The Christ Impulse and the Development of the Ego-Consciousness
V. Correspondences Between the Microcosm and the Macrocosm
Berlin, 9th March, 1910
Our lecture to-day will consist of a kind of summing up of all we have heard in the course of the various lectures given here this winter, which may be taken as a continuation of the lectures on St. Luke's and St. Matthew's Gospels and of what was given here with reference to the lectures on St. John's Gospel which I gave in Stockholm. From the way in which these lectures were given, it will be clear that there never was any question in a narrow sense of explaining the Gospels, but rather that from the truths which in the first place are truths in themselves and as such can be found in the Gospels if rightly understood, light can be thrown in different ways upon other riddles of life.
When we go back beyond the founding of Christianity, we find two different kinds of Initiation: that of the North, described in more detail in the above-mentioned Stockholm Lectures, and that of the South, the chief characteristic of which is its connection with the Egyptian methods of Initiation. In the world of the ancients there were two different methods by which they could penetrate into the Spiritual world. In old Egypt a candidate for initiation had to descend into the depths of his own soul, beyond all that plays its part in the ordinary soul-life, as thinking, feeling and willing, and the like. There he found that from which the soul itself came forth: the divine Spiritual life of the world. A descent beneath those regions of the soul which are illuminated and permeated by the Ego, was the essential point in the Egyptian, or indeed, in any southern Initiation. In the Northern Initiation, on the other hand, the object striven for was that man should come out of himself, and expand into the phenomena of the world in a state of ecstasy. This was especially the case in the Germanic Druidic Mysteries and those of the Trotten. We heard how these two kinds of Initiation were combined in one stream, in what we call the Christian Initiation, and how this represented a higher unity combining the ecstatic Initiation of the North with the mystical contraction of the South. This gives an indication of a deeper foundation of cosmic Mysteries, permeating all existence. In reality this is in itself as great and mighty a fact as the fusion of the two different forms of Initiation of ancient times into the one single form of Christian Initiation; it is an example of a great and still more comprehensive law permeating all human existence, and also interwoven in the existence of all the outer world-phenomena, in so far as these are known to man. Everywhere we find ourselves confronted by opposites, by two parts of a duality. The Northern and Southern initiations offer one example of two opposite sides — polarities, as we might call them — that confront us in the life of the world. The other, the Christian initiation — in which these two forms of initiation flow together and as it were celebrate a Spiritual marriage — is an example of how opposites, dualities of any sort, reunite. This takes place without cessation; unities are always separating into dualities for the purpose of furthering evolution, while dualities unite again, and once more form unities. We can point externally to one great and mighty fact, extending beyond human evolution, which is an example of this division of unity into a duality, and of the streaming back of the two into one.
We have often thrown light on the Lemurian Epoch, which experienced, among other things, that great fact in the evolution of the world, the separation of the Moon from our Earth. That epoch also saw the first beginnings of that which in the present day sense of man's development, we may call the two opposites: man and woman; whereas in the ages preceding that of Lemuria we should only find unity of sex. There was an original unity, which separated into man and woman. We have already indicated, moreover, that in a future age the two sexes will once more become one, that the duality will again become a unity, a unity will come forth from a duality. That is the external indication of a far-reaching series of facts connected with the relation of two to one, or one to two.
What we thus meet with in the development of mankind is actually the expression, the image, of a still greater cosmic polarity rooted in a unity; greater than the example in our present-world life, of the two that in a distant future will be fused into one. It is necessary that we should take every one of the thoughts given us by Spiritual Science in its full depths, not allowing ourselves to form a habit of taking such thoughts in the same superficial way as other thoughts and conceptions which prevail in the world to-day, and which our present civilisation in its hasty and superficial triviality accepts. The thoughts of Spiritual Science must be taken as earnestly as possible. Therefore such a thought as that often spoken of and which indeed underlies all our teaching — that man as a little world, as a microcosm, is born out of the Macrocosm, the great world — must not simply be taken as an abstract thought, for in its content it is manifold and infinite. Above all, we must realise that the world contains more depth than is supposed; and that even when we have grasped a polarity or a truth in one of its aspects, that does not by any means signify that we know the last truth about it; rather must we patiently wait and observe, so that when we know one side of a thing, we should try to learn what refers to the other side of it.
