9 September 1910, Bern
The Initiation of the Ego. The Gospels are the books of the Mysteries. The Life of Christ, a repetition of Initiation on the great plane of world history
From what has already been given out in these Lectures we are led to the conviction that the following are the essential facts of the Christ Event. The stage of human development described as raising the soul to spiritual realms was only attainable in pre-Christian days within the Mysteries, and then only through a certain dimming of the ego. Human development, however, was destined to receive so powerful an impulse that those who could rise to it would be able to retain full ego-consciousness on entering the world of spirit. This condition belongs for the most part to the future, for ego-consciousness at the present day is normal only on the physical planes.
The advance in human evolution imparted by the Christ Event is the greatest that has yet been made, or ever will be made, in human or earthly evolution. Whatever may arise in the future in consequence of this event will be but a further development of this mighty impulse. Therefore we ask ourselves: What then actually had to come to pass through the Event of Christ?
In a certain way there must be a repetition; a repetition in detail, of what belonged to the secrets of the ancient Mysteries. It was characteristic of those Mysteries, as it is to some extent of those of to-day that he who penetrated within his own physical and etheric bodies experienced the temptations of the astral body as described in the last Lecture. In the Greek Mysteries, on the other hand, man had to confront the difficulties and dangers that always approach those who try to pour themselves forth into the macrocosm. This also has been described. Both these types of initiation were experienced as a single impulse of a great outstanding individuality by the Christ as a pattern for mankind. Through this an impetus was given by which men would gradually in future be able to pass through such a development as came to them in initiation.
Let us therefore consider first what was accomplished in the Mysteries. All that the human soul then passed through was experienced with the ego-consciousness reduced to something half dream-like, and in this condition the inner soul nature gained certain experiences. Such a man experienced the awakening of egoism, the desire to be independent of the external world; but, as explained in the last lecture, so long as man is unable to create food magically, unable to dispense with what is acquired through his physical organism, he is dependent on the outer world. Therefore he is exposed to the illusion that all he perceives by means of his physical nature applies only to the world and to the splendour thereof. Every pupil, every would-be initiate went through this experience, though not in the same way as the Christ, Who experienced it on the highest level. Therefore a description of these facts, which are only experienced by a pupil of the Mysteries, would be in a certain way similar to a description of the life of Christ Jesus. What then took place outwardly, once and for all time, on the plane of the world's history, had been confined hitherto to the darkness of the Mysteries.
Let us consider the following case, one that was frequent in the centuries immediately preceding Christ. Let us suppose that an artist or a writer had learnt that this or that procedure was followed during initiation, and, that he had painted or written of it. Such a picture, or writing might well resemble what is related by the Evangelists of the Christ Event; and one can understand how in many ancient Mysteries after due preparation the candidate's physical form was bound with outstretched hands in the form of a cross, so that his soul nature might be liberated. He remained thus for a certain time, so as to draw forth his soul nature, and that he might undergo the experiences already related. These things might have been represented in paintings or described in writing. They might then be discovered by someone to-day, who might deduce from them that the painter had painted a scene of the Mysteries, or the writer had recorded an old tradition. He might then go on to say that the facts of the Gospels are merely records of the rites of an initiation of former days.
This is frequently stated — and to how great an extent is shown in my book, Christianity as Mystical Fact, in which I explain how all the secrets of the ancient Mysteries appear again in the Gospels, how in fact the Gospels are but repetitions of ancient accounts of initiation as carried out in the Mysteries. Why in telling of the life of Christ does the Evangelist simply describe facts of the ancient Mysteries? The Evangelist describes the scenes of the ancient Mysteries because he saw these inner processes of the soul carried out as historic facts; because all the events of the life of Christ Jesus were a repetition, exalted to the level of an Ego-Being, of the symbolic or even actual-symbolic acts of ancient initiation.
