The Temple Legend
11. Concerning the Lost Temple and How it is to be Restored I
(In connection with the Legend of the True Cross, or Golden Legend)
15 May 1904, Berlin *Lecture 11, Berlin, 15th
Source for the text.
Shorthand notes by Franz Seiler, Walter Vegelahn and Berta Reebstein-Lehmann.
Today we will explain a great allegory, and deal with an object which is known to occult science as the image or teaching of the lost temple which has to be rebuilt. I have explained in earlier lectures 1 e.g., lectures 3 and 5 of 30th September and 4th November 1904. why in occult science one starts from such images; today we shall see what an enormous number of ideas are contained in essence in this image. Thereby I will also have to touch upon a theme which is much misunderstood by those who know little or nothing about theosophy. There are some people who do not understand that theosophy and practical [everyday things] go hand in hand, that they must work together throughout the whole of life. Therefore I shall have to speak about the connection between theosophy and the practical things of life. For, basically, when we take up the theme of the lost temple which has to be rebuilt, we are speaking about everyday work.
I shall, indeed, thereby be in the position of a teacher who prepares his pupils for building a tunnel. The building of a tunnel is something eminently practical. Someone might well say: building a tunnel is simple; one only has to start digging into a hill from one side and to excavate away until one emerges at the other side. Everyone can see that it would be foolish to think in this way. But in other realms of life that is not always perceived. Whoever wishes to build a tunnel must, of course, first of all have a command of higher mathematics. Then he will have to learn how it is to be made, technically. Without practical engineering knowledge, without the art of ascertaining the right level, one would not be able to keep on course in excavating the mountain. Then one must know the basic concepts of geology, of the various rock strata, the direction of the water courses and the metallic lodes in the mountain, and so on.. It would be foolish to think that someone would be able to build a tunnel without all this prior knowledge, or that an ordinary stone mason could construct a whole tunnel.
It would be just as foolish if one were to believe that one could begin building human society from the point of view of ordinary life. However, this folly is perpetrated not merely by many people, but also in countless books. Even one today supposes himself called upon to know and decide how best to reform social life and the state. People who have hardly learnt anything write detailed books about how society should best be shaped, and feel themselves called to found reform movements. Thus there are movements for reform in all spheres of life. But everything done in this way is just the same as if someone were to try to cut a tunnel with hammer and chisel. That is all a result of not knowing that great laws exist which rule the world and spring forth out of the life of the spirit. The real problem of our day consists in this ignorance [of the fact] that there are great laws for the building of the state and of the social organism, just as there are for building a tunnel, and that one must know these laws in order to carry out the most necessary and everyday tasks in the social organism. Just as in building a tunnel, one has to know about the interaction of all the forces of nature, so must anyone wishing to start reforming society know the laws [which interweave between one person and the next] . One must study the effect of one soul on another, and draw near to the spirit. That is why theosophy must lie at the basis of every practical activity in life. Theosophy is the real practical principle of life; and only he who starts from theosophical principles and carries them over into practical life can feel himself called as able to be active in social life.
That is why theosophy should penetrate all spheres of life. Statesmen, social reformers and the like are nothing without a theosophical basis, without theosophical principles. That is why, for those who study these things, all work in this field, everything done today to build up the social structure, is external patchwork and complete chaos. For one who understands the matter, what the social reformer is doing today is like somebody cutting stones and piling them one on top of another in the belief that a house will thereby come into being of its own accord. First of all a plan of the house must be drawn up. It is just the same if one asserts that, in social life, things will take shape of their own accord. One cannot reform society without knowing the laws of theosophy.