Man is born out of the whole Cosmos; he must look up it to as to his Father-Mother, of whom he himself is an image. Yes, man is an image of the whole world with which he is acquainted, there is nothing in the being of man which does not in some way relate to what can be found in the great Cosmos. If we compare man, as seen to-day in the light of Spiritual Science, with the human forms of early ages, we find among others one characteristic feature of immense importance for the understanding of the nature of man. This sign can teach every one of us that, as regards what we have known about the world, the fact that some things that have been said are true, is not of sole importance; there is something else besides, something very different. When a man has proved the truth of a thing, he has not even then told us what is of greatest importance in it. For example, there is much truth in what a trivial natural scientist will tell about the resemblance between man and the higher mammals. It is an indisputable truth that man has the same number of bones and muscles, and so on. But after this has been proved, the last word on the subject has not been said. Man must learn, through the deepening and inwardness of Spiritual Science, to acquire a feeling for the value of a particular truth, to sense whether or no it is important and essential for the elucidation of a matter. People come along to-day and speaking from their trivial consciousness, keep on assuring us of the truth of their assertions. We have no wish to contradict them. But the point is, of what value are they for the understanding of the world? Now there is a certain fact — which is undeniably true, and with which everyone is acquainted, because we meet with it over and over again every day — the value of which, in its significance to man should be realised and felt in the right way. That is, the fact that man stands and walks upright and can gaze out into space around him. Man alone is capable of that! For we must say that even though the apes look as though they might possess this power, they have somehow missed it, for they cannot walk upright. Man is the only being who has achieved this, and who has succeeded in raising his countenance freely into the space around him. This fact is immeasurably more important than all those that a trivial Natural Science tells us as to the position occupied by man among the animals. What science says is true, but this is of much greater importance. If we wish to feel the force of this, we must make ourselves acquainted with the reason why man is a being that walks upright, a being certainly still bound to the earth, but one who, through his mental outlook and even through his sense-perceptions, raised himself into an upright position in space. The reason is that there is a certain polarity, a duality in the Cosmos, which corresponds to another duality in man. We can point to a duality in the universe and to a duality in man, as two opposites, existing in the microcosm and the macrocosm. The one alluded to in the macrocosm, in the great world, is that of the Sun to the Earth; and the same polarity that exists between Sun and Earth exists also in man. It is that between his head and his hands and feet; between his head and his limbs. As time goes on these things will be gone into more fully, but we must in the first place make ourselves acquainted with them and learn to feel that in a certain respect the head and limbs of man bear the same relation to each other as the Sun does to the Earth in our solar System. There are, in fact, in our earth those forces which in the course of the ages have brought about the whole form and movement of our hands and feet through certain mysterious forces which bind man to the Earth; while the forces which have lifted his countenance up in space, and which have transformed him from a being which gazes on to the earth to one who can look out into the infinite distances of cosmic space, — these forces have their seat in the Sun. Anyone who really has the right feeling will have the same impression when contemplating the self-evident polarity between man's head and his limbs, as he will if he turns his attention to the polarity between the Sun and Earth. This polarity will some day become a unity in the life of man, just as the Cosmic polarity will do.
Even as the Sun and Earth were once a single being which later divided into a duality, so will they some day be re-united; and the polarity in man between head and limbs will also some day become unity, difficult to imagine as it may seem to the man of to-day, who is not accustomed to such concepts.
We have thus pointed to a polarity in man and to its correspondence in the universe. There are, however, other polarities in man, which also have their corresponding counterparts in the universe. As regards the polarity between the head and limbs, all human beings on the earth are alike. It exists equally in man and woman. In this respect there is no difference between them; for every other polarity, for example that in the configuration of the soul, is not affected by this. If there were no other polarity but that existing between the microcosm and macrocosm, man and woman would be alike, but as it is they form another polarity in the being of man. Now we may ask: can we not also find a polarity in the universe corresponding to that between man and woman in human life? That can be found too. But before we are able to look for it we must make ourselves to some slight extent acquainted, in an occult sense, with the polarity between man and woman. In so doing we must not fall into the error of our materialistic age, which applies the polarity between man and woman — taking it simply as a question of sex — to the whole universe. Not only is that a trivial thing to do, but our learned men are taking a liberty when they consider that what is found in one domain is applicable to every other.