This fact needs emphasis: Those who take their stand on the ground of the historical truth of the Christ Event may rightly point out the resemblance between the Gospel biographies of Christ Jesus and the occurrences of the Mysteries. To express it more exactly, those who were destined to behold the Christ Event in Palestine beheld the fulfilment of the Essene prophecy; the Baptism in Jordan, the Temptation, the Crucifixion, and all that followed. They could say therefore: We have represented to us here the life of a Being in a human body. What are the essential points in the life of this Being? Strange to relate, we find, enacted here in external historic life, certain events that are the very same as those which occurred to the initiate in the ancient Mysteries. We need only refer to the canon of a Mystery to discover a model for those events which are here described as historical facts.
That in fact is the great secret, that what was formerly hidden within the obscurity of the temple, and only reached the world in its results, was now enacted on the great stage of universal history as the Christ Event, and could be seen by those who had attained spiritual vision. It should be realized that in the days when the Evangelists wrote, biographies such as we have to-day were unknown; biographies for instance of Goethe, Schiller, or Lessing giving in detail every minute scrap of information, in which the most unimportant details are amassed and presented as of the greatest moment. With the attention fixed on this mass of detail, concentration on facts of essential importance is impossible. The Evangelists were content to relate the essential facts of the life of Christ Jesus, and the fact of supremest importance is, that in the great plan of world history, the life of Christ is a repetition of initiation. Can we wonder that this truth which has come to light in our time should be so disconcerting to many people — so really overwhelming. These things which are so disconcerting will strike you even more vividly when you consider what follows.
Myths and sagas come to us from the past. What are they? Anyone who understands them, and knows what they are, will find in them descriptions of what ancient clairvoyance had seen in the spiritual world clothed in happenings of the world of the senses, or he will find other myths that are in essence nothing but descriptions of the Mysteries. The myth of Prometheus, for instance, like many another, is partly a reproduction of deeds enacted in the Mysteries. We often find the scene described when Zeus appears and near him some lower god who — according to the Greek account — tempts him. Zeus, standing on an eminence, is ‘tempted by Pan.’ This is one form; there are many others. Why does this image occur so frequently? Because it expresses the descent of man into his inner being, the descent into the physical and etheric body bringing with it the encounter with his lower nature, his egotistical Pan-nature.
The ancient world is full of such accounts of experiences during initiation, which are in this way given artistic form in myths and symbols. Many people who take a superficial view, make the grand discovery that certain knowledge is here presented in the form of symbols. And this upsets people who do not know, or wish to know the facts. They read of Pan tempting Zeus, and say: ‘It is easy to see from this that the scene of the temptation of Christ had taken place before. The Evangelists have only repeated some ancient allegorical tale, and the Gospels are compiled out of such ancient tales.’ It is but a step from this to the conclusion that the Gospels contain nothing of special import, that they are only pieced together from myths and that Christ Jesus is fictitious. A great movement arose in Germany which took the form of frivolous discussions as to whether Christ Jesus had ever really lived. With a grotesque lack of knowledge, bft with profound learning, the various myths and legends which bore some resemblance to scenes in the Gospel were discussed again and again. It is of little avail to-day to impart anything concerning the true facts, although they are well known to those who have knowledge. This is how spiritual movements develop in our time; truly the way in which they develop is very grotesque
There would be no need to interpolate these remarks were it not that one is constantly obliged to make a stand against misrepresentations that are made from one side or another, with apparently great learnedness, against the statements of Spiritual Science.
The true facts are given in these Lectures. We have to see in the Gospels a recapitulation of events that took place in the Mysteries, though in them the secrets of initiation refer to a very different Individuality, and they really wish to say to us: ‘Behold, what formerly was accomplished in the Mysteries through suppression of the consciousness has now been accomplished in a marvellous and outstanding manner by an Ego-Being in full ego-consciousness!’ We need not therefore wonder at the statement that the Gospels hardly contain anything that did not exist before. What we have to realize is, that what was told formerly, related to the ascent of man to the Kingdom of Heaven; never before had what men call the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ come down into the ego. What was essentially new was this: What formerly had taken place in a state of suppressed consciousness and in super-sensible realms could now take place in full consciousness in Malchut, ‘The Kingdom.’ This is why, after Christ Jesus had experienced what is described in the Gospel of Matthew as the Temptation, He became the preacher of ‘The Kingdom.’ What was the essence of his preaching? He said: What formerly was attained through the darkening of the human ego, and through man receiving other beings into himself; can now be achieved with complete retention of the ego-consciousness! This fact is stressed again and again. Hence the necessity for a repetition of scenes from the Mysteries in the life of Christ Jesus. Hence also the necessity of the ‘Sermon concerning the Kingdom,’ in which Christ declared: Everything promised to those who passed through the Mysteries or accepted their teaching can now come to those who experience in themselves the ego-being and follow the path first traversed for humanity by Christ.
