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Three Lectures on the Mystery Dramas
GA 125

I. Self-Knowledge as Portrayed in the Rosicrucian Mystery, The Portal of Initiation

17 September 1910, Basel

Many of you know that recently in Munich we repeated last year's performance of Schuré's drama, The Children of Lucifer. We also put our efforts into the production of a Rosicrucian Mystery in which we tried in a variety of ways to bring to expression what is living in our movement. For one thing, it was meant to show how the life of anthroposophy and its impulses can flow into art, into artistic form. Besides that, we should be aware that this Rosicrucian Mystery contains many of our spiritual scientific teachings that perhaps only in future years will be discerned. Please do not misunderstand me when I say that if people would exert themselves to some degree to read what is in it—not between the lines but right in the words themselves, though certainly in a spiritual sense—if people would exert themselves during the next few years to try to work with the drama, I would not have to give any more lectures for a long time. Much could be discovered in it that otherwise I would have to put forth as one or another theme in lectures. It is much more practical, however, to do this together as a group rather than as single individuals. It is fortunate in one sense that everything that lives in spiritual science also exists in such a form.

In relation to the Rosicrucian Mystery I should today like to speak about certain peculiarities of human self- knowledge. For this we will have to remind ourselves how the individuality living in the body of Johannes Thomasius brings about a characterization of himself. Therefore, I wish to start my lecture with a recitation of the scenes from the Rosicrucian Mystery that portray the self-knowledge of Johannes.


A place in the open; rocks and springs. The whole surroundings are to be thought of as within the soul of Johannes Thomasius. What follows is the content of his meditation.

(From the springs and rocks resounds:)
O man, know thou thyself.


For many years these words
of weighty meaning I have heard.
They sound to me from air and water;
they echo up from depths of earth.
And just as in the acorn secretly
the structure of the mighty oak is pressed,
within the power of these words
there is contained
all that my thought can comprehend
about the nature of the elements,
of souls as well as spirits,
of time and of eternity.
The world and my own nature
are living in the words:
O man, know thou thyself!

(From the springs and rocks resounds:)
O man, know thou thyself.

And now!—within me
it is becoming terribly alive.
Around me darkness weaves,
within me blackness yawns;
out of the world of darkness it resounds,
out of soul-blackness it rings forth:—
O man, know thou thyself!

(There sounds from springs and rocks:)
O man, know thou thyself.

And now it robs me of myself.
I change with every hour of the day.
I melt into the night.
The earth I follow in her cosmic course.
I rumble in the thunder,
I flash within the lightning,
I am.—But oh, I feel
already separated from my being.
I see my body's shell.
It is an alien being outside myself;
it is remote from me.
There hovers nearer now another body
and with its mouth I have to speak:
'He brought me bitter sorrow;
I gave him all my trust.
He left me in my grief alone.
He robbed me of the warmth of life
and thrust me deep into cold earth.'
She, whom I left, unhappy one,
I was now she herself,
and I must suffer her despair.
Self-knowledge lent me strength
to pour myself into another self.
O cruel words!
Your light is quenched by its own power.
O man, know thou thyself!

(There sounds from springs and rocks:)
O man, know thou thyself.

You guide me back again
into the spheres of my own being.
Yet how do I behold myself!
My human form is lost;
as raging dragon I must see myself,
begot of lust and greed.
I clearly sense
how an illusion's cloud
has hid from me till now
my own appalling form.
The fierceness of my being will devour me.
And running like consuming fire
through all my veins I feel those words,
which hitherto with elemental power
revealed to me the truth of suns and earths.
They live within my pulse,
they beat within my heart,
and even in my thought itself I feel
those unfamiliar worlds flare up as wild desires.
This is the fruitage of the words:
O man, know thou thyself.

(There sounds from springs and rocks:)
O man, know thou thyself.

There from the dark abyss,
what being gloats on me?
I feel the chains
that hold me fettered fast to you.
Prometheus was not chained so fast
upon the cliffs of Caucasus
as I am chained to you.
Who are you, horrifying being?

(There sounds from springs and rocks:)
O man, know thou thyself.

