5 June 1905, Berlin *Shorthand report of Walter Vegelahn and Berta Reebstein-Lehmann, and also longhand report by Marie Steiner von Sivers.
It is to be taken into account that the notes are in part very deficient and may not be regarded as being verbatim reports.
The Allegory of the Lost Word and its Quest in connection with the Whitsuntide Festival
Among the allegories and symbols we wished to discuss in these lectures, there is also the symbol of the so-called Lost Word, which is to be found again. We have spoken about the Temple which was lost and is to be restored; we can all the more appropriately add to that a brief account of the Lost Word and its quest, since this theme has some connection with the symbolic meaning of the Whitsuntide Festival. I did speak about some of the things to be mentioned today, a year ago. 1 In his lecture of 23rd May 1904 (lecture 1). But there are some amongst us who may not have heard last year's lecture; so it may not be superfluous to refer to these things again. Moreover, we are in a position to consider such matters annually, and treat them fundamentally and exhaustively; we have added somewhat to our knowledge, so that several things can now perhaps be discussed which could not yet be mentioned last year.
Pentecost is connected with just that symbol which is known both in the Church and in Freemasonry as the symbol of the Lost Word which is to be found again. But with it we touch on Christian mysteries of a real and extraordinary profundity. With it we touch again — and more thoroughly than could be the case last week — upon the purpose and mission of Solomon the Wise, and upon the whole future meaning of Christian truths.
Pentecost is connected with that perception of man's inmost being which was present in early Christianity, but which has been gradually lost in Christianity as it has survived in the various western Churches. Pentecost is the festival which should freshly remind man of his liberation, every year — of what we call the freedom of the human soul.
How has man really come to what we call his freedom — that is to say, to his ability to distinguish between good and evil, and in freedom to do either good or evil? You know that man has passed through a long sequence of evolution before arriving at the stage where he stands today, and that we have passed the mid-point of this evolution. The midpoint of the whole of human evolution lies roughly in the middle of the Atlantean epoch, which preceded our own epoch. Now we have already gone past this mid-point. Because of that we are the first missionaries of the second half [of evolution], the first apostles of an ascending arc: whereas man was in a descending arc until the time of Atlantis, was involved in a kind of descending evolution until he had submerged himself in the uttermost depths of material life. Now he is climbing back again towards spiritual development.
What we human beings did not possess before the midpoint of our earth evolution was freedom of choice between good and evil. Now we cannot talk about good and evil in the subordinate kingdoms of nature. It would be ridiculous to discuss whether a mineral wanted to crystallise or not; it crystallises if the appropriate conditions are present. It would be equally ridiculous to ask whether the lily wants to blossom or not; or to ask the lion to abstain voluntarily from killing and devouring other animals. Only with man, only in our phase of evolution, do we speak about what we call freedom of choice. Only to human beings do we ascribe the capacity to distinguish between good and evil. How man got this capacity is described in the Bible, in the great symbol of the Fall, in the scene of the temptation, where the Devil or Lucifer appears to Eve and persuades her to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. Through that, man obtained free will; with it he began the second part of his evolutionary path. We can no more inquire into freedom, good and evil for man prior to that evolutionary mid-point, than we can for minerals, plants and animals. Something else is connected with that.
In all esoteric [teaching] our contemporary world and everything connected with it signifies the Cosmos of Love. And the Cosmos or Universe of Wisdom preceded this Universe of Love. We want to look at this in a rather deeper meaning.
You know that our earth evolution was cosmologically preceded by the Moon evolution. 2 In connection with the following descriptions see the fundamental works of Rudolf Steiner: Cosmic Memory, Rudolf Steiner Publications, New York, 1971, and Occult Science, An Outline, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1969. A still more distant precursor of our earth was the Sun; earlier still was Saturn. Man has passed through these three evolutionary stages: Saturn, Sun and Moon. Our earth has passed through three cycles already, in which the Saturn development was repeated in the first Round, the Sun development in the second Round, and the Moon development in the third Round. Each of these Rounds commences thus: the planet forms itself as an exceptionally fine substance, as mind-substance. The earth was present as such a substance when it began its fourth Round, that is, the contemporary Cycle. Then it began to reiterate the three previous Rounds: the Saturn Cycle in Arupa, the Sun Cycle in Rupa and the Moon Cycle or Round in the astral. [See diagram at the end of the notes for lecture 10.]
