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Original Impulses for the Science of the Spirit
GA 96

XV. The Lord's Prayer: An Esoteric Study, Movement and Change an Essential Principle in the World of the Spirit, School of Turanian Adepts

18 February 1907, Berlin

The last time I spoke to you we were able to see how a familiar old prayer truly reflects the whole way the human being is seen in the science of the spirit. We realized that the religious streams, religious teachings and rites have come from something which we ourselves have come to know in the course of time through the science of the spirit. The way we should see this is like this. Originally humanity started with a universal, all-embracing basic view which in the religious confessions of different nations finds expression in accord with the differences in national character. You may of course ask how exactly can it be that the basic truths, the basic wisdom of humanity are connected with what people of different nations have been told by the people who founded the different religions.

It really is quite remarkable that we find the basic concepts of spiritual science in the seven petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. Many of the things we are now able to see through the science of the spirit must seem figments of the imagination to someone who has not given these things much consideration before, and he may easily say: All this has merely been put into knowledge you have obtained from the religious works.

If we are to go a bit more deeply into the question as to how the great wisdom of old originally came to be part of religious beliefs, we need to consider a basic question. We have to understand that anything we are able to know today, the things taught out of the science of the spirit today, were not presented in the same way in the earliest religious belief systems. We have to understand that the way in which such things were presented varied in the course of time. The old religious books you open speak to human beings in images and not ideas. These images, in many ways connected with ideas based on sensory perceptions, have been as far as possible preserved in those religious works. Thus insight is always referred to as a light, wisdom as a kind of fluid element, as water. If you look carefully, you’ll again and again find the same images in those very early times. There is a definite reason for this. Today we’ll bring together some of the things we know already so that we may enter really deeply into the way in which the very first teachers of humanity worked among the nations to which they brought the blessing of religious teachings. To understand how religious teachers worked who came before those whom we call the great initiates—Hermes, Zarathustra, Buddha, Moses and finally the greatest, Christ Jesus—we must once more contemplate the difference which exists between people’s ordinary conscious awareness and their astral or imaginative awareness.

People generally have an object-related awareness from morning till night. This shows things in such a way that they appear to be outside the human being and that their properties are those we perceive with the senses. This is not the only form of conscious awareness. The other forms are, however, hidden from most people today; they lie in the vague darkness which we call dreamless sleep, though for initiates this has a specific meaning. For initiates who know the world behind the physical objects there is a further state of conscious awareness which comes between going to sleep and waking up. In this, they do not perceive the objects that exist here the way they are here, but they perceive a world of its own. For ordinary mortals, dreamless sleep is an unconscious state, but for initiates it is a condition in which they consciously perceive the world of the spirit. To understand how this unconscious state comes to conscious awareness we have to consider the intermediate state which we also know—dream-filled sleep. This shows common, everyday sensory perceptions or the inner states of the soul in allegorical form. But the image quality you have in your dreams is something you’ll also find if you study the conscious mind of an initiate when he is in the world of the spirit. He sees the things of that world in images, though these are not as chaotic as our dream images. The only thing they have in common with dream images is that they are always changing. This table and this chair always look the same once they are where they are. Plants and people, in so far as they are objects outside us, show the form they have at the time. But the more we go towards the realm of conscious life, the more do we find transformation—the plant germinating from its seed and developing stem, leaves, flower and fruit; the animal making voluntary movements, the human being we see in motion as gestures and physiognomy change.

All this does however have permanence compared to the things a human being experiences in the world of devachan when he has reached a higher level of development. There we see continuous change. Anyone who gains access to the world of the spirit by doing the necessary exercises will see how there the colour of a plant rises above the plant like a flame. He comes to see colours as configurations that rise and fall in free space. He will only come to true vision, however, when he is able to see colours and sounds by themselves and make them move towards specific entities. Such entities are always present around us. If you were able to take the violet from the flower so that the colour moved independently in space, this would reflect the life in the plant’s inner spiritual world. The human aura and the astral bodies, as we call them, act in the same way. All human inclinations, feelings of vanity and egoism appear as quite specific streams of colour in their auras, and we are able to say that the inner life of the soul comes to expression in the human aura. The aura is never still, nothing is stationary the way things are stationary here in the world we perceive through the senses. And when an entity in the world of the spirit has a feeling or will impulse, you can always see it reflected in quite specific changes in colour and sound. Constant change is the essential characteristic of the higher worlds.

