Privately printed for the members of the College of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum. No one is considered competent to pass judgment upon these writings who has not acquired the prerequisite knowledge demanded by this school, either through the school itself or in a manner approved by it. Opinions expressed by other persons will be disregarded; the authors of the writings in question will engage in no discussion regarding them.
This lecture was given at Basel in December of 1918, and is included in Volume 187 of the Bibliographic Survey, 1961. It is lecture 1 of 8 from the lecture series: How Can Humanity Find the Christ Again? It was published in German as, Wie Kann die Menschheit den Christus Wiederfinden? Das Dreifache Schnattendasein Unserer Zeit und das Neue Christus-licht. It has been translated from notes unrevised by the lecturer, by Olin D. Wannamaker.
Basel, December 22, 1918
Like two mighty pillars of the spirit have the two annual festivals, the festivals of Christmas and Easter, been set by the Christian cosmic feeling within the course of the year, which should be a symbol of the course of man's life. We may say that in the conception of Christmas and the conception of Easter there stand before the human soul those two spiritual pillars upon which are inscribed the two great mysteries of man's physical existence which he must look upon very differently from the way in which he views other events in the course of his physical life. It is true that a super-sensible element is projected into this physical life — through sense observation, through intellectual judgments, through the content of feeling and will. But this super-sensible element is in other cases clearly manifest as such — for instance, when the Christian cosmic feeling undertakes to symbolize it in the festival of Pentecost. In the Christmas conception, however, and that of Easter, attention is drawn to those two events occurring within the course of the physical life which are in their external appearance purely physical but which — in contrast with all other physical events — do not immediately manifest themselves as physical events. We can look upon the physical life of man as we look upon nature; we can thus look upon the external side of the physical life, the external manifestation of the spiritual. But we can never view with our physical vision the two boundary experiences of the course of human life — not even the external aspect, the external manifestation — without being brought face to face, even through our physical vision, with the tremendous riddle, the element of mystery, in these two events. They are the events of birth and death. And in the life of Christ Jesus stand these two events of man's physical life — and likewise in the Christmas and Easter conceptions, reminding us of them — confronting the responsive Christian heart.
In the thought of Christmas and the thought of Easter, the soul of man wills to look upon the two great mysteries. And, as it thus looks, it finds in this contemplation strength filled with light for man's thought, content filled with power for the will, an upright lift of the whole man, from whatever situation he needs this upright lift. As they thus confront us, these two pillars of the spirit — the thought of Christmas and the thought of Easter — they possess an eternal worth.
But, in the course of man's evolution, his capacities of conception have approached in manifold ways the great Christmas thought and the great Easter thought. During the earliest times of the evolution of Christianity, when the Event of Golgotha had penetrated with shattering effect into human emotions, men gradually found their way to the view of the Redeemer dying on Golgotha, as they came during the earliest Christian centuries to feel in the Crucified One hanging on the cross the thought of Redemption, and gradually formed for themselves the great and powerful imagination of the Christ dying on the cross. But in the later times, especially since the modern age began, Christian feeling — adapting itself to the materialism rising in human evolution — has turned to the picture of the childlike element entering the world in the newborn Jesus.
We can certainly say that a sensitive feeling will find in the way in which the Christian sentiment of Europe has turned during recent centuries to the Christmas manger something of a materialistic Christianity. The craving — this is not said in a bad sense — to caress the infant Jesus has become trivial in the course of the centuries. And many a song about the infant Jesus felt in our day to be beautiful — or charming, as many express it — will not seem to us to possess a deep enough seriousness in the presence of these more serious times.
But the Easter thought and the Christmas thought, my dear friends, are two eternal pillars, eternal memorial pillars, of the human heart. And we can truly say that our age of new spiritual revelations will cast a new light upon the Christmas thought; that the Christmas thought will gradually come to be felt in a new form and in a glorious way. It will be our task to hear in the present world events the call to a renovation of many an old conception, a call to a new revelation of the spirit. It will be our task to understand how a new conception of Christmas, for the strengthening and uplifting of the human soul, is working its way up through the present course of world events.
