The Christian Mystery
VI. The Mystery of Golgotha
2 December 1906, Cologne
The secret behind the mystery of Golgotha is one of the most profound secrets in world evolution. We will need to go back through millennia in earth evolution and let occult wisdom illumine it. It is true that the things Christ Jesus has done should be understood by ordinary people, this does not go against delving more deeply into the mystery of Golgotha. For complete understanding of this, the greatest phenomenon on earth, we must, however, enter into the depths of mystery wisdom.
In this session we'll therefore be concerned with going deeply into mystery wisdom so that we may understand how such a thing as the mystery of Golgotha could happen. We need to remember that when the Christ appeared on earth something happened that truly brought a major change in human history. We'll understand this most easily if we consider the question as to who Christ Jesus really was. For the occultist, this question has two parts. We have to distinguish between the individual who lived in Palestine at that time and lived to the age of 30, and what then became of this individual.
Jesus became the Christ in his thirtieth year. In ordinary people, only small parts of the astral body, ether body and physical body have become manas, buddhi and atman, 71 These are oriental terms also used in theosophy. Current reference works do not use capital initial letters, and I have followed this, since it feels right to keep capitalization for proper nouns and adjectives derived from them. The reference works also consistently give ‘atman’ rather than ‘atma’, which may be similar to the problem we have with 'mantra' and ‘mantram’. Main reference works consulted: Microsoft Bookshelf 1995; The Cambridge Encylopedia, Cambridge University Press 1990; G. de Purucker, Occult Glossary, Pasadena CA: Theosophical University Press 1972. Translator. or spirit self, life spirit and spirit human being. Jesus of Nazareth was a third-degree chela. His bodies were thus at a high level of purification. Complete cleansing, sanctification and purification had been achieved in his astral body, ether body and physical body. When a chela has gone through these three purification stages in his three bodies he is able at a given time in his life to give up his I. In the thirtieth year, the I of Jesus left the three bodies and went over into the astral world, leaving three sanctified bodies on earth that had been hollowed out by the I, as it were, so that there was room in them for a higher spirit. The I of Jesus of Nazareth thus made the great sacrifice in his thirtieth year of offering his purified bodies to the Christ spirit. The Christ filled those three bodies. After this time we refer to him as Christ Jesus, who walked on this earth for three years and did great things in the body of Jesus.
To understand who the Christ was we must go back a long way in the evolution of the earth and of humanity. Before it became earth, the earth was the ancient Moon. This is not the same as our present moon, which is just a piece of earth that has split off. Before the earth became Moon it was Sun, and before that, Saturn. We thus have to understand that milliards of years ago a body existed in cosmic space that was ancient Saturn. A planet evolves through a number of incarnations. Before our earth was earth, it existed as Saturn, Sun and Moon. Let us first of all go the Sun. There the ‘fire spirits’ were at the level which human beings have reached on earth today. They did not look the way present-day human beings look, however. Those sublime spirits went through their human stage on the Sun under completely different conditions than people do on earth today. On the Moon, another group of spirits went through the human stage—the lunar pitris, Moon spirits, who are now at a higher level than human beings. In Christian esotericism they are called angeloi or angels. Man only became ‘man’ on earth. The lunar pitris are one stage higher than man, and the fire spirits above them are at a very high level of evolution.
We now come to the earth, to the condition of the Lemurian race who lived on a continent between present-day Asia, Africa and Australia. Physical entities then existed on earth that were higher than today's animals and less developed than today's human beings. They created a kind of housing or case, a dwelling place. They would have grown decadent if they had not been inseminated by higher spirits. It was at that time that souls finally entered into the human physical body. Those souls then prepared what was later to become the human body. The physical housings of human bodies were on earth, and higher spirits let soul substance flow into these from the worlds of spirit. This soul principle was still connected with the worlds of spirit. It was like water, drops of which were poured into a number of vessels. The spirits who poured out the soul principle were those who had completed their human stage on the Moon, the Moon spirits. They were now one level higher than human beings and able to pour part of their essence into humanity, so that this might develop further (Fig. 1). This made it possible for man to transform his organism more and more. Man was able to rise from the ground, stand upright, walk, learn to talk, grow independent.
A relationship existed between all these souls, for they came from a community of spirits. All those who had received a drop each from a communal spirit showed great similarity. In the past, members of a tribe would have souls showing such similarity. Later it was nations, for instance the whole Egyptian, the whole Hebrew nation. They had souls that came from a common source.
