Original Impulses for the Science of the Spirit
XVII. The Significance in World History of the Blood Flowing on the Cross
25 March 1907, Berlin
On Easter Monday I want to talk to you about the Mystery of Golgotha. Today we may perhaps prepare a little for this. What I have to say today will relate mainly to a New Testament passage which many people find it impossible or at least difficult to understand. At the least it is easily seen that people do not perceive these words to have the deep meaning which they certainly should be given if one considers esoteric Christianity. From another point of view, these words will take us even more deeply into the spirit and the meaning of Christianity. They are words you know well: ‘All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto man: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven him.’ 98Matthew 12: 31; Mark 3: 28.
Such words do indeed tell us the meaning of the mission given to Christianity, and essentially the only proper instrument to help us reveal their deep meaning is the view of the world gained through the science of the spirit. Those who come to this world view will have to get used to coming to know the great world mission of the spiritual scientific movement from many different points of view. The world will have to realize more and more that this movement clearly does not exist in order to found some kind of new faith, let alone a new sect or the like. The times when new faiths and new special religions could be founded in the course of human evolution have passed. The future of religious development lies in making the existing religions into one great religion for the whole human race. The movement for spiritual insight does not aim to preach a new religion. It merely wants to be an instrument for gaining insight into the profound religious truths contained in the original religious writings.
I have said on several occasions before that today the tendency in theological and other religious circles is to reduce religious truths to the commonplace, and not take them deeply enough. Just think how it satisfied people to have Christ Jesus considered ‘the simple man of Nazareth’, 99A term used by the Protestant theologian Heinrich Weinel (1874–1936), which Rudolf Steiner would often quote. a figure people are certainly pleased to consider one of the great ideals of humanity, like Socrates or Plato or Goethe or Schiller, but they do not want to put him too far beyond the level of common humanity. People never think of asking today if it is not true that something that went beyond all common humanity dwelt in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. modern humanity seems to have gone far beyond that ancient Gnostic question. The intention had been to call on the whole of human wisdom to understand what really happened in the year 1 of our time. And so people are also satisfied to cover a truth as great as the sin against the holy spirit in a few moralistic phrases, a few, rather commonplace words.
But the original religious writings do not exist to be explained in commonplace terms. No depth is deep enough and no wisdom wise enough to remove the veil that covers them. It is also important not to add anything when we seek to understand the deep meaning. This is none too difficult for a non-academic, non-scientific person; but it is also true that the religious document is so profound that no wisdom suffices to decipher its meaning completely. No mind is so simple that it cannot gain great and sublime impressions from the true original religious writings. Nor should wisdom ever be considered to be so elevated that it goes beyond the limits of a true religious document. This is the point of view and these are the convictions from which we are going to consider those words.
Let us first of all be clear in our minds as to what is meant by the Holy Spirit in true esoteric Christianity and what is meant by the other two aspects of the godhead — the Son, the Word, or Logos, and the Father. It would be wrong to try and penetrate such things by means of speculation or by thinking about them. They do not exist so that anyone may put in whatever meaning suits them. The meaning was given by individuals who are called Christian initiates, and we must go by the things taught in their schools. It is therefore wrong to take the Bible in a superficial way, speculating about the meaning of one passage or another. A true occultist would never do this. He sets about things in a different way, for he knows that there have been esoteric Christian initiation schools where the deep meaning of the original Christian writings was taught. It has never been taught in any other way, and so there are no different points of view with regard to it.
If there is one thing we want to go by, something which in this respect has perhaps come most to the surface of external history, it is the great esoteric Christian school which Paul the apostle himself founded in Athens, the School of Dionysius the Areopagite. 100Dionysius the Areopagite (1st century). Greek or Syrian churchman. Mentioned in Acts 17: 34 as a disciple of Paul. At the end of the 5th century On the Heavenly and Ecclesiastical Hierarchies appeared under his name in Syria, translated from Greek into Latin by John Scotus Erigena in the 9th century. Academics have come to speak of a pseudo-Dionysius because writings that bear his name can only be traced back to the 6th century. Academics cannot know the truth in this respect unless they realize that customs have changed enormously through the ages. Today, someone who has a bright idea cannot wait to get it down on paper and into print so that it may flutter out into the world. In earlier times it was the custom to preserve the most sacred truths carefully from the public at large, not to bombard people with them. The only people permitted to receive those truths were people one knew and who had given evidence that they would receive such truths in a worthy manner, having a sense of truthfulness. Initially they were only passed on by mouth, for the intention was that anyone passing on such truths, or indeed revealing the facts relating to them before the eyes of their pupils, would let the words enter only into genuine feelings, into warm hearts that were truly alive. The disciples at those schools had to develop a certain mood, a certain attitude to the most sublime truths.
