23 May 1904, Berlin
It was to be expected 1The lecture had probably been announced at short notice, as Rudolf Steiner had only just returned from a visit to London. that only a small company would gather here today. I have nevertheless decided to hold our meeting this evening to talk to those of you who are present about something connected with Whitsuntide.
Before I start I would like to report to you one result of my latest visit to London, which is that in all likelihood Mrs. Besant will be visiting us here 2Annie Besant, 1847–1933, President of the Theosophical Society from 1907, spoke once before in Berlin on the occasion of the founding of the German Section in October 1902. In September 1904, she went on a lecture tour of several German cities at the invitation of Rudolf Steiner. Her lectures, which were held in English, were reported by him in German. in the autumn. We shall have the opportunity then of hearing again one of the personalities belonging to the most powerful spiritual influences of our time. The next two public lectures 3These two public lectures of 30th May and 6th June 1904: ‘History of Spiritism, Hypnotism and Somnabulism,’ were only exceptionally held on Mondays, otherwise Monday evenings were regularly taken up with Members' lectures. will be held in the Architektenhaus — on spiritualism a week hence, and on somnambulism and hypnotism, the following week. Then the usual Monday arrangements will take place again regularly. On the coming Thursdays 4Three lectures, 26th May, 2nd and 9th June 1904 (not translated). I shall speak about theosophical cosmology, about theosophical ideas concerning the creation of the universe. Those of you who are interested in such things may hear much which is not already known from the usual theosophical literature. I wish to hold over till a later date the lectures on the rudiments of theosophy. 5These lectures had been announced for April, but were not held until the autumn of 1904 (not translated). What I wish to talk about today comes from an old occult tradition. The subject cannot, of course, be dealt with exhaustively today. Some of it may appear incredible.
I would request, therefore, that today's lecture be treated as an episode in which nothing is to be proved, but only things related.
People celebrate their festivals today without having an inkling of what is signified by them. In the newspapers, which constitute the main source of the education and enlightenment of most of our contemporaries, one can read many and various articles dealing with such festivals, the writers of which have not the slightest idea of the meaning of such a festival. But for theosophists it is necessary to look again at their inner meaning. And so I want today to direct your attention to the origin of such an age-old festival: the source of the Whitsuntide Festival.
Whitsuntide is one of the most important festivals and one of the most difficult to understand. For Christian consciousness it commemorates the coming of the Holy Ghost. This event is described as a miracle: the Holy Spirit was poured out over the Apostles so that they started to speak in all manner of tongues. This means that they could enter into every heart and speak according to each one's understanding. That is one of the interpretations of Whitsuntide. If we wish to reach a more fundamental understanding of it, we must go still deeper into the matter. Whitsuntide — as symbolical festival — is connected with the most profound mysteries, with the holiest spiritual qualities of humanity — that is why it is so difficult to talk about it. Today I should like at least to touch on just a few things.
What the Whitsuntide Festival symbolises, the underlying principle from which it receives its deep inner meaning, is preserved in a single manuscript copy 6This was made public in H.P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine, (1888) Book 2, page 239. There it says: ‘Now the Vatican MSS. of the Kabala — a single copy of which (in Europe) is said to have been in the possession of Count St. Germain, contains the most complete exposition of the doctrine ...’ which is to be found in the Vatican Library, where it is guarded with the greatest care. To be sure, no mention is made of Whitsuntide in this manuscript, but it certainly tells of that for which Whitsuntide is only the outer symbol. Hardly anyone has seen this manuscript, unless he has been initiated into the deepest secrets of the Catholic Church, or has been able to read it in the Astral Light. 7Dr. Steiner here refers to Blavatsky's ability, known to his audience, whereby she was able to read rare manuscripts in the Astral Light, as is described by Constance Wachtmeister, among others, in Reminiscences of H.P. Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine, 1893. One copy is possessed by a personality who has been very much misunderstood in the world, but who is beginning to interest today's historians. I could equally well have said ‘was possessed’ instead of ‘is possessed’, but it would thereby cause a lack of clarity. Therefore I say again: a copy is in the possession of the Count of St. Germain, 8One of the most enigmatic and controversial personalities of the eighteenth century. His birth date and the date of his death, as well as his true name cannot be established with any certainty. According to a lecture given by Rudolf Steiner in Neuchatel on 27th September 1911 (translated in Anthroposophical Quarterly, winter, 1960), the name does not only refer to one personality, but to others too. In the true bearer of this name lives the individuality of Christian Rosenkreutz. See also lecture 5 given on 4th November 1904, which is included in this volume and the notes thereto. who is the only existing source of information about it.