Thus our earth passed once more through earlier material conditions before arriving at its present physical density. Before our present condition, it was astral. We denote the astral Globe as a kind of Cosmos of Wisdom. Each Cosmos or Globe is again divided into seven epochs. Thus we have seven Race-cycles [or Great Epochs] in our present Globe: the Polarian, the Hyperborean, the Lemurian, the Atlantean and now the Aryan Race [or Epoch] in which we live. The sixth and seventh Races are still to come. After that the earth will return to the astral condition. These Race-cycles constitute seven successive periods of our physical evolution on earth. The astral predecessor presents itself to us in like manner, in seven consecutive Periods, corresponding to seven Races. However, it is not quite correct to speak of Races here; the forms which then lived cannot properly be called Races. It stretches the analogy too far, to keep speaking of Races. There were other forms that manifested themselves. In esoteric language these previous astral periods are called the Kingdom of Wisdom, and their forms are called the seven Periods of Wisdom, in which the seven Kings of Wisdom, the seven Kings of the Dynasty of Solomon, were ruling. For in each of these periods lived a being of similar kind to the soul of Solomon, to the soul which incarnated in Solomon. This Cosmos of Wisdom was superseded by the earthly Cosmos proper, the Cosmos of Love.
Now let us be clear about what took place during, the formation of the earth, from our standpoint. As the earth began to form itself, it was still united with the sun and with that which we now call the moon. Together with these two bodies the earth formed a single whole. First of all the sun separated itself from the earth. The whole of earth life thereby became different. At this point death made its entry, somewhat in the form in which we know it in the cell-bearing plants; whereas before there could be no question of death, because there was continuous material life. So long as the plant consists of a single Cell, no decay sets in when the next cell is born. It is different when a whole organism is built up [out of many cells]; this [organism] decays into its parts, and the individual part is no longer the whole living [process]. This kind of death came in for the first time when the sun separated from the earth. The schism between the sexes began in the middle of the Lemurian Race, as a result of the splitting-off of the moon. The separation of the moon brought about the partition of the [being that is both] male and female into [beings that are either] only male or only female. Thus humanity took the shape that it now has in the world.
What then happened during these weighty cosmic events as first the sun and then the moon separated from the earth? If we want to become clear about that, it would be well to point out that at that time the earth was changing from a very thin but already physical matter into something continually getting thicker. The first physical substance was etheric substance, which was present in all human beings on earth, and which was a very fine substance, finer than our gas.
At present we distinguish three forms of matter on our earth — solid, liquid and gaseous bodies, the latter formerly known as air. Moreover we esoterically distinguish four forms of ether: firstly fire [or warmth] ether which makes all bodies capable of being permeated by warmth; secondly, light ether; thirdly, chemical ether, in which atoms are made to mingle according to certain laws of number (the ‘elective affinity’ of atoms); and fourthly the physical or life ether; in all, four kinds of ether bringing life to the earth. Next, the earth, essentially speaking, developed itself in these four types of ether. Then it condensed itself-put of these ethers. This densification took place for the first time during the Lemurian epoch. Before that, one has to think of an etheric earth, which was accessible to quite different forces than is our present physical earth. I wanted to clarify this to you.
When I say that this etheric earth was accessible to quite different forces, then be clear that all living beings, whether plant, animal or man, were indeed accessible to these forces, in their inmost being. The ether is accessible to what is called in esoteric language the ‘Word,’ the ‘Cosmic Word.’ I can also make clear to you how the etheric relates to what we call the ‘Word,’ in a preparation for initiation. As you know, man consists of physical, etheric and astral bodies, and then of the ‘I’ proper. The etheric body becomes visible if one [can bring oneself out of] the physical body. But man as he is today can in no way act upon his physical body; he is unable to move the tiniest blood corpuscle. The physical body is controlled by high cosmic forces; it is higher beings who can exercise power here today — later on man will have this ability. When he is able to control the forces of his own physical body — which the materialist speaks of as nature forces — then man will have become a God. To ascribe these powers to him today would be idolatry, for in truth we have to do with high beings who can influence the physical body.
When man is able to control the substance of fire ether, he will be able to control all that is physical. When he is able to control the physical in man, then he will also be able to control the rest of what is physical as well. This force is designated the Father Force, or simply the ‘Father’ — everything through which a being joins with our earth, everything by which that being can control physical matter. When a person can penetrate into the physical body with such Father Forces, that is called Atma; this is how Atma can be assigned to the physical.
The second member of [man's] being is the etheric body, which corresponds to the Son principle, or the Logos, the ‘Word.’ The etheric body can be moved and inwardly shaped by Buddhi, set in vibration by the Son principle, just as the physical [body can be] by Atma.
The third member is the astral body. This we cannot at first control; only very few people at present have any significant control over their astral bodies. We say a man is endowed with Manas, to the extent that man can control his astral body from within.