Oh, now I recognize you.
It is myself.
So knowledge chains to you, pernicious monster,

(Maria Enters, but is not noticed
By Johannes for the time being)

me, myself, pernicious monster.
I sought to flee from you.
The worlds wherein my folly fled,
in order to be free from my own self,
have dazzled and have blinded me.
And blind I am once more within the blinded soul.
O man, know thou thyself!

(There sounds from springs and rocks:)
O man, know thou thyself.


(as if coming to himself, sees Maria. The meditation passes over into inner reality.)
Maria, you are here!


I've looked for you, my friend,
although I know
how dear to you is solitude,
now that so many people's views
have flooded through your soul.
And I know, too, that at this time
my presence cannot help my friend.
An urge that is obscure
is driving me to you this very moment
when words of Benedictus have called up, instead of light, such bitter grief
out of your spirit depths.


How dear to me is solitude!
How often have I sought it out,
to find in it myself,
whenever pain and joy of men have driven me
into the labyrinths of thought.
Maria, that is past.
What Benedictus' words at first
drew forth out of my soul,
and what I then lived through
from everything those people said,
seems little to me now
if I compare it to the storm
which solitude has brought
into my heavy brooding.
O this solitude!
It drove me into cosmic spaces;
it tore me from myself.
Within that being to whom I brought such grief
I rose again but as another,
and had to bear the pain
which I myself had caused.
The fierce, dark solitude
then gave me back myself
but only to appall me
at the abyss of my own being.
For me, man's final refuge,
for me, my solitude is lost.


I must repeat my words to you:
no one but Benedictus can now help you.
The firm support we lack,
we both must have from him.
For know, I also can no longer bear
the riddle of my life,
unless some sign from him
can make the answer clear to me.
The lofty wisdom, pointing out
that only semblance and illusion
are spread out over all our life
as long as human thinking grasps alone its surface,
I've often held it up before my mind.
And every time it says:
you must be clear that an illusion
is shrouding you, though often it may seem the truth:
that evil fruit could come from your desire
to wake that light in others
which lives in you yourself.
My soul's best part can see
that heavy feelings of oppression
in you, my friend,
from living at my side
are too a portion of the thorny path
that leads you to the light of truth.
You must live through each terror
to which illusion can give birth
before the truth reveals itself to you:
thus speaks your star.
Yet through this starry word is also clear to me
that we must wander on the spirit paths together.
But when I seek these paths,
there spreads itself before my gaze dark night.
And blacker still becomes this night
through much which I must meet
as fruit of my own being.
We both must look for clarity in that light,
which for the eye can vanish
but never be extinguished.


Maria, are you then aware
through what my soul has fought its way?
A heavy load indeed
has fallen upon you, dear friend.
Yet foreign to your being is that power
which has so wholly shattered me.
You can ascend to brightest heights of truth;
you can direct your steady gaze
at men's confusion.
In light, in darkness,
you will affirm yourself.
But every moment can
deprive me of myself.
I had to plunge into those people
who through their words revealed themselves just now.
I followed one into the cloister's loneliness,
I heard within the other's soul
Felicia's tales.
I was each one,
but for myself I died.
I'd have to have the faith
that beings spring from nothingness,
if I should cherish any hope
that from the nothingness in me
a human being ever could be born.
They force me out of fear into the darkness,
and hunt me through the darkness into fear,
these words imbued with wisdom:
O man, know thou thyself!

(From the springs and rocks resounds:)
O man, know thou thyself.


The same placed as in Scene Two

(From the springs and rocks resounds:)
O man, unfold your being..


O man, unfold your being!
For three years now I've sought
for power of soul, with wings of courage,
to give these words their truth.
Through them a man who frees himself can conquer,
and conquering himself, can find his freedom.
O man, unfold your being!

(From the springs and rocks resounds:)
O man, unfold your being..

This power of soul is rising from within me
but only gently touching spirit hearing.
It harbours in itself the hope
that, growing, it will lead the human spirit
from narrowness far out to distant worlds,
just as the tiny acorn
mysteriously can expand
into the giant body of the noble oak.
The spirit in itself can bring to life
what weaves in air and water,
what has condensed to earth beneath.
For man can grasp
what has been taking hold of life
within the elements, in souls and spirits,
in time and in eternity.
The whole world-being lives within my soul,
when in the spirit there has taken root
the power that gives these words their truth:
O man, unfold your being!

