man can feel it inwardly. The word trickles downwards as a fluid element.

The pupil was then led into the actual mystery of speech; and this mystery is connected with the mystery of man. This mystery of man is today barricaded off from scientific men, for science places as the crowning point of all thought the most incredible caricature of a truth, namely, the so-called law of the conservation of energy and of matter. In man matter is being continually transformed. It does not remain. The air which is driven forth from the throat is transformed as it goes, alternately into the next higher element, into the element of heat or fire, and again into the element of water, Fire-Water-Fire-Water.

The pupil at Ephesus was made to notice that when he spoke, a series of waves poured forth from his mouth; fire-water-fire-water; but this is nothing more nor less than the striving of the word upwards towards thought, and the trickling downwards of the word towards feeling. Thus in man's speech thought and feeling weave, in that by this living wave-movement of speech the air is rarefied into fire on the one hand, and again it is condensed into water, and so on.

When in the Mysteries of Ephesus this great truth was brought before the soul of the pupil by means of his own speech it was intended that he should feel the following:

“Speak, oh Man! and thou revealest through thyself the evolution of the world.”

At Ephesus when the pupil went in at the door of the Mysteries he was always exhorted with these words:

“Speak, oh Man! and thou revealest through thyself the evolution of the world.”

When he went out again this statement was made to him in another form:

“The evolution of the world is revealed through thee, oh Man! when thou speakest.”

And the pupil gradually felt as if he, with his own body, were as a veil over the cosmic mysteries which sounded from his breast and lived in his speech, as if he with his own body were enclosing these mysteries of the cosmos.

This was brought before the pupil as preparation for the really deeper mystery, because through this preparation he was able to realize that the individual human being was inwardly connected with the mysteries of the cosmos. The saying “Know Thyself” gained a sacred significance because it was uttered not merely theoretically, but because it was inwardly, solemnly felt and experienced.

When the pupil had in this manner to a certain extent ennobled and elevated his own human nature, in that he felt it as a veil covering the mystery of the cosmos, he could be led still further into that which extends the cosmic mystery as it were over the expanses of the cosmos. Here let us recall what was said in the last lecture.

I have pictured to you a condition in the evolution of the earth in which the following occurred. We know that in the former condition of the earth there existed as an essential substance for the earth-evolution at that stage all that unpretentious chalk which we also have in the Jura mountains. In the chalk deposits, in the limestone rocks of the earth we have that which we wish now to consider. We must think of the earth surrounded by that which in the last lecture I called fluid albumen. We know that the cosmic forces worked into this fluid albumen in such a way that it coagulated into definite forms. And you have heard that while this condition of the earth existed there took place in a denser substance to an enhanced degree what we today have in the rising of the mist and the falling of the rain. The chalky element rises upwards, permeates that which had condensed in the fluid albumen, filling it with chalk so that it took on bony formations, and in this way the animals developed in the course of evolution on the earth. The animals were drawn down from the still albuminous atmosphere by that which lives spiritually in the element of chalk.

I also said that when man unites himself with the metals of the earth, then he feels everything which then happened as part of his own being; it is like a memory which rises within him. As regards this stage of evolution he does not feel himself as a tiny man enclosed in a skin; he feels himself as embracing the whole earth-planet. To express this in a somewhat grotesque way I should say: Man feels essentially his head as encompassing the whole earth-planet.

The processes which I pictured in the last lecture man feels as taking place within himself. But how does he feel this within him? All that I have pictured to you as the rising of the chalk, the union of this chalk with the coagulated albumen, again its descent and the drawing down with it the animals to the earth, is so experienced by man that he hears it. He experiences it inwardly. Only you must conceive of it as inner experience. He hears it. This creation which arises when the chalk fills out the coagulated albumen and makes it gristly and bony—that which is thus formed is something heard and felt as if through the ear. The mystery of the world is heard.

In actual fact man experiences in memory, through the memory produced by the metals, the past of the earth, as though one heard resounding what I have described and in this resounding there lives and weaves world-happenings.

What is it then that man hears? These world-happenings, in what form do they reveal themselves? They reveal themselves as the Word of the cosmos, as the Logos. The Logos sounds forth, the macrocosmic Word in this rising and falling of the chalk. And when man is able to hear this speech within him he perceives something else besides. The following becomes actually possible.

We stand before a human or an animal skeleton. That which the science of anatomy has to say about these forms is very superficial, it is really disgracefully superficial. What can we say when, with inner connection with its natural and spiritual being we look at a skeleton? We say: Do not merely look at it. It is shocking merely to look at the forms—the spinal column with its wonderfully moulded vertebrae piled one upon another, with the ribs proceeding from it which bend and curve in front and are so wonderfully articulated together; the way in which the vertebrae are changed into the bones of the skull, the articulation of which is still more difficult to perceive; how the bow-shaped ribs enclose the cavity of the chest; how ball-shaped joints are formed for the bones of the arm and the bones of the leg. Confronted with this mystery of the skeleton we cannot do otherwise than say something quite clearly defined.