Man began to work on his astral body during the middle of Lemurian times. If you could have observed a man at the stage he had attained when the Lemurian Race began, that is, when he was bisexual, you would have found that his body was built from elsewhere; but in the middle of Lemurian times, man then began to work on his astral body himself. Everything which man weaves into himself out of his ego, which he does out of duty or by command, to overcome the unwrought appetites and passions, helps to refine the astral body; when it has become completely permeated by the work of man's own ego, then we can no longer call it astral body, it has become Manas. When the whole astral body has been transformed into Manas, man can then begin to work upon his etheric body to transform it into Buddhi. What he weaves in there is nothing else than the individualised Word; Christian esotericism calls this the ‘Son’ or ‘Logos,’ and calls the astral body, when it has become Manas, the ‘Holy Spirit,’ and the physical body that has become Atma, ‘Father.’
What happens here on a small scale within man happens also on a large scale in the world at large. These world secrets were carried out in the mysteries, in initiation; thereby something was done which for most human beings would ordy happen in a distant future. Already, in the Egyptian mysteries one could only be initiated if one hac worked one's way through one's entire astral body, so that the astral body could be completely managed by the ego. Now such a person would stand before the initiating priest: he had no influence on his physical body, nor yet on his etheric body; but his astral body was of his own making. Now it was indicated to him how he could act on his etheric body and on his physical body. The physical body was brought into a lethargic condition — it had to remain in this state for three nights an three days — and during this time the etheric body was raised out of it. And since the initiate had become powerful in respect of the astral body, he could therefore now gain the power to act on the etheric body. He could learn to let what he had in the astral work on the etheric body. Those were the three days of the Entombment and the Resurrection in an etheric body that was completely permeated by what one calls the Holy Spirit. Such an initiate was called a man endowed with the Logos, with the ‘Word’. This ‘Word’ is nothing else than the Wisdom, Manas, which has been worked into the astral body. This wisdom can never enter the etheric body unless the astral body has first been permeated by it.
It was just the same for the earth. Not until the whole earth had been brought this far into the astral, could such an event occur. The condition which the neophyte in the Egyptian mysteries had to be in, corresponds to this time of the Astral Globe which I have spoken of as the immediate precursor of our earth; that is the Globe of Wisdom. All wisdom was worked into it by the cosmic powers. And this transfer of wisdom into the Earth Globe itself made it possible that after the separation of sun and moon from the earth, something could again be incorporated from above, from higher spheres [into the earth] just as this happened on a small scale in the initiation.
Seven times the Astral Globe [stage] of earth [see the chart at the end of the notes to lecture 10] came under the rule of the Wise, after the manner of Solomon. Then the earth clothed itself with an etheric body, and earthly matter was crystallised or formed. The ‘Word’ was laid into that; this Word is thus, as it were, entombed in earthly matter, but it must be resurrected. This is also the beautiful meaning of the myth of the God Dionysus. The Holy Wisdom of our earth's precursor is laid into all the earth beings of our earthly world. Take this as deeply as you are able. Take the human etheric body as every human has it. If you look at it clairvoyantly it has nearly the same form as the physical body. At death man's physical body dissolves, and the etheric body too; the physical body dissolves in the physical world, and the etheric body in the general cosmic ether. But this etheric body has been very elaborately created for man by the wisdom which first implanted it from out of the Astral Globe. This etheric body disperses after death. Only that etheric body which has been built up from within is a living body, that stays eternally. This is the etheric body of the Chela [the candidate for initiation] — and that does not dissolve after death. If you see a modern civilised man die, you may see the etheric body for a while, but then it dissolves. With the Chela it remains. The renunciation of Devachan by the Chela consists in the fact that the Chela stays on the astral plane and there makes use of his etheric body. With ordinary human beings a new etheric body has to be formed at each rebirth; the ability to create a new one is attained in Devachan. The etheric body which the Chela has built up from within will never be lost again; whereas that which is made by cosmic wisdom from elsewhere indeed dissolves itself again. It is the same with the etheric bodies of plants and animals. What is now etheric body still, came to be built up out of cosmic forces which flowed into it out of the Astral Globe [state] of our earth. This wisdom which you find in the astral earth is expressed in the legend of Dionysus.
Now in the Lemurian epoch the denser [state] had to form itself. Then the Father principle had to be worked in. That is the last [principle] to take possession of our earthly matter. What has been worked in, in this way, is deeply hidden in the physical world. First the Holy Spirit worked itself into the astral material. Then the Spirit allied to the astral matter — that is the Son — worked itself into the etheric substance; and then came the Father, who controls physical density. Thus the macrocosm was built up in a threefold progression — Spirit, Son and Father; and man, as he progresses further upwards, goes from the Spirit, through the Son, to the Father. All of this takes place under guidance in the evolution of the earth.