(From the springs and rocks resounds:)
O man, unfold your being..

I feel them sounding in my soul,
rousing themselves to give me strength.
There lives in me the light,
there speaks around me brightness,
there germinates in me the light of soul,
there works in me world-radiance.
O man, unfold your being!

(From the springs and rocks resounds:)
O man, unfold your being.

I find myself secure on every side,
wherever these words' power follows me.
It will illuminate for me the senses' darkness
and will uphold me in the spirit heights.
It will enfill me with soul-substance
throughout all course of time.
The essence of the world I feel in me
and I must find myself in every world.
I see the being of my soul enlivened
through power that is my own.
I rest within myself.
I gaze on rocks and springs;
they speak the very language of my soul.
I find myself again within that being
to whom I brought such bitter grief,
and out of her I call out to myself:
'Oh, you must find me once again
and ease my suffering.'
The spirit's light will give me strength
to live the other self within myself.
O words of hope,
you stream forth power to me from all the worlds:
O man, unfold your being.

(From the springs and rocks resounds:)
O man, unfold your being.

You let me feel my weakness
and place me close to lofty aims of gods,
and blissfully I feel
such lofty aims' creative might
within my frail earth form.
Out of myself shall be revealed the purpose
for which the seed lies hidden in me.
And to the world I'll give myself
by living out my very being.
I want to feel these words' full power,
although they sound so gently.
They shall become for me a quickening fire
in my soul forces
and on my spirit paths.
I feel now how my thinking penetrates
deep hidden grounds of worlds
and how its radiant light illumines them.
Such is the germinating power of these words:
O man, unfold your being.

(From the springs and rocks resounds:)
O man, unfold your being.

From light-filled heights a Being shines on me,
and wings I feel
that lift me up to him.
I too will free myself, as every being does
who overcomes himself.

(From the springs and rocks resounds:)
O man, unfold your being.

I see that Being.
I shall become like him in future times.
The spirit will then free itself in me
through you, exalted goal of man.
I will now follow you.

(Maria enters)
My eye of soul has been awakened
by spirit beings who have welcomed me.
And as I gaze into the worlds of spirit,
I feel within myself that power:
O man, unfold your being.

(From the springs and rocks resounds:)
O man, unfold your being.

Maria, you are here?


My soul has led me here.
I could behold your star:
it shines in its full power.


I can unfold that power from within me.


So closely are we linked
that your soul's life
lets its light shine into my soul.


Maria, you are then aware
of what has just revealed itself?
For me, man's core of confidence,
for me, the certainty of being has been won.
I feel indeed the power of the words
which everywhere can guide me:
O man, unfold your being!

(From the springs and rocks resounds:)
O man, know thou thyself.

In these scenes two levels of development, two steps in the unfolding of our souls, are shown.

Now please do not find it strange when I say that I do not mind interpreting this Rosicrucian Mystery just as I have interpreted other pieces of literature in our group. What I have often said about other poetry can also be brought before our souls in a lively, spontaneous way by this drama. In fact, I have never failed to point out that a flower knows little, indeed, of what someone who is looking at it will find in it; yet, whatever he finds is contained in it. And in speaking about Faust, I explained that the poet did not necessarily know or feel everything in the words he was writing down that later would be discovered in them. I can assure you that nothing of what afterward I could say about the Rosicrucian Mystery, and that I know now is in it, was in my conscious mind as I wrote down the various scenes. The scene-pictures grew one by one, just like the leaves of a plant. One cannot bring forth a character by first having an idea and then turning this into a concrete figure. It was continually interesting to me how each scene grew out of the others preceding it. Friends who knew the earlier parts said that it was remarkable how everything came about quite differently from what one could have imagined.