I should like to give a few hints about this from a theosophical point of view. We shall be led thereby to something intimately connected with the evolution of mankind during the fifth Root Race. Man assumed his present-day form during the third Root Race, the time of ancient Lemuria, developed it further during the fourth Root Race, the time of ancient Atlantis, and then progressed to the fifth Root Race with what he had thus acquired. Whoever heard my Atlantis lectures 9This refers to lectures given in January 1904, of which, however, there are no notes. will remember that a vivid memory of those times still existed among the Greeks.
To find our bearings, 10The notes of Vegelahn express this in the following way: ‘To find our bearings, we must get a little insight into two currents of the present day which are hidden in the souls of men of the fifth Root Race and are often in conflict with one another. The one current is best represented in the Indian and South European confessions and also in the outlook on life of the Jewish peoples and the Babylonians — and the other is contained in the confessions and outlook of the Persians, westward of Persia to the regions of the Teutons.’ we must get a little insight into two currents belonging to our fifth Root Race, which are active as hidden powers in the souls of men and are often in conflict with one another. The one current is most clearly and best represented by what we call the Egyptian, Indian and South European outlook on life. Everything belonging later to Judaism and even to Christianity contains a little of that. But in our European culture, on the other hand, this has been intermingled with that other current which is to be found in ancient Persia and — if we disregard what the anthropologists and etymologists say and go deeper into the matter — we find it again stretching westwards from Persia to the regions of the Teutons.
Of these two currents 11See: The East in the Light of the West, fifth lecture, Munich, 27th August 1909. I would maintain that two mighty and important spiritual intuitions underlie them. The one was best understood by the ancient Rishis. To them was revealed the intuition of beings of a higher order, the so-called Devas. 12The Indian name for the gods of Devachan, the heavenly world. He who has undergone occult training and can carry out investigations into these matters will know what Devas are. These purely spiritual beings, of the Astral or Mental Plane, have a twofold inner nature, whereas man's nature is threefold. For man consists of body, soul and spirit, but the Deva nature — as far as can be investigated — consists only of soul and spirit. It may possess other members, but we are unable to find them, even by occult means. The Deva is an ensouled spirit. The impulses, emotions, desires and wishes which live invisibly within man, but are seen as light effects by the seer, these soul powers, this soul body, which constitutes man's inner being, supported by the physical body, is the lowest body which the Devas possess. We can regard it as their body. The intuitive faculty of the Indian was concerned mainly with the worshipping of these Devas. The man of India sees these Devas all around. He sees them as creating powers when he penetrates the veil of outward appearance. This intuition is fundamental to the outlook on life of the peoples of the Southern Zone! It is expressed most powerfully in the Egyptians' conception of the world.
The other intuition was the basis upon which the ancient Persian
mysticism was founded, and this led to the veneration of beings who were
also only twofold in their nature: the Asuras. They, too, possessed what
we call soul, but the soul organ was enclosed within a physical body
developed in sublime and titanic fashion. The Indian view of the world,
which clung to the Deva worship, looked upon the Asuras as something
inferior; whereas those who inclined to the viewpoint of the Northern
peoples adhered to the Asuras, 13Indian — Suras = gods (from Asu = breath)
became non-gods = A-suras. In the old Oriental religions and also later
by Rudolf Steiner used as the name for satanic beings. In connection
with this lecture, however, it is used in the sense of Blavatsky's
The Secret Doctrine, Book 2, (‘On the Myth of the Fallen
Angel, in its various aspects’) p.500. ‘Esoterically, the
Asuras, transformed subsequently into evil spirits and lower gods, who
are eternally at war with the great deities — are the gods of
the Secret Wisdom. In the oldest portions of the Rig Veda, they are the
spiritual and the divine, the term Asura being used for the Supreme
Spirit and being the same as the great Ahura of the Zoroastrians. There
was a time when the gods Indra, Angi, and Varuna themselves belonged to
the Asuras.’ Only in Atlantean times, at the transition from
Lemuria to Atlantis, were these originally high gods transformed into
In the notes of a hitherto unpublished lecture by Rudolf Steiner, given in Berlin, 17th October 1904, the following is said: ‘If we wish to understand the point of view of spiritual evolution we must be clear about an important event of the Atlantean epoch. Those beings which had originally been spiritual, now appeared as revolutionaries striving for independence. Suras now became Asuras. Until this time they had taken no part in evolution. They are those powers which, just as in our day, represent the intellectual and spiritual side of human nature. This side of Lucifer's nature is that which also stood for Christianity during the first centuries. There are two documents referring to that, one is in the Vatican and a copy of it is in the possession of the most thoroughly initiated Christian of the western world: The Count of St. Germain.’ to physical nature. Thus there developed in the Northern Zone more especially the impulse towards controlling the things of the sense world in a material way, towards an ordering of the world of realities by means of the highest technical advancement, through physical arts and so on. Nowadays there is nobody who still persists in Asura worship, but there are many among us who still have something of this within them. Thence comes the tendency towards the materialistic side of life and that is the basic tendency of the Northern peoples. Whoever acknowledges purely materialistic principles can be sure that he has something of the Asuras in his nature.