Today people think a truth may be received whatever one’s mood. This is not a criticism — it is part of evolution. In those days, people took a different view. It did matter then if one received a mathematical or physical truth in one mood or another. People understood that this mood mattered, and even the simplest truths, which ultimately also reveal truths, were received in an exalted mood. They would be received as a revelation of the divine cosmic spirit. Even the mathematical truths representing the divine revelations relating to space would be received in this mood. The school was very much concerned with creating the right attitude, the right sphere of feeling.
In Paul’s school, too, the most sublime truths would only be revealed after intimate preparation. Whilst Paul was preaching to the world at large, his disciples went through their esoteric experiences in Athens. The spirit of that school continued through long periods of time, and because of this the individual who bore the esoteric truth would always be given the same name. The School of Athens continued for centuries and the highest of the teachers was always called Dionysius. This is why the one who wrote the things down in the 6th century, when writing had become more of a custom, also bore that name. You have to know this to understand what this means for the Dionysius school.
Let us now consider the three words ‘Father’, ‘Son’ and ‘Spirit’ in the truly Christian sense. We went into what lies behind these words from another point of view when speaking of the Lord’s Prayer. 101Lecture of 28 January (in this volume). We then came to see what speaks of the divine in the three higher principles of human nature — atman, buddhi, manas. We heard that these three higher principles of human nature are connected with the words ‘name’, ‘realm’ and ‘will’ in the Lord’s Prayer. Today we’ll consider these three human principles from another point of view, as was done in esoteric Christian teaching. Let us briefly recall the relationship between the lower and higher nature of man. In that Christian initiation training it was always taught that man consists of physical body, ether or life body and astral body, and that the I lives within these three human bodies as the inmost part of essential human nature. That was the ‘sacred tetrad’ of which people would speak in the past — physical body, ether or life body, astral body and I.
We have also come to know that the three bodies are transformed by the I in the course of human evolution. We have seen that the I must first of all transform the astral body, the bearer of affects, drives, passions and inner responses. We might also call this astral body the awareness body. Esoteric Christian teaching was that the I has the task of progressively improving and purifying the astral body. And as much of the astral body in a person as has been thus cleansed, purified and improved is called the ‘holy spirit’ in that person in esoteric Christian terms. To use theosophical terms we might also say that the part of the astral body which has been purified through the I is in esoteric Christian terms called ‘the part of the astral body which has been taken hold of by the holy spirit’.
We also know that the I influences the ether or life body to transform, improve and purify it. Whilst in everyday material and non-material life our moral cultural life ennobles the astral body, only the things people take in through religion and art — sensing the eternal in the time form — will change and improve the ether body. The impulses that come from the arts are more powerful than moral teaching, more powerful than the life of rights and government among human beings, for the eternal, immortal shines through in a true work of art. Religious impulses have the most powerful influence on the ether body. Under this influence part of the ether body differentiates out and is transformed into buddhi, the logos, the word. This is known as 'the Christos' in esoteric Christian teaching.
One thing we must always keep in mind when looking at these things is that with the science of the spirit we are not pursuing some kind of grey theory, nor anything removed from the world and alien to life. We are seeking the element in the spirit through which we can have a direct ennobling and purifying influence on these bodies. We must be able to grasp the spiritual principle, live it, and bring it down into life. Only then can we let the insights gained in the realm of the spirit flow through all life, from moment to moment, and make it spiritual. This is practical perception of the spirit. It is not a matter of thinking things out but of letting the spirit flow into our civilization. And so it is also meet and right, at a point where we are speaking of the transformation of the bodies, to draw attention to a practical aspect, namely, what the contemplation of such passages is really meant to convey to us.