The corresponding polarity in the universe to that existing on our earth between man and woman cannot be called male and female. That would be nonsense. We must investigate the occult foundations of this other polarity. The polarity between male and female in our earthly evolution does not, of course, apply to the ‘human being.’ The human being as such is the same in both man and woman. When we speak of man and woman we only refer to the configuration of their physical and etheric bodies. This has nothing to do with the inner being of man; so that we cannot, in an occult sense, speak as our materialistic age does. A man and woman each possesses an astral body and an ego, but the ordinary perception knows nothing of that which makes a man or woman a human being, it can only speak of them as it sees them. We are not now speaking of the human being as such in man or woman, but of what constitutes a man or a woman, which is merely their outer sheaths. This must be thoroughly understood; for if what is about to be said were to be applied to the human being as such, it would be completely wrong. The polarity between man and woman within the above-named limits is as follows: —
In primeval ages the external human form was totally different. The present human forms — male and female — have gradually evolved out of an earlier single form, which had not yet divided into two. There was formerly a unity, where now there is a polarity, between man and woman. Now we know too, that the earlier uni-form was of a finer, more spiritual kind. Only in the course of ages did man develop a dense material form. When we look back not only do we find uni-form, but one which was more spiritual than the human form to-day. We have a primeval human being neither man nor woman, unity as yet undivided, and finer, more etheric, more spiritual than the later and more material human being, now separated into man and woman. What was the cause of the original unity having later developed into Man and Woman? This cause came about because, when the unity became a duality, the woman formed a physical body for herself which, if we may say such a thing, did not completely pass from the earlier form into the normal material form. The body of woman remained at a more spiritual stage, it did not fully descend into the material. It has certainly become dense and material, but at the same time it has retained an earlier, more spiritual form. Thus a spiritual stage has become material. The body of woman has, as it were, retained an earlier, more spiritual form, which has not descended completely into matter. Though it has become material, it has not done so as regards its form, for it still retains the form the human being originally possessed. Hence we may say: Woman is a manifestation of an earlier formation which was intended to be Spiritual and which, as seen to-day, is actually false, a maya, an illusion. If we accept the idea of a certain point in evolution when a spring-forward was made and when matter was crystallised, we can say: -the woman did not press forward as far as that point, she crystallised an earlier form. To one who can really perceive the facts of life, or who learns them through imaginative cognition, a woman's body is a somewhat truer imprint of the Spiritual behind it only as far as the head and limbs are concerned, that is to say, that her head and limbs alone express in their material appearance, something of a resemblance to their spiritual counterpart. The Spiritual behind the material form does not look like that, because the latter is not a true form.
Thus the saying that the world is ‘Maya’ can be applied to every region of life. It is very easy simply to state that ‘the world is Maya,’ but a man cannot grasp its meaning, if he does not go seriously into it, inquiring: ‘In how far are forms illusion?’ Some are more so and others less. There are those which at any rate approximately do in their outer semblance express the Spiritual behind them; these are the head and limbs. Others there are which are completely wrong and out of drawing; to these belong the rest of the human body, which is quite out of drawing. When the world understands these things it will no longer speak as foolishly as it does to-day, for it will then see that a certain deep, yet more delicate artistic sense tells us that the female form, with the exception of the head and limbs, is out of drawing, and if it is to be artistically represented the defects must be corrected. In better and more artistic times this was actually done, for no one who really has an eye for form can fail to observe that in the Venus of Milo the form has to a certain extent been corrected; but this as a rule is not noticed.