Among the Asura adherents there then developed a strange undertone of feeling. It first made its appearance in the spiritual life of Persia. The Persians developed a kind of fear of the Deva nature. They experienced fear, apprehension and dread in face of what was of a purely soul-spirit nature. That was the reason for the great contrast which we now observe between the Persian and the Indian attitude. In the Persian attitude those things were often venerated which to the Indians were bad and inferior, and just those things were avoided by the Persians which the Indians held in veneration. The Persian experience of the world was steeped in a mood of soul which feared and avoided a being of the nature of a Deva. In short, it was the picture of Satan which arose in this view of the world. Lucifer, the being of Spirit and Soul, became an object of fear and dread. That is where we have to look for the origin of the belief in the Devil. This mood of soul has also been absorbed into the modern view of the world; Lucifer became a much feared and avoided figure in the Middle Ages. Lucifer was definitely shunned.
We learn particulars about it 14It is to be noted that the text of the paragraph beginning with these words is defective. See in this respect Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine, Book 2, ‘The History of the Fourth Race,’ also lecture by Dr. Steiner, Dornach, 18th January 1920 in which the date of the cessation of physical incarnation is given as 6th. Millenium, A.D. in the manuscript already mentioned. If we follow in it the course of earth evolution we shall find that in the middle of the third Root Race, the Lemurian Epoch, mankind was clothed in physical matter. It is a wrong conception when theosophists believe that reincarnation had no beginning and will have no ending. Reincarnation started in the Lemurian Age and will cease again at the beginning of the sixth Root Race or Age. It is only a certain period of time in earth evolution during which mankind reincarnates. It was preceded by a most spiritual condition which precluded any necessity for reincarnation and there will follow again a spiritual state which will likewise obviate the necessity for reincarnation.
Simultaneously with its first incarnation in the Lemurian Age the untarnished human spirit, consisting of Atma-Buddhi-Manas, sought its primal physical incarnation. The physical development of the earth with its animal-like creatures had not evolved so far at that time, the whole, of this animal-human organism was not so far advanced then that it could have incorporated the human spirit. But a part of it, a certain group of animal-like beings had evolved so far that the seed of the human spirit could descend into it to give form to the human body.
Some of the individualities who incarnated at that time formed the small nucleus of those who later spread over the whole earth as the so-called Adepts. They were the original Adepts, not those whom we call initiated today. Those whom we call initiates today did not go through incarnation at that time . Not all incarnated at that time who would have been able to find human-animal bodies, only some of them. Some others were opposed to the process of incarnation for a particular reason. They delayed that until the time of the Fourth Age. The Bible hints at that in a concealed and profound way: ‘The Sons of God saw the daughters of men 15Genesis 6, 1–2. See also Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine, Book 2, Part 2, ‘On the Myth of the Fallen Angel, in its various aspects.’ In the story of Noah from The Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine it says of this event: ‘... this time men began to multiply on the earth, and the children of God, that is to say, of Seth ... saw the daughters of men, that is to say, of Cain, and were overcome by concupiscence and took them to their wives.’ that they were fair and they took them wives of all which they chose.’
That is to say, the incarnation of those who had waited began at a later time. We call this group the ‘Sons of Wisdom’, and it almost appears as if there were a kind of arrogance, a sort of pride about them. We shall make an exception of the small group of Adepts. Had these other ones also incarnated at the earlier period, mankind would never have been able to acquire the clarity of consciousness which he possesses today. He would have been held fast in a dull trance-like state of consciousness. He would have developed that kind of consciousness which is to be found in people who have been hypnotised, sleepwalkers and the like. In short, man would have remained in a kind of dreamlike state. But one thing would have been lacking then — one thing of great importance, if not of the utmost importance — he would have lacked a feeling of freedom, a capacity to exercise his individual discrimination with regard to good and evil by means of his own consciousness, his own human ego.