When you are in ordinary life with your conscious mind, walking along the streets and crossing the market square, letting life’s influences and impressions come to you, the things you find there will be only part of the whole of your experience. If we do not consider this, we will never come to understand life and perhaps also fail to perceive certain important secrets of our most everyday life. Someone seeking insight in the spirit has to look deeper than someone else would be able to see with the ordinary means our civilization provides today. Our different bodies, the ether and the astral body, also differ in that the outside world influences them in different ways. Everything you take in consciously, giving it your attention, knowing it as you go past it in life, so that it comes to awareness, everything you see outside or in your room that makes an impression on the astral body, creates surges and movements in the astral body. An occultist is able to perceive everything which you experience in full awareness in looking at the movements and currents and everything that shows itself in the astral body.
You can see the infinite importance here of something which people do not really take into account at all in their conscious minds. Beneath the surface of our civilization, things are continually influencing present-day human senses, acting directly on the ether body that is bypassing the astral body and calling up images that are of lasting significance. Beneath the surface of our civilization, such things are all the time having an influence on us. And this is where the science of the spirit needs to draw attention to the more subtle elements that lie beneath our civilization, and has to show how insight can be gained into everyday life by gaining insight into the world of the spirit.
It is simply like this. The people of one age think and do things very differently from those of another. If the former produce horribly bad posters and joke magazines that focus merely on low things, pure sensuality and calculated sensationalism, and the latter do not have such magazines, this reflects for the occultist the things that live in their inclinations and generally also temperaments and character traits. Even conscience mirrors the hidden influences on human beings. If we wanted to study the consciences and also the temperament, mood and inclinations of central Europeans, or Europeans altogether, in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries, proceeding by occult methods, we would have to go back to the building styles, the kind of paintings and other cultural elements that were around people in those times. A person would have been in a very different mood walking down streets where everything seen to the left and the right had a relationship to the inner life from the mood you have today when you cross the market square and see quite different things around you. We certainly must not ignore the things that live deeper than conscious awareness, for the very impulses which are connected with the major periods of human civilization have a profound influence. And so we must not underestimate all kinds of things present beneath our present-day civilization that are like the ones I mentioned just now, for there lie the true and real foundations of materialistic feelings and inner responses. That is where we must look for them. And so people should not simply consider one a reactionary when one wants, from a deeper point of view, that nobility and significance should come to expression exactly in these things which have such a profound influence on the human soul, and indeed right down to the form-giving powers of the ether body.
As you can see, therefore, there is a way of looking at things where one is guided not by the prejudices of the age but by spiritual truths. And if we also extend this way of looking at things to the harmful elements in our daily environment which give rise to materialistic views without people having paid them real attention, do you think we shall get far with theories and teachings unless these theories and teachings go right down as far as this? If you know how the more sublime teaching in Christian thinking came to be reflected in paintings, you will not be surprised that they were also reflected in the things that were around people all the time, even if they did not focus their attention on them.
Let us now consider the principle which in Christian esoterics was called ‘the Father’. We know that not only the astral body, but also the ether body and the physical body are transformed through the I. They are transformed unconsciously by people, but consciously so by an esotericist or occultist or someone undergoing esoteric training. Everything that influences only the astral body is mere preparation for the actual esoteric or occult training. Occult training begins when we learn to work into the ether or life body, when the human being is enabled, through the instruction given by the occult teacher, to transform temperaments, inclinations and habits, thus becoming a different person. This alone will give insight into the true higher world — that the person changes. You can study the theory of physics and this will only affect your astral body. You can learn all kinds of things, and they will only affect the astral body. It is only when teachings have such power that they are able to transform the human being that organs develop from inside that allow us to look into the higher world. Then the ether body is transformed and also the physical body. And because the transformation of the physical body comes from the breathing process, bringing rhythm into breathing, a physical body illumined by conscious awareness is called atman. The Christian esoteric term is ‘the Father’.
Within Christian esotericism we have to distinguish between the Holy Spirit — the Christ has as much of the Holy Spirit in him as he has ennobled his astral body; the Son, Logos, Word — the Christ has as much of the son, the Logos, the word in him as he has transformed of the ether body; and thirdly the Father — the Christ has as much of the Father in him (only an initiate can consciously have the Father in him) as he has transformed the physical body, making it eternal. To understand sin or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the Son or the Father, and learn the Christian way of saying these things, we have to recall the mission of Christianity as the esoteric Christian teachers saw it. I have on some occasions said that the deeper mission of Christianity is given in the words: ‘If anyone comes to me who does not disregard his father and mother, his wife and children and his brothers and sisters as well as his own soul-bearing life, he cannot be my disciple.’ 102Matthew 19: 29; Mark 10: 29; Luke 14: 26. Second quote from Mark 3: 31-33, third from Luke 8:21. Mark also put it in other words: ‘His mother and his brothers came and stood outside and sent to call him. But a crowd was sitting round him. So when they said to him: See how your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside looking for you, he answered them: Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? Looking round at those sitting in the circle he said: See here my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and my sister and my mother.’ In Luke’s gospel we also find: ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’
Such words speak of Christianity’s real mission. We can understand them if we consider the evolution of the human race, and this will also be the best possible preparation for our discussion of the Mystery of Golgotha next Monday.