In this way we have divided the human being into two parts, consisting of those members of the body which are less of an illusion and those others that are more so and quite out of drawing. This does not apply to woman alone; but where a man is concerned the whole thing is reversed. He is the opposite pole. Just as the female form did not descend so far as the normal point necessary for rightly expressing the spirit in matter but crystallised at an earlier stage, so the male body on the other hand sprang just as far beyond that normal point as the female form stopped short of it. Thus the male body descended more deeply than the normal into materiality, and manifests this in its outer form. It would have quite a different appearance if it had not sprung beyond the middle point. Only as regards the head and limbs does the human body even approximately correspond to truth. As regards the rest of its form we must say that the female body, having reached a certain point, remained at a standstill; it consolidated before the waves of material existence broke over it; hence it manifest quite a different form from that which we should have seen if it had but waited till it had come in contact with material life before crystallising. The male body on the other hand plunged too deeply down and is just as greatly out-of-drawing as that of woman. Thus the woman's body manifests a distorted form in the Spiritual, while the man's body is distorted in the material. The true form would be between the two; it would consist of a happy average of both. Of course this affects the whole human being in his earth-life, in so far as he has a physical covering. What I have just said has nothing to do with the polarity between the head and limbs, it refers to the whole human being in one incarnation between birth and death. We incarnate either as man or woman. In so doing we have to take into account that which is out-of-drawing in the man or woman; but that extends to the whole human being, and the consequence is that if in one incarnation one has the body of a woman, the whole of this female body is influenced by the fact of its having remained behind at an earlier stage when the form was more pliable. In a male incarnation the whole physical body is permeated with the effects of having plunged down too strongly into coarse solid matter. If people had even the smallest inkling of what it means to think in the spirit, to live in the spirit, using the physical body only as an instrument, — so that one does not feel firmly fastened into it, identifying oneself with it — they would sing psalms about the misery of having to use a male body in an incarnation, for of course these material effects have also filtered into the brain. One observes that the forms of the male brain, through having been deeper into matter, are more difficult to manage than the more flexible forms of the female brain. It is truly a more difficult matter to train a male brain for the ascent into the higher worlds, and to translate the truths into thoughts, than it is to train a female brain for the same purpose. ‘For this reason it is not surprising to people who think, when a new conception of the world arises such as that of Spiritual Science, it is more easily grasped by the more manageable female brain; for it is more difficult for the male brain, being less pliable and obedient, to free itself from certain thoughts which it has absorbed. Hence Spiritual Science will not find an easy acceptance amongst the men who are to-day the leaders of culture and of the cultured ideas prevalent in our day. We must realise how awkward an instrument is the brain of a learned man to-day, not only for the acceptance of Spiritual Science, but also for thinking along those lines. But we must not look at these things in a wrong way and draw our own conclusions — rather should we look upon it as all the more significant that there are so many men whose brains are so pliant that they have become intimately acquainted with Spiritual Science.
These things can at first merely be hinted at, but if you allow them to work on you and then reflect over them, you will find immense perspective opening out regarding the life of man.
When we think of human life in its two opposites of man and woman, we are confronted with two forms, one that has remained at a standstill at an earlier stage, and one which has jumped on beyond the present stage and which draws into the present a form intended for the future, but presents it as a caricature. The female has preserved an earlier form and the male has taken on a later form, but has made it what it must not be in the future. The male form is incorrect, because it has brought later conditions of life into an age as yet too early for them.
Can we find a correspondence in the Cosmos to the polarity between male and female. Is there anything in the Cosmos which on the one hand shows us a development which has retained earlier forms and carried these over into a later age? And are there on the other hand forms which have transcended a certain stage, thus representing the caricatured form of a future state? If we bring to mind the concrete development which we know from the Akashic Records, we may put the question thus: Is there anything in the Cosmos outside, resembling an old Moon-existence which would not enter the Earth-existence, but retained from the old Moon something feminine in the Cosmos?
Is there anything which carries into the present time something like an old Moon existence belonging to an earlier stage? And is there in the Cosmos anything which has gone beyond a certain stage, and has condensed and thickened, so that it represents a later condition, a Jupiter condition?
There is! There is in the Cosmos the same polarity as we have described between male and female; and that is the polarity between a Comet and the Moon. If we wish to understand the nature of a Comet, wandering as it does in cosmic space regardless of the other laws of the Solar System, we must be clear as to the fact that the Comet carries the laws belonging to the old Moon-existence into our own. Those laws it has preserved, and with those it enters our existence. It has taken on the present substance of the solar-terrestrial system; but, as regards its motion and its nature, it has remained behind at that stage of natural law which prevailed in the Solar System when our earth was still Old Moon. It carries a former condition into a later, into the present; just as the woman's body carries an earlier condition into present-day existence. The nature of the Comet is one part of a polarity, and that of the Moon represents the other pole. When, in the Lemurian age the Moon evolved out of the Earth, it took with it certain portions, which had to be removed in order that the human being as such might develop. The earth was not to become as dense as it must have become if it had retained the Moon within it. The Moon actually represents a caricature of the Jupiter-condition. Just as a fresh ripe fruit is found in a petrified state in a stalactite, so the Moon in its configuration transcended the middle form, as has the male form of the human being. Exactly the same polarity that we find in human life between the male and the female, we can find in the Cosmos between the natures of Moon and Comets.