The birth and death of the human being, no matter how we may analyze them, how intensely we may look at them, manifest themselves as events which play their role directly upon the physical plane, and in which the spiritual is so dominant that no one who earnestly reflects upon things could deny that these two events, these earthly events of human life, give evidence as they work upon the human being that man is the citizen of a spiritual world. No vision of the natural world can ever succeed — in the midst of what can be perceived by the senses, understood by the intellect — in finding in birth and death anything other than events in which the intervention of the spirit is manifested directly in the physical. Only these two events manifest themselves thus to the human heart.
As to the Christmas event also, the event of birth, the human and Christian heart must have an ever deepening sense of mystery. We can say that men have seldom risen to the level whence they could, in the true sense, direct their look to the mysterious nature of birth. Very seldom, indeed, but then in concepts that speak to the utmost depths of the human heart.
So it is, my dear friends, in the conception associated with the spiritual life of Switzerland of the fifteenth century, with Nicholas von der Flue. It is related of him — and he himself related this — that, before his birth, before he could breathe the outer air, he had beheld his own human form, that which he would wear after his birth should have occurred and his life should have begun its course. And he had beheld before his birth the ceremony of his own christening, the persons who were present at the christening and who shared in his earliest experiences. With the exception of one elderly person who was then present and whom he did not know, he recognized the others because he had already seen them before he beheld the light of the world.
However we may view this narration, we shall not be able to escape the impression that it points in a way to the mystery of human birth, which confronts world history so magnificently symbolized in the Christmas conception. In the story of Nicholas von der Flue we shall find the suggestion that there is connected with our entrance into the physical life something which is concealed from the every-day view of humanity only by a very thin partition wall; by a wall which can be broken through when such a karmic situation exists as was present in the case of Nicholas von der Flue. Such a startling allusion to the mystery of birth and of Christmas still meets us here and there; but we must say that humanity has as yet become very little aware of the fact that birth and death, the two boundary pillars of human life facing us in the midst of the physical world, reveal themselves even in their physical manifestation as spiritual events, such as could never occur within the mere course of nature; as events in which, on the contrary, spiritual divine Powers intervene, as is evident in the very fact that both these boundary experiences of the course of human life must still remain mysteries, even in their physical manifestation.
The new revelation of the Christ now leads us to contemplate the course of man's life — so we may safely say — as Christ wills that we should contemplate it in the twentieth century. Let us recall today, as we desire to enter deeply into the thought of Christmas, a saying reported to have been uttered by Christ Jesus which can rightly lead us to the Christmas conception. The saying runs thus: “Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” “Except ye become as little children” — this is truly not an exhortation to strip away all the mystery character of the Christmas conception, and to drag it down to the triviality of “dear little Jesus,” as many folk songs and artistic songs have done — but the folk songs less than the artistic — in the course of the materialistic evolution of Christianity. This very saying — “Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” — impels us to look upward to mighty impulses surging through the stream of human evolution. And in our own present time, when all that is taking place in the world surely does not give occasion for lapsing into trivial conceptions of Christmas, when the human heart is filled with so much that is painful, when this human heart must reflect upon so many millions of human beings who have met their death in the last few years, must reflect upon countless multitudes who hunger for food, — in this time surely nothing is fitting for us save to behold the mighty thoughts within world history which impel humanity in its onward course, thoughts to which we can be guided by the saying, “Except ye shall become as little children,” which we can supplement by this other saying: “Unless you live your life in the light of this thought, you cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”
My dear friends, the very moment when the human being enters into the world as a child he withdraws from the world of spirit. For what occurs in the physical world, the procreation and growth of his physical body, is only the ensheathing of that event which cannot be described otherwise than by saying that man in his deepest being withdraws from the spiritual world. Man is born out of the spirit into a body. When the Rosicrucian said: “Ex deo nascimur,” he meant the human being to the extent that he enters the physical world. For that which constitutes the sheaths around the human being, which renders him a physical totality here on the earthly globe, is what is indicated by the saying: Ex deo nascimur. If we look at the centre of the human being, at the inner midmost entity, we must say that man journeys out of the spirit into the physical world. Through that which occurs in the physical world, that upon which he has looked down from the land of the spirit before his conception or his birth, he is enveloped in his physical body, in order that he may experience in his physical body things which cannot be experienced except in such a body. But, in his centre-most being, man comes out of the spiritual world. And he is of such a nature that in his earliest years — to the eyes of those who will to see things as they are in the world, who are not blinded by the illusion of materialism — he is of such a nature, this human being, that he reveals even in his earliest years how he has come out of the spirit. What we experience in connection with the child is of such a character, for those who possess insight, as to reveal to one's feeling the after effects of experiences in the spiritual world.