Thus everything had to be a repetition; even as regards the teaching. It need not surprise us that special emphasis is laid on the difference between the old teaching and the new; that stress was laid on the fact that the ego could now achieve in itself what had hitherto been quite impossible for it.
Suppose that Christ had wished to refer specially to this great truth. He would have shown how formerly, in accordance with the teaching of the Mysteries, human beings had ever looked up to the Kingdom of Heaven, and had felt that from heavenly realms something came down to them which blessed them, but did not enter their ego. The Father-Source of Existence had only been attainable with a suppressed Ego. Had it been necessary for Christ to retain this former teaching concerning the Divine Paternal Source of existence, and only change the nuance upon which the teaching depended, He must have expressed it thus: ‘If formerly men said, you must raise your eyes to the realms where the Father dwelleth, the divine Source of all existence, and wait until His Light streams down upon you, now it is possible to say: The Father not only sends down His Light to you, but that which is willed on high must enter the very depths of man's ego-nature, and be willed there also.’
Let us suppose that each separate phrase of the Lord's Prayer had existed previously, only that something in them had to be changed. Christ would have said: ‘In former times man looked up to the ancient divine Father Spirit, feeling that everything there endures, and looks down on your earthly kingdom.’
But now this Heavenly Kingdom was to come down to earth where the ego dwells, and the Will that is done in Heaven was also to be done on Earth. What would be the result of this? The result would be, that those who had a deeper vision and could perceive the finer degrees of difference would not be surprised at the fact that the Lord's Prayer had existed earlier. The superficial observer does not notice these finer shades of difference, nor can he understand the true meaning of Christianity. If he came upon these phrases in ancient times he would have said: ‘There it is, the Evangelists write about the Lord's Prayer, but it existed already before their time!’
You can now realize the difference between a true and a superficial understanding of what is written. It is important that those who note the new shades of meaning should apply them to the old. The others, not seeing the difference, merely assert that the Lord's Prayer existed before.
Such facts require attention and have to be spoken of here, because Anthroposophists should be enabled to meet to some extent the dilettante learning of to-day: a learning which passes through countless hundreds of periodicals, until finally it is accepted as ‘Science.’ One individual has actually compared every possible ancient record, searching each source in the Talmud literature, in an endeavour to find some resemblance to the words of the Lord's Prayer. But what these learned people have accumulated is nowhere found in its entirety outside the Gospels. Scattered phrases resembling those of the Lord's Prayer they have discovered here and there. To reduce this method to absurdity it might as well be said that the first sentence of Goethe's ‘Faust’ was constructed in the following way: In the seventeenth century there was a student who failed in his examination, and who afterwards remarked to his father, With what an infinity of trouble I have studied law! And another failing in medicine might have said, ‘With what infinity of trouble have I studied medicine!’ And that from these two remarks Goethe had composed the opening sentences of Faust! This is paradoxical! But in principle and methods it is exactly what we meet in critics of the Gospels.
You will find this in the following patched-up sentences. I take them from Die-Evangelien-Mythen, John M. Robertson, Jena, Diedrichs, 1910. It is supposed to represent the Lord's Prayer:
‘Our Father Who art in Heaven; O Lord our God, blessed be Thy Name, and may the memory of Thee be glorified in Heaven above as on Earth below. Let Thy Kingdom rule over us now and ever more. Holy men of old have said: Let all men be forgiven whatever they may have done to me. And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from the wicked. For Thine is the Heavenly Kingdom; and Thou shalt reign in splendour for ever and ever.’
