The Gospel of St. John
VI. The Atlantean Oracles
29 June 1909, Cassel
We said yesterday that mankind had great leaders even in that early period of human evolution called the Atlantean; and we saw that this period ran its course on a continent situated between the present Europe and Africa on one side, and America on the other, and was called the old Atlantis. We also mentioned how different human life was at that period, especially as regards the state of human consciousness. We could conclude from yesterday's lecture that the consciousness of the present day has evolved by degrees, man having started with a kind of shadowy clairvoyance. We know that the human physical bodies of the Atlantean period were of an essentially softer, more flexible and plastic substance than is today the case; and we also know, taught by clairvoyant consciousness, that the man of that time was not yet able to perceive solid objects in sharp outline, as we see them today. The Atlantean could indeed distinguish the objects of the outer world — the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms — but vaguely and indistinctly. As we now see the street lamps on a foggy autumn evening, as if fringed with colour, man then saw something like coloured borders surrounding the objects — ‘auras’, as we say. These were indications of the spiritual beings who belonged to the things. At certain moments during the day the perception of these spiritual beings was very indistinct; but at others, especially in the intermediate state between waking and sleeping, the perception of them was very distinct.
If we wish to have a vivid idea of the consciousness of an old Atlantean we must say to ourselves: He could never have seen a rose, for instance, as we see it today, in sharp outline. It was all vague and indistinct; in the intermediate state between waking and sleeping it became still more indistinct, indeed it disappeared altogether. On the other hand he could clearly see what we must describe as the ‘rose-spirit’ or ‘rose-soul’. It was thus with all objects of the surrounding world. The progress of evolution consisted in the fact that the external objects became increasingly distinct, while the perception of the spiritual beings who belonged to the things became increasingly indistinct. On the other hand man developed his consciousness of himself to an increasing extent, and learnt more and more to feel his own existence. We indicated yesterday the moment at which a distinct feeling of the Ego came to the fore. We said that the etheric body came to coincide with the physical body at the dawn of the third phase of the Atlantean period. As you may imagine, human leadership was also very different before this. The sort of understanding between man and man, when one appeals to the judgment of the other, was altogether non-existent in Atlantean times. In that age of shadowy clairvoyance, the understanding consisted of a subconscious influence which passed from man to man. What we know today as a last (often misunderstood) vestige of a former state, existed then in a high degree. This was a kind of suggestion, a subconscious influence from man to man, which made but little appeal to the cooperation of the other soul. When we look back to the early times of Atlantis we see that a powerful influence was exerted, when some image or sensation rose in the soul, and one man directed his will upon another. All influences were powerful, and the will to receive them was also powerful. Today there are but remnants of this condition. Picture to yourselves a man in those days moving past another and making certain movements. The other, the spectator, need only have been a little weaker, and the effect produced on him would have been to make him try to reproduce or imitate all the movements he had seen. A last heritage of this condition today is the inclination for one person to yawn when he sees another do so. In those days the tie between man and man was far more intimate, the reason being that humanity lived in a quite different atmosphere. In our time the air in which we live is not impregnated with water unless it rains heavily. At that time it was always charged with dense vapours; and at the beginning of the Atlantean period the substance of man's body was no more solid than that of certain jelly like animals which can scarcely be distinguished from the water in which they live. Such was the human being; his densification was a long and gradual process. But we know that man was nevertheless exposed to influences, not only from the higher spiritual beings who, dwelling on the Sun or the various planets of our solar system, were his rightful leaders, but also from the Luciferic spirits who influenced his astral body. We have already described the manner in which these influences made themselves felt, and how the appointed leaders of the Atlantean people had to combat these Luciferic influences in their own astral body. Human consciousness being at that time still spiritual and clairvoyant, men could perceive everything in the nature of spiritual influences at work within themselves. Nowadays, a person who knows nothing of spiritual science would laugh if he were told that the influences of the Luciferic spirits are embedded in his astral body. He does not, of course, know that these beings exert a far stronger influence upon him when he pays no heed to them.
‘The Devil, your good-folk ne'er scent,
E'en though he have them by the collar.’