This way of thinking, which works according to a plan, is called Freemasonry. The medieval Freemasons, who dealt with and made contracts with the clergy, about how they should build, wanted nothing else than to shape outer life in such a way that — along with the Gothic cathedral — it could become an image of the great spiritual structure of the universe. Take the Gothic cathedral. Though composed of thousands of individual parts, it is built according to a single idea, much more comprehensive than the cathedral itself. To become complete in itself, divine life must flow into it, just as light shines into the church through the multi-coloured windows. And when the medieval priest spoke from the pulpit, so that the divine light shone in his listener's hearts just like the light shining through the coloured panes, then the vibrations set up through the preacher's word were in harmony with the great life of God. And the life of just such a sermon, born out of the life of the spirit, set itself forth in the cathedral itself. In like manner, the whole of outer life should be transformed into the Temple of the Earth, into an image of the whole spiritual structure of the universe.
If we go still further back in time, we find that it is just this way of thinking which was mankind's from the very earliest times. Let me explain what I mean by way of an example. Our epoch is the time of the chaotic interaction of one human being with another. Each individual pursues his own aims. This epoch was preceded by another one, the age of the ancient priestly states. I have often spoken about the cultural epochs of our fifth Great Epoch. The first of these was the ancient Indian epoch, the second, that of the Medes and the Persians, the third, that of the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Chaldeans, the Egyptians and the Semites, and the fourth was the Graeco-Roman period. We are now in the fifth epoch.
The fourth and fifth cultural epochs were the first ones to be based on the intelligence of men, of individual men.
We have a great monument to the conquest of the old priestly culture by the intelligence of men in art, in the Laocoon. 2 In this connection see lecture held in Munich, 14th March 1910, published in: Metamorphoses of the Soul. The Laocoon priest entwined with serpents — the symbol of subtlety — symbolises the conquest, by the civilisation of intelligence, of the old priestly culture, which held other views about truth and wisdom, and about what should happen. It is the overcoming of the third cultural epoch by the fourth. That is represented in still another symbol, in the saga of the Trojan Horse. The intelligence of Odysseus created the Trojan Horse, by means of which the Trojan priestly culture was overthrown.
The development of the old Roman State out of the ancient Trojan priestly culture is described in the saga of Aeneas. The latter was one of the outstanding defenders of Troy, who afterwards came over to Italy. There it was that his descendants laid the foundation of ancient Rome. His son Ascanius founded Alba Longa and history now enumerates fourteen kings up to the time of Numitor and Amulius. Numitor was robbed of his throne by his brother Amulius, his son was killed and his daughter, Rhea Silvia, was made to become a vestal virgin, so that the lineage of Numitor should die out. And when Rhea gave birth to the twins, Romulus and Remus, Amulius ordered them to be thrown in the Tiber. The children were rescued, suckled by a she-wolf, and brought up by the royal shepherd Faustulus.
Now history speaks about seven Roman kings: Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tuflus Hostilius, Ancus Martius, Tarquinius Pliscus, Servius Tullius and Tarquinius Superbus.
Following Livy's account 3 Titus Livius (59 B.C. — A.D. 17), Roman historian; author of a history of Rome (Annales) from the foundation of the city to the death of Drusus (9 B.C.); of the 142 books of this history, 35 of them and epitomes of most of the rest are extant. it used to be believed that the first seven kings of Rome were real personalities. Today, historians know that these first seven kings never existed.