This is of course confusing for anyone who is entering the higher worlds for the first time. It also happens because everything in these higher worlds shows itself the way it is at the moment. People can hide their inner life from those who are only able to observe them with physical eyes, but not from someone who is able to see with eyes of the spirit. Then all is revealed, and you have to say to yourself: If we want to study someone with the eyes of the senses, we have to draw conclusions as to his soul life from outer signs—the way he smiles or weeps. It is different in the higher world. There no conclusions regarding inner life are drawn from outer appearances. The inner life is openly displayed. We live with the essence of things there. In our time, only an initiate can develop this awareness, for he needs to be able to live in the higher world in conscious awareness. To the level of consciousness we have from waking up to going to sleep he can add another, and this enables him to add the inner to the outer. All people were able to do this in a way in the far distant past. Before the human race reached today’s state of conscious awareness, they had one where they saw things from the inside.

Going back into the far distant past we come to human beings who have less and less of the abilities we have today. Today we are able to count and do sums. In the middle of the Atlantean period you would find people who could not yet count and do sums, and there was no such thing as logic for them. In this respect the least of our schoolchildren today can do more than any Atlantean was ever able to do. But the Atlantean could do something else instead. Studying some life form, a plant, for example, he would have quite a specific feeling rise in him. Every plant had a specific feeling quality for him. Today people walk past plants in a way that is quite indifferent, but an Atlantean would develop lively sensations and feelings. If we go far enough back, to the times of the earliest Atlanteans, we would find that they also did not see the lively colours people do today. If such an Atlantean had walked up to a violet, he would not have seen it the way we have it here before us, but as if a kind of misty form arose before him. Nor would he have seen the red colour of a rose, but a red aura around the rose, with the red colour floating freely in space. If you look at a crystal today, it would be red if it were a ruby. The earliest Atlanteans would not have seen the colour in the crystal. The crystal would have been surrounded by a radiant circle of colour for them, and the ruby would have been like something cut out from this radiant circle. Going back to those times you go to a far distant past where human beings would not have seen the outline of other human beings, nor of a plant or an animal. Approaching someone who was hostile to them they would perceive a browny red colour. If they saw a beautiful blueish colour they would have been able to say to themselves: This person comes to me in peace. The inner life of a human being would show itself to them in such colours. Going even further back we come to the far, far distant past of ancient Lemuria, which lay between Asia, Australia and Africa. Not only did human beings have a different state of consciousness when they perceived things then, but everything we may call will impulse was also different. The will still worked through magic; it had power over other objects; it was like a force of nature that influences other objects. When a Lemurian held his hand above a plant and let his will go down into it, he could make the plant grow rapidly by just using his will.

The forces active in the natural world are exactly those that also exist in the human being. Because man has become a closed-off life form enclosed in a skin, his powers have gradually come to be more removed from and unlike the forces of nature. Human thinking is most unlike the forces of nature. To make mental connections and do sums is quite alien to anything that exists in nature. However, if you were able to go back far enough you’d see that there were life forms once, the mental ancestors of humanity, who would have considered it to be great nonsense, comparatively speaking, to say: 'I am forming an idea of something that is outside me'. They could not have said this, but they would have seen the idea, as it were, seeing it as an activity and even seeing the essence of it as an entity. To get an idea of this today you have to realize that the object was originally produced out of that idea. You get a notion of this if you think of the way something or other is produced by a person. You may think of a finished clock, the mechanism of it, and the way the hands move. You would not be able to do this if there had not been a clock maker earlier on to think the thoughts you are thinking now. You follow the thoughts he has put into the clock.

All ideas human beings are able to have today, everything our thinking does today, existed as a reality in our past, a reality that has been put into the objects. Everything is grasped in its idea. And once upon a time each of them was shaped according to the idea. The situation in the world was no different from the situation we have in the arts today. The ideas people develop today were originally put into the objects. If you were to go even further back you would see that those people could never have said: ‘I develop an idea by looking at things,’ for they truly saw what was happening there, how the idea was put in. They were watching the master craftsmen, as it were.

This gives you the difference between the rational thinking of people today and the intellect of those early times, which we’ll have to call creative. But if you were to meet those who still knew the creative mind from personal experience—very different from modern minds which merely take things in—you would find them to be very different from us. They had not yet incarnated in a human body. The essential human being which today dwells in the enveloping bodies was still in the keeping of divine spirits at that time.

