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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Building Stones for an Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha
GA 175

Steiner endeavors here to bring about an understanding and inner experience of the most decisive event in the history of humanity, the Mystery of Golgotha. He shows how all the different streams in history come together in the deed of Christ. As Steiner explains, whether a trend in the course of evolution is healthy or not can be determined by its relation to the Christ-Impulse.

Published in English with the title, Building Stones for an Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha. Cosmic and Human Metamorphoses, and in German as, Bausteine zu einer Erkenntnis des Mysteriums von Golgotha. Kosmische und menschliche Metamorphose. Translated by A. H. Parker

Lecture I March 27, 1917
The urgent need today to develop concepts and ideas that are rooted in reality. An illustration from the story of Cardinal Acton and the papal fund. The book Christianity As Mystical Fact a first attempt to interpret the Mystery of Golgotha from a spiritual standpoint. The origin of the Gospel teachings to be found in the ancient Mysteries. The problem of the dating of the Gospels. The accepted view of their late provenance refuted by the story of Rabbi Gamaliel II. The Mystery of Golgotha cannot be understood without a knowledge of the tripartite division of man. With the loss of the old clairvoyance it was no longer possible to interpret ancient texts. Saint-Martin still spoke out of traditional insights or “imaginations”.

Early attempts to preserve knowledge of the tripartite division of man in Gnosticism. Romanism opposed to knowledge of the spirit and the abolition of the spirit was decreed by the eighth Ecumenical Council of 869. A turning point in the history of Western thought. The schism between the Eastern Church and the Roman Church evidence that knowledge of the spirit was lost. Philosophy, e.g. Wundt, and natural science only accepted the dichotomy of man. Forces are now preparing to abolish the soul — Marx and Engels see the soul as a superstructure erected on the foundation of material processes. Natural science regards belief in the soul as an outmoded superstition.

The Mystery teachings in Palestine were a preparation for the Mystery of Golgotha. Sadducees attempted to suppress this knowledge. Hence Roman wars of first century directed to extermination of Jews and those associated with Mystery teachings. The need today to awaken man to the spirit in order to combat the materialism to which he has succumbed, e.g. Darwinism.
Lecture II April 03, 1917
The idea of the trichotomy of man necessary for an understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha. Aristotle's views on the nature of the soul — one part tied to physical body and is the by-product of parental inheritance. The spiritual part of the soul (the “Active Reason”) participates in the “nous” and is immortal. Mediaeval philosophy and to some extent Christian philosophy today dominated by Aristotelianism.

Brentano's attempt to interpret Aristotle. Concluded that Aristotle rejected palingenesis had therefore had to accept creationism and post-existence. Brentano concurred with Aristotle.

Originally man had direct experience of the spirit, through the Mysteries. Belief that the Christian Easter Mystery was a transference of Pagan ritual to the person of Jesus. Danger of identifying Pagan Mystery Cults with Christian festivals, e.g. the Phrygian Easter festival (the Attis Cult).

Original conception (based on primordial wisdom) of difference between the animal and human organisms. Former bears within it the seeds of death; latter not originally ordained to die. “Man not born to die, yet dies” — the answer of the Mysteries to this enigma; knew that man had become mortal through a moral defect, not as the consequence of natural law. The soul had corrupted the body and was the seat of mortality. If evolution were to continue unchanged, souls would be lost. Need for Earth to receive a new impulse. This the Christ incarnation. Hence Mystery of Golgotha central point in human evolution. The Crucifixion, a heinous crime, the source of man's salvation! Christ died to redeem the souls of men; His mission to bring man back to God, to transform human nature and make it one with the divine nature.
Lecture III April 10, 1917
The Christ cannot be discovered through mysticism or philosophy. The difference between faith and knowledge. Faith as a positive force exemplified in the healing of Jairus’ daughter. The transference of power from one person to another by Christ. Only initiates had knowledge of this.

John the Baptist and baptism with water. Through total immersion the etheric body was loosened, leading to a temporary clairvoyance. John the Baptist sought to transpose the candidate for baptism into the condition of consciousness of the time before the Fall, to return to the age of innocence. The need to withdraw from the world. John the Baptist as anchorite: by withdrawal from the world man is saved from the consequences of the Fall. Christ baptized with the Holy Ghost. He wished man to remain in the world and yet participate in the Kingdon of Heaven.

The different purposes of the four Gospels. Christ brings a new impulse, first recognized by the devils He had healed. The magic power of Christ's words. He committed nothing to writing. Reasons for this. Recapitulation of the tripartite division of man. The three paths leading to the Spirit. Atheism as sickness of the soul, denial of Christ as misfortune of the soul, and denial of the Spirit as deception of the soul.