This Mystery Drama exists now as a picture of human evolution in the development of a single person. I want to emphasize that true feeling makes it impossible to throw a cloak of abstractions around oneself in order to present anthroposophy; every human soul is different from every other and, at its core, must be different, because each one undergoes the experience of his own development. For this reason, instruction to the many can provide only general directions. One can give the complete truth only by applying it to a single human soul, to a soul that reveals its human individuality in all its uniqueness. If, therefore, anyone should consider the figure of Johannes Thomasius in such a way as to transfer the specific description of that figure to general theories of human development, it would be absolutely incorrect. If he believed that he would experience exactly what Johannes Thomasius experienced, he would be quite mistaken. For while in the widest sense what Johannes Thomasius had to undergo is valid for everyone, in order to have the same specific experiences one would have to be Johannes Thomasius. Each person is a “Johannes Thomasius” in his own fashion.

Everything in the drama is presented, therefore, in a completely individual way. Through this, the truth portrayed by the particular figures brings out as clearly as possible the development of the soul of a human being. At the beginning, Thomasius is shown in the physical world, but certain soul-happenings are hinted at that provide a wide basis for such development, particularly an experience at a somewhat earlier time when he deserted a girl who had been lovingly devoted to him. Such things do take place, but this individual happening has a different effect on a man who has resolved to undertake his own development. There is one deep truth necessary for him who wants to undergo development: self-knowledge cannot be achieved by brooding within oneself but only through diving into the being of others. Through self- knowledge we must learn that we have emerged from the cosmos. Only when we give ourselves up can we change into another Self. First of all, we are transformed into whatever was close to us in life.

When at first Johannes sinks more deeply into himself and then plunges in self-knowledge into another person, into the one to whom he has brought bitter pain, we see this as an example of the experience of oneself within another, a descent into self-knowledge. Theoretically, one can say that if we wish to know the blossom, we must plunge into the blossom, and the best method of acquiring self-knowledge is to plunge again, but in a different way, into happenings we once took part in. As long as we remain in ourselves, we experience only superficially whatever takes place. In contrast to true self-knowledge, what we think of other persons is then mere abstraction.

For Thomasius at first, what other people have lived through becomes a part of him. One of them, Capesius, describes some of his experiences; we can observe that they are rooted in real life. But Thomasius takes in more. He is listening. His listening is singular; later, in SceneEight, we will be able to characterize it. It is really as if Thomasius' ordinary Self were not present. Another deeper force appears, as though Thomasius were creeping into the soul of Capesius and were taking part in what is happening from there. That is why it is so absolutely important for Thomasius to be estranged from himself. Tearing the Self out of oneself and entering into another is part and parcel of self-knowledge. It is noteworthy, therefore, that what he has listened to in Scene One, Thomasius says, reveals:

... A mirrored image of the whole of life,
that showed me clearly to myself.
What is revealed to us out of the spirit
has led me to perceive how many men,
who think themselves a whole, in fact
hear in themselves one single facet only.
In order to unite within myself
all these divergent sides,
I started boldly on the path taught here—
and it has made of me a nothing.

Why has it made a “nothing” of him? Because through self-knowledge he has plunged into these other persons. Brooding in your own inner self makes you proud, conceited. True self-knowledge leads, first of all, by having to plunge into a strange Self, into suffering. In Scene One Johannes follows each person so strongly that when he listens to Capesius he becomes aware of the words of Felicia within the other soul. He follows Strader into the loneliness of the cloister, but at first this has the character of something theoretical. He cannot reach as far as he is later led, in Scene Two, through pain. Self-knowledge is deepened by the meditation within his inner Self. What was shown in Scene One is shown changed in Scene Two through self-knowledge intensified from abstraction to a concrete imagination. Those well-known words, which we have heard through the centuries as the motif of the Delphic Oracle, bring about a new life for this man Johannes, though at first it is a life of estrangement from himself.

Johannes enters, as a knower-of-himself, into all the outer phenomena. He finds his life in the air and water, in the rocks and springs, but not in himself. All the words that we can let sound on stage only from outside are actually the words of his meditation. As soon as the curtain rises, we have to confront these words, which would sound louder to anyone through self-knowledge than we can dare to produce on the stage. Thereafter, he who is learning to know himself dives into the other beings and elements and thus learns to know them. Then in a terrible form the same experience he has had earlier appears to him.

It is a deep truth that self-knowledge, when it progresses in the way we have characterized, leads us to see ourselves quite differently from the way we ever saw ourselves before. It teaches us to perceive our “I” as a strange being.