Without noticing it, we have gone past a time in earth evolution that would appear like this, if we were to make the comparison: Physical life already existed on earth; forms had developed down below that were quite different from but in a way similar to today’s minerals, plants and animals, and others that were not yet human beings but were between animals and humans and ripe to be given the human soul. Their organization had reached a point where they would be able to receive the human soul. We can only make an approximation, but we may visualize human beings walking about down on earth who were really still animal-humans. Now think of the human bodies as small individual sponges and the souls as drops of water which at the time were still all united in a common body of water. So you have the physical earth teeming with fife, and enveloping it a soul atmosphere—rather like our air atmosphere today. Within that soul atmosphere everything was still undivided, like the drops of water. And what happened then was just like it would be if you now let the sponges absorb the water, with every sponge receiving a single drop. Common soul substance was absorbed into individual human bodies; it was divided among them. And it was only through this that the human soul came into being. Without this process, the human substance would never have divided into numerous single individuals.

This also began the process in which human beings gradually separated from the environment, and this would give them a distinct awareness of objects around them. Before this they did not develop concepts, for the soul was still wholly within the world soul, receiving the whole of its wisdom from the communal world soul as though it came from within. They did not need to look outside. We might truly say that this communal world soul could still do everything; it created everything that exists on earth today according to common concepts. Human beings received those concepts when that droplet of wisdom was given out by the communal world soul. That is the difference between the ancient knowledge before it was embodied in the flesh, and today’s knowledge which arises when human beings turn to the outside.

The moment we no longer perceive with the senses, our inner life goes down into the indefinite sphere of darkness we call dreamless sleep today. The physical body and the ether body remain lying in the bed during sleep, the astral body goes outside. What is it in the human being which perceives the outside world? The astral body perceives colours and sounds. The astral body experiences pleasure when we enjoy something pleasurable and it feels pain as such. But this astral body cannot do anything in the human being today unless it is in a physical body, for it needs eyes, ears and all the physical tools to perceive the environment and also pleasure, pain, sorrow, joy, and so on. The physical body is just a tool, but it is necessary to today’s astral body. The moment the astral body is outside the physical body it no longer has perceptions.

This is the very astral body which in earlier times was in the common soul substance that surrounded the earth. If you were to separate out all astral bodies and put them together, you would have the astral or soul substance which at that time existed around humanity. If we were able to get all human beings on earth today to fall asleep at the same time, so that the whole human race would be asleep at once, and if we were to lift out all the astral bodies and mix them into the rest of the substance, we would see dreamless sleep come to an end altogether. The souls would no longer perceive colours and sounds with their external tools, but colours would begin to rise on all those astral bodies, and constantly changing colour images would be floating all around, and sound would begin to arise within. All this would then surround the earth again, the way it was in those times before any soul ever came to enter into a body. The dimming of that ancient state of conscious awareness, something you know from your dreamless sleep today, occurred because the common astral substance was divided into individual parts by the world soul and these were absorbed into human bodies. You can go even further. At the time of which we are speaking, night as we know it today, with the human soul going down into an indefinite sphere of darkness, was wholly filled with light; it was day. So you have now been taken to a condition where humanity had astral perceptions, though not in a physical body.

Now let us ask the question as to what humanity has actually gained since those days. What has been added to what human beings had already? What has humanity gained through incarnation? They have gained the ability to say ‘I’ to themselves. The whole level of consciousness, however clairvoyant, was merely a more or less enhanced dream level of consciousness. Human beings had no self awareness at that time, so this is what humanity has gained. It is the gift which God gave them. Religious records such as the Bible tell us that human beings were given self-awareness at the time when they incarnated. They did not know it until then, and this self-awareness will be progressively enhanced in present-day humanity. It is the principle which from the time when we were no longer in a dim or clairvoyant state of consciousness came to be revealed as the ‘I am’, and we can call it by no other name but ‘I am the I am’. This, then, is the word of Jahve: ‘I am he who was, who is, and who shall be.’92Genesis 3: 14; Rev. 1:8.

We have thus gone back to a time when this ‘I am’ word was still extinguished. It was not yet in the human being. Human beings had a conscious awareness that had been poured into them and which they did not gain by looking at outside objects. Where did the ‘I am’ awareness reside? Divine spirits had such awareness. Human beings gained it after incarnation in a physical body. There you have the difference between the Holy Spirit, as it is termed among Christians, and the spirit as such. The Holy Spirit is the one which had self awareness up above, before incarnation; the spirit as such had self awareness in the human being. If you were to throw all self awarenesses into one pot, separating them from egoism, you would once again have the Holy Spirit.