That is a very deep saying in Goethe's Faust, and many a materialistic influence would not be there today, if people knew that the Luciferic influences were not yet eradicated from the human soul. At that time, the leaders and their pupils were strictly on the watch against everything which excited passions and desires, with the tendency to infuse into man a deeper interest in his physical surroundings than was good for his progress and development in the Cosmos. Thus, the would-be leader had, above all things, to exercise self-knowledge and keep intensely alert for everything that might reach him from Lucifer. He had to study closely these Luciferic beings in his own astral body. By doing so he could keep them at a distance, and this again enabled him to see the other, higher, guiding spiritual beings, especially those who had transferred the scene of their activity from the Earth to the Sun or to one of the other planets. The spheres seen by men corresponded to the origin of their descent. There were human souls who, let us say, were descended from Mars; when they, in keeping with their development, proceeded to combat the Luciferic influences in their astral body, they were led to a higher grade of clairvoyance — to a good, pure seership — and they beheld the higher spiritual beings in the sphere from which they had descended — the Mars sphere. Souls from the Saturn sphere became capable of seeing the Saturn beings; others from Jupiter or Venus, saw the beings of those planets. Each soul saw the region corresponding to itself; but the most advanced among the human beings (those who had survived the lunar crisis) were able to prepare themselves gradually to see, not only the spiritual beings of Mars, Jupiter, and Venus, but those of the Sun itself, the high Sun beings. Having descended from the various planets, the initiated could not perceive the spiritual spheres of these planets. You will therefore understand that there were institutions or schools in ancient Atlantis, in which the descendants of Venus were taught the Venus Mysteries. If we give these schools a later name of ‘Oracle’, we may say that in Atlantis there was a Mars-oracle, in which the Mars Mysteries were investigated, a Saturn-oracle, a Venus-oracle, and so on. The highest of all was the Sun-oracle, and the highest initiate of the Sun-oracle was the highest of all the initiates.
Since suggestion and the influence of the will were modes of intercourse in those days, it follows that instruction was given in quite a different way. Let us try to form an idea of the intercourse between teacher and pupil. Let us assume that there were spiritual teachers, who had received their initiation by an act of grace. How did the later initiates, their pupils, receive their initiation in Atlantean times?
We may imagine that the initiated, by their very presence and the mere fact of their existence, exerted a tremendous influence on those predestined to become their pupils. No Atlantean initiate could show himself without setting a note vibrating in the soul of those who were to become his pupils, whereby the possibility of such discipleship was revealed to them. The influences which proceeded from man to man were entirely removed from objective, waking consciousness, and the kind of instruction familiar to us was not necessary. All intercourse with the teacher, everything that he did, worked hand in hand with the human imitative faculty. Much was unconsciously transmitted from the teacher to the pupil. Hence the essential thing for those who were conducted to the oracles, after having attained the requisite maturity, was the fact that they lived in the vicinity of the teacher. By observing the acts of the teacher, and by the impression made on their feelings and sensations, they were prepared — it is true in long, very long stretches of time. Then came the time when there was so intense a concord between the soul of the teacher and that of the pupil, that the whole knowledge of the higher Mysteries possessed by the teacher became transmitted to the pupil. It was thus in ancient times. Now what happened after the coincidence between the physical and etheric bodies had taken place?
Although this coincidence had been fully effected in the Atlantean period, the union between the physical and etheric bodies was not particularly close, as yet, and it required no more than an effort of will on the part of the teacher, for the etheric body to be withdrawn from the physical. It was no longer possible, even when the right moment had arrived, for the teacher's wisdom to pass, as though of itself, to his pupil. And now came the great cataclysm which swept away the Atlantean continent. Stupendous perturbations of air and water, vast upheavals gradually changed the whole face of the Earth. Europe, Asia, and Africa, of which only a small area was solid land, also America, arose out of the water. Atlantis vanished. The people wandered East and West, and many and various colonies came into existence. But after this tremendous catastrophe, the human race had advanced a step. Another change had taken place in the connection between the physical and etheric bodies: they were much more closely united in post Atlantean times. It was now no longer possible for the master to draw out the etheric body by an impulse of his will, and to transmit every observation to his pupil. Hence it was necessary that initiation leading to vision of the higher worlds, should now assume another form, which may be described somewhat as follows.