We must say to ourselves: Do not merely look at all this but listen to it; listen how one bone changes into another. An actual speech is here.

If at this point I may make a personal observation it is this: Something very wonderful comes before us if, with a feeling for these things, we enter a natural history museum, for there we have a wonderful collection of musical instruments, forming a mighty orchestra, which resounds in a most wonderful symphony. I experienced this very strongly when I visited the museum at Trieste. There, owing to a quite special arrangement of the animal skeletons (which was done instinctively) the effect was that from one end of the animal the mysteries of the moon resounded, and from the other the mysteries of the Sun. The whole was as though permeated by resounding suns and planets. There one could feel the connection between this bony system of chalk composition, the skeleton, and that which once rang forth to man out of the weaving universe, when he himself was still one with this universe, when it rang forth as the mystery of the world, rang forth to man at the same time as his own mystery.

The creatures which then arose, first of all, the animal creatures, thereby revealed their essential being, for the Being of the animal-kingdom lived in the Logos, in the resounding cosmic mystery. It was not two separate things which one perceived. One did not perceive the animals, and then in some other way the Being of the animals; that which spoke was the arising and development of the animals themselves in their own Being.

The pupil of the Ephesian Mysteries could take into his heart and soul in the right way for that age what could then be made clear to him concerning the Primal Beginning, when the Word, the Logos was active as the very essence and being of all things. The pupil was able to receive this mystery because he had prepared for it by ennobling and elevating his human nature, in that he had been able to feel himself as a covering or veil of the tiny reflection of this cosmic mystery which lay in the sounding forth of his own speech.

Let us now endeavour to feel how this development of the earth passed over from one level as it were to another. Let us consider this. In the element of chalk we have something which at that time was still fluid; the chalk ascended as vapour and fell in drops again as rain. The chalk was of a fluid nature. As it ascended it transformed itself into air; when it descended it changed into solid substance. It is one stage lower than in the human picture, where we have air transforming to heat and water. In that primeval condition the element of water was active, i.e. the chalk, still fluid was rarefied to air and condensed to solid substance; as in our throats today the air rarefies to heat and condenses to water. That which lived in the world rose from water to air. In primeval times it lived in water, rarefied itself to air and condensed to solid substance.

Thereby it is possible for us human beings to comprehend this mystery of the world in miniature. When this mystery was the great and mighty maya of the world it was one stage lower. The earth condensed everything. The chalk became denser, etc. We human beings could not have admitted this densifying tendency into our own inner being, even if it had come to us in miniature. We could only admit it when it had risen a stage higher, from water to air, and therewith in its surging upwards into the element of heat or downwards into water, which is now the denser element.

Thus the great world, the macrocosmic Mystery became the microcosmic Mystery of human speech, and it is to this cosmic Mystery, the translation into maya, into the great world, that the beginning of the John Gospel points:

“In the Primal Beginning was the Logos; and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was a god.”

For this it was that still lived and was active in the tradition of Ephesus, also when the evangelist, the writer of the John Gospel could read in the Akashic Record about Ephesus that for which his heart thirsted, the right form in which to clothe what he wanted to say to humanity concerning the mystery of the beginning of the world. We can now go a step further.

We may recall what was said last time, that, preceding the chalk there was the silica, which now appears in quartz. In this silica the plant-forms appeared, those cloud-like formations becoming green and fading away. And if, as I said, a man at that time could have looked out into the expanses of the cosmos he would have seen the arising of the animal-creation and those primeval plants which became green and then passed away. All this was perceived by man as an inner experience. He perceived it as part of his own being. In addition to hearing that which sounded forth in the animal creation as something living within himself man could in a certain sense inwardly accompany what he heard sounding forth, just as in his own head, in the human breast and head he can ascend with words through the heat in order to grasp thought. He could thus accompany that which he heard resounding in the creation of the animals after what he had experienced in the arising of the plants.

This was the remarkable thing: man experienced the process of the development of the animals in the vapourising and descending chalk. And when he traced further that which was in the silica as the plant-beings becoming green and fading away, the cosmic Word became the cosmic Thought, and the plants living in the silicious element added the Thought to the resounding Word.

One took as it were a step upwards, and to the resounding Logos the cosmic Thought was added; just as today, in the sounding word in speech, in the waves of speech (fire-water-fire-water) thought is grasped in the fire.

If you were to study certain diseased conditions of the sense-organs of the head, or of the sense-organs in general you would be able to observe the curative effects of silicic acid. Silicic acid then appears to you among the secrets of the cosmos as the thought-element in the original primeval plant-creation, and I might even say that this is the sense-perception of the earth in regard to the structure of the cosmos. In a wonderful way there is actually expressed microcosmically in the man of today that which once was macrocosmic, that which was the arising and evolution, the working and weaving of the world.