The Moon spirits had given human beings the spirit self in man. This made man an I, someone with self-awareness. There was something, however, which the Moon spirits could not give, only a single, communal spirit that was even higher and had completed its human stage on the Sun was able to do this—a fire spirit. Many such fire spirits had developed on the Sun and were sublime spirits on earth. One such fire spirit was called upon to pour out his essence over the whole of humanity. A communal spirit was there for the whole earth, and this was able to pour out the element of the Sun spirits or fire spirits, the buddhi or life spirit, doing so over the whole of humanity with all its members. But in the Lemurian race and in Atlantean times human beings were not yet ripe to receive anything from this Sun spirit. Looking at the akashic record of that time one finds that strangely enough, human beings consisted of physical body, ether body, astral body and spirit self. The spirit self was, however, still very tenuous. The buddhi or life spirit was present around every individual but this could only be seen in astral space. In astral space every individual had such a buddhi surrounding; but this buddhi, being around the outside of the human being, was not yet ripe to enter into him (Fig. 2). It was part of the one great fire spirit who had poured out his droplets over humanity; these, however, could not yet enter into the human beings. It was the deed of the Christ on earth that developed the potential in human beings to receive the principle we call the buddhi into their manas. The preparations for the Christ's deed on earth were made by the other great teachers who preceded him. Buddha, the last of the Zarathustras and Pythagoras 72See Steiner R. The God of the Alpha and the God of the Omega (in GA 109), lecture given in Berlin on 25 May 1909. Tr. D. Osmond. Anthroposophical Quarterly 1962. The term ‘the last of the Zarathustras’ means, according to Rudolf Steiner, that this was the last of a number of incarnations for an individual who always bore the name Zarathustra. were great spirits who had already made much of the principle that only existed around human beings their own. They had taken this spark of the Christ into the I-human being. Moses was another. But the other human beings had not yet received this spark into the I-human being.
The whole of this fire spirit, the common source spring of all the sparks of spirit for human beings, had entered into the physical body, ether body and astral body of Jesus of Nazareth. That is the Christ, the unique divine spirit that does not exist in any other form on earth. It entered into Jesus of Nazareth so that those who felt connected with Christ Jesus were given the strength to receive the buddhi into themselves. The coming of the Christ meant that the potential began to be there for receiving the buddhi. John called this the divine creator-word. The divine creator-word is the fire spirit who poured his sparks into human beings.
The following then happened. The Moon spirits made it possible for communal tribes to exist among humanity. The Christ was a single spirit for the whole earth, so that people were united in a family that encompassed the whole earth. Before, differences had existed between people in that different Moon spirits poured out their drops over the earth. Now humanity became one through the powers that came from Christ Jesus. The principle that came to the earth with Christ Jesus is one that unites human beings.
When the Christ spoke of the day of judgement, his words were: ‘When the son of man shall come in his glory’—meaning ‘when the drops of the Christ will all have flowed into human beings, when all people have become brothers’—‘he shall say to those on his right hand, Come, you are the blessed of my father, inherit the realm prepared for you from the foundation of the world! For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink.’ 73Matthew 25: 31, 34-5. There will then be no difference between people except for good and evil.
He said to his disciples: ‘Inasmuch as you have done it for one of the least of my brothers, you have done it for me.’ 74Matthew 25: 40. This means that Christ Jesus was referring to the time when the drops he had poured will have been received by human beings in such a way that anyone seeing another person knows that the same substance lives in both of them. The strength needed to make it at all possible for the buddhi to be called awake in human beings came from the life of the Christ on earth. We must therefore see the Christ as the spirit of community here on earth.
If we were able to look down on the earth from a distant star and do so through millennia, we would discover a moment in time when the Christ was influencing the earth in such a way that all astral matter was penetrated by the Christ. The Christ is the earth spirit, and the earth is his body. Everything that lives, sprouts and grows on earth is the Christ. He is in every grain of seed, in all trees and in everything that grows and sprouts on earth. The Christ therefore had to say, as he pointed to the bread: ‘This is my body’. 75Matthew 26: 26. And he had to say of the juice of the grape—it was not fermented wine at the last supper—‘This is my blood’. 76Matthew 26: 28. for the juice of the fruits of this earth is his blood. Because of this human beings also had to appear to him to be walking about on his body. He therefore also said to his disciples after the washing of the feet: ‘He who eats my bread has lifted up his heel against me.’ This must be taken literally, considering that the earth is the body of the Christ. It is exactly because he has made himself the bearer of earth evolution that a distant spirit would be able to see that more and more of his spirit is entering into human beings—the substance of Christ Jesus entering into every individual human being. In the end that spirit would see the whole earth transformed, bearing people who have been godded 77Word creations by Rudolf Steiner. —Translator through the Christ. Anything that has not taken part in this godding is set aside as evil. It has to wait for a later time when it may develop and become good. Before the coming of the Christ, all nations on earth had mysteries. In the mysteries it was shown what was to happen in future. The pupils went through long preparations to prepare them for entombment. The hierophant would then be able to take the pupil to a higher state of consciousness, a kind of deep sleep. In earlier times, conscious awareness always had to be suppressed if the divine was to appear in the human being. The soul would be taken through the regions of the spiritual world, and after three days the individual would be restored to life by the hierophant. He then felt himself to be a new person. He would be given a new name. He would be called a son of God.