These sentences were collected and put together in the manner I have just described, and are called the ‘Lord's Prayer.’ But the subtle shades of meaning necessary to give the unique significance of the Christ Event are lacking. In none of these phrases do we find it stated that the Kingdom of Heaven is to come down. The sentence runs: ‘Let Thy Kingdom rule over us now and ever more,’ not ‘Let Thy Kingdom come to us.’ This is the essential point, which entirely escapes superficial observers and although these sentences are gathered, not from one, but from many libraries, nowhere do we find the words ‘Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven’ for these imply its taking hold of the ego.
Even regarded from the external scientific point of view, we have here clearly demonstrated the difference between an apparent investigation and one that is truly conscientious, and takes every fact into consideration. And this true investigation exists if people will only take the trouble to pursue it.
These sentences from J. M. Robertson's book have been deliberately selected, for it is a kind of modern gospel recently translated from English into German to make it available to wider circles. For until now a certain person 1Dr. Arthur Drews. who has given numerous lectures on the subject of whether Jesus really lived, would have had to read it in English. This book gained popularity, and hence the translation.
It has accordingly been possible for a professor of a German Academy to travel widely giving lectures on the question, ‘Did Jesus live?’ Basing his teaching on the facts just given, he answered the question thus: ‘There is no documentary evidence forcing us to accept the fact that such a person as Jesus has ever lived;’ and among many very excellent works, he referred his hearers to J. M. Robertson's book. But for the protection of Anthroposophists I can say: Even from this book, from these historical investigations of the New Testament records, you can learn many things, and there is something further, something very characteristic that I should like to tell you.
This book informs us that not only in phrases drawn from the Talmud is there a model of the Lord's Prayer, but that traces of it may be discovered in chronicles reaching back for thousands of years. To substantiate the fact of the Lord's Prayer being a collection of phrases already existing, and that no Christ was needed to give it out first to the people, an allusion is made to the discovery of a prayer written on little tablets in the Chaldean tongue, a prayer addressed to the old Babylonian god Merodach. Some of the sentences quoted there are as follows, and should be carefully noted: ‘May the fulness of the world come down into thy midst (or city); may thy precepts be fulfilled in all the ages to come. ... May the evil Spirit dwell far from thee.’ 2In the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Oct., 1891, Mr. T. G. Pinches publishes for the first time the translation of a tablet found at Sippara in the year 1882, in which the sentences quoted above appear as an incantation to Merodach.
And the savant upon whom these sentences made such an impression added: ‘Here we have prayer-norms which are in line with the Lord's Prayer and perhaps go back 4000 years before Christ.’
Look carefully, and see if you can find anywhere any resemblance between the sentences of the Lord's Prayer and these phrases! Yet these are regarded by this man as prayer-norms, of which the Lord's Prayer is merely a copy! Such things are accepted nowadays as true investigations in this domain of knowledge.
A further reason for presenting these facts to Anthroposophists is that they may be able to calm and strengthen their consciences when troubled by the constant assertion that this or that fact has been established by external investigation. They may well be troubled upon reading in papers or magazines that a tablet has been discovered in Asia proving the existence of the Lord's Prayer, 4000 years before Christ. In such a case it is necessary to ask how such a fact can be proved. The above example reveals the slender foundations on which scientifically based facts are frequently supposed to have been proved. It is unnecessary for students of Anthroposophy to trouble about the worthless facts so often brought forward against it.
But to return to our main theme; Christ Jesus inaugurated an evolution in human nature, based on the retention of the full consciousness of the ego. He inaugurated the initiation of the ego. We can therefore say that the most essential part of the human being to-day is the ego; in it all human nature is centred; everything brought into the world through the Christ Event for this ego, can enter also into all the other members of man's being. This will naturally come to pass in a quite special way, and in accordance with human evolution.