It is to this mystery that such narrations as that associated with the name of Nicholas von der Flue are intended to allude. A trivial view, strongly influenced by a materialistic mode of thinking, declares in its simplicity that the human being gradually develops his ego in the course of his life from birth to death; that this ego becomes more and more powerful and mighty, more and more distinctly manifest. This is a naive way of thinking, my dear friends. For, if we look upon the true ego of man, upon that which comes into a physical sheathing at the birth of the human being out of the spiritual world, we then express ourselves very differently about man's whole physical evolution. That is, we then know that, as the human being progressively develops in the physical body, the true ego actually vanishes out of the physical form, that it becomes less and less manifest; and that what develops here in the physical world between birth and death is only a mirrored reflection of spiritual occurrences, a dead reflection of a higher life. The right form of expression would be to declare that the entire fullness of the being of man gradually disappears into the body, becoming continually less and less manifest. As the human being lives his physical life here upon the earth, he gradually loses himself in his body, to find himself again in the spirit after death. So does one who knows the facts express himself. But one who is ignorant of the facts declares that the child is incomplete, and that the ego little by little develops to an ever greater perfection, growing out of the undefined subconscious levels of man's existence. He who knows what is beheld by the spiritual seeker must express himself in just this realm otherwise than is done by the sense-consciousness of our age, enmeshed in external illusions, still always materialistic in the trend of its sentiments.
Thus man enters the world as a spiritual being. His bodily nature, while he is a child, is still undefined; it has as yet laid small claim to the spiritual nature, which enters the physical existence as if there falling asleep — but appearing to us so little filled with content only because we can perceive this spiritual being, in ordinary physical life, just as little as we can perceive the sleeping ego and astral body when they are separated from the physical and etheric bodies. But the fact that we do not perceive a being does not make it less perfect. This is what the human being has to acquire by means of his physical body — that he entombs himself more and more in the physical body for the purpose of achieving by means of this burial in the body capacities which can be acquired only in this way, only through the fact that the spirit and soul being for a time loses itself in the physical existence. In order that we may always remember our spiritual origin, that we may grow strong in the thought that we have journeyed out of the spirit into the physical world — it is for this reason that the Christmas conception stands there like a mighty pillar of light amid the Christian cosmic feeling. This thought, as a Christmas thought, must grow ever stronger in the future spiritual evolution of humanity. Then will the Christmas conception become powerful again for humanity; then will mankind once more approach the Christmas festival in such a way as to draw forces for the physical life out of the Christmas conception, which can remind us in the right way of our spiritual origin. Seldom can this Christmas thought be so powerful at the present time as it will then be in human hearts. For it is a strange fact, but rooted in the very laws of spiritual existence, that what comes to light in the world — bearing mankind forward, helpful to mankind — does not at once appear in its ultimate form: that it first appears, as it were, tumultuously, as if prematurely brought forth by unlawful spirits in world evolution. We understand the historic evolution of humanity in its true meaning only when we know that truths are not to be understood only as they first appear oftentimes in world history, but that we must consider in relation to truths the right moment for their entrance into human evolution in their true light.
Among many kinds of thoughts which have entered into the evolution of modern humanity — certainly inspired by the Christ impulse, but at first in a premature form — is the conception of the equality of mankind before God and the world, the equality of all men, a thought profoundly Christian but capable of an ever increasing profundity. But we should not place this thought before men's hearts in such a generalization as that given to it by the French Revolution, when it first appeared tumultuously in human evolution. We must be aware of the fact that this life of man from birth to death is involved in a process of evolution, and that the primary impulses working upon it are distributed in time. Let us reflect about the human being as he enters into the sensible existence: he enters life filled with the impulse of the equality of the human nature in all men. We sense the child nature with the greatest intensity when we see a child permeated through his whole being by the conception of the equality of all men. Nothing which creates inequality among men, nothing that so organizes men that they feel themselves different from other men — nothing of all this enters at first into the child's nature. All this is imparted to the human being in the course of the physical life. Inequality is created by the physical existence; out of the spirit human beings come forth equal before the world and God and before other human beings. Thus does the mystery of the child declare.