We are therefore dealing with a saga, but the historians have no inkling of what lies behind it. The basis of the saga is what follows:
The priestly state of Troy founded a colony, the priestly colony of Alba Longa (Alba, an alb, or priest's vestment). 4 A white vestment reaching to the feet, worn by the celebrant at Mass over the cassock and having long pointed sleeves. The oldest type of vestment derived from Egyptian and Hebrew times. It was a colony of a priestly state and Amulius belonged to the last priestly dynasty. A junior priestly culture sprang from this, which was then cut off by a civilisation based on cleverness. History tells us no more about this priestly culture. The veil which was spread over the priestly culture of the earliest Roman history, is lifted by theosophy. The seven Roman kings represent nothing else than the seven principles as we know them from theosophy. Just as the human organism consists of seven parts — Sthula-Sharira [physical body], Linga-Sharira [etheric], Kama-Rupa [astral], Kama-Manas [ego], higher Manas [spirit-self], Buddhi [life-spirit] and Atma [spirit-man] — so the social organism was conceived, as it formed itself at the time, as a sequence in seven stages. And only if it was developed according to the law of the number seven, which lies at the base of all nature, was it able to prosper. Thus the rainbow has seven colours; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Likewise there are seven [intervals in the scale]: first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and so on; likewise the atomic weights in chemistry follow the rule of the number seven. And that permeates the whole of creation. Hence it was self-evident to the Guardians of the Ancient Wisdom that the structure of human society must also be regulated by such a law. According to a precisely worked out plan, these seven kings are seven stages, seven [integral] parts. This was the usual way of inaugurating a new epoch in history at that time. A plan was devised, since this was considered a means of preventing any stupidities, and a law was written for it. This plan was actually there at the beginning. Everyone knew that world history was guided according to a fixed plan. Everyone knew: When I am in the third phase of the fourth epoch, I must be guided by this and that. And so, at first, in ancient Rome, one still had a priestly state with a plan at the basis of its culture, which was written down in books, called the Sibylline Books. These are nothing else than the original plan underlying the law of the sevenfold epoch, and they were still consulted when needed in the earliest days of the Roman Empire.
The physical body was taken as a model for the foundations. That is not so unreasonable. Today people are inclined to treat the physical body as something subordinate. People look down on the physical with a kind of disdain. However, that is not justified, because our physical body is our most exalted part. Take a single bone. Take a good look at the upper part of a thigh bone and you will see how wonderfully it is constructed. The best engineer, the greatest technician, could not produce anything so perfect, if he were set the task of attaining the greatest possible strength using the least amount of material. And so the whole human body is constructed in the most perfect way. This physical body is really the most perfect thing imaginable. An anatomist will always speak with the utmost admiration of the human heart, which functions in a wonderful way, even though human beings do little else throughout life than imbibe what is poison for it. Alcohol, tea, coffee and so on attack the heart in the most incredible fashion. But so wonderfully has this organ been built that it can withstand all this into ripe old age.
The physical body, the lowest of the bodies, therefore possesses the greatest perfection. Less perfect, on the other hand, are the higher bodies, which have not yet gained such perfection in their development: the etheric body and the astral body continually offend against our physical body through the attacks of our lust, desires and wishes. Then follows, as the fourth [principle], the real baby [of them all], the human ego, which like a wandering will-o’-the-wisp, must still wait for the future to offer it those rules which will act as a guide for its conduct, just as the physical body has long since had.
When we develop a social structure, we must have that which will make the foundations firm. Thus the saga allows Romulus, the first Roman king, who represents the first principle, to be raised to heaven as the god Quirinus. The second king, Numa Pompilius, the second principle. embodies social order; he brought laws for ordinary living. The third king, Tullus Hostilius, represents the passions. Under him, the attacks against divine nature begin, causing discord, struggle and war, through which Rome became great. Under the fourth king, Ancus Martius, the arts develop, those things which spring out of Kama-Manas, [the human ego].
Now the four lower principles of man are not able to give birth to the three higher principles, the fifth, sixth andc seventh. This is also symbolised in Roman history. The fifth-Roman king, Tarquinius Priscus, was not engendered out of the Roman organism, but was introduced into Roman culture from the Etruscan culture as something higher. The sixth king, Servius Tullus, represents the sixth member of the human cyclic law, Buddhi. He is able to rule over Kama [the astral body], the physical-sensual counterpart of Buddhi. He represents the canon of the law. The seventh king, Tarquinius Superbus, the most exalted principle, is he who must be overthrown, since it is not possible to maintain the high level, the impulse, of the social system.
