Our bookstore now ships internationally. Free domestic shipping $50+ →

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Original Impulses for the Science of the Spirit
GA 96

XIX. How We Come to Christianity through the Science of the Spirit

27 April 1907, Berlin

Today I'd like to add a few things to our various spiritual scientific discussions relating to Christianity. In the first place we are going to consider the interpretation and explanation of Christian parables. Then I'd like to say a few things, just touching on the subject lightly, on the Book of Revelation, which I also spoke of in the public lectures.117See Steiner R. Supersensible Knowledge (GA 55), lecture of 26 April 1907. Tr. R Stebbing. Hudson: Anthroposophic Press 1987.

The first parable I want to consider is the one of the untrustworthy agent.118Luke 16: 1-8. As you know, this parable is a puzzle to many people. Let us look at it, at least in so far as we want to consider it today. I am going to present it in the literary translation119Weinel H. Die Gleichnisse Jesu in Aus Natur und Geisteswelt. Sammlung wissenschaftich-gemeinverständlicher Darstellungen 46. Band, 2. Auflage Leipzig 1905, S. 130. and we'll then consider it in esoteric terms.

He also said to his disciples: ‘There was a rich man who had an agent of whom he heard complaints that he was wasteful with his property. So he called him and said to him:” What is this that I hear about you? Render an account of your management, as you cannot be agent any longer.” The agent said to himself: “What shall I do now that the lord takes the management away from me? I have not the strength to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what to do so that when I have been dismissed as agent they will accept me into their homes.” And he called his lord's debtors, one at a time, and said to the first: “How much do you owe my lord?” And he answered: “A hundred measures of oil.” So he said to him, “Sit down at once, take your account and write fifty.” Then he said to another: “And you, how much do you owe?” And he answered: “A hundred measures of wheat.” So he said to him: “Take your account and write eighty.” And the lord praised the untruthworthy agent because he acted with forethought, and said: “The sons of this age show more forethought in their own generation than the sons of light.” ’

This parable has been a great puzzle to many people, and rightly so. Before we go into it, let us just consider that parables like this have been explained in all kinds of different ways through the ages. We have known people to say that there is profound meaning behind such a parable. Many have tried to find explanations according to their own ideas. It is perfectly clear that if people come and explain such parables according to their own ideas, something intelligent will result if the individual concerned is intelligent, and something unintelligent if he's not. If people bring in their own ideas, there can of course be no guarantee that theirs is the right interpretation. The situation is completely different from the spiritual scientific point of view. What matters to us is to explain such parables the way it was done in the original Christian mysteries; that we know the profound significance which they hold and out of which they have arisen.

Such Christian mysteries existed and I have referred to them on several occasions. I said that Paul went forth to speak of Christianity, and that he founded the esoteric Christian school under Dionysius in Athens. We are going to explain the parables in the way they were explained at that time. We are not going to speak of our own ideas but of things we are truly able to know. The teachers at those Christian schools drew on the things they had received from Christ Jesus himself.

It is especially today that parables of this kind have suffered greatly because people's—and even theologians'—thinking is generally materialistic. To demonstrate what is actually possible in this regard, let me read you something about this parable from a small book published as part of a series.120Ibid S. 23. The author is considered to be one of the most outstanding representatives of the Hamack approach; he was appointed associate professor at Jena University and a few days ago to the chair of New Testament studies. These are therefore the ideas presented by a university professor. What is more, his wisdom is available to everyone, for the book only costs a few pence. The best way of disseminating ideas like these is to present them in cheap books of this kind. Everything suggests that the matter is more important than one would generally think, for that is how the materialistic thinking of theologians reaches the hearts and minds of people.

The way of explaining such a parable is more or less like this: ‘The things people say regarding a deeper meaning to these parables are nothing special; it is something which simply is not there behind the parables. We need to go back to our original, childlike way of thinking.’ It is as if the Christ merely intended to tell an artfully composed story. What he said in the story is of so little importance that it is entirely in accord with modern thinking, where things cannot be reduced low enough, to bring them down to the level of the most ordinary commonplace.