And to this mystery of the child the Christmas conception is united, which is to find its deeper meaning in the new Christian revelation. For this new Christian revelation will take into account the new Trinity: the human being, as he directly represents humanity; the Ahrimanic; and the Luciferic. And, as it comes to be known how the human being is placed in the world in a relationship of balance between the Ahrimanic and the Luciferic, it will be understood also what this human being really is in the external physical existence.
Most of all must understanding come about, Christian understanding, in reference to a certain aspect of human life. Clearly will Christian thought proclaim in future what has already been affirmed by certain spirits since the middle of the nineteenth century, though in stammering accents and never quite distinctly. When we grasp the fact that the thought of equality enters the world in the child, but that forces of inequality later develop in man, as if from the fact of his having been born, forces that do not seem to belong to this earth, then just in regard to the conception of equality another profound mystery faces us. To see into this mystery, and through seeing into it to gain a true conception of man, will belong from the present time onward among the weighty and essential needs in the future evolution of the life of the soul. This is the depressing problem that faces man: Truly, human beings grow to be unlike, even though they are not so in childhood, by reason of something that is born within them, that is in the blood: their varied gifts and capacities.
The question of gifts and capacities, which cause so many inequalities among men, faces us in connection with the thought of Christmas. And the Christmas festival of the future will always admonish men most earnestly, reminding them of the origin of that which differentiates them so widely over the earth, the origin of their gifts, capacities, talents, even the gift of genius. They will have to inquire about the origin of these. And a true balance within the physical existence will be attained only when the human being can point rightly to the origin of the capacities which differentiate him from other men. The light of Christmas, or the Christmas candles, must give to evolving humanity an explanation of these capacities; it must answer the profound question: Do individual human beings suffer injustice between birth and death under the ordering of the universe? What is the truth about faculties and gifts?
Now, my dear friends, many things will be seen in a different light when humanity shall have been permeated by the new Christian feeling. Most particularly will it be understood why the Old Testament occult conception possessed a special insight into the nature of the prophetic gift. What were the prophets who appear in the Old Testament? They were personalities who had been sanctified by Jahve; they were those personalities who were permitted to employ in the right way special spiritual gifts reaching far above those of ordinary man. Jahve had first to sanctify their capacities, which are born in men as if by reason of their blood. And we know that Jahve works on human beings between their falling asleep and awakening We know that Jahve does not work within the conscious life. Every true believer of the Old Testament said within his heart: That which differentiates men as regards their capacities and gifts, which rises to the level of genius in the nature of the prophet, is born, indeed, with the person, but it is not used by him for a good purpose unless he can sink down in sleep into that realm in which Jahve guides his soul impulses, and transforms from the spiritual world gifts which are otherwise only physical, inherent in the body.
We point here to a profound mystery of the Old Testament conception. The Old Testament view, including that in regard to the nature of the prophet, must disappear. New conceptions must, for the redemption of humanity, enter into the cosmic historic evolution. That which the ancient Hebrew believed was sanctified by Jahve in the unconscious state of sleep the human being must become capable of sanctifying in the modern age while he is awake, in a state of clear consciousness. But he can do this only if he knows, on the one hand, that all natural gifts, capacities, talents, even genius, are Luciferic endowments, and work in the world Luciferically. unless they are sanctified and permeated by all that can enter into the world as the impulse of the Christ. We touch upon a tremendously important mystery of the evolution of modern humanity when we grasp the central kernel of the Christmas conception, and call attention to the fact that the Christ must be so understood and so felt by men in their hearts that they stand as New Testament human beings before the Christ and say: “In addition to the inclination of the child, his aspiration, toward equality, I have been endowed with various capacities and talents. But they can lead permanently to good results, to the welfare of humanity, only provided these gifts, these talents, are dedicated to the service of Christ Jesus; only if the human being strives to permeate his whole nature with the Christ, in order that human gifts, talents, genius may be freed from the grasp of Lucifer.”