We see it demonstrated in Roman history that there must be a plan underlying the building of the state, just as for any other building in the world. That the world is a temple, that social life must be structured and organised, and must have pillars like a temple, and that the great sages must be these pillars — it is this intention which is permeated with the ancient wisdom. That is not a kind of wisdom which is merely learned, but one which has to be built into human society. The seven principles were correctly applied. The only person able to work towards the building up of society is he who has absorbed all this knowledge, all this wisdom, into himself. We would not achieve much as theosophists if we were to restrict ourselves to contemplating how the human being is built up from its different members. No, we are only able to fulfil our task if we carry the principles of theosophy into everyday life. We must learn to put them to use in such a way that every turn of the hand, every movement of a finger, every step we take, bears the impress, is an expression of the spirit. In that case we shall be engaged in building the lost temple.
Along with that, however, goes the fact which I mentioned recently — that we should take into ourselves something of the greatness and all embracing comprehensiveness of the universal laws. Our habits of thought must be permeated by that kind of wisdom which leads from great conceptions into the details — just in the same way as house construction starts from the finished and complete plan and not by laying one stone upon another. This demand must be made if our world is not to turn into chaos. As theosophists we should recognise the fact that law is bound to rule in the world as soon as we realise that every step we make, every action of ours, is like an impression stamped in wax by the spiritual world. Then we shall be engaged in the building of the temple. That is the meaning of the temple building: whatever we set ourselves to do must be in conformity to law.
The knowledge that man has to include himself in the construction of the great world temple has become increasingly forgotten. A person can be born and die today without having any inkling of the fact that laws are working themselves out in us, and that everything we do is governed by the laws of the universe The whole of present-day life is wasted, because people do not know that they have to live according to laws. Therefore the priestly sages of ancient times devised means of rescuing, for the new culture, something of the great laws of the spiritual world. It was, so to speak, a stratagem of the great sages, to have hidden this order and harmony in many branches of life — yes, even so far as in the games which men use for their recreation at the end of the day. In playing cards, in the figures of chess, in the sense of rule by which one plays, we find a hint, if only a faint one, of the order and harmony which I have described. When you sit down with someone to a game of cards, it will not do if you do not know the rules, the manner of playing. And this really conveys a hint of the great laws of the universe. What is known as the sephirot of the Cabbala, what we know as the seven principles in their various forms, that is recognised again in the way in which the cards are laid down, one after the other, in the course of the game. Even in the allurements of playing, the adepts have known how to introduce the great cosmic laws, so that, even in play, people have at least a smack of wisdom. At least for those who can play cards, their present incarnation is not quite wasted. These are secrets, how the great Adepts intervene in the wheel of existence. If one told people to be guided by the great cosmic laws, they would not do so. However, if the laws are introduced unnoticed into things, it is often possible to inject a drop of this attitude into them. If you have this attitude, then you will have a notion of what it is which is symbolised in the mighty allegory of the lost temple.
In the secret societies, among which Freemasonry belongs, something connected with the lost temple and its future reconstruction has been described in the Temple Legend. The Temple Legend is very profound, but even the present-day Freemasons usually have no notion of it. A Freemason isnot even very easy to distinguish from the majority of people, and he does not carry much of importance with him in new life. But if he lets the Temple Legend work upon him, it is a great help. For whoever absorbs the Temple Legend receives something which, in a specific way, shapes his thinking in an orderly fashion. And it [all] depends on ordered thinking. This Temple Legend is as follows:
Once one of the Elohim united with Eve, and out of that Cain was born. Another of the Elohim, Adonai or Jehovah-Yahveh, thereupon created Adam. The latter, for his part, united with Eve, and out of this marriage Abel was born. Adonai caused trouble between those belonging to Cain's family and those belonging to Abel's family, and the result of this was that Cain slew Abel. But out of the renewed union of Adam with Eve the race of Seth was founded.
Thus we have two different races of mankind. The one consists of the original descendants of the Elohim, the sons of Cain, who are called the Sons of Fire. They are those who till the earth and create from inanimate nature and transform it through the arts of man. Enoch, one of the descendants of Cain, taught mankind the art of hewing stone, of building houses, of organising society of founding civilised communities. Another of Cain's descendants was Tubal-Cain, who worked in metal. The architect Hiram-Abiff was descended from the same race.