Kant and the moral world order. Moral ideas emasculated today; through Christ they become a concrete force in the world. Faith must lift our moral ideas to a new plane, The Christ Being prepares the coming Jupiter condition. The Mystery of Golgotha brings a new impulse in preparation for the Jupiter evolution. Christ will redeem the corruption of man's soul, the source of his mortality. The resurrection of the body at the end of time made possible by the Mystery of Golgotha.
Lecture IV April 12, 1917
Faith and belief as positive forces. Botany and moral judgements. Goethe-Schiller meeting and the archetypal plant. Schelvers’ view on plant reproduction: a-sexual reproduction the natural process. Goethe deplores emphasis on sexual reproduction in plant kingdom. The plant kingdom and kingdom of cold-blooded animals unable to fulfil their original poten. tialities. Deterioration in the kingdoms of nature due to man who succumbed to the Luciferic temptation.

Thinking involved in the Fall. Language before the Fall — the “lost word”. The relation between respiration and metabolism. In the sixth epoch those who believe in moral standards will be treated medically. The State will determine moral values. In the sixth and seventh epochs the method of reproduction will be transformed. Women will become sterile.

The appearance of the etheric Christ in the present century. The Christ Impulse in world evolution. Need for faith; morality stems from faith. The courage necessary to unite the kingdom of the world and the Kingdom of Heaven. Mystery of Golgotha must be incorporated again in the whole cosmic order.
Lecture V April 14, 1917
Herman Grimm and the modern approach to history. Sees Christ as the pivot of the historical development of mankind. The centuries before and after the Mystery of Golgotha not understood today.

Goethe and botany. His perception of the “Idea” behind phenomena, of the spirit present in the plant kingdom. His objection to the naturalism of Haller and Schopenhauer's view that the perception of light and colour is subjective. Approved of Schelver's belief that plant reproduction was originally a-sexual. In nineteenth century perception was limited to the sensible world, hence loss of spiritual vision. Rationalism leads to the death of creative Imagination. Hunzinger's book — history a closed book; man cannot penetrate to the inner life of the spirit. The Baptist's words — the need to change our “attitude of mind”.

In the Mysteries the neophyte was initiated into the secrets of nature. The teachings given only to those worthy of them. Imperial Rome unveiled the Mystery teachings. Caligula and Nero fully initiated. The secrets of waking consciousness and sleep consciousness taught in the Mysteries. Caligula was only able to communicate with the Moon Gods, hence his judgements were without moral values. Nero the first psychoanalyst. He knew that the old order was doomed, that a new turning-point in evolution had been reached. His obsessive fear. His determination to set fire to Rome and ultimately to destroy the whole world.

The teaching of history in schools ignores the full significance of the Crucifixion. A quotation from Barris — Christianity adapted to meet the needs of modern society. The need to study history in depth and to learn to winnow the chaff from the grain.
Lecture VI April 17, 1917
Events of today a continuation of events in the early years of Christianity. The Roman emperors, initiated by Imperial decree, gained limited knowledge of cosmic events. They had a presentiment that the advent of Christ was a turning-point in human evolution. The policy of Tiberius to merge pagan Mystery teachings with the Mystery cult of the Roman Empire, failed; also the policy of Hadrian.

Quotation from Philo — the need “to give heed to the ancestry of the soul and to ignore temporal things”. Barrès quoted again.

Christian teaching conflicted with the fundamental principles of the Roman empire. Licinius’ decision to challenge Christianity. Organized a public festival at Heliopolis to ridicule baptism. Result — the actor, Gelasinus, becomes a convinced Christian.

The Sibylline Oracles predict the downfall of Rome. Nero sets fire to Rome. Constantine the Great, aware of the prophecy of the Sibylline Oracle, wished to combine his brand of Christianity with the ancient Mysteries and thus deny Christianity to the public. The mission of Christianity was to unveil the Mysteries. Survival of the spirit of Rome in jurisprudence, etc; Constantine knew of the existence of a primordial wisdom which had been preserved in Troy by initiate-priests. His decision to transfer the capital to Byzantium. Constantinople founded A.D. 326. Pallas Athene as the symbol of ancient wisdom. The legend of the Palladium. The spiritual impulses in Constantine and early Christianity have influenced the cultural development of the West.
Lecture VII April 19, 1917
Importance of Julian the Apostate for the historical evolution of the West. His early life. The failure of his Christian education on account of his lively interest in Greek culture and neo-Platonic teachings. Initiated into Eleusinian Mysteries: aware of the ancient Sun mystery. Wisdom of ancient times still known to Julian. His wish to preserve the continuity of the ancient pagan Mysteries. Rome promulgated laws against the celebration of pagan rites. Julian forbids teachers in the schools and universities, who did not believe in the ancient Gods, to expound ancient writings. His plan to continue pagan Mystery teachings failed.