You now have the point we started from in its most radical form. We have found our way back to a very strange way of teaching. Today we teach face to face, with the student told: This is how things are. In those times only one thing was possible, a method of teaching that was at the same time also work, doing. Wisdom was poured out into individuals. The wisdom did not come from outside; it came to human beings from inside, a process known only to initiates today. If you were now to move on to our own time from the times I have been speaking of just now, when there was no teaching but only enlightenment from inside, you would pass through an intermediate period where people were half in the one state, we might say, and half in the other. This was the middle of the Atlantean age. People were then able to see definite outlines to things, and would gradually see colour covering the surfaces of objects, see how individual things gained characteristics. But the way they would see it was as if it was all enveloped in a mist of colours. They would still hear sounds that went through the whole world, wise sounds that would tell them something and bring them knowledge of other entities. But everything was still very confused at this intermediate stage. It was also the time when a way of teaching began that gradually changed to become the later way of presenting religious contents to humanity.

If we were able to go back to Atlantean times, we would find a major school for adepts. People are able to take in wisdom today due to the fact that the Turanian adepts of those times had pupils; those pupils then instructed others and so on, until our own time, so that we have a direct tradition going back to Turanian adept schools93The Turanians were the fourth sub-race on Atlantis. See Steiner R. Cosmic Memory (GA 11), chapter on our Atlantic ancestors. Tr. K. E. Zimmer. New York: Harper and Row 1981

At the time, it had to be taken into account that human beings were in an intermediate state and had only part of today’s ability for sensory perception. They were only able to see objects in vague outlines. At the same time they were still able to receive some of the truth from inside. Very few people would have been able to count up to five at that time. This is not possible without self-awareness. But they were able to take in the things reflected on to their inner, half somnambulant state of consciousness. They had to be enlightened to teach them the most sublime wisdom. But this had to be given in images, and the Turanian adepts had special methods for this. They could not have done it the way one does when giving a lecture today. The adepts themselves were well ahead of humanity and knew all these things themselves, but the rest of humanity was still extraordinarily primitive.

People were put into a trance to teach them wisdom. Something which would be wrong today was perfectly normal then. The individual would be put into a kind of sleep state, and this sleep state was used to enlighten him in the following way. Before the human soul first incarnated in a body there was no night, all human beings were enlightened. Dreamless sleep was the state in vhich they then had sensory perceptions. They no longer had these by this time. The faculty had gone, and instead they had the ability to see objects in general outline. Inner perception was lost to the same degree as external sensory perception increased. But a special skill had been developed among the adepts; they had learned what we would call occult writing today, or we might also call it occult speech. You all know that there are mantras, ancient formulations of prayers, and that the sound of the words has a certain influence. This holds true for the first words in the Gospel of John. When it says: ‘In the original beginning was the word’, the ‘original’ carries a specific value which originally was inherent in those first words in the Gospel of John altogether. All this is but a shadow compared to the sound compositions used in the adept schools. This made up for the capacity for enlightenment which people had lost. They were able to receive this enlightenment in a trance from another individual who was an initiate. The pupils were thus given a kind of artificial enlightenment by their more advanced brethren, so that they would see the spirits at work again, like before, at work in a world that had always been there around them before the human soul had incarnated. Those were the experiences the pupils would have in Turanian times; those were the first religious instructions; this is how they were taught the laws of the cosmos.

Enlightenment of this kind would give the people formulas and line drawings, for drawings, too, would have an influence. A line following a specific law would have the effect of teaching people great secrets of the world. If you drew a vortex for someone, it was something he would not have seen with his eyes open. But if the vortex was shown to him when he was in a trance, or if it was tapped out, this would have evoked quite specific inner responses, for example the way a plant develops until it produces seed and then a new plant grows from the seed. Such formulas and such lines were later handed down from the adept schools and given to the nations by the founders of the different religions.

The further back we go, the more is the soul principle that was distributed among individual human beings a uniform soul. When the individual souls were distributed they were closed off from one another, and they then grew different. In sleep, all astral bodies are still similar to one another today. In the daytime they look fairly different from each other. And that is how it was in this trance state in which the astral bodies that were given instruction were really fairly similar. It was therefore possible to convey a certain original wisdom to them all. But when human beings were no longer able to receive wisdom in this way, the teaching in ancient India had to be the way the Indian body required it, in ancient Persia as the Persian body required it, and different again in Greece, in Egypt and among the ancient Germans. The outer physical bodies required this, according to the different influences that were brought to bear on them. The founders of the original religions had cast their teaching in the forms we now know from tradition as Egyptian Hermetic teaching, the teaching of Zarathustra, and so on.