Thus are these things connected: as sun to earth, so head to limbs, — as Moon to Comet, so man to woman in the human being. Here again we must not go home and say: — well, now, we have some nice polarities to observe! — We must take these things very seriously and remember that on other occasions I said something more besides this. We must take into consideration the fact that a man is only male as regards his physical body, for as regards his etheric body he is female; and the woman on the other hand is only female in her physical body. A woman can only be said to be female as far as her physical body is concerned and that can be said of the etheric body of a man; so that the relation of the etheric body of a man to the etheric body of a woman is as that of Comet to Moon. If you like you may perhaps say: this makes everything confused again! But these things are so. In a culture which has created its ideas with a densified brain, those same ideas tend to create dense outlines which cannot be modified, so that when ideas are once formed they must be held on to. But the spirit does not admit of this. That is mobile, and when we form ideas, we must keep them plastic. So we must apply what has just been said as to the relation of the Moon and Comets to Man and Woman, to the male in the woman and the female in the man. It applies to the male and female elements in the human being but not to man and woman as we meet them externally.
We have now found some extremely interesting connections between the development of the human being and that of the Cosmos. Of course, as I have already observed: Those who sit in the high places of ‘true scientific observation’ will consider what has just been put forward about the Comet and the Moon, as utterly wild and absurd. That cannot be helped. They do not desire to investigate the truth. But on the ground of Spiritual Science, we can build a bridge between that which comes from the Spiritual and what is seen on the physical plane. Those others will not do this.
In the year 1906, during the Congress in Paris, I called attention to the fact that Spiritual investigation from its knowledge of the nature of Comets, was able to say: As the combinations of carbon and hydrogen play the same part on our earth as did the combinations of carbon and nitrogen (cyanogen) on the Old Moon, the cometary life must contain cyanogen compounds, — combinations of carbon and nitrogen. Those persons who have followed these things attentively will remember this. Our Spiritual Science, therefore, some time ago announced that the cometary nature must contain cyanogen in some form. During the last few weeks this fact has been mentioned in all the newspapers as an external fact discovered by spectro-analysis. This is only one case — hundreds of others could be quoted — in which Spiritual investigation builds bridges for the facts of external research. In this case spectro-analysis asserts what Spiritual Science stated years before. The results of external materialistic investigation never contradict those of Spiritual research. We may depend upon statements such as the above-mentioned, when those who sit in the high places of true science constantly point to the external facts. Only we must not confuse these facts with the limited conclusions which people draw for themselves. If everything in Natural Science to-day was really a fact, Natural Science would greatly contradict Spiritual Science; but their facts are no facts, only the corrupt conceptions of those who, through the conditions prevailing in our age, are called upon to deal with such matters.
Now, having brought before our minds the polarity to be found in human life as well as in the Cosmos, we may ask: What then is brought forth from the Universe as a result of this?