The possibilities of human development are to be clearly seen from these Lectures. Recognition of the physical world, not only through the senses but also through the understanding, and through the intellect connected with the physical brain, first began to function generally just a short time before the Christ Event. It superseded a certain kind of clairvoyance. This clairvoyance which was mentioned in my Lectures on the early Atlantean evolution was universal at that time, though later it came slowly and gradually to an end. Down to the Christian era there were still many who in the intermediate condition between sleeping and waking were able to gaze into, and participate in, the spiritual world. Such a ‘partaking’ in the spiritual world was not only linked with the fact that the average man who had a certain degree of clairvoyance could state: ‘Behind the tapestry of the world of the senses there is a spiritual world. I know this, for I can perceive it.’ This was not all; something else was connected with it. In long past ages it was comparatively easy for human nature to be aware of the spiritual world. The nature of man to-day is different, and it is exceedingly difficult to pass in the right way through the esoteric training that leads to clairvoyance. In somnambulism and similar things we see a relic, a last remnant of the old-time clairvoyance. These conditions which are irregular to-day were normal in ancient times, and could be enhanced by undergoing certain processes. When human nature was exalted to participation in the life of the spiritual world something else was associated with it. To-day there is so little regard for that in which true history consists that people pick and choose what they will, or will not, believe. But, in face of modern scepticism, it is nevertheless true that in the time of Christ certain acts of healing were performed by rendering people clairvoyant. In our time human beings are so deeply sunk within the physical plane that this is no longer possible; but in that earlier period the soul was still very impressionable, and certain processes were all that were necessary to bring about clairvoyance and an entrance into the spiritual world. The spiritual world, being a health-giving element, sends down health-giving forces into the physical world, so that it was possible to effect cures through it. The person who was ill was put through certain processes which led him to perceive the spiritual world. Then the spiritual stream, flowing down into his whole being brought health. This was the usual method of healing. What is described to-day as ‘Temple healing’ is dilettante in comparison.
Everything is in a state of evolution, and, since the time of which we have been speaking, souls have progressed from clairvoyance to non-clairvoyance. Formerly through enhancement of the clairvoyant condition men could be cured of certain illnesses by the spirit streaming from the spiritual into the physical world. We need not, therefore, be surprised at the statements of the Evangelists, that the Christ Event meant that the spiritual world could now be attained not only by those who possessed the old clairvoyance but also by those who had lost it.
Men could say: ‘Looking back into olden times we see men endowed with vision of the spiritual world; but now, through the advance of evolution, they have become poor in the spirit, beggars for the spirit. But Christ has brought this great Mystery into the world, that into the ego — even into the ego of the physical plane — the forces of the Heavenly Kingdoms can enter; thus those who have lost the old clairvoyance and with it the riches of the spiritual realms can yet receive the spirit within themselves and be blessed!’ Hence the wonderful declaration Henceforth not only those are blessed who are rich in the spirit through the old clairvoyance, but those also who are poor or beggars for the spirit; for when Christ has opened the way, into their ego will flow what may be described as the Kingdoms of the Heavens!
In ancient times the physical organism was of such a nature that a partial withdrawal of the soul could be brought about even in normal conditions, and through this withdrawal men became clairvoyant, that is, rich in spirit. With the gradual densification of the human body, which however is quite imperceptible anatomically; is associated poverty as regards the Kingdoms of the Heavens. Man had become a ‘beggar for spirit;’ but through the Event of Christ it is now possible for him to experience the Kingdoms of the Heavens within himself. This is a possibility that can be rightly associated with the physical body.
If we were now to describe what takes place through the ego-man, we should have to show how each principle of human nature can be blessed in itself in a new way. The sentence: ‘Blessed are the beggars for the spirit, for within themselves they will find the Kingdoms of the Heavens!’ is the new truth as regards the physical body.
The blessedness of the etheric body is expressed differently. The etheric body contains the principle of suffering as you can find in many of the lectures. A living being, although it has an astral body, can only suffer through injury to the etheric body. If the healing which formerly poured into the etheric body from the spiritual world were to be described according to the new teaching it would be said: Sufferers can now find comfort not only by passing out of themselves and being united with the spiritual world as in earlier days, but they can find comfort within themselves by entering into a new relationship with the spiritual world, for Christ has brought a new power to the etheric body. Hence the new truth concerning the etheric body declares: ‘Sufferers can now be blessed, not only through entering the spiritual world clairvoyantly and allowing the outpourings of the spirit to come to them in this state, but they can be blessed when lifting themselves up to Christ they fill themselves with the new truth, and find in themselves the solace for every sorrow.’