His actual words are: 'Let us take the parable of the untrustworthy agent, for this often causes problems. We'll take it on its own, up to the words: "The lord praised the untrustworthy agent because he acted with forethought." The reason why we leave away the rest of the verses will be clear later on; one thing is certain and that is that they can no longer all be used for the interpretation, for they are about completely different ideas. If we take the parable as a parable again, all it is intended to say is that the agent knew that there would be an accounting followed by dismissal. He therefore considered what he might do in this situation, and right away took the only course he could think of. That was an intelligent way of doing things. Even his lord, whom he had cheated, had to admit this.

Now to what it was meant to tell Jesus' contemporaries: "You, too, know and believe that God will call you to account one day. Be intelligent, therefore, and prepare for this!' 'At least be intelligent about if, the parable is meant to say. Jesus was not concerned in this case with goodness, nor with the longing in human hearts. A harsh, ironical mood prevails. Nothing here of 'Blessed be they who bear pain, blessed those of a pure heart!' Instead we have: 'If you won't listen to everything, at least be as intelligent as that untrustworthy agent!' There's a note of sharpness in this parable, and this is why we have such a strange choice of image. Jesus did not consider it necessary to add that we cannot prepare for God's judgement by committing further villainies the way the agent did.

You see that Weinel himself compared the lord in the story with God. The last three lines clearly show that the parable could be seen to relate to this, for the author says that God might one day call the soul to account. So there should surely be the words: 'at least be good'. But if we then read what the lord says to the untrustworthy agent, using the words 'you should at least be as intelligent as such an untrustworthy agent', it means we have not understood the parable.

Such ideas are presented in popular books today and implanted in the minds of young students. It is not the kind of materialism which explains the outside world in materialist terms which is worst, but the materialism of people who do not want to know of any deeper insight into theological things. It is the kind of materialism which is the cause of the other, scientific materialism. Here materialism enters deeply into human souls, and then one cannot help oneself but interpret the facts of modern science in a materialistic way. We'll have to learn again to understand things of the spirit And this can only happen through the approach where it is truly possible to explain the Bible and other religious documents.

We come to understand such a parable if we enter more deeply into its meaning. One thing to be considered from the beginning is that it is in Luke's gospel and does not appear in the other gospels. What does it mean to say it is only in Luke's gospel? It means a great deal. If you study the gospels, for instance those of Mark and Luke, and compare them, you'll find that each has a particular mood. In yesterday's lecture I said these were canonical works coming from different initiation centres. Luke goes back to the initiation gone through by the Essenes and Therapeutists. You therefore have a medical aspect to it, seeking to restore balance for people, to bridge differences between them and make it come true that in the eyes of the world of the spirit, all human beings are equal. Luke's gospel often seems like a gospel for people who are oppressed and burdened. It will help them to stand up straight, for they are equal in the eyes of the world of the spirit. This needs to be considered, and then we shall find the basic note, the mood, which is to be found in the gospel of Luke.

In earlier times, the different gospels were in fact declared to be different even in tone. Let us hold on to this for a bit. Here we have to consider an important basic quality of Christianity, which you'll remember from earlier lectures. You know that I often reminded you of the words: ‘Anyone who does not disregard his wife, child, mother and brother, cannot be my disciple.’121SGenesis 3: 14,Rev. 1: 8. You know that these words refer to a major step forward in the evolution of the human race. It refers to the fact that in earlier times we had a love in the world that was founded on blood bonds; this love had to go, however, as soon as the bonds of blood were broken. In earlier times, in the past, blood relative loved blood relative. The Christ taught the love which will be such that one human being loves the other, irrespective of how their blood relates. This bond of brotherhood will mean that people are equal not in the greatest possible external sense, but in what Christianity teaches to be equality in the worlds of the spirit.

The coming of the Christ thus brought a decisive change in human evolution on earth. It gave the impulse for humanity to progress towards a great bond of brotherhood that encompasses the whole world. Christ Jesus has made it possible for human beings to be guided by the power that comes from his words, guided to that all-encompassing love for which we use the term 'bond of brotherhood'. The gospels give us the strength and power we need to establish this bond. This is something we need to understand clearly.