It is rather difficult to describe in a somewhat short time the immensity underlying such a fact. You will allow me, therefore, by way of example, to describe the life of man as it runs its course seen externally. First of all, we see something of which we may say, it pursues its course like the life of a good citizen, from day to day. He gets up in the morning, eats his breakfast and completes the rest of the day in accordance with the usual rules. There are certain events, however, which can intervene in a man's life at one fell swoop, and may bring about changes in the day's course. Take the case of a man and wife living for a while the life of good citizens with but little variety in the usual programme of their day, till something occurs which actually causes a leap in the ordinary external life of people in such circumstances. When a new human being incarnates, and enters life as a citizen of the world, the event causes a leap, a great change in the ordinary process of everyday life. When a new citizen of the world comes on the horizon of man and wife, something actually occurs which gives the whole family connection a new form. I brought this forward as an example by means of which we can gain some little understanding of the deep occult background of cometary life. In the Cosmos too, life goes on from day to day, from year to year — like the life of the good citizen — one day is like another; the Sun rises and sets, the plants blossom in spring, and wither away in autumn, and when there is rain or sunshine or hail or the like, these correspond to such events in ordinary life as, for instance, when instead of our ordinary five o'clock tea, we have a little party. We see these things happening as a matter of course. All this hangs together with the laws underlying the movements of Sun, earth, and so on, and the way in which these continue day by day and year by year. Into this regular process, there intervenes the rarer, yet in a certain respect recurrent, appearances of the comets. They come upon the process of Cosmic happenings like a new citizen entering the horizon of man and wife. Through the appearance of a comet in the cosmos, something is actually brought about in the life of humanity which could not occur in the ordinary process of life. If evolution is to continue, there must be, not only that which repeats itself day by day, but something new must be introduced into it. Just as something quite special enters the life of a family with the birth of a new earth-citizen, so something quite different enters the progress of the human race on earth through the appearance of a comet, which breaks through the ordinary process of cosmic existence. It is actually as though something new were born, when a comet appears.
One who can investigate these things spiritually is able to indicate quite definitely the different functions of the separate comets, and how each one has to introduce something spiritually new into the world. Thus Halley's comet is one of those which, in its periodic appearances, always introduces something specially new into the life of man. Whereas otherwise things recur in the ordinary way, this comet brings about a new birth in human inner life and culture. I can only characterise what I mean, by referring to the three last appearances of Halley's comet, in the years 1759, 1835, and the one we are now expecting. What are the tasks of these three appearances? Other comets have other tasks. New births in the universe are not always to be greeted with the same joy as the birth of a young citizen into a family. All sorts are born into the universe; those that bring humanity forward as well as those that drive it back. Now the appearance of Halley's comet, or what it signifies spiritually for the further evolution of humanity, is connected with that which humanity had to absorb out of the Cosmos at the various periods of Kali-Yuga in order that thought should descend more and more into materiality. With every new appearance of this comet a new impulse was born, to drive humanity further away from a spiritual cosmic conception by the Ego, and to urge it to grasp the world in a more materialistic way. This does not mean a descent into matter, but rather the driving of that Spiritual substance which the human Ego should draw from the universe for its Spiritual existence, down into the sphere of materialistic conception. All those conceptions of the second half of the 18th century, which are called shallow and superficial and which Goethe so ridiculed in his Truth and Poetry and which found their exponent for instance in Holbach's Systeme de la Nature, are understood in their cosmic sense through the appearance of Halley's comet in the year 1759. The commonplace materialistical literature of the second third of the 19th century was preceded by the appearance of that comet in 1835. Things that take place microcosmically on the earth are macrocosmically connected with events of the great world. A new impulse towards materialism was again given by the appearance of Halley's comet in 1835. Buchner, Vogt and Moleschott are examples of those who were influenced on the earth by what appeared with Halley's comet, as a mighty sign from the Cosmos. We are now to be confronted in the near future — for humanity must be tested, must rise out of itself, must feel the resistance to Spirituality so that it may unfold all the more forces for its re-ascent — we shall be confronted with the forces which the new appearance of this comet will send forth from the universe, forces which may lead humanity down into a still more arid and dreadful materialism. Something may be born, which even the most arid and driest thoughts of the Buchner school could not have imagined. but this possibility is a necessity, for only if man overcomes the opposing forces can he acquire the strong force able to lead him up again.
If we bear this in mind, we shall then encounter in the right way what we call ‘Signs from the Heavens.’ This is really a fact; though what I have said must not be taken in a superstitious sense, as though God were pointing with a wand from Heaven to show men what they have to do! The approaching appearance of Halley's comet is one of these signs, and notice should be taken of it. For a mighty ascending impulse must follow it that we may rise from the depths of materialism into which we have sunk, into Spirituality. Just as we are given the possibility of being swamped in materialism, we are also given the chance to ascend into clearer, spiritual heights.