Man believes his own outer physical sheath to be the closest thing to himself. Nowadays, when he cuts a finger, he is much more connected with the painful finger than when, for instance, a friend hurts him with an unjust opinion. How much more does it hurt a modern person to cut his finger than to hear an unjust opinion! Yet he is only cutting into his bodily sheath. To feel our body as a tool, however, will come about only through self- knowledge.

Whenever a person grasps an object, he can feel his hand to some degree as a tool. This, too, he can learn to feel with one or another part of his brain. The inward feeling of his brain as instrument comes about at a certain level of self-knowledge. Specific places within the brain are localized. If we hammer a nail, we know we are doing it with a tool. We know that we are also using as tool one or another part of the brain. Through the fact that these things are objective and can become separate and strange to us, we come to know our brain as something quite separate from us. Self-knowledge requires this sort of objectivity as regards our body; gradually our outer sheath becomes as objective to us as the ordinary tools we use. Then, as soon as we have made a start at feeling our bodily sheath as separate object, we truly begin to live in the outside world.

Because a person feels only his body, he is not clear about the boundary between the air outside and the air in his lungs. All the same, he will say that it is the same air, outside and inside. So it is with everything, with the blood, with everything that belongs to the body. But what belongs to the body cannot be outside and inside—that is mere illusion. It is only through the fact that we allow the internal bodily nature to become outward that in truth it finds a further life out in the rest of the world and the cosmos.

In the first scene recited today there was an effort to express the pain of feeling estranged from oneself—the pain of feeling estranged because of being outside and within all the other things. Johannes Thomasius' own bodily sheath seems like a person outside himself. But just because of that—that he feels his own body outside—he can see the approach of another body, that of the young girl he once deserted. It comes toward him; he has learned how to speak with the very words of the other being. She says to him, whose Self has widened out to her:

He brought me bitter sorrow;
I gave him all my trust.
He left me in my grief alone.
He robbed me of the warmth of life
and thrust me deep into cold earth.

Then guilt, very much alive, rises up in the soul when, plunging our own Self into another and attaching ourselves to the pain of this other being, the pain is spoken out. This is a deepening, an intensifying. Johannes is truly within the pain, because he has caused it. He feels himself dissolving into it and then waking up again. What is he actually experiencing?

When we try to put all this together, we will find that the ordinary, normal human being undergoes something similar only in the condition we call kamaloka. The initiate, however, has to experience in this world what the normal person experiences in the spiritual world. Within the physical body he must go through what ordinarily is experienced outside the physical body. All the elements of kamaloka have to be undergone as the elements of initiation. Just as Johannes dives into the soul to whom he has brought such grief, so must the normal human being in kamaloka dive into the souls to which he has brought pain. It is just as if a slap in the face has to come back to him; he has to feel the same pain. The only difference is that the initiate experiences this in the physical body, and other people after death. The one who goes through this here will afterward live otherwise in kamaloka. But even all that one undergoes in kamaloka can be so experienced that one does not become entirely free. It is a most difficult task to become completely free. A man feels as if he were chained to his physical conditions.

In our time one of the most important elements for our development—not yet so much in the Greco-Roman epoch but especially important nowadays—is that the human being must experience how infinitely difficult it is to become free of himself. Therefore, a notable initiation experience is described by Johannes as feeling chained to his own lower nature; his own being seems to be a creature to which he is firmly fettered:

I feel the chains
that hold me fettered fast to you.
Prometheus was not chained so fast
upon the cliffs of Caucasus
as I am chained to you.

This belongs to self-knowledge; it is a secret of self- knowledge. We should try to understand it correctly.

A question about this secret could be phrased like this: have we in some way become better human beings by becoming earth dwellers, by entering into our physical sheaths, or would we be better by remaining in our inner natures and throwing off those sheaths? Superficial people, taking a look at life in the spirit, may well ask: why ever do we have to plunge down into a physical body? It would be much easier to stay up there and not get into the whole miserable business of earthly existence.