Up to Lemurian times the only evolution was outward. Then this Trinity was drawn into our physical evolution. In the Aryan epoch, what had taken place in an earlier epoch was introduced into man's thinking as religion, making a stage by stage recapitulation.
We are in the fifth Sub-Race of the Aryan Root-Race (the fifth post-Atlantean cultural epoch]. Four other Sub-Races have gone before. The first Sub-Race is that of ancient India. This venerable ancient race was led by the ancient Rishis. We can only form a hazy conception of them. We are acquainted with their religion from the accounts which have come down to us in the Vedas. The teaching of the Rishis was far greater and mightier than our present traditions about it. Only during the third Sub-Race were records made, that are preserved for us in the Vedas. The original religion of the Rishis had great traditions from the divine predecessors of men, the astral initiates of the Dynasty of Solomon. Living in the spirit of the ancient Indian Rishis were archetypal forms; the great intuitions derive intelligence and knowledge not only from the laws of earth, but also from the archetypal forms, who themselves created the said wisdoms. This was the first religion, that of the Holy Spirit.
The second religion was fostered in the Near East; in it the Second Principle [of the Trinity] was revered as a recapitulation of the first time that the Son made His influence felt on earth. The thrusting down of certain beings accompanied the [coming in of] the Son Principle; there is no higher development without other [development] being thrust down into the depths. The mineral, plant and animal kingdoms were thrust down in this way. Whoever develops himself upwards, takes upon himself a tremendous responsibility, that is the great tragedy; the corollary of every saint is that a great number of beings are thrust down. There would be no development if this kind of thrusting down did not take place. A man must continually thrust others down, as he develops himself upwards. That is why all development which takes place out of self-interest is evil and reprehensible; it is only justifiable if done for the development of other beings. Only he who would raise up those who have been thrust down is fit for development. Thus, the evolution which manifested itself on earth and which had already been prepared on other cosmic bodies, the evolution aiming at endowing the etheric body with the Logos, with the Word, has been accompanied by the thrusting down of other beings connected with the earth's development. These [beings] were conceived as adversaries, as Luciferic principle. Thus we have precisely this duality — the principle of Evil accompanying the principle of Good — in the Persian religion. It is good if a man or indeed any being works Manasically into himself; but he is always confronted by evil. Ormuzd and Ahriman are the names for Good and Evil in the Persian religion.
We encounter the third stage with the Chaldeans, the Babylonians, the Assyrians and the Egyptians; through [all of] these a recapitulation of the third stage of the Godhead takes place. Thus, from that time onwards, with all peoples, we encounter-the Trinity, the Three-in-Oneness of the Godhead. The second Sub-Race had no Triune Godhead, still less the first. [But] now, in this three-foldness, the ascent is gradually prepared for the whole of humanity. The initiates tread the path in advance ... [Gap ] 3 [Gap] A few very inadequately recorded sentences follow this in all texts. In Vegelahn's text it is as follows: ‘Then the astral body was permeated by Manas, Buddhi appeared in the etheric body and the Father-Principle in the physical body. This working went so far that a brain could be formed, up to the point where the being learned to say “I”. That was the case with the Ur-Semites.’
In the first three Sub-Races there was a mirroring in the religious [sphere] of what had been active in macrocosmic processes. Now a new structure is formed: first Wisdom, then Son, then Father. The first gleam of wisdom came during the fourth Sub-Race, through the Semitic people, who arose during the third Sub-Race and continued into the fourth. From them Christianity derives. In the initiates of the Jewish people we find the whole course of past events on earth — all the events that had taken place in the heavenly sphere being repeated in the element of the intellect. Kama-Manas, which we call lower spirit, developed itself there; which has to be endowed with other forces. This endowment, this weft, is Christ Himself, the Word made Flesh, who points to the future Word, by which all human beings will be in a position to control their etheric bodies with their astral bodies, if they so work the Word into the etheric body that it wakens to life therein. The possibility of this development in the future is foreshadowed in the appearance of the Word made Flesh in the fourth Sub-Race. The whole of mankind must have attained control over the etheric, before the Logos can be incarnated in the etheric body. This, as an originating impulse, has proceeded from the Christ incarnated in the Flesh. When man, through the power of the Son, has gone through [this], he will then come to the Father.