Seeing things in this way, we perceive the great profundity of a word we find in the gospels in many ways, a word which always refers to the old law, the law pertaining to the early times described in the Old Testament. Jesus did say122Matth. 5:17-18. that neither the dot on an i nor anything else should be gone against in this law, but he put something completely new in place of this law, something which has not yet become real. He put the free, loving attitude people have to one another in place of things that are governed by law today. Laws regulate the ways people live together and the things one person has to do for another. A time will come, however, when each individual will know, having an immediate feeling for this, what he needs to do for, and give to, his human brother.

Let us now consider the parable from the point of view of Christianity. If we take it seriously we'll grasp the profound significance and understand that the rich man may indeed be compared to the divine regent of this world. The analogy does indeed exist—rich man and divine regent of the world. But how? Putting the question like this, one might easily be asking why the agent was untrustworthy. It is generally assumed that it is because he let people put down 80 instead of 100 measures, and so on. People think the agent was untrustworthy because he put something down for people that was not in accord with their debt certificates. This was veiy wrong. Truth is that he was called untrustworthy because he had demanded excessively high prices for the grain and other produce which he had sold to the people. We can now understand why people would not support the agent if his lord dismissed him. If that were not the case, we'd have to assume that the rich man himself wanted to be untrustworthy. But the parable says nothing of the kind. And if we take the sentences that follow—the ones Weinel was arbitrarily leaving out—we'll find that we have no need to think the rich man to have been someone who would ask his agent to cheat people. The agent thought he'd serve his lord well by getting the best possible prices for him. Yet in spite of this he stood accused of not having acted in his lord's interests.

Let us approach the parable in the light of the above and get a clear picture. It was said of the agent that he had wasted his lord's property. He knew that people would not stand by him because of the way he had done things, asking high prices. So he thought: 'What am I to do? My master wants an accounting, and he'll dismiss me from my office. The others, he said to himself, won't accept me into their homes.' So what did he do? He made up for some of the things he had done wrong earlier, as an untrustworthy agent. He let people off a bit, that is, he now asked more humane prices. He let some of the mammon go which he had wrongly demanded for his lord.

If we take the parable like this, we may indeed compare the rich man with the divine regent of the world, and the agent with someone who was appointed to govern the old world at the behest of the divine regent, when life was regulated by laws. We may then also say that there was to be an accounting as to how affairs had been managed. It was found that the agent had grown untrustworthy. The same may be said of the law. It had been good originally, but had gradually become unfair. Class distinctions were made and rights established that could no longer be upheld. And so someone who had said that neither the dot of an i nor anything else should be gone against in this law, now had to demand an accounting from the Pharisees and Scribes who were administering the law. The parable was about the Pharisees; they were the untrustworthy agents, administrators of the law. It was they who must not imagine that if they were not accepted by the one they thought to be their god they would be welcome in the huts of those who were subject to the law.

We can now also see why there is no need to make the rich man in the parable untrustworthy. He actually praised the agent for having cut prices. If a rich man wants to cheat people, surely he's not going to praise someone who returns some of the money where prices have been too high. The agent thought to serve his lord and grew unjust towards others. In the same way the people whose task it was to guard the law believed they were serving their lord and grew unjust towards other people.

This changed the moment the Christ came. We also see that those who have been handling those laws needed to restore to rights anything they have done wrong in the process. The law had grown unjust. Now, when love of all people was demanded, those who wanted to gain the huts—meaning the souls—of people must put the just law in place of a law which in specific areas had become unjust. They have to write something off where things had become unjust. In the gospel, therefore, the old Scribes and Pharisees are divided into those who in rigid orthodoxy go on calling themselves ‘children of God’. They are the ones whom Christ Jesus condemns, saying he wants to have nothing to do with them. They are the ones of whom he says that they continue to be far removed from him; who say: ‘We serve God who has given us the laws.’ They were the ‘children of light’ because they held fast to the law, which was a technical term for the servants of God who were later compared to the untrustworthy agent The others, who lived among the people, who had to be involved with human inclinations, were the ‘children of the world’. They did not insist on the letter of the law; they let people off because one could no longer do things in an unjust way. They are people who were unjust before, but having to be in close touch with life they were forced to change. Because of this the 'children of the world' were wiser than the 'children of light'.