And what of the astral body? When men of an earlier day endeavoured to suppress their emotions and passions and the egoism of their astral nature, they sought power from the Kingdom of Heaven; they submitted themselves to processes by which the harmful instincts of the astral body were destroyed. But the time had now come when through the act of Christ man had received power into the ego itself by which he could bridle and tame the passions and emotions of his astral body. So the new truth concerning the astral body must read as follows: ‘Blessed are those who have become meek through the power of their own ego, for they will inherit the kingdom of earth!’ Profound indeed is the thought contained in this third Beatitude. Let us examine it in the light of Occult Science.
The astral body was incorporated into man's being during the Moon evolution, and the Luciferic beings who had gained influence over him had established themselves especially in this body. Therefore man from the beginning was unable to reach his highest earthly goal. These Luciferic beings, as we know, remained behind at the Moon stage of evolution, and hindered man from progressing in the right way; but since the descent of Christ to earth, when it has been possible for the ego to be impregnated with His power, man has been enabled to fulfil the mission of the earth by finding in himself the power to bridle his astral body and drive out the Luciferic influences. Therefore, it can be said: ‘He who can curb his astral body, who is so strong that he cannot be moved to anger without the consent of his ego, he who is even-tempered and inwardly strong enough to overcome the astral body, will fulfil the purpose of earthly evolution.’ So in the third Beatitude we have a formula which Spiritual Science has made comprehensible to us.
How can man succeed in controlling the remaining members of his being and bless them through the indwelling Spirit of Christ? He can do this when his soul-nature is controlled by the ego as truly and worthily as is his physical body. Passing on to the sentient soul, we can say: As man gradually evolves to a consciousness of the Christ, he must arrive at experiencing a feeling of longing in his sentient soul similar to what he previously experienced unwittingly as the physical longing we call hunger and thirst. He must thirst for the things of the soul, as the body hungers and thirsts for food and drink. What can be attained through the indwelling Christ-force is that which is described comprehensively in the old-fashioned phrase as thirsting after righteousness; and when a man has filled his sentient soul with the Christ-force he can reach a point where it is possible for him to satisfy this thirst through the power that is in him.
The fifth Beatitude is especially noteworthy, as might be expected, for it refers to the rational, or intellectual soul. Those who have studied my books, Occult Science or Theosophy, or have listened to the lectures on Spiritual Science given during many years, are familiar with the idea of the ego holding together the three principles of the human soul — the sentient soul, the rational, intellectual or mind-soul, and the consciousness-soul or spiritual soul. The ego, though present in the sentient-soul, is as yet in a dulled condition; it comes to life in the intellectual-soul, and through this, man first becomes a complete human being. While man's lower principles and even the sentient-soul are dominated by divine spiritual beings, he becomes an individual in the rational-soul, in it the ego dawns. Therefore we must speak of the reception of the Christ-force into the intellectual or rational-soul in a different way from that used when treating of the lower principles. In the lower principles — the physical, etheric, and astral sheaths, and also in the sentient-soul, divine beings are at work, and to them anything in the way of virtues man has acquired are again taken up. But the qualities evolved in the rational-soul, when this has developed what it receives from the Christ, must above all be human attributes. When a man begins to discover this soul within himself he grows less and less dependent on the divine forces around him. We have here something that belongs to man himself. When he absorbs the power of Christ into this soul he can develop virtues which go from like to like, which are not besought from Heaven as a loan, but go forth from man and return to a being similar to himself. We must try to feel that something streams forth from the virtues of the rational soul in such a way that something similar streams to us again. Wonderful to relate, the fifth Beatitude actually shows us this distinctive quality.
Even a faulty translation cannot conceal the fact; it is different from all the others in that it says: ‘Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy.’ What goes forth returns again — as it must if we accept it in the sense of Occult Science.