In place of the instruction based upon the immediate psychic influence passing from teacher to pupil, a new form of teaching was gradually adopted, which by degrees came to approach the method of the present day. As in Atlantean times, institutions were established by the great leaders of humanity, in which reminiscences of the old Atlantean-oracles were preserved. Mysteries, sites of initiation, were founded in post Atlantean times. And just as suitable candidates had formerly been received into the oracles, so were they now admitted into the Mysteries. Here the pupils were prepared by a severe course of instruction, for it was no longer possible to work upon them as in former times. Through long periods of time we find such Mysteries in all civilizations. Whether we turn to the first period of post Atlantean civilization which ran its course in ancient India, or to the civilization of Zarathustra, or to that of Egypt or Chaldea, we find everywhere that pupils were admitted to Mysteries, which were something between church and school, there to undergo a strict course of instruction in thinking and feeling, not merely with regard to the things of the physical world, but to the facts of the invisible, spiritual world. Today we can describe exactly what was taught there; to a large extent it was the same as what we know as Anthroposophy; this was the subject of study in the Mysteries. It differed only in being more adapted to the manner and customs of that time, and it was strictly regulated. Whereas today the mysteries of the higher worlds are, to some extent, freely and rapidly imparted to those who are in a degree ripe for them, in those days the instruction was strictly graduated; at the first stage, only a certain sum of knowledge was communicated. Everything else remained an absolute secret. Not until the pupil had mastered the first steps was he entrusted with the knowledge belonging to a higher stage. Through this preparation, thoughts, ideas, sensations, and feelings relating to the spiritual world were implanted in the astral body of the pupil. This meant that he had to some extent combated the Luciferic influence. For all that is imparted in the form of spiritual science relates to the higher worlds, not to the world for which Lucifer would excite man's interest — namely, the world of sense alone. Then, after this preparation, the time drew nigh when the pupil could be led to independent vision; he was himself to behold the spiritual world. For this it was necessary that he should be able to reflect in his etheric body all that he had elaborated for himself in his astral body. For vision in the spiritual world can be attained in only one way. The fruits of learning stored in the astral body must work upon the pupil so deeply, through certain feelings and emotions evoked by that learning, that not only his astral body but also the denser etheric body is influenced thereby. Before the pupil can rise from study to vision, the result of his instruction must first produce its effect. For this reason the course of instruction, throughout the Indian, Persian, Egyptian, and Greek periods, concluded with a certain ceremony consisting in the following act.
To begin with the pupil underwent a long course of preparation consisting not of study and learning, but of that which we call meditation, and of other exercises to develop self-possession, inner tranquillity, and a dispassionate attitude. The preparation was designed to fit the astral body in every respect to become a citizen of the spiritual world. Finally when the right moment had come, and as a final act of this preparation, the pupil was thrown into a death-like condition which lasted three and a half days. Whereas in Atlantean times, the etheric and physical bodies were so loosely joined that the former could be withdrawn with comparative ease, it was now necessary that the candidate for initiation should be thrown into a death-like sleep in the Mysteries. While this condition lasted, he was laid in a kind of coffin, or bound to a cross or something similar. During this time the Initiator or Hierophant, as he was called, had the power to work upon the astral and especially the etheric body; for during this procedure the etheric body was withdrawn from the physical. This is not what happens in sleep; for then the physical and etheric bodies remain in bed, while the astral body and Ego withdraw. But here, in this concluding act of initiation, the physical body remains, and the etheric body is almost fully raised out of it; only the lower portions are raised out of it and the candidate is then in a death-like condition. Everything that had been learnt by meditation and the other exercises was now impressed upon the etheric body in this condition. In these three and a half days the initiate actually roamed through the spiritual worlds, where the spiritual beings live. At the end of the three and a half days the Initiator called him back again, that is to say, he had to power to awaken him. The latter now brought with him the knowledge of the spiritual world. He could behold that world and announce its truths to his fellow-men, who were not yet ready to behold it themselves. Thus the teachers of pre-Christian times were initiated into the deepest Mysteries. They were led by the Hierophant during those three and a half days and were living witnesses of the reality of spiritual life, that is, of the truth that behind the physical world there is a spiritual world, to which man belongs, with his higher principles, and into which he must find his way. The form of initiation I have just described reached its climax in the period immediately following the Atlantean cataclysm. But in the course of time, as the union between the physical and etheric bodies grew increasingly close, the process of initiation became increasingly dangerous. Men were becoming ever more accustomed to the physical world of sense, with their full consciousness. Indeed it is the very purpose of evolution that man should accustom himself to live in the physical world, with all his inclinations and sympathies. The great progress of humanity consists in the fact that man actually developed this love for the physical world.