Augustine and Manichaeism. Survival of this doctrine in the Faust legend. “Manushya” describes the spiritual aspect of man, “anthropos” the psychic aspect and “homo” the corporeal aspect. Julian seeks initiation into the Persian Mysteries — this the real aim of his military campaign. Dewar's lecture before the Royal Institution. Scientific concepts only valid between 7000 B.C. and A.D. 7000. Distinction between “mystical marriage” and “chymical marriage”. Assassination of Julian. Triumph of abstract thinking, e.g. Kant's “Critique of Pure Reason”. Julian's polemic against Christianity anticipated the criticisms of liberal nineteenth-century theology. Julian attempted to ensure continuity of pagan Mysteries by a revival of Manichaeism. Unable in his time to reconcile old principle of Initiation with Christianity. Reactions of Cato and Machiavelli to spiritual knowledge. Drach suggested dogma and ritual of Roman Church a revival of paganism — concealed from the faithful. If the Mass a pagan sacrifice then Julian's purpose to some extent achieved.
Lecture VIII April 24, 1917
The need for spiritual knowledge to understand the Mystery of Golgotha. The persistence of pagan cults at this time. Temple statues and local shrines as symbols of spiritual impulses behind the Mysteries. Destruction of pagan temples and Mysteries by the Church and the Roman emperors. A portrait of Constantine. The purpose of animal sacrifices — to restore the old clairvoyance.

The Mithras Mysteries emphasised self-knowledge from within, through the physical organism; the Eleusinian Mysteries self-knowledge from without, through contact with solar and lunar forces. The sacrament of the Mass as a continuation (with modifications) of pagan rites, e.g. ordination, a continuation of ancient principle of Initiation.

Difficulty of understanding ancient writers, e.g. Aristotle, with modern cognition. Franz Brentano's attempt to revive Aristotelianism.

The mystical path leads to inner solitude which becomes a potent force leading to the inner experience of Christ. The need to overcome the world and ties of the blood in order to establish spiritual relationships. The idea of the resurrection as a living reality. It is possible to have a mystical experience of the Mystery of Golgotha. In the first century Christ was spiritually present in the Mysteries in order to reform them. Pagan Mysteries could not lead to the Christ.

The Stoic philosophy and the idea of a league of nations. This idea revived by Kant. Brooks Adams’ book, The Law of Civilisation and Decay.

In future the power of the spirit must become instinctive in man. Need to quicken spiritual forces in man. Out of the spirit new creative possibilities will come.
Lecture IX May 01, 1917
There is an urgent need today for new impulses, thoughts and ideas. Discussion of Kjellen's book The State as Organism. The lecture then reverts to the history of the early Church. Its destructiveness. The survival of pagan rites in the ceremonies of the Church. The Mithraic Mysteries — the aim was to bring the neophyte in touch with the group-soul. The need for him to be in communion with the dead, with the ancestral spirit. The “Raven”, the first stage of initiation and its relation to the legends of Barbarossa and Charles the Great. The six other stages of initiation and their function.

Nietzsche's will to power and the transvaluation of values. The lecture then reverts to Kjellen and his central theme. The false analogy between the cells of the human organism and the cells of the State.

The social order must have a spiritual basis. Freedom of thought and its implications — Men's fear of spiritual knowledge today. Hermann Bhar and individualism. His conflicting ideas. He defends the concealed proselytizing of Scheler. The failure of reason — truth non-existent. Dehumanization of man leads to 1914. Bahr's call for a spiritual renewal, but only through the Catholic Church. Men's fear of Spiritual Science. Bahr a typical example. The need for spiritual courage. Nietzsche's radical views on Christianity.
Lecture X May 08, 1917
In early times the spiritual world was known through clairvoyance or initiation. Today many believe spiritual world closed to mankind. Reasons for this. Much can be learned from the examples of Otto Ludwig and Swedenborg. Ludwig's inner experience when composing or reading poetry. Synaesthesia. This not clairvoyant perception, but a step towards spiritual vision. Materialism erects barriers against spiritual vision. Possible to attain this vision through spiritual training, e.g. exercises in the book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds.

Swedenborg received spiritual enlightenment at the age of fifty-five. His views on the interrelation of body and soul. His “vision” of the disciples of Aristotle, Descartes and Leibnitz showed that “spiritual influence” is decisive.

Difference between human evolution before the Mystery of Golgotha and after the Mystery when immortality could no longer be known through the body. Aristotle's idea of immortality. Mankind today still under the influence of the Conciliar decree of 869, abolishing the spirit.

Julian's rejection of Christianity in the age of Constantine. His fear of the invasion of social order by Christianity. Origen and Clement of Alexandria, though imbued with Greek culture, able to recognize real significance of the Mystery of Golgotha. Clement's conception of the Logos. Visible world a manifestation of the Music of the Spheres. Human form made in the image of the Logos.

Fear that Spiritual Science implies a revival of ancient Gnosis. Spiritual Science must participate in the development of Christianity today. In conflict between faith and science, faith must be supported by gnosis and gnosis by love and love by the “Kingdom”.

The war of 1914 and failure to diagnose essential causes. Verworn's book, The Mechanism of Spiritual Life. Fustel de Coulanges’ view that social institutions have religious origin. State originally had spiritual origin. Plato's Dialogues a continuation of Mystery teachings: aim to prepare soul to commune with the dead. Christ revealed through inner personal experience.

Example of dream experience. Dream picture veils a real experience of meeting with souls of the dead: not a memory of everyday life. Dante and spiritual vision. Quotation from Divine Comedy.

Need today to bridge gap that separates us from realm where the dead and the higher Beings dwell and to become aware of forces today which are hostile to Anthroposophy.