Going a long way back in human history we come to a time we call the Lemurian age. As you know we go back through Atlantean times to the Lemurian age. There we find the fourfold human being who we may say was half animal, a human being who did have four bodies — physical body, ether body, astral body and the potential for an I — but was not yet in a position to do any work on the three outer bodies. For the power human beings need to work on their outer bodies in the above-mentioned way first had to enter into those vessels for man’s true essential nature. The I as you know it today, veiling your soul, your deepest nature which already contains as much of the three outer bodies as has been transformed — this did not yet exist then, it was still waiting to enter into the process of evolution. The I was still a hollow space that would receive what today is our deepest, inmost part, our immortal part, as we call it, that goes through all incarnations and can go with the earth when it enters into a different planetary existence. This came down into the human vessel at that time. Before, it had been in the keeping of the godhead, part of divine nature.
On a previous occasion I gave you a picture for the way man was ensouled at that time, with the divine droplet poured into each individual human vessel. I then said that one might take a glass of water — many drops are in it, a mass of fluid. We might then take a thousand tiny little sponges and let each absorb one drop of water. We have then taken many drops from the glass, and something which had been united in the glass has then been distributed among all the small sponges. Something which is now in us and had previously been in the keeping of the godhead as in an element where everything flowed into one, distributed itself at that time among the individual human bodies, so that today each has a drop of this one divine substance in it. This element, which until then had been part of general divine nature, thus became individualized. Just as my ten fingers are part of my organism, so are the souls which are in human bodies today part of the godhead. And just as every finger would become individualized, every finger would receive a life of its own if it were to surround itself with other outer elements, so did the drops resting in the keeping of the godhead become human inner natures.
These human inner natures lived in the human bodies which had been prepared for them at that time. Human bodies looked very different at that time compared to today. Perhaps no one would believe it if I were to describe those bodies which walked about, waiting to be ensouled by the godhead. People who listen to these lectures may be used to some things, but some would be quite surprised, really, if I were to tell them what those bodies were like and how those shapes, grotesque as they would be in our eyes today, gradually changed into the bodies we have today. Who made them look the way they do today? The inner soul itself has done this. The figure, the form of this human soul influenced the body from inside. You get an idea of how this soul was working if you consider the last bits of configuration the soul still does on the human body today.
Consider feelings of shame, anxiety, fear, fright. A feeling of shame makes the blood rush up to make us go red. The colour of the face also changes with anxiety, fear or fright. In the one case it turns red, in the other it grows pale. In my lecture on the blood as a very special fluid, 103Lecture given in Berlin on 25 October 1906. In Supersensible Knowledge (GA 55). See note 95. I showed that the blood is an outer reflection of the inner work of the individual person. Our most intimate nature shoots into the blood — someone who has blood has an I, and someone who has an I has blood. It is therefore a very special fluid. This only applies to warm blood, however, and not to creatures whose blood is sometimes warm and sometimes cold. Today the I influences the blood when we feel shame, fear and fright, changing the body in this definite, subtle way when we feel shame or grow pale from fear, and it also acted like this in those times. The influence which the blood had in the earliest time of human evolution was great and powerful. It reflected, subtly and exactly, the inner power that had entered into the I as its divine content. And because of this the I came to be reflected through the races. Just as people may grow pale or turn red today, so did the inner feeling shape the human body from the inside. When the human being was still soft — he did not yet have fingers — the I created the form from inside, through the blood. Blood is still brought to expression today. The sculpting power comes from the I, via the blood, and develops the human body. In the many different shapes and forms we thus get to know the blood as the vehicle for the I.