This postponement of incarnation — in the form it assumed in consequence of that feeling of dread of the Devas which I characterised — this is called in the Book of Genesis ‘the Fall of Man’. The Devas delayed their incarnation and only descended to the earth to take possession of physical bodies when humanity had reached a further Stage in its development. Through this they were able to evolve a more mature form of consciousness than would have been the case earlier.
Thus, you see, the cost of man's freedom was the deterioration of his nature, by waiting for his incarnation till he could descend into denser physical conditions. A deep understanding of this has been preserved in Greek mythology. Had man descended earlier into incarnation — so says the Greek myth — then that would have happened which Zeus wanted when man was still living in Paradise. He wished to make man happy — but as an unconscious being. Clear consciousness would have been possessed solely by the gods and man would have been without a feeling of freedom. The rebellion of the Lucifer Spirit, the Deva Spirit within humanity, who wished to descend in order to rise up again out of his own freedom, is symbolised by the saga of Prometheus! 16This is also linked by Rudolf Steiner to Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine, Book 2. But Prometheus had to suffer for his endeavours by having an eagle — symbol of inordinate desire — gnawing at his liver and causing him the most deadly pain.
Man had thus descended more deeply and now had to achieve through his own free conscious activity what he would have attained by magical arts and powers. But because he had descended deeper he must suffer pains and torment. This is also indicated in the Bible with the words: ‘In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children. 17Genesis 3:16. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread’, etc. That is no less than to say: mankind must raise itself again with the help of culture.
Through the figure of Prometheus, Greek mythology has symbolised free humanity struggling towards culture. He is the representative of suffering mankind, but at the same time the giver of freedom. The one who sets Prometheus free is Heracles, of whom it is said that he underwent initiation in the Eleusinian Mysteries. Whoever descended to the underworld was an initiate, for the descent into the underworld is a technical term denoting initiation. This journey to the underworld is attributed to Heracles, Odysseus and to all who are initiates who wish to lead man of his epoch to the source of primeval wisdom, to a life of the spirit.
Had mankind retained the attitude of Lemurian times we would have been dreamers today. Through his Deva nature, mankind fructified his lower nature. Out of his self-awareness, out of his awareness of freedom, man now has to reawaken that spark of awareness which he brought down from heaven in justified presumption; he has to reawaken that spiritual knowledge which he had received without his own striving when he was still unfree. There lies in human nature itself that satanic rebelliousness which, however, in the form of luciferic aspiration is the only safeguard of our freedom. And out of this freedom we shall again wrest spiritual life. It will be reawakened in the man of the fifth Root Race, our present epoch. This form of consciousness will again be conveyed through initiates. It will not be a dreamy, but a clear consciousness. It is the Heraclean spirits, the initiated ones, who will help mankind forward and reveal to him his Deva nature, his knowledge of the spirit. That was also the endeavour of all the great founders of religion, that they should restore to mankind the knowledge of the spirit which had been lost in physiological existence. The fifth epoch still contains much of the material life within it. This materialistic culture of the present time shows us how far man has become embedded in purely physical-physiological nature, as Prometheus was enmeshed in his chains. But it is equally certain that the vulture, the symbol of lust and craving, gnawing at our liver, will be thrust aside by spiritual men. That is the goal to which the initiates would lead mankind through consciousness of self, by means of such movements as the theosophical movement, so that it can raise itself up in full freedom.
The moment which we have to regard as the one in which spiritual life poured into the self-conscious human being is indicated precisely in the New Testament. It is alluded to in the profoundest of the Gospels the one which is misunderstood by today's theologians, the St. John's Gospel, when it speaks of the Feast of the Tabernacles which was attended by Jesus. The founder of Christianity there speaks of the outpouring of spiritual life with which humanity was to be endowed. It is a remarkable passage. For the Feast of the Tabernacles, the people had to visit a spring from which water flowed. There followed a festival which intimated to man that he should call to mind again his spiritual nature, his Deva and spiritual strivings. The water which flowed there was to remind him of the soul and spirit world. After repeated refusals Jesus finally went up to the feast. The following happened on the last day of the feast John 7, 37): ‘In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.’ Those who drank celebrated a feast in which the spiritual life was brought to recollection. But Jesus connected something else with it, as can be seen in the following words of St. John's Gospel: ‘He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)’.