The heart permeated by the Christ takes away from Lucifer what works otherwise Luciferically in man's physical existence. This thought must powerfully influence the future evolution of the human soul. This is the New Christmas thought, the new annunciation of the influence of the Christ in our souls, bringing about the transformation of the Luciferic — which does not enter into us because we journey out of the spirit, but is to be found in us because we are clothed in a blood-permeated physical body which bestows upon us capacities derived from the line of heredity. Within the Luciferic stream, within that which works in the stream of heredity, do these characteristics appear, but they are to be conquered and mastered during the physical life by that which the human being can feel in connection with the Christ impulse, not through Jahve inspiration in sleep, but through the fruition of man's experiences in full consciousness.
“Direct yourself, O Christian, to the Christmas thought” — thus does the new Christianity speak — “and lay there upon the altar set up for Christmas every differentiation you have received as a human being from your blood, and sanctify your capacities, sanctify your gifts, sanctify even your genius as you behold it illuminated by the light which comes from the Christmas tree.”
The new annunciation of the spirit must speak a new language, and we must not be dumb and unheeding toward the new revelation of the spirit which speaks to us in this deeply serious age in which we live. When we are sensitive to such thoughts, we are living with the power with which man ought to live in this time in order to discharge the great duties which are to be assigned to humanity in this very age. The full gravity of the Christmas thought must be experienced: that in our day there must enter into the waking consciousness of humanity what the Christ willed to say to men when he uttered the words: “Except ye become as little children ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” The thought of equality which the child manifests, if we look upon him in the right way, is not convicted of falsehood by reason of these words, for that Child whose birth we commemorate on Christmas eve, proclaims to human beings in the course of their evolution through the history of the world — revealing ever new thoughts — clearly and distinctly, that the differentiating gifts we possess must be placed within the light of the Christ who ensouled this Child; that all which these differentiating gifts bring about within us human beings must be placed upon the altar of this Child.
You may now ask under the inspiration of the Christmas thought: “How may I experience the Christ impulse within my own soul?” Alas, this thought is often a heavy burden in men's hearts.
Now, my dear friends, that which we may call the Christ impulse does not become rooted in our souls in a moment, forthwith and tempestuously. And in different ages it takes root differently in man. In our day man must take into himself in full clear waking consciousness such cosmic thoughts as have been stammeringly imparted by spiritual knowledge as guided by Anthroposophy, to which we belong. As these thoughts are proclaimed to him — provided he truly understands them — they can awaken within him the assurance that the new revelation, the new Christ impulse of our age, truly enters into him on the wings of these thoughts. And such a person will sense the new impulse if only he pays heed to it.
Make the endeavour, in the sense we intend, in living reality as is appropriate to our age, to take into yourselves the spiritual thoughts of the guidance of the world; seek to take them into yourselves, not as mere teaching, not merely as theory — -seek so to imbibe them that they will move your souls to their very depths, warming, illuminating, permeating them — that you shall bear them livingly within you. Seek to feel these thoughts so intensely that they shall become to you something which seems to pass through your body into your soul and to change your very body. Seek to strip away from these thoughts all abstractions, anything theoretical. Endeavour to discover for yourself that these thoughts are such as constitute a true nourishment of the soul. Seek to discover for yourself that, with these thoughts, not merely thoughts alone enter your souls, but spiritual life coming from the spiritual world.
Enter into the most intimate inner union with these thoughts, and you will observe three things. You will observe that these thoughts gradually eliminate something from within you, which appears so clearly in human hearts in our age of the consciousness soul: that these thoughts, however they may be expressed, eliminate self-seeking from the human soul. When you begin to notice that these thoughts kill egoism, destroy the force of self-seeking, you have then, my dear friends, sensed the Christ-permeated character of spiritual thought guided by Anthroposophy.