The parable refers to the way the world is ruled. What was good before may become a torment, and something else must take its place. So what is the situation now concerning the law, and the honesty of those who administer it? Where are the people who no longer base themselves on the old law? And those who have reason to fear that they will not be welcome in the huts of others, because they have been unjust? The parable is now easily understood, for we have given the old esoteric interpretation from which the parable originally arose. One should not interpret the parable in a materialistic, theological way, but very simply. These parables exist in order to show the profound significance of humanity’s great mission.

The other parable is the parable of the lost son. You know it. It also presents difficulties for some. It would be taking us too far to read out the whole parable. You know what it is about. A father had two sons. One asked for his inheritance so that he might go out into the world; the other stayed at home, was a good boy and helped to run his father’s affairs. The one who had gone out into the world lost everything, grew poor, and ended up in the greatest misery and dire want. When he came home, his father received him most lovingly. When the older son heard this, he grew angry and would not enter the house. His father went outside and asked him to come in. But he said to his father: 'Look, I have been serving you for so many years, but you've never given me a ram so that I might have a pleasant time with my friends. But now that this son of yours has come, having wasted his inheritance on bad girls, you have killed a fatted calf for him.' He said to him, however: *My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But you should be happy and delighted for your brother was dead and has come to life again. He was lost and has been found again.'

Imagine now that someone plays a part in the parable of the lost son today and that it is not covered with the dust of millennia of venerable tradition. Don't think that there aren't also people today who consider it to be extremely unfair that the father receives his runaway son with open arms, putting his other son at a disadvantage. Don't think that people are going to say anything else! And they do say it. There are people who do not venerate the Bible the way the faithful do. To some, the Bible is an ordinary book known the world over. A few lines from someone who sees it like this, a thoroughly bourgeois freethinker, will show you. The book is entitled Finsternisse (darknesses).123Zurich 1896; quoted by Weinel (see note 119). It says: 'Our sympathies are entirely with the older son... The way the father treats his younger son is extremely unfair to the older son,' and so on.

This is uninspired, but many people would think the same if the parable were to be written today. Consider, however, that there's something behind these things. Consider that we can understand the whole nature of these things out of what lies behind them. We can see, therefore, that we merely have to give them a deeper meaning. The most important of these parables may also be found in a kind of canon of the mysteries, taking different forms among different nations. Let me tell you one from the Hebrew Canon,124Free rendering of story of Absalom according to 2 Samuel. and then you can make the comparison.

A king had to accept the fact that his son left him and went away. He sent the tutor who had power over his son, that he might bring him home. The tutor did soften the son's heart. But the son said: 'How am I to face my father again?' And his father sent word: 'Surely it is me, your father, whom you'll be facing,' and so on. But it also says something else, and that is: 'This also happened to the people of Israel who had grown sinful and turned away from their father, the regent of the world. They had lost faith.' The story then goes on: The King sent messengers after his son. The son said, however: How can I face my father? His father replied: Surely it is your father whom you'll be meeting face to face?

The parable is not the same as in the gospel but it came into existence centuries before the Christian era, with definite similarities, and has been preserved in Hebrew tradition. The difference is merely that a deeper explanation is given. It is spelled out for people that the story refers to the nation which needs to return to the father. Jesus merely gave the images in the parables, interpreting them only for the disciples. The Jewish parable relates to the nation, a single nation connected by blood bonds; the Christian parable relates to the evolution of the whole of humanity.

Let us now remember how souls came down from the keeping of the divine spirit in ancient Lemurian times, how the soul entered into the human being, and how it was only because of this that he became an individual person. Let us follow the way the soul grew more and more individual; let us remember that animals still have group souls today and not individual souls—a group soul on the astral plane. If we go back in the evolution of the human race we find that humans also had group souls once, being closer to the divine spirit then than they are today. Human beings had not yet descended and entered into bodies at that time. They brought about what the god in them brought about. Once they had entered into human bodies they grew more and more individual, their own masters in the habitation of a human body. Others remained behind at the original level and at other early stages. Because of this we have the different types of human beings side by side. We have people who today still have almost a generic soul. We cannot perceive individual impulses in them, and they act less of their own accord and more in a generic way. The god instilled the group soul. It continued like this until the independent human being evolved who seeks the way back to his god again.