In other lectures I spoke of a secret that lies in the earliest Bible stories. I spoke of the image given by saying that Adam grew to be hundreds of years old. 104Genesis 5: 3-5. This was due to something we call intermarriage, marriage between blood relations. We find it in the early times of every nation, though ve have to go back a long, long way. Then we find small groups everywhere within the earth’s population who are blood-relatives, marrying only within the group. This has an important result. To make it easier for you to understand what needs to be said I once referred to a conversation between Anzengruber and Peter Rosegger. 105'Another time, going for a walk with Anzengruber... We chatted about creative writing and subjects to write about. I said that he must surely have lived in Upper Bavaria or have had a lot of dealings with the country people of that area. His country figures were very much of that stamp. He put his pince-nez on his strongly hooked nose and said: "Upper Bavaria? No. Actually I never had any dealings with country people. At least not at close hand." Noting my surprise he added: "I don't need that. Just need to see such a one from a distance, hear some ordinary words, observe some gesture of other — and I know the whole chap inside out." "Most peculiar!" "My friend," he said, "you know yourself that all external occasions and opportunities are but midwives. The writer must give birth out of his own resources. Country people? - I'm a city man! But if, as you say, I’m better at writing about country people than city people, it may well be because it is in my blood. Or somewhere in one of my bones, like an inherited kind of gout. My father's family were Upper Austrian farmers. Well, and such things will linger on.'" Gesammelte Werke von Peter Rosegger, Leipzig 1914-16, 36. Band, Gute Kameraden — Personliche Erinnerungen an beruhmte und eigenartige Zeitgenossen, S. 145 f. You’ll remember that Rosegger, a good and popular writer, describes the country people in his books the way he sees them; that’s how he presents them to us. Anzengruber describes them in a more living way, his countrymen stand firmly and securely on their feet, as though hewn from wood, absolutely true and sure. The two writers once went out together. Rosegger then said to Anzengruber: ‘You’d be able to give a much better description of the country people if you went into the country and took a look at them there.’ Anzengruber’s reply was: ‘I have never seen such a countryman. But I describe them the way I do because it is in my blood. My father, grandfather, great grandfather and my uncles, too, were country people. And that’s in my blood.’ There was no need for Anzengruber to have seen the country people. The blood had an influence through generations, and this showed itself in the way he wrote about country people.
So you see how the spirit works through the blood, and an I limited to an individual does not stop there but grows strong and spreads through father, grandfather and so on. That’s how it was with Anzengruber, because those country people had only married among themselves. Some level of awareness of this remained. This level of awareness was much higher at the times written about in the first parts of the Bible. People then still had a real memory of things that had happened to their ancestors. There was a time when people remembered not only the things that had happened to themselves in childhood and youth but also had memories of what their father and grandfather had done. This may seem unbelievable to people today, but it is true that in those early times when blood relationship was strictly maintained within a small group and one could not marry outside the community without committing a sin, the I not only had awareness of the character of country people but the son would say of things that had happened to his father, grandfather and so on that they had happened to him. People who after nine hundred years had descended from Adam would say: ‘That has happened to me’, when speaking of things that had happened to Adam. It was a kind of group self that went through generations. And the term Adam, or Abraham, was used to refer to the way the I had thus continued through generations.
This is also what lies behind the stories in the first chapters of the Old Testament You realize that the blood may be seen as an outer reflection of the inner creative soul. How did humanity lose this way of looking upwards into the generations? What caused conscious awareness and memory to be limited to the life of the individual? They were limited because the bond of blood relationship was broken. The old form of blood relationship loosened, small groups became larger ones. A family group became a tribe, the tribe a nation. Humanity could not have developed in any other way but by families coming to be part of tribes, and tribes of nations, breaking the close blood bonds. Memory used to go back up through the generations.
If you recall the many times I’ve said that memory is sustained by the ether body, which reproduces the things that make up memories, you’ll know the connection between blood and ether body. The I impresses itself into the ether body by coming to outward expression in the surges of the blood, in the element that enters into the blood. You’ll recall, however, that someone wanting to be an initiate has to work into the ether body, and here we come close to something that is deeply connected with the mysteries of pre-Christian times. Those mysteries also had to do with the blood. Today we want to see what all this has to do with the blood.