In the second place, when you observe that, in the moment when untruthfulness approaches you anywhere in the world, no matter whether you yourself are tempted to be too careless about truth or whether untruthfulness approaches you from another direction — if you observe that in the moment when untruthfulness enters the sphere of your life, an impulse makes itself felt by you, warning you, pointing to the truth, an impulse which will not permit untruth to enter your life, always admonishing you and impelling you to hold fast to truth, then do you sense, in contrast with the life of the present day, so strongly inclined toward mere appearance, the living impulse of the Christ. No one will find it easy to lie in the presence of spiritual thoughts guided by Anthroposophy, or to lack all feeling for mere appearance and untruth. A sign pointing your way to the sense of truth — apart from all other knowledge — you will feel in the thoughts of the new revelation of the Christ. When, my dear friends, you shall have reached the point where you do not strive for a mere theoretical understanding of spiritual science, as this is sought in relation to any other science, but when you have reached the stage where the thoughts so penetrate you that you say to yourself: “When these thoughts become intimately united with my soul, it is as if a Power of conscience stood beside me admonishing me, pointing me toward truth,” — then will you have found the Christ impulse in the second form.
In the third place, when you feel that something streams from these thoughts which works even into your body, but especially into the soul, overcoming sickness, making the human being well and vital, when you sense the rejuvenating, refreshing power of these thoughts, the adversary of illness, then will you have sensed the third part of the Christ impulse in these thoughts. For this is the goal toward which humanity strives through the new wisdom, in the new spirit — to find in the spirit itself the power to overcome self-seeking: to overcome self-seeking through love, the mere appearance of life through truth, the force of illness through health-giving thoughts which bring us into immediate unison with the harmonies of the universe, because they flow from the harmonies of the universe.
Not all that has been indicated can at present be attained, for man bears within him an ancient heritage. It is a mere lack of understanding when such a back-stairs politician as Christian Science twists into a caricature the thought of the healing power of the spirit. Yet, even though our ancient heritage renders it impossible for thought to become sufficiently potent at present to achieve what the human being craves thus to achieve — perhaps, from a self-seeking motive — nevertheless thought possesses healing power. In such things human thinking is always perverted. Some one who understands these things may say to you that certain thoughts give health, and the person who hears this may at a certain time be affected by this or that illness. Indeed, my dear friends, the fact that we cannot at present be relieved of all illnesses by the mere power of thought is due to an ancient heritage. But are you able to say what illnesses would have overtaken you if you had not possessed the thoughts? Could you say that your life would have been passed in its present degree of health if you had not possessed these thoughts? In the case of a person who has applied himself to spiritual science guided by Anthroposophy and who dies at the age of 45 years, can you prove that, without these thoughts, he would not have died at 42 or 40 years of age? Human beings tend always to think from the wrong direction when they deal with these thoughts. They direct their attention to what cannot be bestowed upon them, by reason of their karma, but do not pay attention to what is bestowed upon them by reason of their karma. But if, in spite of everything contradictory in the external physical world, you direct your look with the power of inner confidence which you have gained through intimate familiarity with the thoughts of spiritual science, you then come to feel the healing power, a healing power which penetrates even into the physical body, refreshing, rejuvenating — the third element, which the Christ as the Healer brings with his never ceasing revelations into the human soul.
We have desired to enter more deeply, my dear friends, into the thought of Christmas, which is so closely bound up with the mystery of human birth. What is revealed to us today out of the spirit as the continuing extension of the Christmas thought we desired to bring in brief outline before our minds. We can feel that it gives strength and support to our lives. We can feel that it places us amid the impulses of cosmic evolution, no matter what may befall, so that we can feel ourselves in unison with these divine impulses in the evolution of the world; that we can understand them, and can draw power for our will from this understanding, and light for our life of thought. Man is evolving; it would be wrong to deny this evolution. The only right course is to go forward with this evolution.
Moreover, Christ has declared: “I am with you always even to the end of the world.” This is not a phrase; it is truth. Christ has revealed Himself not only in the Gospels; Christ is with us; Christ reveals Himself continually. We must have ears to harken to what He is ever newly revealing in the modern age. Weakness will overcome us if we have no faith in these new revelations; but strength shall be ours if we have such faith.