The process of evolution was such, therefore, that originally the human being was a group soul in the keeping of the divine spirit. Looking at an individual today and at human evolution, we are able to say: Primitive man still remains with the father; he has not left his father’s habitation. The other one, however, has gone out into the world, has asked for his inheritance, so that he may develop freely. A moment comes when the developing human being feels isolated, deprived of spiritual goods. He then seeks to find his way back to God again. That is the process of evolution—descent from the god into matter and then the re-ascent, returning to his father’s house. If we find the way back out of our own resources, we return having first grown poor, hungering for spiritual goods. We do, however, return as independent individuals, and the higher we advance in the spirit the more do we return home. Candidates felt themselves to be returning to the house of their divine father. What they said came from the group soul. It will become clear to us if we consider this in its occult sense.

It is not easy to study the human organism esoterically. The way people are today, they have a physical body, an ether body, an astral body and the actual I. All these bodies do not exist on their own; they are not yet independent entities. Please forgive the not very appetizing comparison, but it will show things a bit more clearly. Spirits that are more or less alien by nature are present in all these bodies, like maggots in a cheese. They move in and out. The influences to which human beings are subject come from the outside and from very different spirits. The spirits that move into and out of the physical body are called 'phantoms'. The human being becomes unfree because of this. The spirits present in the ether body are called 'spectres'. And the spirits present in the astral body are called 'demons'. As you know, people who were not superstitious but knew something of these things, were familiar with this. And the entities that have to do with the I are called 'ghosts'.

How does the human being grow individual? By purifying himself. He is most powerfully purified by becoming a companion to the world of the spirit. He then works on his astral body to free it from demons. When he is working on his ether body he frees himself from spectres. Working on the physical body he gets rid of his phantoms. Once this is done, he returns to the pure, divine realm. He will have won something in the process. He had been unfree. But now, having freed himself, he returns to his father’s house a free man. This will make it easier for you to understand the reports of Jesus driving out demons.

In the parable of the lost son, you need to think of the whole of human evolution. The spirits will be delighted at the soul's return, for it will not have remained the way it was when it went away. The individual has changed, has become free. This delights his companions. We should not see the sphere to which the parable relates as something lowly or small; we need to see it as the great cosmic tableau. You will penetrate even more deeply if you recall that everything is the other way round on the astral plane, as I told you. Remember I said that even figures have to be read the other way round in the astral world, in their mirror images. So if we come to the figure 64, we should read 46, not 64. When your passions take their leave of you, it seems to you that they are all kinds of spirits rushing towards you. If you want to create a parable with a profound, ethical core for the most sublime worlds, you use numerous images that appear the other way round in the physical world. This shows you the deeper reason why some parables, ethical in the world of the spirit, will sometimes offend in the physical world. You have to think of many things in parables. You are driven by them, through your feelings, into the world of the spirit. And that is also the mood, the tone, which lives in such parables. And it is in fact characteristic of such parables that they offend in their physical form.

Another parable I would like to mention briefly is the one of the wise and foolish virgins.125Matth. 25: 1-13. This also makes us think. Let us recall. The realm of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, however, and five were wise. The foolish virgins took their lamps but no oil with them. The wise virgins carried oil in their vessels as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was delayed and they all grew sleepy and went to sleep. At midnight, however, voices were heard: “Lo, the bridegroom is coming; go forth to meet him!” The virgins all rose and prepared their lamps. The foolish ones then said to the wise ones: “Give us of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” The wise virgins replied: “No, for then both we and you will not have enough; but go to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.” Yet as they went away to buy some the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him for the wedding, and the door was closed. Finally the other virgins also came and said: “Lord, lord, open up for us!” He said, however: ‘Truly, I tell you I do not know you. Watch and wait, therefore, for you will know neither the day nor the hour at which the Son of Man will come.”'