Abel was a shepherd. He held firmly to what he found, he took the world as it was. There is always this antithesis between people. One sticks to things as they are, the other wants to create new life from the inanimate, through art. Other nations have portrayed the ancestor of these Sons of Fire in the Prometheus saga 5 See lecture 4 of 7th October 1904 in the present volume. It is the Sons of Fire who have to work into the world the wisdom, beauty and goodness from the all-embracing universal thought, in order to transform the world into a temple.
King Solomon was a descendant of the lineage of Abel. He could not build the temple himself; he lacked the art. Hence he appointed the architect Hiram-Abiff, the descendant of the lineage of Cain. Solomon was divinely handsome. When the Queen of Sheba met him, she thought she saw an image of gold and ivory. She came to unite herself with him.
Jehovah is also called the God of created form, 6 See lecture of 25th October 1905 in: Foundations of Esotericism, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1983. the God who turns what is living into a living force, in contrast with that other Elohim who creates by charming life out of what is lifeless. To which of these does the future belong? That is the great question of the Temple Legend. If mankind were to develop under the religion of Jehovah all life would expire in form. In occult science, that is called the Transition to the Eighth Sphere. 7 See note 26 to lecture 6 given on 11th November 1904. But the point in time has now arrived when man himself must awaken the dead to life. That will happen through the Sons of Cain, through those who do not rely on the things around them, but are themselves the creators of new forms. The Sons of Cain themselves frame the building of the world.
When the Queen of Sheba saw the temple and asked who the architect was, she was told it was Hiram. And as soon as she saw him, he seemed to her to be the one who was predestined for her. King Solomon now became jealous; and indeed, he entered into league with three apprentices who had failed to achieve their master's degree, in order to undermine Hiram's great masterpiece, the Molten Sea. This great masterpiece was to be made by casting it. Human spirit was to have been united with the metal. Of the three apprentices, one was a Syrian mason, the second was a Phoenician carpenter, and the third was a Hebrew miner. The plot succeeded: the casting was destroyed by pouring water over it. It all blew apart. In despair the architect was about to throw himself into the heat of the flames. Then he heard a voice from the centre of the earth. This came from Cain himself, who called out to him: ‘Take here the hammer of the world's divine wisdom, with which you must put it all right again.’ And Cain gave him the hammer. Now it is the spirit of man which man builds into his astral body, if he is not to let it remain in the condition in which he received it. This is the work which Hiram now had to do. But there was a plot against his life. We shall proceed from there next time.
I wanted to recount the legend up to this point, to show how, in the original occult brotherhoods, the thought lived, that man has a task to fulfil; the task of restructuring the inanimate world, of not being satisfied with what is already there. Wisdom thus becomes deed through its penetration of the inanimate world, so that the world should become a reflection of the original and eternal spirituality.
Wisdom, Beauty, Strength are the three fundamental words of all Freemasonry. So to change the outer world, that it becomes a garment for the spiritual — that is its task. Today, the Freemasons themselves no longer understand this, and believe that man should work on his own ego. 8 At this point the texts diverge: according to Seiler it is ‘egoistical’ egos; according to Vegelahn and Reebstein ‘spiritual’ egos, which might have resulted from a mis-hearing or mistake in writing and could have been ‘own’ egos — (geistigen = eigenen). They regard themselves as particularly clever when they say that the working masons of the Middle Ages were not Freemasons. But the working masons were precisely those who have always been Freemasons, because outward structure was to become the replica of the spiritual, of the temple of the world, which is to be constructed out of intuitive wisdom. This is the thought which formerly under lay the great works of architecture, and was carried through into every detail.
I will illustrate by an example the superiority of wisdom over mere intellect. Let us take an old Gothic cathedral, and consider the wonderful acoustics, which cannot be matched today, because this profound knowledge has been lost.
The famous Lake Moeris in Egypt is just such a wonder-work of the human spirit. It was not a natural lake, but was constructed through the intuition of the wise men, so that water could be stored in time of flood, for distribution over the whole country in time of drought. That was a great feat of irrigation.