We know that someone who was to be given the pre-Christian initiation had first to be prepared. We know how such an initiation went. The candidate was instructed to transform his qualities and habits and this would make him the kind of human being he needed to be for initiation. I also said that the initiates went back to the adepts of ancient Atlantean times and that the candidate, once suitably prepared, was put into a sleep state for the whole of three and a half days. This was the kind of sleep in which it was possible to lift not only the astral body but also the ether body out of the physical body. The wise individual who initiated the disciple would guide the whole process. The ether body would be lifted out and this made it possible for the initiator to give the disciple the power to experience things in the spirit and have a real perception and experience of the higher world. The ether body would have been set in motion through the preparations that were made, and the disciple would then be able to see into the higher worlds. When he had been brought back, he would be able to bear witness to the truth and reality of the spiritual world. The essential point was that the individual’s conscious mind had to be dimmed, tuned down, and this was connected with lifting out the ether body. He would be wholly under the influence of the initiator.
Let us consider the situation. All existing laws, institutions and social structures ultimately went back to initiation. At the pinnacle of the social structure would be the great initiator. All goals and trends would depend on this. The disciples would take the wisdom that had been revealed out into the world, and those who heard them out there would take their guidance from them and also arrange their social life accordingly. Everything was under the authority of initiation, of the initiator. Everything depended on these. The principle was one of authority based on truth and wisdom, lived out to the highest degree and in the best possible sense. Only the great, wise leaders of humanity were allowed to have such authority. And it was like this without causing any kind of harm to humanity.
What mattered then was to lift the ether body out of the physical body in the right way. This could not be done with just anybody. Anyone who says that this could be done with anybody, is talking in an abstract way and not out of the truth. It needed long preparation to achieve these things. Essentially the blood had to be the right mixture. This is also why great care was taken to see that the generation of priests did not mingle with others. Preparations would continue for centuries to ensure that one of the right descendants would always be available, who might one day be made a true initiate. It was a way of treating the human body in a grand style, in a tremendously mysterious way, a way that was mysterious in the best possible sense of the word. The greatest initiates had been prepared for through centuries to get the right physical principle, the right blood mixture. This whole process of preparing for initiation is the key characteristic of pre-Christian initiation. Yet it could continue for ever in the course of human evolution. For what was this initiation principle about? It had to do with having a clear view of the blood community. The closer we come to understanding community, the more do we come across principles of this kind.
In those very early times, therefore, initiation was based on the blood principle. This came to be broken more and more, from family to family, tribe to tribe, nation to nation. And now the future was making itself felt, with all such blood bonds broken. For where did the community principle reside for human beings when they had come down from the keeping of the godhead? We might say that it flowed through the blood, and the blood therefore had to be taken into account when one wanted to initiate someone.
When the possibility was given, with the warm blood, for the I to make the divine soul quality its own, that divine soul quality flowed through the blood: ‘I’ am he who was, who is and who shall be.’ 106Genesis 3: 14; Rev. 1:8. This was indeed the one who spoke as the god Jehovah, saying: ‘I am he who was, who is and who shall be.’ And where did he show himself to be most powerful? In the blood. And how did they guide a human being to initiate him? They would guide him by treating his blood.
These are profound, far-reaching mysteries of ancient times. Someone who only considers Christianity on the surface does not understand it properly. Much thought went into the title of my book, calling it not ‘The mysticism of Christianity’ but Christianity as Mystical Fact. It means that Christianity itself is a mystical fact and can only be understood if one knows that the whole spiritual configuration of the planet earth changed with the coming of Christ Jesus.
Put yourself on a distant planet and imagine you are a seer looking down on to the earth, the earth atmosphere, the earth’s astral body, the bubbling, boiling, billowing mass of animal and human astral bodies. And then imagine you were able to look down on it some centuries before the Christ was born and follow events on into a far distant future. If you were able to follow this you’d see something strange. You would see the astral atmosphere changing profoundly with the coming of Christ Jesus, a tremendous sudden change, so that its shade, its colour, would be different for all future times. Something new entered into the earth’s spiritual atmosphere. Anyone who does not admit that something now exists in the spirit on earth which was not there millennia ago, does not understand Christianity and the preparations that preceded it. You have to consider that something absolutely real came in, something new, and then you know what happened at the beginning of the Christian era.