Here an indication is given that the parable has something to do with the Christ's future coming. Let us make this clear. We can do this if we once again consider the parts of the human being. If I work on my astral body, the Holy Spirit arises in Christian terms. If the I works on the ether body, budhi arises, or Christ, the logos. In my Theosophy, the Holy Spirit is called ‘spirit self,’ the Christ, the logos, is called ‘budhi’ or ‘life spirit’.

We look at people today and see the way they are living now that they have developed physical body, ether body, astral body and I. If the I works on the astral body, the Holy Spirit, spirit self, manas develops from the astral body. And because the I has already done some work on the astral body, people also have some manas, some Holy Spirit. This manas acts into the human being in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit A time will come when humanity will enter into the sixth of the root races. Manas will then have developed in those who have really done something for their development They will have developed manas. They will be ready to receive budhi, the Christ, the sixth basic part.

In the sixth race human beings will develop the Christ, and that will be the majority of people. We are moving towards that time. It will be the time when Christ Jesus will come. At that time human beings will be given the power to move to the place where they can receive the Christ in a new form, as a fruit, the place where the Christ laid down the seed, as it were, like a mustard seed that will grow ii the soul. The Christ will be visible to them, that is, to those who have developed the inner Christ eye.

A parable, a symbol, is used to describe what human beings are inwardly developing. Just as the physical human being comes into existence through the male and female principles coming together, so the idea is that the other parts of the human being were also inseminated, that the different parts were inseminated in a particular way. This was during the Saturn period. Then the ether body developed, and then the astral body. The coming of these new developmental aspects was thought to be like an insemination. This example can also show you how deeply the words of the Bible must be taken. It is not for nothing that it says in the Bible: 'And Adam knew his wife,'126Genesis 4: 1. when referring to an insemination, for at the back of it all is the idea of insemination out of the spirit. To know1, 'gain insight', is to be inseminated with the divine self. 'Know yourself means 'Let yourself be inseminated with the divine self which is present throughout the world'.

Something similar to this lies behind the parable of the foolish and wise virgins in Christian esotericism. The image of insemination is the lamp which has been given oil. Thus each of these parts of the human being is seen as a virgin who has not yet been inseminated, and the inseminated bodies of the human being are the virgins who have poured oil into their lamps. The undeveloped part of humanity remains where it is, with no oil in its lamp, and does not take its bodies up to the budhi level. The developed part has allowed the spirit to influence its bodies, pouring oil into the lamp, as it were. The others have poured no oil into their lamp, they have not developed their five bodies. The others did develop them, preparing for the important moment of the Christ's coming. The time of the Christ's coming then arrives. Some will have poured oil into their lamps; their souls will be illumined and ready to receive the Christ. Others, who have remained dark in themselves, will see that others have developed and they'll go to receive the wisdom from the others. They will need to go to the merchants to get their oil. But they'll be too late. And what will the Christ say to the wise virgins? ‘I know you.’ And what will he say to the foolish virgins? 'I do not know you.'

Applied to insemination the parable thus means: He will come to inseminate the sixth basic part, and he'll enter into the sixth basic part. 'Adam knew his wife, and she came to be with child.' And then the bridegroom says to the unwise virgins: 'I do not know you.' Such words taken from the profundity of Holy Writ will always be true. If we were to proceed in this way we would find that letter by letter the Bible contains the science of the spirit, and that we can learn the truths of that science by studying it. We need no other book. Anyone who says that the Bible contradicts the science of the spirit, does not know the Bible, and it does not matter if they are theologians who consider themselves to be at a very high level. Life in the spirit has to be found again in this ancient document.

Now a few comments on the things I was referring to in my public lectures on the Book of Revelation. You know that the sun once separated from the earth, and that it will unite again with the earth in the far distant future. The quality which makes it possible for human beings to become so spiritual that they are able to reunite with the sun is in occult terms called 'the sun's intelligence'. This good spirit in the sun has an adversary, the demon in the sun. The two are not only active in the sun but also send their influences down to the earth. The powers of the good sun spirit enter into plant, animal and human being; they bring forth life on earth. The adversary principle of the sun demon, the power which opposes the union of earth and sun, is active in man's evil powers.