Strength will come to us if we have faith in the new revelations, even should they speak to us from life's seemingly contradictory suffering and misfortune. With our own souls we pass through repeated earth lives during which our destiny comes to fulfilment. Even this thought, which empowers us to sense the spiritual behind the external physical life, we can realize only when we take into ourselves in the truly Christian sense the revelations following one upon another. The Christian — the true Christian — when he stands before the candles on the Christmas tree, should begin to work with the strengthening thoughts which can come to him today from the new cosmic revelation, to give power to his will, illumination to his life of thought. And his feeling should be such that the power and the light of this thought may enable him in the course of the Christian year to draw close to that other thought which admonishes of the mystery of death — the Easter thought, which brings the final experience of the earthly life of man before our souls as a spiritual experience. For we shall sense the Christ more and more if we are able to place our own existence in the right relation with His existence. The medieval Rosicrucian, uniting his thought with Christianity, declared: Ex deo nascimur; in Christo morimur; per spiritum sanctum reviviscinius. Out of the Divine have we been born as we contemplate ourselves as human beings here on the earthly globe. In Christ we die. In the Holy Spirit we shall be again awakened. This actually pertains to our life, our human life. If we turn our look away from our life to the life of Christ, then what is represented in our life is a mirrored reflection. Out of the Divine are we born; in Christ we die; in the Holy Spirit we shall again be awakened. This saying, which is true of our first-born Brother, the Christ living in our midst, we can so affirm that we shall feel it to be the Christ-truth raying forth from Him and mirrored in our human nature: Out of the Spirit was He begotten — as this is represented in the Gospel of Luke in the symbol of the descending dove — out of the Spirit was He begotten; in the human body He died; in the Divine will He rise again.
Truths which are eternal we can take into ourselves in the right way only when we see them in their contemporary reflection — not made into something absolute, made abstract in a single form. And if we feel ourselves as human beings, not only in an abstract sense but human beings existing actually at a certain time when it is our duty to act and to think in harmony with this time, then shall we seek to understand the Christ, who is with us always even to the end of the world, in His contemporary language as He teaches us and gives us light regarding the Christmas thought, filling us with the power of the Christmas thought. We shall desire to take this Christ into ourselves in His new language. For the Christ must become intimately related to us. Then shall we be enabled to fulfil in ourselves the true mission of Christ on the earthly globe and beyond death. The human being in each epoch must take the Christ into himself in his own way. This has been the feeling of human beings when they have looked in the right way at the two great pillars of the spirit: at the Christmas thought and the Easter thought. Thus did the profound German mystic, the Silesian, Angelus Silesius, contemplating the Christmas thought, declare:
Should Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born,
And not in thee, then wert thou still forlorn.
And, contemplating the Easter thought, he said:
The cross of Golgotha must be upraised in thee
Ere from thy sin its power shall make thee free.
Truly the Christ must live within us, since we are not human beings in an absolute sense, but human beings of a definite epoch. The Christ must be born within us according to the sound of His words in our epoch. We must seek to bring the Christ to birth within us, for our strengthening, for our illumination, as He has remained with us until now, as He will remain with mankind throughout all ages even to the end of earthly time, as He wills now to be born in our souls. That is, if we seek to experience the birth of Christ within us in our epoch, as this event becomes a light and a power in our souls — the eternal power and eternal life entering into time — we then behold in the true way the historic birth of Christ in Bethlehem and its counterpart in our own souls.
Should Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born,
And not in thee, then wert thou still forlorn.
As He creates the impulse in our hearts today to look upon His birth — His birth in human events, His birth in our own souls — so do we deepen the Christmas thought within us. And then we look away to that night of consecration which we ought to feel coming to pass within us for the strengthening and illumination of human beings for the endurance of many evils and sorrows which they have had to live through and will yet have to live through.
“My Kingdom,” said Christ, “is not of this world.” It is a saying which challenges us, if we look upon His birth in the right way, to find within ourselves the path to the Kingdom where He abides to give us strength, where He abides to give us light amid our darkness and helplessness through the impulses coming from the world of which He himself spoke, of which His appearance on Christmas will always be a manifestation. “My Kingdom is not of this world.” But He has brought that Kingdom into this world, so that we may always find strength, comfort, confidence, and hope out of this Kingdom in all the circumstances of life, if we only will come to Him, taking His words to heart — such words as these:
“Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”