Here the Whitsuntide mystery is indicated. It is intimated that man has to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. When the moment arrives in which man is able to kindle the spark of spiritual life within him, when the physiological nature of man is able to attempt the ascent by means of its own forces, then will the Holy Spirit descend upon him and the time of spiritual awakening will be at hand.
Man descended as far as the physical body and so, in contrast to the nature of the Devas, he is built up out of three principles: Spirit, Soul and Body. The Devas are at a higher stage than man, but they do not have to surmount physical nature as man does. This physical nature has to be transfigured so that it can absorb the life of the spirit. Man's consciousness in the body, his physiological consciousness of today, will itself be able to enkindle the spark of spiritual existence in freedom.
Christ's sacrifice is an example which shows that man will be able to unfold a higher form of consciousness out of his life in the physical plane. His lower individuality lives in the physical body, but it must be enkindled so that the higher personality can develop. Only then can the ‘rivers of living water’ flow from man's ‘belly’. Then can the Holy Spirit appear and be poured forth upon humanity. Man, as an ego being, must be as though dead to physiological existence.
Herein lies what is truly Christian, and it also embodies the deeper
mystery contained in the Whitsuntide Festival. Man lives primarily in
his lower organism, in his consciousness imbued with desires. It is
right that this is so, because it is only this consciousness which can
provide him with awareness of his true goal, to attain freedom. He
should not remain there, however, but must raise his ego to the nature
of a Deva. He must develop the Deva within him, bring it to birth so
that it becomes a spirit of healing — a Holy Spirit. To that end
he must consciously sacrifice his earthly body, he must experience that
‘dying and becoming’ so that he does not remain a
‘gloomy guest’ 18‘Und so lang du das nicht hast,
Dieses: Stirb und werde!
Bist du nur ein triiber Gast
Auf der dunklen Erde.
Concluding verse of a poem by Goethe called Selige Sehnsucht (‘Holy Longing’). on this dark earth.
Thus the Easter mystery is only revealed in its fullness when taken
together with the Whitsuntide mystery. We see the human ego, exemplified
in its Divine Representative, divesting itself of the lower ego and
dying in order to be completely transfigured in its physical nature and
offered up again to the Godhead. Ascension is the symbol of this. When
man has become transfigured in the physical body. has offered it up
again to the Spirit, he will be ripe to receive the outpouring of
spiritual life, to experience what is called the ‘coming of the
Holy Spirit’ according to the explanation of One, who is mankind's
greatest Representative. Therefore it is also said: ‘And there are
three that bear witness in earth, 19First Epistle of John, v. 7. Rudolf Steiner had
already explained this passage from the Epistle in detail in his lecture
on 29th April 1904. According to that, the present-day materialistic
concepts of blood and water must not be applied here. When it is said:
‘There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word,
and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.’
This means in theosophical terminology: Atma, Buddhi, Manas, the three higher principles. And when it is said later on: ‘And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood,’ it means the three lower principles, the three soul attributes. The astral body, as well as the blood, (not our physical blood), are the lowest parts of the soul. Jewish esotericism believes that movement of the blood is caused by the astral body and that is correct. All influences which do not directly pass through the soul, but still have an effect on the body are called the ‘blood’ in Jewish esoteric teaching. It is the active principle, the motivator. We call only the red liquid which flows through the body ‘blood.’ By water is signified ‘Kama’ in every occult language — feelings, emotions, passions, etc: ‘And now I shall tell you why this is called water. You must get acquainted with the concept that humanity today has grown accustomed to visualising everything in a much more materialistic way than he did formerly. If you picture to yourself an old cabbalist, he did not regard water as just a flowing element, but as an image and he arrived at that in the following way. He said to himself; the water is inhabited by those animals which we reckon as the most primitive. Animals evolved originally out of the liquid element: sea animals, jellyfish, amphibians. These then came out of the water onto the land. It was only out of water that emotions and feelings came about ... We distinguish the lower part of the soul, which stirs the blood and makes it pulsate and causes pleasure and dislike and all such other painful experiences. And that he calls water because from water is derived that element of soul. And then we have the thinking part of the soul which is Spirit.’ the Spirit, the water and the blood.’ Whitsuntide is the outpouring of the Spirit into man.