Looking at it this way you’ll also find the right words for the transformation of the planet earth in the realm of the spirit and have to say to yourself: ‘All close blood bonds broke, everything that kept people together in small blood-based communities gradually disappeared. The small brotherhoods were gradually extended, ultimately to become the large brotherhood that is to include all human beings on earth, with everyone calling everyone else “brother”, and human beings “leaving their mother and father and brother and sister.’” Everything the blood has prepared within a kind of group I, an I that goes beyond the ordinary I, has to vanish from this earth. And when the earth will be ready to be a new astral sphere, the fruit will have germinated, all bonds will have been broken and a single large bond will bring the whole of humanity together. Christ Jesus made it his mission to give the impulse, the power to create this brotherhood. His mission and the ideal of Christianity are thus given in the words: ‘If anyone comes to me who does not disregard his father and mother, his wife and children and his brothers and sisters ... he cannot be my disciple.’ And the rejection: This is not my mother; my mother and my brothers are those who do my father’s will. That is the new spirit that is to come, different from the blood bond.
Please take what I am going to say now not as an image or a symbol, but as something that is real. It is difficult for the materialistic thinking of today to see the reality of such things, but they are real. Let us look on the cross raised up high, and above all the blood flowing from the wounds. Of this blood that flows from the wounds — be clear in your minds of its significance in world history! Why is it flowing? Why do we actually speak of the flowing blood of Christ Jesus? What was the foundation of all close communities? What brought the small tribes together? What must lose its significance within these narrow limits if the whole of humanity is to grow into a brotherhood? The blood. The element that influences the I, pulses in the I, can no longer depend on the blood when the whole of humanity has matured to make brotherhood possible. And so the excess I blood, the blood that causes human beings not to extend their I and let it be universal, must flow out, for it is self-seeking blood, egoistical blood. Consider this not as an image but a reality. Consider the amount of blood that flowed from Christ’s wounds to have been the amount that had to flow so that the blood would lose the tendency to create close communities and thus gain the ability to spread brotherhood over all the earth.
No one perhaps ever came as close to the mystery as Richard Wagner did exoterically in his essay on his conception of Parsifal. 107Richard Wagner, Gesammelte Schriften und Dichtungen hg. von Wolfgang Goiter, Leipzig o. J., 10. Band, 'Ausführungen zu Religion und Kunst', S. 275 ff.; 'Heldentum und Christentum', insbes. S. 281. See Rudolf Steiner's lectures of 29 July 1906 and 16 January 1907 in The Christian Mystery (GA 97). Tr. A. R. Meuss. Gympie, Australia: Completion Press 2000. Here an exoteric thinker touches on the most profound esoteric mystery truths. If you see things in this light you’ll find that the purpose of Christianity is on the one hand to dissolve the bonds of tribe, family and closely limited communities and on the other to split humanity apart into individuals, so that each feels himself to be an individual and yet also a member of the human race. These are polar opposites that run side by side. In the early times, when groups were small and based on blood relationship, the individual felt himself to be a member of the family, a member of the tribe. And as blood relationship dies out individual independence will grow and increase to the same degree.
This happens because of the event on Golgotha. You can see this from the fact that from that time onwards, when the event happened that was to embrace the whole earth, the religious impulse came to be of the greatest significance. Everything that happened there had been prepared for, and was preparation. The effect of it began when the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost. Speaking in such a way that we speak out of the soul of the other person, that is, no longer egoistically — this was shown in the best possible way in the place where the apostles spoke to all people in all tongues. The Holy Spirit thus prepared the way for the new impulse that was to come through the blood of the Son, the logos, the Christ.
Let us now go back to the ancient initiation principle. This was based on authority. Everyone would look up to the initiates and receive impulses from them. This authority principle is gradually coming to an end. Here we have an apparent contradiction. Humanity is being split up into individuals, with the ancient authority principle no longer valid, and yet brotherhood is to be established in its fullness. By what means is it to be established? By people getting a grasp of what has come as Spirit. What is the nature of this? For the initiate of old it was enough to have the whole wisdom, the truth, and let it flow into the whole of humanity. Now the individual person, with individuality taken to its highest level, must have the truth. Every individual must have truth and wisdom. In those early times, truth came to the individual from the highest pinnacle, and he had to make it his own. The spread of wisdom must go hand in hand with development, and human individualization with the creation of the great human brotherhood. These two things cannot go in parallel; they must go together.
Considering this, we are following the stages by which the Holy Spirit was brought to bear. For as long as human beings obeyed that one and only authority they could, as individuals, give themselves up to life. They were able to live in close communities. The supreme authority took care of the whole. This is no longer possible when the principle of authority is destroyed. Then every individual must take care that brotherhood is maintained. Each individual must be able to take care of the social life within the brotherhood. They must perceive what exists in general, what every individual is preparing. What may this be? We only have to remember how the ancient religions arose. All initiates had the same original wisdom of humanity. But as this wisdom was given to individuals, the state, the clergy and so on gave it specific characteristics, different forms. Buddhism and Zoroastrianism arose in this way. The smaller the communities, the more specialized did things have to be. Now that the great brotherhood has to be created, the wisdom of the initiate must be able to reach the whole of humanity so that every individual can now take care of the things that used to be the responsibility of the initiates.