Now the ascent must be re-enacted of the stages through which the whole of mankind gradually attains to what was achieved by Christ's appearance in the flesh. In the spirit which developed itself in Judaism, the higher Manas had to be kindled. Therefore, the new era begins with the descent of the Holy Spirit which will lead mankind through to the point in the sixth epoch when the Christ Principle, which is only hinted at in Christianity today, finds its fulfilment. ‘No man cometh to the Father save through Me,’ says the Son. He sent the Spirit to mankind so that it should be prepared for the time in the sixth epoch when Good and Evil will be separated. Man would never have developed this impulse without that other weft, which we have named as the so-called Evil Principle. Man had to receive free will so that his understanding could be called into play in deciding between Good and Evil. This weft of the Spirit's descent is consummated at Pentecost.
Spirit, Son and Father are as though entombed in the earth: the Father in the physical body, the Son in the etheric body and the Spirit in the astral body. However, man has developed his ego and has become self-aware. Now he must learn to work right down into the physical. That will be in the future. At present man is working into his astral body.. The symbol for that is the descent of the Holy Spirit into those who are to become the leaders of humanity. It is something in man which is akin to this Spirit which has taken it up.
Before the Son could become effective — which was in Hyperborean times — a part of the universal Principle of Spirit had to break away, be thrust down, and wander other paths. This is expressed in the Serpent, the symbol of knowledge, the Luciferic principle. It was this spark from the Spirit which made man into a free being and enabled him to desire the Good out of his own impulse. This Spirit which has come down to man through the great Whitsuntide Festival is akin to that Spirit which was thrust down, which is indeed embodied in Prometheus, which has blown the spark into a flame, so that our ego can make up its mind to follow the Spirit, just as it will later follow the Son and still later the Father. Man was certainly able to become evil, but on the other hand this potentiality for evil was the price of being guided back to the World of Gods from which he originated. That is the connection between Pentecost and the Luciferic principle. Thus the Whitsuntide Festival is also the festival of Prometheus and of freedom.
Now you will understand the connection between the Sons of Cain and the seven Salomonic Kings of pre-earthly times — of whom the King Solomon of the Bible appears as a descendant. Wisdom was first transmitted to man from outside. Later it had to spring up from within. Solomon built the Temple but only with the help of Hiram-Abiff; in association with this Son of Cain he appropriated the arts needed for erecting the Temple. Thus the streams run together again, that were flowing apart [from each other] in the world.
When the sun separated itself from the earth, the Word became entombed in the earth. It will be resurrected again when the earth has advanced as far as the sixth Root Race. Man will raise this Word from the dead, out of the earth; but first the spirit must live in him that will enable the Word to strike a chord in him. This was attained by the apostles at Pentecost. In Light on the Path 4 Light on the Path, by Mabel Collins (1851–1927) a theosophical writer acknowledged by Rudolf Steiner by an exegesis to the work in question. (Printed in his: Guidance in Esoteric Training, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1972). we find the words: ‘Acquire knowledge and you will have speech.’ Speech comes with true knowledge, which descends like the tongues of fire on the apostles at holy Pentecost. When the inner Word comes, that is akin to the holy divine Word, and that sinks down into everything etheric, so as to make it come alive, then man will no longer speak out of himself but out of the divine Spirit. He is then the messenger of the Godhead and proclaims the inner Word of Godhead of his own free will.
Thus did the inner Word become alive in the apostles; thus did it spread its influence outwards from them. They proclaimed the fiery Word and were aware of their role as the messengers of the Godhead. Therefore the Holy Spirit hovered over them in the form of fiery tongues. They prepare humanity to receive the Logos. The great initiate, Christ Jesus, went on in advance. The Holy Spirit followed, fertilising the astral bodies so that they would become ripe for making their etheric bodies immortal. Once this has happened, then the Christ Principle will be drawn into humanity. This is what the initiates too had in mind when they said, somewhat as Heraclitus did: If, in escaping from the earthly, 5 Rudolf Steiner here draws his Heraclitus quotation from a work on philosophy by Vincent Knauer. you ascend to free ether, with faith in immortality, you become an immortal spirit, free of death and of the physical.
Every single person will reach this point in the middle of the sixth Root Race. Now, however, man is still vulnerable to death, in that his etheric body has still not attained immortality. Christianity contains the secret of how man can gradually develop himself towards the resurrection of the etheric body. This is where the third great festival is connected with the other two Christian festivals.
I wanted to come to the conclusion here, that the Whitsuntide festival has infinite depths, and to show how man gradually develops a living awareness of the world around him, and that he is related to all the things around him, to everything which happens around him. In the names of the days of the week you will find what has transpired around us set forth.
Man celebrates Pentecost best by making it clear to himself what deep truths have been implanted in this festival by the wise. And to celebrate a festival really means to unite oneself in spirit with the Cosmic Spirit.