In the mystery of Golgotha this whole process happened outwardly on the physical plane. Before, the pupils would be enlivened with a spark of the Christ spirit, and they would be told: one day there will be one who will make it possible for all human beings to be christed. That one will truly be the word become flesh. You can only know this for three days, when you'll be walking through the realms of the heavens. But there will be one who always walks through the heavenly realms, and he will take the realms of heaven with him into the physical world.
The experience which an initiate had on the astral plane was to be presented on the physical plane by the Christ. It was the experience that the divine word had been there from the beginning, pouring its drops out over human beings, though the I-people were not yet able to take it in. This is what John tells us, John who proclaimed the I-human being, who was christed, who had taken the Christ into himself. That is the meaning of the ‘word’ in John's gospel. He spoke of the word that was on the earth from the very beginning:
In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was a god.
This was with God in the beginning.
All that exists has come into being through it, and nothing that has come into existence has done so except through it. In it was life, and life was the light of mankind. And the light shone into the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend it.
There came to be a man, sent by God, and his name was John. He came to witness, that he bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him.
He was not the light, but a witness of the light.
For the true light, that illumines all men, was to come into the world.
It was in the world, and the world came into being through it, but the world did not know it.
It came into individual human beings (it came to the I-people); but the individual human beings (the I-people) did not receive it.
Those who did receive it were able through this to reveal themselves to be children of God.
Those who believed in his name were born not of the blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor the human will, but were born of God.
And the word has become flesh and dwelt among us and we have heard his teaching of the son at one with the father, full of devotion and truth.
The word ‘devotion’ in verse 14 meant the same to John as ‘buddhi’; truth is ‘manas’, wisdom, the ‘spirit self’.
John bears witness to him, saying clearly: This was the one of whom I said: after me will come the one who was before me, for he has preceded me.
Out of his fullness we all received grace upon grace. For the law has been given through Moses, but grace and truth entered into existence through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever had sight of God. The once-born son who was within the father of the world, he has come to be the leader in this beholding.
Every initiation into the mysteries of the spirit pointed to this coming of the Christ. This initiation was given in the yoga sleep, the Orphic sleep, the Hermes sleep. When the initiate woke again in his body, when he was able to hear and speak again, using physical senses, he said the words which in Hebrew were ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!’ meaning 'my God, my God, how you have raised me up high!'
That was the initiation known in ancient Judaism. The initiate would be in the higher worlds for three days and experience the whole progress of future human evolution, what was to come for him in human evolution. In the perceptions he had during the three days, the future stages for humanity were not as a rule seen in abstract form but every stage was represented by an individual. The initiate would perceive twelve people. They represented the twelve stages of inner development. Powers of soul thus appeared before him in the form of human individuals. At a given moment the initiate would see a particular scene. He would see his own individual nature taken to the stage where the whole of humanity is filled with buddhi, meaning that it will be christed. He would see himself in the God, with the powers of soul ranged behind. Immediately behind him stood John, the final figure who indicates that he had reached completion. He would see himself transfigured in a state he would achieve when he had reached completion; his powers of soul personified, with John the final stage of completion, proclaiming the Christ stage. In the yoga sleep those twelve figures would then make a group, gathering for the "mystic communion, as it was called. This would be as follows. The human being sitting surrounded by the powers of soul would say to himself: these are at one with me; they have taken me through earth evolution. I have walked with the feet of these apostles. The communion meal means that the twelve powers of soul are at one with the human being.
Completion or perfection is reached when the lower soul qualities drop away and only the higher ones remain. Humanity will no longer have those lower powers in time to come, an example being the power of reproduction. John's very power of soul will have brought it about that those powers are then lifted up into the loving heart. Rivers of spiritual love will flow from it. When the Christ is in us, the heart is the organ which is most powerful in us. The lower power of soul will then have been raised from the lower abdomen to the heart. Every initiate experienced this as the mystery of the heart. It came to expression in the words ‘my God, my God, how you have raised me up high!’
With the coming of Christ Jesus, the whole mystery, the whole experience,
was brought to realization in the physical plane. Brotherhoods existed in
Palestine at that time that had evolved from the old Essene order. They
would have such a communion meal as a symbol for the mystic last supper.