In the earliest period of post Atlantean civilization, there was a vivid recollection of the reality of the spiritual world. People said: ‘We, the late descendants, can yet see into the spiritual world of our ancestors.’ They still retained that dull, shadowy consciousness; they knew where the true world lay, which was their home. ‘All that surrounds us in waking consciousness,’ they said, ‘is like a veil shrouding the truth; it hides from us the spiritual world; it is Maya or illusion.’ They could not readily accustom themselves to what they now saw. It was difficult to understand that the consciousness of the old spiritual world must be lost. That is the keynote of the first post Atlantean civilization. It was therefore easy to lead the men of that time into the spiritual world, for they had a lively attachment to it. Of course this state could not continue; for it is the mission of this planet that men should become enamoured with the forces of the Earth and conquer the physical plane. Could you behold that India of the past, you would find an enormously high level of spiritual life. An understanding of the teachings propounded by the ancient teachers of humanity is only possible today when preceded by a study of spiritual science. Failing this, the teachings of the great and holy Rishis must appear nonsense or folly; for people cannot bring themselves to think that there is any sense in such teachings concerning the mysteries of the spiritual world. From their point of view such people are of course right, for people are always ‘right’ from their own particular standpoint.
There was an enormous capacity of spiritual contemplation, but the power of handling the simplest implement was lacking. Wants were satisfied in the most primitive manner. Natural science, or what is known by that name, did not exist; for in everything visible to him on the physical plane, a man saw Maya, the great illusion, and nothing but an elevation to the great Sun-being, or to Beings akin to him, could reveal truth and reality. But this condition would not last. It was necessary that among the men of post Atlantean times there should be some who were desirous of conquering the kingdom of the Earth. A beginning was made in the time of Zarathustra. Indeed a mighty step forward can be observed in the transition from the ancient Indians to the ancient Persians. To Zarathustra the external world was no longer merely Maya or illusion. He showed the people that our physical environment has value, but that the spiritual is behind everything. Whereas the flower was Maya in the view of the ancient Indian, and he sought the spirit behind the flower, Zarathustra said: ‘The flower is something to be prized, for it is a member of the universal All-spirit; the material grows out of the spiritual.’ We have already mentioned that Zarathustra pointed to the physical Sun as being the sphere of spiritual beings. But initiation was hard of attainment and for those who, not content to hear from the initiates that there is a spiritual world, themselves desired to behold the great Sun-aura, more stringent measures were needed for the attainment of initiation. All human life altered little by little, and in the following period, the Egypto-Chaldean civilization, men devoted themselves increasingly to the conquest of the physical world. A purely spiritual science which investigates all that lies behind the physical world, was no longer man's sole interest. He observed the course of the stars and sought to discern in their position and movement — in all that is outwardly visible — the writing of the divine spiritual beings. He recognized in the characters traced between one object of sense and another, the will of the gods. Thus he studied the objects in their mutual relation. In Egypt we see the rise of a science of geometry applied to external things. In this way man becomes master of the external world. The Greeks progressed still further in the same direction. In this (Greek) period we see how that union is accomplished between the experience of the soul and external matter. All that man has won for himself flows out, as it were, into the world of sense. But inasmuch as man grew increasingly powerful in the world of sense, and his soul became ever more attached to it, he grew to the same extent more estranged from the spiritual world in the interval between death and a new birth. When the soul left the body in ancient India, and entered the spiritual world, there to fulfil its development till