For what reason have the wise powers of destiny thrust us down here? Perhaps it helps our feelings a little to say that for millions and millions of years the divine, spiritual powers have worked on the physical body. Because of this, we should make more out of ourselves than we have the strength to do. Our inner forces are not enough. We cannot yet be what the gods have intended for us if we wish to be only what is in our inner nature, if our outer sheaths do not work some corrections in us. Life shows us that here on earth man is put into his physical sheaths and that these have been prepared for him by the beings of three world epochs. Man has now to develop his inner nature. Between birth and death, he is bad; in Devachan he is a better creature, taken up by divine, spiritual beings who shower him with their own forces. Later on, in the Vulcan epoch, he will be a perfect being. Now on the earth he is a being who gives way to this or that desire. Our hearts, for one thing, are created with such wisdom that they can hold out for decades against the excesses we indulge in, such as drinking coffee. What man can be today through his own will is the way he travels through kamaloka. There he has to learn what he can be through his own will, and that is certainly nothing very good. Whenever man is asked to describe himself, he cannot use the adjective “beautiful.” He has to describe himself as Johannes does in Scene Two:

Yet how do I behold myself!
My human form is lost;
as raging dragon I must see myself,
begot of lust and greed.
I clearly sense
how an illusion's cloud
has hid from me till now
my own appalling form.

Our inner nature stretches flexibly within our bodily sheaths and is hidden from us. When we approach initiation, we learn really to see ourselves as a kind of raging dragon. Therefore, these words are drawn up out of the deepest perception; they are words of self-knowledge, not of self-brooding:

It is myself.
So knowledge chains to you
, pernicious monster,
me myself, pernicious monster.

At bottom, they are both the same, one the subject, the other the object.

I sought to flee from you.

This flight, however, merely leads the human being directly to himself.

But then the crowd turns up, the crowd we find ourselves in when we really look into ourselves. We find ourselves to be a collection of lusts and passions we had not noticed earlier, because each time we wanted to look into ourselves our eyes were distracted to the world outside. Indeed, compared to what we would have seen inside, the world outside is wonderfully beautiful. Out there, in the illusion, in the maya of life, we stop looking at ourselves inwardly. When people around us, however, begin to talk all kinds of stupidity and we cannot stand it, we escape to where we can be alone. This is quite important at some levels of development. We can and should collect ourselves; it is a good means of self-knowledge. But it can happen that, coming into a crowd of people, we can no longer be alone; those others appear, either within us or outside us, no matter; they do not allow us to be alone. Then comes the experience we must have: solitude actually brings forth the worst kind of fellowship.

For me, man's final refuge,
for me, my solitude is lost.

Those are genuine experiences. Do not let the strength, the intensity, of the happenings trouble you. You do not have to believe that such strength and intensity as described must necessarily lead to anxiety or fear. It should not prevent anyone from also plunging into these waters. No one will experience all this as swiftly or with such vehemence as Johannes does; it had to come about for him in this way for a definite purpose, even prematurely, too. A normal self-development proceeds differently. Therefore, what occurs in Johannes so tumultuously must be understood as an individual happening. Because he is this particular individual, who has suffered a kind of shipwreck, everything he undergoes takes place much more tempestuously than it otherwise would. He is confronted by the laws of self-development in such a way that they throw him completely off balance. As for us, one thing should be awakened by this description of Johannes, that is, the perception that true self-knowledge has nothing to do with trite phrases, that true self- knowledge inevitably leads us into pain and sorrow.

Things that once were a source of delight can assume a different face when they appear in the realm of self- knowledge. We can long for solitude, no doubt, when we have already found self-knowledge. But in certain moments of self-development it is solitude we have lost when we look for it as we did earlier, in moments when we flow out into the objective world, when in loneliness we have to suffer the sharpest pain.

Learning to perceive in the right way this outpouring of the Self into other beings will help us feel what has been put into the Mystery Drama: a certain artistic element has been created in which everything is spiritually realistic. One who thinks realistically—a genuine, artistic, sensitive realist—undergoes at unrealistic performances a certain amount of suffering. Even what at a certain level can provide great satisfaction is at another level a source of pain. This is due to the path of self- development. A play by Shakespeare, for instance, an immense achievement in the physical world, can be an occasion for artistic pleasure. But a certain moment of development can arrive when we are no longer satisfied by Shakespeare because we seem inwardly torn to pieces. We go from one scene to the next but no longer see the necessity that has ordered one scene to follow another. We begin to find it unnatural that a scene follows the one preceding it. Why unnatural? Because nothing holds two scenes together except the dramatist Shakespeare and his audience. His scenes follow the abstract principle of cause and effect but not a concrete reality. It is characteristic of Shakespeare's drama that nothing of underlying karma is hinted at; this would tie the scenes together more closely.