The term ‘to eat the Easter lamb’ is a general term for what happened at
Easter. Jesus sat down at table with the twelve and instituted the communion
meal with the words: ‘At the end of earth evolution all people will have
received what I have brought to the earth; then this will be true: this is my
body, this is my blood.’ He then said: ‘One of you will betray me.’
78John 13: 21 Egotism,
lower desire, is the betrayer. The disciple whom the Lord loved knew this,
for he lay against his lap. For as long as this power is there, it will
kill—sexual reproduction and death are mutually conditional. This power which
now lies in the sexual element ascends higher in the body—to the heart. The
disciple shows this in the gospel by moving up to the heart. Just as it is
certain that it is lower desire which is the betrayer, so it is certain that the
lower power of soul is raised higher. ‘One of the disciples lay in the lap of
Jesus—he then lay against the breast of Jesus.’
79John 13: 23, 35.
The Luther translation uses ‘on the breast’ in both verses,
the King James version has ‘bosom’ in verse 23, and 'breast' in verse 25.
The Greek original has ‘ἐν τῷ κόλπῳ’ in verse 23 and
‘ἀναπεσὼν ἐκεῖνος οὕτως ἐπὶ τὸ στῆθος τοῦ Ἰησοῦ’.
Translator's comment. The Greek κόλπῳ (kolpōs) has a number of meanings, including ‘gulf, bay’, and basically refers to something that bulges out into something else. We know from Homer's Greek that it referred to a fold of the overgarment people wore that would hang over the belt, being thus between chest and belt. It was widely used as a kind of pouch in which to keep things. One can thus see how confusion may arise. Ref. Bauers Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament. This signified that all the lower powers, all egotism, had been raised to the heart. Jesus then repeated the words ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!’ for his disciples. ‘Now the son of man has been glorified and God glorified in him.’
What happened in the mysteries was the same as what later happened on Golgotha. Under the cross stood the disciple whom the Lord loved, who had lain in his lap at the last supper and has been raised to the breast. The female figures, his mother, his mother's sister Mary and Mary Magdalene, were also there. It does not say in John's gospel that the mother of Jesus was called Mary but that his mother's sister was called Mary. His mother was called Sophia.
John baptized Jesus in the river Jordan. A dove came down from heaven. That was a moment of spiritual insemination. The mother of Jesus who was inseminated here—who is she? The chela Jesus of Nazareth, divesting himself of his I at this moment, the highly developed manas, was inseminated, with the buddhi entering. The highly developed manas which received the buddhi was wisdom, Sophia, the mother, who was inseminated by Jesus' father. The name Mary, the same as Maya, is the name of ‘mother’ in general. In the Bible we read: The angel came to her and said: ‘Hail to you, sweetest one. Behold you will be fruitful and bear a son. The holy spirit shall come upon you and the power of the highest shall overshadow you.’ 80Luke 1:28,31,35 The holy ghost is the father of Jesus; the dove that flew down inseminated the Sophia who was in Jesus.
The text should thus be read to say: ‘By the cross stood Sophia, the mother of Jesus.’ He spoke to this mother, saying: ‘Woman, this is your son.’ He had himself transferred the Sophia who had been in him to John. He made him the son of Sophia, saying: ‘This is your mother.’ ‘From now on you must acknowledge divine wisdom to be your mother and dedicate yourself solely to her.’ What John has written was this divine wisdom, Sophia, embodied in the gospel of John itself. He received the knowledge from Jesus himself, and was authorized by the Christ to transfer the wisdom to the earth.
The greatest spirit on earth had to be incarnated in a body. This body had to die, to be killed, the blood had to flow. This means something special. Wherever the blood is, there is the self. If all the old self-communities were to end, then selfhood, which has its seat in the blood, had to be sacrificed on one occasion. All individual egotisms flowed away with the blood of Christ on the cross. The blood of tribal communities became the blood of all humanity when the blood of Christ was sacrificed at that time.
Then again something happened which an astral observer would have noted in the astral atmosphere. The earth's whole astral atmosphere changed at the moment when he died, and events were possible that would never have been possible before. Sudden initiation—like that of Paul—would never have been possible before. It has become possible because with the flowing of Christ's blood the whole of humanity became a communal self. At that time the self flowed from the blood of Jesus' wounds. Only the three bodies remained on the cross and were later given new life by the risen Christ. At the moment when the Christ left the body, the three bodies were so strong that they were themselves able to say the words which the transfigured human being would speak after his initiation: ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!’
Those words would have shown all those who knew something of the mystery wisdom that this was a mystery. A minor change made to the Hebrew text has given us the words we read in the Bible: ‘Eli, Eli, lama asabthani!’ This means: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me’