But in all the basic forms of true religions there still lives the principle out of which they have arisen. The enlightenment given to human beings in earlier times was something very different from what can be done today. Things were conveyed not by teaching but in a living way. A pupil would relate to his teacher in a much more intimate way then. You can imagine perhaps that a vortex would elicit a direct inner response. Today, concepts are conveyed, and our inner responses have to catch fire from those concepts. But the religious formulas arose from exactly this way of influencing people through life itself. The sevenfold nature of man was one of the things that was made known in the Turanian adept school. And it still makes up the hidden thoughts in the Lord’s Prayer today. The Lord’s Prayer reflects the sevenfold nature of man.

This would be made clear to the disciple of the Turanian adepts by letting him hear a scale, the seven sounds of which represented the seven parts of the human being, with certain colours shown and a scale of aromas. The principle that lives in the sevenfold harmony of the scale would become an inner experience; the external things were just a means to this. The founders of the great religions then poured this into a number of formulas, the greatest of them the Lord’s Prayer, and everyone who says the Lord’s Prayer is influenced by it.

The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer and as such is not a mantra. It will still have meaning when thousands and thousands of years will have passed, for it is a thought mantra. The effect of the Lord’s Prayer was poured into the thoughts, and just as we are well able to digest food without having a physiologist tell us how the digestive process works, so will someone who says the Lord’s Prayer feel the effect of it even if he is not told all about it The effect of the Lord’s Prayer is there, for it lies in the power of the thoughts themselves. There is, however, higher knowledge that will give the Lord’s Prayer deeper meaning, and no one should reject this. This, then, is the road that has been taken by the religious truths. Your souls, living in your bodies today, once lived in the common divine spirit substance and were enlightened there in a sleepwalking state. Without self-awareness, they were able to perceive the divine spiritual powers at work. Then the souls were incarnated. The old way of perception became more and more obscured and they finally were also no longer able to produce this state artificially, the way in which it was still done at the Turanian adept school. The religious teachings and formulas which have come down from the original wisdom that once created the world are a mere echo of the inner responses that can be passed on from one individual to another. The wisdom of the Old Testament is like something spoken by the first and original ideas, the original wisdom that is at the bottom of all things, a wisdom which your soul once had. In future, human beings will have this again, this wisdom they originally had in a dim dreamlike consciousness; but they will have it in bright, clear conscious awareness, from the soul. Human beings will have their present bright, clear conscious minds and also enlightenment. Humanity had to give up the original clairvoyance in order to gain self-awareness, and as this clairvoyance grew less and less, inner self-awareness developed more and more. Once this has reached its peak, the human being will have come to his last incarnation, bearing the old clairvoyance within him as the fruit of life that is also an element which has been newly acquired.

A phrase one often hears is that people should gradually lose themselves in a common consciousness, that redemption lies in their losing their present-day conscious awareness and becoming part of a collective mind and spirit. But that is not how it is. Our self-awareness, which once did not exist at all, will continue to exist after our last incarnation. Everything that had separated out from the common spiritual substance will come together again.

You can visualize it like this: Initially you had clear water, and this was absorbed into the many small sponges. During this period of separation, everything in the environment that can be taken up will be taken up. Every droplet gains its own special colouring. When the small sponges are squeezed dry again, each brings its own colour with it. That is a vast variety of colours, shimmering, more beautiful than it could ever have been before. On returning to the collective spirit, every human being brings his own colour note with him. This is his individual conscious awareness, something that can never be lost. The collective consciousness will be a symphony of all individual conscious minds, a harmony. The spirits that have gone through the human stage will freely unite and be one. They will continue to be many individuals, but they will also be one because they want to be one though they are not forced to be so. All have retained the conscious mind, and through their will they all come together in a conscious awareness that is one. This is how we should think of the beginning and end of our present world process.

We must not use phrases but consider things the way they are. To talk of ‘losing oneself in a common consciousness’ is a pantheistic phrase. It is exactly when we speak from the point of view of eternity that we shall have to consider words that will show that humanity has not existed for nothing, that it had significance within the universe. In other words, someone who studies the real facts in this world will finally say to himself that man is destined to contribute, to give meaning to this life. Ultimately he will have to place the piece he has gained for himself on the altar of the godhead. And this creates a fabric, as it has been put so beautifully, which the whole spirit of the earth is weaving. This holds all the human ‘I’s, and Goethe spoke as a true initiate when he described it as a real process:

I ply on my wave
With weaving motion
Birth and the grave,
A boundless ocean,
Ceaselessly giving
Weft of living,
Forms unending,
Glowing and blending,
So work I on the whirring loom of time,
The life that clothes the deity sublime.94Goethe, Faust 1, Night scene.

The deity will wear the immortal garb when earth will have reached its completion. Individual human beings will have woven the fabric as they moved up through their individual incarnations, always going through birth and death.