Only think for a moment how man lived then, still one with the cosmos, in unity with the cosmos. Today when man thinks, he has to think in isolation with his head. Within are his thoughts and his words come forth. The universe is outside. Words can only indicate the universe. Thoughts can only reflect the universe. When man was still one with the macrocosm this was not the case, for he then experienced the universe as if in himself. The Word was at the same time his environment. Thought was that which permeated and streamed through his environment. Man heard, and the thing heard was World. Man looked up from what he heard, but he looked up from within himself. The Word was first of all sound. The Word was something which struggled, as it were, to be solved like a riddle; in the rising of the animal creation something was revealed which struggled for a solution. Like a question the animal-kingdom arose within the chalk. Man looked into the silicic acid, and the plant-creation answered with that which it had taken up as the sense nature of the earth, and solved the riddles which the animal creation presented. These beings themselves mutually answered each other's questions. One being, in this case the animal, puts a question: the other beings, in this case the plants, supply the answer. The whole world becomes speech.

And we may now say: this is the reality at the beginning of the John Gospel. We are referred back to the primal beginning of all that now exists. In this Primal beginning, in this Principle, was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was a god, For it was the creative Being in it all.

It is really the case that in that which was taught the Mystery-pupils at Ephesus concerning the primeval Word lies that which led to the opening sentences of the John Gospel. It is indeed very fitting for Anthroposophists to turn their attention today to these secrets which rest in the lap of time; for in a certain sense, in a very particular sense, that which stood here on the Dornach hill as the Goetheanum had become the centre of anthroposophical activity. The pain we feel today must continue to be pain, and will do so in everyone who was able to feel what the Goetheanum was intended to be. But to one who is striving upwards in his knowledge towards the spiritual all that takes place in the physical world must at the same time be for him an external manifestation, a picture of the spiritual which lies behind it. And if, on the one hand, we have to accept this pain, on the other hand, we as human beings striving after spiritual knowledge must be able to turn what has caused this pain into an opportunity for looking spiritually into a revelation which leads us into greater and greater depths. This Goetheanum was to have been a place in which one hoped to have spoken, and in which we have spoken again and again of those things which are connected with the opening words of the John Gospel:

“In the Primal Beginning was the Word—the Logos—and the Word was with God, and a god was the Word.”

Then the Goetheanum was destroyed by fire. This terrible picture of the burning Goetheanum arises before us. The pain may give birth to the summons to look ever more deeply into that which lives in the power of our thought, into this burning Goetheanum of New Year's Eve. That is an experience, painful though it is, which leads us into greater and greater depths. That which we wished to have founded in this Goetheanum, which with some things I have said is connected with the John Gospel, these already form an enclosure within these burning consuming flames. And it is an important impulse which we may grasp: Let these flames be for us the occasion to look through them to other flames, those flames which once long ago consumed the Temple of Ephesus. Let us look upon them as a summons to us to try and fathom that which stands at the beginning of the John Gospel. Urged by this painfully sacred impulse, let us look back from the John Gospel to the Temple of Ephesus—which once was also burned down—and then in the Goetheanum flames, which speak indeed so painfully we shall receive a monition from that which streams into the Akasha with the burning flames of the Ephesian Temple.

Even today, if we look back on that night of misfortune, to those fierce flames of the Goetheanum conflagration, do we not still find in them the molten metals of the musical instruments which speak a language so pure and holy? Do we not find in these molten metals those musical instruments which conjured into the flames those wonderful colours—variously speaking colours—colours closely connected with the metals? Through connection with the metals something arises like memory in the earth-substance. This memory we have of that which was consumed with the Temple at Ephesus. And just as these two conflagrations may be connected, so the longing to investigate the meaning of “In the Primal Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and a god was the Word” may be connected somewhat with the words which again and again were made clear to the pupil at Ephesus: “Study the mystery of man in the small word, in the micrologos; thereby thou shalt make thyself ripe to experience in thyself the mystery of the macrologos.”

Man is the microcosm as contrasted with the world which is the macrocosm, but he also bears within him the mysteries of the cosmos, and we can decipher the cosmic mystery contained in the first three verses of the John Gospel if we bear in mind in the right sense that into which, as into many other things also, the flames of the Goetheanum condensed, as if in written characters:

“Behold the Logos
In the burning fire
Seek the solution
In the house of Diana.”

The Akashic Record of the fire of last New Year's Eve speaks these words very clearly, together with many others; and they make on us the demand to establish in the microcosm the micrologos, so that man may gain the understanding of that out of which his whole being has been formed—the macrocosmos—through the macrologos.