When man learns to create with the same wisdom with which the divine powers have created Nature and made physical things, then will the temple be built [on earth]. It does not depend upon how many separate things we have the power to create out of our own wisdom; we must however just have the attitude of mind that knows that only by means of wisdom can the temple of humanity be created.
When, today, we go about the cities, here there is a shoe shop, there a chemist, further on a cheese-monger and a shop selling walking sticks. If just now we do not want anything, why should that concern us? How little does the outward life of such a city reflect what we feel, think and perceive! How very different it was in the Middle Ages. If a person walked through the streets then, he saw the house fronts built in the resident's style, manner and character. Every door knob expressed what the man had lovingly shaped to suit his spirit. Go, for instance, through a town such as Nuremberg: there you will still find the basis of how it used to be. And then, by contrast, take the fashionable abstraction that no longer has anything to do with people. That is the age of materialism and its chaotic productions, to which one has step by step come from an earlier spiritual epoch.
Man was born from a nature which was once so formed by the gods that everything within it fitted the great scheme of the world, the great temple. There was once a time when there was nothing on this earth upon which you could gaze without having to say to oneself: Divine beings have built this temple to the stage in which the human physical body was perfected. Then the higher principles (the psychic forces) [of man's nature] took possession of it, and through this disarray and chaos came into the world. Wishes, desires and emotions brought disarray into the temple of the world. Only when, out of man's own will, law and order once again shall speak in a loftier and more beautiful way than the gods once did in creating Nature, only when man allows the god within him to arise, so that like a god he can build towards the temple — only then will the lost temple be regained.
It would not be right if we were to think that only those who are able to build should do so. No, it depends upon the attitude of mind, even if one knows a great deal. If one has the right direction to one's thinking, and then one engages in social, technical and juristic reform, then one is building the lost temple which is to be rebuilt. But should one start reforms — however well-intended they may be — lacking this attitude of mind, then one is only bringing about more chaos. For the individual stone is useless, if it does not fit into the overall plan [of the building]. Reform the law, religion, or anything else — as long as you only take account of the particular item, without having an understanding of the whole, it only results in a demolition.
Theosophy is thus not just theory, but practice, the most practical thing in the world. It is a fallacy to suppose that theosophists are recluses, not engaged in shaping the world. If we could bring people to engage in social reform from a theosophical basis, 9 Rudolf Steiner was working towards establishing a reform of the social life soon after the end of the Great War. See: ‘The Threefold Order of the Body Social.’ RSE 252, 253 and 254. they would achieve much of what they want swiftly and surely. For, without needing to say anything against particular movements, they only lead to fanaticism if pursued in isolation. All separate reform movements — emancipators, abstainers, vegetarians, animal protectors and so forth — are only useful if they all work together. Their ideal can only be properly realised in a great universal movement that leads in unity to the universal world temple.
That is the idea that lies behind the allegory of the lost temple which has to be rebuilt.
Notes from replies to questions
Question: What is the difference between the sons of Cain and the sons of Abel?
Answer: The sons, of Cain are the unripe ones; the sons of Abel are the over-ripe ones. The sons of Abel turn to the higher spheres when they have finished with these incarnations. The sons of Abel are the Solar Pitris [those who underwent their human stage on the Old Sun]; the sons of Cain are the most mature of the Lunar Pitris [those who passed their human stage on the Old Moon].
Question: Why have so many mystical and masonic associations developed?
Answer: All higher work is only to be undertaken in an association. The Knights of the Round Table generally numbered twelve.
Question: Are you acquainted with the work of Albert Schaffle? 10Albert Eberhard Friedrich Schäffle, 1831–1903, sociologist, wrote much on this subject. In another connection Rudolf Steiner mentions his work: Bau und Leben des sozialen Körpers (‘Construction and Life of the Body-Social’), a four volume work published in Tübingen, 1875–78.
Answer: Albert Schaffle wrote a work about sociology, and the account he gives is much more masonic than what emanates from the lodges of Freemasonry.