rebirth, there was still a vivid experience of spiritual life. For man's whole life was filled with longing for spiritual culture, and his feelings were fired by the declarations to which he listened concerning life in the worlds of spirit, even though he were not himself an initiate. Hence, when he passed through the portal of death, the spiritual world lay open before him; light and radiance surrounded him. But in proportion as man's sympathies were directed towards the physical world, and he grew more skilful therein — in the same measure did darkness shroud the interval between death and rebirth. In Egyptian times this was so marked that we can ascertain, with clairvoyant consciousness, that a state of darkness and dreariness became the lot of the soul upon leaving the physical body and entering the spiritual world. The soul felt lonely and isolated from its fellows; and a frosty chill pervaded the soul in its loneliness, as it strove in vain to gain contact with the other souls. The Greeks lived in a time when man, by the superb outer beauty of his culture, had made the Earth something altogether remarkable, but the interval between death and rebirth was most dark, dismal, and frosty for the souls of that period. The story of the noble Greek who, when questioned about the sojourn in the underworld, replied: ‘Better a beggar in the upper world than a king in the realm of the shades!’ is in accordance with facts and no mere legend.
Thus we can say that with the advance of civilization man became more and more estranged from the spiritual world. Initiates capable of beholding the higher regions became increasingly rare; for the procedure of initiation grew ever more dangerous, and it became increasingly difficult to survive the death-like condition for three and a half days, and to submit to the withdrawal of the etheric body without the risk of death.
A renewal now took place for the whole of humanity through that impulse of which we have spoken in our last lecture — the Christ Impulse. We have already described how Christ, the high Sun-Spirit, approached the Earth by degrees. We have seen that in the days of Zarathustra He was still to be sought in the Sun, as ‘Ahura Mazdao’, and that in the time of Moses He could already be seen in the burning bush and in the fire on Sinai. Gradually He entered the Earth-sphere in which so great a change was to be wrought. In the first place it was important for this Spirit that men should learn to recognize Him here on Earth. Now what was the essential condition in all forms of ancient initiation? That the etheric body should be raised out of the physical; and even in post Atlantean times it was necessary that the candidate should be thrown into a death-like trance, that is, that he should be physically unconscious. This entailed his subjection to the will of another Ego, which, again, was inseparable from initiation. The pupil's Ego was wholly under the dominion of his initiator. He quitted his physical body entirely; his Ego neither occupied it nor exercised any influence upon it. But the great goal of the Christ Impulse is that man should develop his Ego entirely within himself, and not descend to a state of consciousness lower than his Ego for the purpose of entering the higher worlds. That this might be fulfilled, it was necessary that one should offer himself as a sacrifice in order that the Christ-Spirit Himself should be received into a human body. We have already shown that an initiate who had prepared himself through many, many incarnations, became able, at a definite point of his life, to yield up his own Ego and receive into himself the Christ-Spirit. This is indicated in the Gospel of St. John, in the account of the Baptism in the Jordan. Now what was the meaning of this Baptism?
We know that this Baptism by the forerunner and herald of Christ Jesus, John the Baptist, was accomplished upon those whom he had prepared to receive Christ Jesus in the right way. We shall fail to understand what is written concerning the Baptism in the Gospel of St. John unless we bear in mind that the purpose of John's Baptism was the true preparation for Christ. If you think of a baptism of the present day, which is only an imitation of the original symbol, you will fail to understand it. It was not a mere sprinkling with water, but a complete immersion; the candidate lived for a certain time, long or short, under water. The meaning of this will be clear if we seek its clue in the mystery of the human constitution.