Wisdom thus comes to the whole of humanity. It is the same for all. And we can see, therefore, that this wisdom, this insight, is the element that was distributed among the separate individuals who ‘leave their father, mother, brother, sister and child’. They shall have this wisdom again, exactly because it is the same for all. To understand what is said of the Holy Spirit we must understand that wisdom is the same for all.
People have not yet got that far, however, for they’ll still say: ‘That’s the way I see it; someone else may have his own point of view.’ This point-of-view idea must be overcome. Humanity had to be split ip so that there could be I-nature, egoism. They have not yet found the way of coming together in one and the same wisdom. They will be able to do so if they truly apply themselves to this wisdom and grow as individual as possible. If they find the spirit of the wisdom that is the same for all they will get out of the habit of saying: ‘That’s the way I see it; that’s my point of view.’ We have to understand that there is no particular point of view when it comes to the wisdom that is the same for all, that having a point of view means that one has not yet progressed far enough. Only then can we grasp the idea of the Holy Spirit. Only imperfect human beings have a point of view. Individuals who are approaching the spirit of wisdom do not have a point of view. They know that they must give themselves up selflessly to the wisdom that is always and forever the same for all. Just as all plants turn to the same sun, so human beings will unite in turning to the One, for one spirit of wisdom will live in them. The principle which originally held people together in the blood has flowed out of the Christ, and now wisdom brings us together again in brotherhood.
This has been reflected most marvellously in the miracle of Pentecost, when the apostles extended their brotherhood into one that embraced the whole of humanity, speaking in words that all could understand. This must show itself more and more, as individual nature reaches its highest development. We are all united in the spirit of truth. All other aspects of human nature will develop further at a much later time, when our planet goes through different stages of embodiment. The one thing, however, which will be alive and active until the earth comes to its fulfilment, is the wisdom that unites, wisdom revealed to us in the way in which it was only revealed to initiates in the past. Anyone who sins against this wisdom, the wisdom that creates brotherhood, cannot be forgiven, for this delays the earth’s evolution, for the earth will only be able to enter into its astral stage once humanity has come together in brotherhood. The spirit which brings the human race together is the one that has been poured out into the future. If we let our astral body be filled with this spirit of wisdom which exists for all, we can take it up into the astral body of the earth.
So now we are able to see that something exists in which the earth may be united. The content of the wisdom is therefore positive theosophy, something that must be reflected in the view of the world that is taken in the science of the spirit. This will not happen if you just say to people: ‘We must unite.’ It is not enough merely to preach brotherhood; moral sermons are empty words. Just as we have to supply a stove with fuel if we want it to get hot, so we must supply wisdom for humanity; this will unite human beings in brotherhood. To talk to people about brotherhood is like talking to the stove, telling it to get hot. No, what will take us forward is to teach in a very real way, concept by concept, idea by idea, conveying the wisdom of the evolution of the world and the nature of the human being. Preaching compassion, and indeed feeling any kind of compassion, means nothing unless we have wisdom. What good is it to someone who has fallen and broken his leg if fourteen people gather round him in the street, overflowing with compassion and love and not one of them can fix the leg! All fourteen of them are useless. But the one who is able to do it can help when he comes, and he will do so if he lives in the spirit.
Ethical principles will come of their own accord. They do not have to be taught. But the one wisdom which is beyond dispute, beyond points of view, the wisdom of which it is said in Christianity that it transfigures the astral body, cleansing it completely — this must come to humanity through the spiritual scientific movement. This is what the mission of Christianity means, it gives us the mission of Christianity.
People should grow more and more independent of all authority and move towards the truth that is the same for all. The brotherhood of humanity will develop of its own accord if people perceive the truth of the most Christian words, the words that are most free and most sublime: ‘And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ 108John 8: 32.
If you have two occultists with different views, they do not see the truth. Among true initiates it is not possible to say two different things about one and the same matter. Nor will there be two ways of thinking about it when humanity has reached the path that leads to the unification of the human race, of a brotherliness that is not just a word but an inner power.