It was clearly and distinctly indicated in the last lectures that during the first half of the 20th century an etheric clairvoyance will develop in a few single individuals, as a natural capacity. In order that man may not sink more deeply into the materialism indicated by the present sign of 1910, those who have understanding of Spiritual Science have the possibility of developing those forces in the human soul which can lead man beyond materialism. If a man understands these forces, they will teach him how he may himself see the etheric nature of Christ. We are living at an important crossing-point, when men will be taught, even by signs from heaven, that in one direction the path will lead deeper into the mire, while the other path leads to the development in themselves of the forces which, at the conclusion of Kali-Yuga, will lead to etheric clairvoyance. The cry of John the Baptist: ‘Change the disposition of your souls,’ applies to us to-day! This may really be said. Just as on the one hand we are given the possibility of perishing in the materialistic morass, on the other it is possible, through the Sun reaching a certain point in the Constellation of Pisces at the Vernal Equinox, that a certain etheric clairvoyance may be acquired. For the spiritual ascent there are also signs, to show us how the forces come from the Cosmos. If a man is a student of Spiritual Science he will of necessity grow to understand this decision; if he does not, that means that he has not understood Spiritual Science aright. We must pass through the test submitted to us by the sign in the Heavens which we now recognise to be the appearance of Halley's Comet.
Let us now picture the vision of Christ, as it will appear to the first fore-runners during the next 2,500 years, and as it appeared to Paul on the way to Damascus. Man will ascend to a cognition of the spiritual world and will see the physical world permeated by a new ‘country,’ or new realm. Man's physical environment will present a totally different aspect in the course of the next 2,500 years, through the addition of an etheric realm, which indeed is already here now, but which he will learn to perceive. This etheric sphere is even now spread out before the eyes of those who have carried their esoteric training as far as ‘Illumination’ — as was the case with the Initiates even in Kali-Yuga. That which men will see more and more in the future is visible in its greatest heights to the Initiates. The Initiate draws from thence at repeated intervals, the forces he requires. When he has to carry out some special work, he draws his forces from those realms within the earth's circuit which are visible to him, but which can only be seen by those who have the vision. It will help us to understand this, when we know that a part of that land from which the Initiate drew his forces during Kali-Yuga, will be thrown open to a great part of humanity during the next 2,500 years. Formerly, in the days of primeval clairvoyance, man, though then without the strong Ego-consciousness, could see into the Spiritual world — and in a way he saw more or less what he will see now, — but he will now enter it with his newly acquired self-consciousness. At that time he saw it in dream-like ecstatic conditions, or by looking into his own soul. That world which during Kali-Yuga became physical was then open to man's gaze. Hence the traditions, which have preserved recollections of the old clairvoyance, tell us of an unknown Fairy-Land which has now disappeared from sight. There are wonderful documents in Eastern literature full of a peculiar tragical enchantment, and telling us that at one time it was possible for human beings to travel to a land where the Spiritual flowed into the physical. It is that Land from whence at certain times the Initiates — and at all times the Bodhisattvas — drew fresh forces. The Eastern writings speak with deep sorrow of that land, asking: ‘Where is it? We are told the names of places, paths are named; but the Land itself is concealed, even from those most initiated among the Lamas of Thibet!’ Only to the highest Initiates is it accessible. But it is always stated that some day this Land will return to earth. That is true; it will return to earth! And the guide thereto will be He Whom men will see, when, through the vision of the Event of Damascus, they reach the Land of Shamballa. ‘Shamballa’ — for so this Land is called — has withdrawn from the sight of man. It can only be entered to-day by those who, as Initiates, go there from time to time to be strengthened. The old forces can no longer lead man thither. That is why Eastern literature speaks with such tragic despair of the vanished Land of Shamballa. But the Christ-Event, which will be vouchsafed to man in this century through his newly-awakened faculties, will bring back the Fairy-Land of Shamballa, which through the whole of Kali-Yuga could only be known to the Initiates.
Thus humanity is now called upon to make a decision, whether it shall allow itself, through what comes with the Halley Comet, to be lead down into a darkness even lower than that of Kali-Yuga, or whether through an understanding developed by Anthroposophy it shall not neglect to cultivate the new faculties by which it may find the way to the Land which according to Eastern Literature has disappeared, but which Christ will once more reveal to mankind; — the Land of Shamballa. That is the great question of the dividing of the ways: either to go down or to go up. Either to go down into something which, as a Cosmic-Kamaloka lies still deeper down than Kali-Yuga, or to work for that which will enable man to enter that realm, which is really alluded to under the name of Shamballa.