Call to mind again that man consists of physical body, etheric body, astral body, and Ego. In his waking state these four principles are firmly knit together; in sleep the physical and etheric bodies lie in bed, while the astral body and the Ego are outside. In death the physical body remains behind as a corpse — the etheric body withdraws and then, for a short time, the Ego, the astral body, and the etheric body are united. To those who have heard even a few of my lectures it will be evident that an important experience is associated with this moment. The deceased sees his past life unfolded before him in a mighty tableau; the whole circumstances of his life stand out before him as though ranged side by side in space. For, as we know, the etheric body is also the vehicle of memory, and nothing but his physical body prevents a man from seeing all this during his lifetime. After death the physical body is cast aside, and everything that a man has experienced in his life just ended, can now enter his consciousness. Now I have also mentioned that a similar review of the past life takes place when a person finds himself in peril of death, from any cause, or when he is overcome by terror or by any great shock. You already know from narratives that when a man's life is endangered, say, by drowning or by a fall from a height, and he does not lose consciousness, his whole life hitherto appears before him as in a great panorama. What a man experiences, say, when in danger of drowning, was experienced by almost all who were baptized by John. The baptism consisted in the immersion of the candidate until he had experienced his life hitherto. This experience, however, was in the nature of a spiritual picture; and what the spirit experienced in this abnormal condition was seen to be connected, in a measure, with the rest of the spiritual world. So that he who was raised from the water after the baptism by John could say: ‘There is a spiritual world! In truth, that which I have within me is something which can exist without a body!’ After this baptism a man was convinced that a world indeed existed to which he belonged in the spirit. What then had John the Baptist accomplished by this Baptism?
Men had become more and more attached to the physical world; they came together more and more in it and believed ever more firmly that the physical world was actual reality. But they who came to the Baptist experienced their own life as a spiritual fact. After baptism they could say with conviction: ‘I am something more than what I am through my physical body!’ The mind of man, in its development, had become directed towards the physical world. John had evoked in men the consciousness that there is a spiritual world to which they belong with their higher nature. So that we need only clothe his exhortations in other words: ‘Change your heart, which is directed to the physical world!’ And indeed their heart was changed when they were truly and rightly baptized. Then they knew: ‘I have spirit in me; my Ego belongs to the spiritual world!’ The individual had gained this conviction while in his physical body; there had been no special procedure, as in initiation; he had experienced this while in his physical body; and, owing to the manner in which all the teaching since Moses had been received by men and united with their soul, the experience of the baptism by John acquired a special significance.
After the rite, the individual was not only conscious of his unity with the spiritual world; he also knew what that spiritual world was, which was now approaching the Earth. He who had proclaimed Himself to Moses as ‘Ejeh asher ejeh’ in the burning bush and in the fire on Sinai, the same, he knew, now permeates the Earth. ‘Jahve’ or ‘Jehovah’, ‘Ejeh asher ejeh’ or ‘I am the I AM’ — these words, he knew, rightly designated the spiritual world. Thus the disciple not only knew through the baptism by John that he was one with the spiritual world; he could also say with truth: ‘The I AM, out of whom the spirit in me is born, lives in that spiritual world!’ John had thus prepared his disciples by baptism. He had aroused this feeling in them, but of course only in a few; most of them were not ripe for such an experience during immersion. Nevertheless a few there were who recognized that He was approaching — the Spirit who was afterwards called the Christ.
Now try to compare what has been said today with what was said yesterday. The spiritual beings of old had effected love founded on ties of blood and physical relationship. But the Luciferic spirits sought to establish man in his individual personality. Lucifer and the high spiritual beings had worked simultaneously. Little by little the old blood ties were loosened, and this can be historically traced. Consider the conglomeration of races in the great Roman Empire; it was brought about by the loosening of the old blood ties, and the growing tendency of men to seek the firm standpoint of their own personality. As a result, however, they had lost their connection with the spiritual world; they had become merged in the physical world and had grown to love the physical plane. In proportion to the increase of self-consciousness through the influence of Lucifer, man had become centred in the physical world and had rendered desolate his life between death and a new birth. The Baptist had now prepared a great and momentous experience for mankind. Human personality was to be preserved and, by the immersion in water, man, though remaining in his personality, was to find the very beings whom he had formerly known as ‘gods’, when he himself lived in water, and the atmosphere was laden with water, mists, and vapours. The experience in the divine worlds was now repeated. Man, though an Ego, was now prepared to seek reunion with his fellow-men, and to be led back to love, now a spiritualized love.