In the sixth Beatitude, which refers to the spiritual-soul, we arrive at that principle in man which enables the ego to attain full expression, after which he can make further ascent, in a new way. You know that at the time of the coming of Christ the rational soul first came to expression; in our time it is the spiritual-soul that is destined to find expression — the soul by means of which man will ascend again to the spiritual world. While human self-consciousness first dawned within the rational soul, it is in the spiritual-soul that the ego attains full development and rises once more to the spiritual world. The man who becomes a receptacle for the Christ-force, because he experiences the Christ in himself, will, by pouring his ego into the consciousness-soul or spiritual-soul, and experiencing it in its purity for the first time, be able in this way to find his God. Now it has been said that the blood is the expression of the ego in the physical body, and that its centre is in the heart. Therefore this sixth Beatitude has to express in a practical way how the ego, through the qualities with which it endows heart and blood, can partake of divinity. How does this verse run? ‘Blessed are those who are pure in heart for they shall see God.’ Though not a specially good translation it serves our purpose.
This is how Spiritual Science pours light on the whole structure of these wonderful sentences in which Christ gives instruction to His most intimate pupils, after He had withstood the Temptation in the wilderness.
The remaining Beatitudes refer to a man's raising of himself to the higher principles of his being; to the spirit-self, life-spirit, and spirit-man. They give but an indication of what it will be possible to experience in the future, of what is only possible in our day to a few exceptional individuals. Thus the seventh Beatitude, referring to the spirit-self, says: ‘Blessed are those who draw down into themselves the spirit-self, the first of the spiritual principles, for they will be called the children of God.’ The first of the higher triad has, in this case, entered into these men. They have received God into themselves; they have become an outer expression of the Godhead.
In what follows it is clearly shown that only exceptional beings can attain to what is spoken of in the eighth Beatitude, those who fully understand what the future is to bring to the whole of humanity. This, the ‘complete reception of Christ into a man's inner being,’ is only for a few chosen ones. Because these are exceptional individuals, they are persecuted, for others are unable to understand them. Hence, referring to the persecution of these representatives of the future race, this Beatitude declares: ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake; for in themselves they will find the Kingdom of Heaven.’
The ninth and last Beatitude has especial reference to the most intimate disciples only. It is associated with the ninth member of man's being — the spirit-man: ‘Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute you for my sake.’
Thus in these wonderful lines reference is made to the nine principles of human nature, and we are shown how the ego is constituted when it becomes ‘Christ-filled’ as regards the different principles of man's being, and blesses them. In the portions following on the Temptation, the Gospel of Matthew shows in grand and majestic way how the influence of Christ works in the nine-fold human nature in the present, and then how it will work in the near future, when those in whom the spirit-self has dawned are already called ‘Children of God,’ even if these children of God are only to be found in a few blessed examples. Especially remarkable is the distinct language used concerning the first principles which are already in being, and the lapse into indeterminate language in the last sentences where the far future is referred to.
Once more let me touch on the superficial method of research. Suppose someone were investigating if sentences could anywhere be found similar to those of the Sermon on the Mount, or if the Evangelists had perhaps compiled these from something else. Suppose also that this person had no idea of what was referred to in the Beatitudes: that the important matter there dealt with was the filling of man's ego-nature with the Christ. If reference to this marvellous enhancement of the ego-nature had not been noticed, he could indicate the following. One has only to read a little further in the book already mentioned to find in it a chapter headed ‘The Beatitudes,’ in which reference is made to ‘Enoch’ (this is not the usual Enoch), and herein nine ‘Beatitudes’ are cited. The author has this much in his favour, that he acknowledges that this document belongs to the very beginning of the Christian era, and he believes that what we have described as being a document of the very profoundest importance and depth could have been copied from the following nine Beatitudes of this Slavonic Enoch.
These phrases are certainly beautiful; but consider their whole construction, and the matter with which they are concerned, namely, the recounting of a few worthy platitudes suitable to any period other than one of such tremendous upheaval — the age in which the power of the ego was first being made known. If these lines are likened by anyone to the Beatitudes of the Gospel of Matthew, he stands at the external point of those who compare the religions of mankind in an external way, who, whenever they discover something in any way similar, instantly state an identity, paying no heed to the essential point.
Only when the essential point is recognized does one realize that there is progress in human evolution, and that man advances from stage to stage; that he is not born anew in a physical body in a later millennium to experience over again what he has experienced already, but so that he may experience that in which humanity has progressed meanwhile. That is the meaning of history and of human evolution. Of history, and of human evolution in this sense the Gospel of Matthew speaks on every page.