Occult symbols of this have existed through the ages.127The sketches have not survived. See The Apocalypse of St John (Book of Revelation) (GA 104). Tr. rev. M. Cotterell. London: Anthroposophical Publishing Co. 1958; Occult Seals and Columns. London: Anthroposophical Publishing Co. 1924. A seven-cornered sign is the symbol of the good sun spirit. The seven corners symbolize the seven planets. The pentagram is the symbol for the human being. In occultism, the stars are drawn into the figure [heptagram] in the form of seven eyes. They bind it all together. At the same time we also have the days of the week if you follow this line here (Fig. 21).128See also lecture given on 4 March 1907, in this volume.

Fig. 21

In the distant past, time could not yet be measured by external methods based on the way the sun moves around the earth. Early occultists thought of special regents for the orbit of the sun, and they were right in their thinking. The whole system was orbiting, and time was determined in relation to the twelve signs of the zodiac—Ram, Bull, Twins, Crab, Lion, Virgin, Scales, and so on. As you know, one cycle in the evolution of a cosmic system is called a manvantara, and this is always followed by a pralaya, a state of rest. They alternate like day and night, with both night and day of 12 hours duration. Those 12 hours correspond to the vast periods of time in the cosmic day that were regulated by the ancient rulers of the circling of the zodiac. I would need to draw 24 masters of rotations around this sign. If I were to draw it for you, you'd have the heptagon here (Fig. 21), then the seven eyes for the seven stars, and the 24 ancient rulers, 12 for the night and 12 for the day.

The good sun spirit is also called 'the lamb'. We have already referred to the pentagram as the symbol of the human being. A black magician uses it with the two 'horns' pointing upwards and the single peak pointing down. On completion of this development, the 'good' will have developed seven 'horns'. That is the sign of the Christ spirit.

Having gained this occult insight, read the passage where John receives the book sealed with seven seals. Let us read it as it is given in chapter 4 of the Book of Revelation. 'And immediately I was in the spirit And behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardius stone ... And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting'—I have presented them to you in the twenty-four hours of the cosmic day, night and day. And then, moving on to chapter 5: ‘And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts and in the midst of the elders, stood a lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of god sent forth into all the earth.’ This occult sign forms the background to John's writing of the secrets of cosmic existence in his Book of Revelation. You need to know these if you are to have some feeling for the profundity of this work, and what it signifies when the adversary of the lamb is spoken of as the two-homed beast. The symbol of the sun demon is drawn like this:

symbol for the sun demon Sorat
Fig. 22

The Book of Revelation is all in occult writing, which is given expression in words.

One of its secrets also lies in the 'number of the beast', 666,129Rev. 13: 18. also 'the number of a man'. According to Aramaic occult teaching, the figure should be read like this: 400, 200, 6, 60. These four figures130The Phoenician and later the Hebrew alphabet had a fixed sequence of letters, and this also made it possible to use the letters as numerals. This happens on several occasions in the Old Testament, in both the Hebrew and the Greek versions. The numerical value of letters is of considerable importance in occult writings. are represented by the Hebrew letters:

Hebrew letters

Hebrew writing is read from right to left:

Hebrew letters

These letters symbolize the four principles that cause man to harden completely unless he is able to transform them. Sameh represents the principle of the physical body, vav that of the ether body, resh that of the astral body, and tav the lower I which has not developed into higher I. The whole word reads ‘Sorat’, which is the occult name of the sun demon, the adversary of the lamb.

This is the secret which in more recent theology has been turned into: It means ‘Nero’.131The interpretation which Rudolf Steiner had shown to be wrong may still be found in reference works today, e.g. in Lexikon der Bibel, von Fritz Rienecker herausgegeben, 3. Auflage, Wuppertal 1961. I can’t think of anything more fanciful. The individual who invented this Nero story is considered to be one of the greatest theological thinkers. Vast volumes have been written on the subject. People thus misunderstand the meaning of those symbolic signs. Works like the Book of Revelation can only be understood by someone who is able to read the occult writing.

The prophetic significance of such signs and symbols may also make you realize that the spiritual science movement has an important mission. In choosing the seven seals from the Book of Revelation for the auditorium in Munich, we are also giving an outward indication of the direction we want to take. The spiritual principle is to come to face us again also in the outside world.