The highest goal of humanity is symbolically expressed by means of the Whitsuntide festival; that is, that mankind must progress once more from an intellectual to a spiritual life just as Prometheus was set free from his suffering by Heracles, so will mankind be set free by the power of the Spirit. By descending into matter, mankind has attained self-consciousness. Through the fact that he ascends again. he will become a self-aware Deva. Those who worshipped the Asuras and regarded the Devas as beings of a satanic nature, who did not wish to descend into the innermost depths, regarded this descent as something devilish.
That, too, is referred to in Greek mythology. The one whose state of consciousness is not free — the contemplator — the one who does not wish to win redemption in complete freedom and therefore is the opponent of Prometheus — is Epimetheus. Zeus gives him Pandora's box, the contents of which — sufferings and plagues — fall on mankind when it is opened. The only gift which is left behind is hope; the hope that one day, in a future state he will also progress to this higher, clear consciousness. He is left with the hope that he will be set free. Prometheus advises him against accepting this doubtful gift from the god Zeus. Epimetheus does not listen to his brother, but accepts the gift. The gift which Epimetheus receives is not worth as much as the one belonging to his brother Prometheus.
Thus we see that there are two ways of life open to men. Some of them cling to a feeling of freedom and — although it is dangerous to develop spirituality — they search for it in freedom nevertheless. The others are the ones who find their satisfaction in the dull round of life and in blind faith, and who suspect danger in the luciferic endeavours of their fellow men. The founders of the Church's outward doctrine have distorted the deeper meaning of luciferic striving. The ancient teachings on the subject are contained in hidden manuscripts 20See note 6. in undisclosed places, where they have hardly been seen by anyone. They are available to a few people who are able to see them in the Astral Light, and otherwise only to a few initiates. The path is fraught with danger, but it is the only one which leads to the sublime goal of spiritual freedom.
The spirit of man should be free and not dull. That is also the aim of Christianity. Health and healing are connected with holy. A spirit which is holy is able to heal, it sets men free from sufferings and torments. Healthy and free is the human being who is released from the bondage of his physiological state. For only the free spirit is the healthy one, whose body is no longer gnawed by an eagle.
Thus Whitsuntide can be looked upon as the symbol of the freeing of the human spirit, as the great symbol of mankind's struggle for freedom, for consciousness of his own freedom.
If the Easter Festival is the festival of resurrection in nature, then the Whitsuntide Festival is the symbol of the becoming conscious of the human spirit, the festival of those who know and understand and — penetrated through and through by this — go in search of freedom.
Those spiritual movements of modern times which lead to a perception of the spiritual world in clear day consciousness — not in trance or under hypnosis — are the ones which lead to an understanding of such important symbols as this. The clear consciousness, which only the spirit can set free, is what unites us in the Theosophical Society. Not the word alone, but the spirit gives it its meaning. The spirit which emanates from the great Masters, which flows through a few people only who are able to say: ‘I know they are there, the great Adepts, who are the founders of our spiritual movement — not our society’ 21Rudolf Steiner expressed himself in a similar way on the 2nd January 1905, in a letter to a Member who was about to be accepted into the Esoteric School: ‘You know that behind the whole theosophical movement there are highly evolved beings whom we call “Masters” or “Mahatmas”. These sublime beings have already completed the path which the rest of humanity still has to tread. They are now active as the great “Teachers of Wisdom and of the Harmony of Human Perception”. They are already engaged in work on higher planes to which the rest of mankind will evolve during the course of the next periods of development (so-called “Rounds”). They do their work on the physical plane through their “messengers”, the first of whom was H.P. Blavatsky — I mean the first as regards the theosophical movement. The Masters never found an outer Organisation of society, nor would they administer one. The Theosophical Society was formed by its founder Members. (H.P. Blavatsky, Olcott and others) in order to promote the work of the Masters on the physical plane, but these Masters themselves have never exerted any influence on the Society as such. It is in its whole character and leadership purely and simply the work of men living on the earth.’ See in this context also lecture 16, given on 22nd October 1905 (contained in this volume). — this spirit flows into our present civilisation and bestows on it the impulse for the future.
Let a spark of understanding of this Holy Spirit flow again into the misunderstood Whitsuntide Festival, then it will be revivified and gain meaning once more. We want to live in a world that makes sense. Whoever celebrates festivals without sparing them a thought is a follower of Epimetheus. Man must see what binds him to his surroundings and also to what is invisible in nature. We have to know where we stand. For we humans are not confined to a dull, dreamy, semi-existence, we are destined to develop a free, fully conscious unfolding of our whole being.