This gives you the keynote of the Christ-event regarded from another point of view. Christ represents the descent to our Earth of the force of spiritual love, which is today but at the beginning of its work. If we pursue this thought with the help of the Gospels of St. John and St. Luke, we shall see that spiritual love is the very keynote of the Christ-impulse; we shall see how the Egos which had been sundered, are drawn together as regards their inmost being. From the beginning men have had but a dim presentiment of the significance of Christ for the world; as yet very, very little of this mission had been realized, for the separative influence (the after effect of the Luciferic powers) is still there, and the Christ principle has been at work but a short time. Though it is true that in our day a sympathetic cooperation is sought in certain external departments of life; in the most intimate and important things people have no inkling of the meaning of harmony and concord between souls, or at least they have it only in their thought and intellect, which matters least. It is indeed true that Christianity is only at the beginning of its mission; but it will penetrate ever deeper into the souls of men and ennoble the Ego ever more and more. Precisely the youngest nations recognize this in our day. They perceive that they must unite themselves with the power of Christ, and penetrate themselves with His force, if they would progress. A contemporary personality in Eastern Europe, the executor of the great Russian philosopher Solovioff, said: ‘Christianity must unite us as a nation, otherwise we shall lose our Ego and, with it, the possibility of being a nation!’ Powerful words which seem to issue from an intense intellect for Christianity. But it also shows how necessary it is that Christianity should pierce to the depths of the soul. Let us examine an outstanding case and we shall find that, as regards the inmost life of the soul, even the most exalted and noblest are far from grasping what they will one day experience, when man's inmost thoughts, opinions, and feelings are steeped in Christianity. Think of Tolstoi and his work in the last few decades, as he strives to expose the true meaning of Christianity. Such a thinker must inspire the greatest respect, especially in the West, where whole libraries are filled with endless philosophical disquisitions on the same subject which Tolstoi treats in a few powerful touches in his one book On Life. There are pages of elemental strength in Tolstoi's works, which betray a deep knowledge of anthroposophical truths, certainly unattainable by a philosopher of Western Europe, or on which he must write an extensive literature, because something unusually powerful is expressed therein. In Tolstoi there is an undertone which we may call the Christ-impulse. Meditate on his words and you will see that the Christ-impulse it is, which fills him. Turn now to his great contemporary, who interests us for the reason that he soared upwards from a comprehensive philosophical conception of the universe to the boundary line of a life so truly visionary, that he could survey an epoch, as it were in perspective, apocalyptically. Even though his visions are distorted, because they lack the true foundation, Solovioff nevertheless rises to a visionary perception of the future; he places before us vistas of the future of the twentieth century. If we give him our attention, we find in his writings great and noble thoughts, especially with regard to Christianity. But he speaks of Tolstoi as of an enemy of Christianity, as of Antichrist! Thus two men of our day may believe in their deepest thoughts that they are doing the best for their time; their work may spring from the profoundest depths of their soul, and yet they may altogether fail to understand one another, and see, each in the other, nothing but an antagonist. No one today stops to think that if outward harmony and a life steeped in love are to be realized, the Christ-impulse must have penetrated to the utmost depths of human nature, so that human love becomes something entirely different from what it is at present, even among the noblest spirits.
The Impulse which was foretold, and then entered the world, is only at the beginning of its work, and an even deeper understanding for it must be shown. What is lacking to all those who, precisely in our time, cry out for Christianity and declare it to be a necessity, yet cannot bring it within their reach? Anthroposophy, spiritual science, is lacking to them — the present day way of comprehending Christ. For Christ is so great that each successive epoch must find new methods by which to know and understand Him. In earlier centuries other methods of striving for wisdom, and other forms were employed. Today Anthroposophy is a necessity, and, for long periods to come, what Anthroposophy now teaches will hold good for the purpose of understanding the Christ. For Anthroposophy will prove to be a stimulus for all human powers of cognition. Man will gradually find his way to an understanding of Christ. But even the anthroposophical presentation is only temporal: of this we are well aware. We know too that the great subject of our temporal representations will require still greater modes of representation.