The Rosicrucian drama grew into a realistic, spiritually realistic one. It makes huge demands on Johannes Thomasius, who is constantly on stage without taking part actively or showing a single important dramatic characteristic. He is the one in whose soul everything takes place, and what is described is the development of that soul, the real experience of the soul's development.

Johannes' soul spins one scene realistically out of the one before it. Through this we see that realistic and spiritual do not contradict each other. Materialistic and spiritual things do not need each other, and they can contradict each other. But realistic and spiritual are not opposites; it is quite possible for spiritual realism to be admired even by a materialistic person. In regard to artistic principles, the plays of Shakespeare can be thought of as realistic. You will understand, however, how far the art that goes hand in hand with a science of the spirit must finally lead. For the one who finds his Self out in the cosmos, the whole cosmos becomes an ego being. We cannot bear then anything coming toward us that is not related to the ego being. Art will gradually learn something in this direction; it will come to the ego principle, because the Christ has brought us our ego for the first time. In the most various realms will this ego be alive.

In still another way can the specific human entity be shown within the soul and also divided into its various components outside. If someone asked which person represents Atma, which one Buddhi, which one Manas? ... if someone in the audience could exclaim, “O yes, that figure on the stage is the personification of Manas!” ... it would be a horrible kind of art, a dreadful kind of art. It is a bad theosophical habit to try to explain everything like this. One would like to say, “Poor thing!” of a work of art that has to be “explained.” If it were to be attempted with Shakespeare's plays, it would indeed be absurd and downright wrong.

These habits are the childhood diseases of the theosophical movement. They will gradually be cured. But for once at least, it is necessary to point them out. It might even happen that someone tries to look for the nine members of the human organization in the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven!

On the other hand, it is correct to some extent to say that the united elements of human nature can be assigned to different characters. One person has this soul coloring, a second person another; we can see characters on the stage who present different sides of the whole unified human being. The people we encounter in the world usually present one or another particular trait. As we develop from incarnation to incarnation, we gradually become a whole. To show this underlying fact on the stage, our whole life has somehow to be separated into parts.

In this Rosicrucian Mystery, we will find that everything that Maria is supposed to be is dispersed among the other figures who are around her as companions. They form with her what might be called an “egoity.” We find special characteristics of the sentient soul in Philia, of the intellectual soul in Astrid, of the consciousness soul in Luna. It was for this reason that their names were chosen. The names of all the characters and beings were given according to their natures. In Devachan, Scene Seven, particularly, where everything is spirit, not only the words but also the placing of the words is meant to characterize the three figures of Philia, Astrid, and Luna in their exact relationships. The speeches at the beginning of Scene Seven are a better description of sentient soul, intellectual soul, and consciousness soul than any number of words otherwise could achieve. Here one can really demonstrate what each soul is. One can show in an artistic form the relationship of the three souls by means of the levels at which the figures stand. In the human being they flow into one another. Separated from each other, they show themselves clearly: Philia as she places herself in the cosmos; Astrid as she relates herself to the elements; Luna as she directs herself into free deed and self-knowledge. Because they show themselves so clearly in the Devachan scene, everything in it is alchemy in the purest sense of the word; all of alchemy is there, if one can gradually discover it.

Not only as abstract content is alchemy in the scene but in the weaving essence of the words. Therefore, you should listen not merely to what is said, nor indeed only to what each single character speaks, but particularly to how the soul forces speak in relation to one another. The sentient soul pushes itself into the astral body; we can perceive weaving astrality there. The intellectual soul slips itself into the etheric body; there we perceive weaving ether being. We can observe how the consciousness soul pours itself with inner firmness into the physical body. Soul endeavor that has an effect like light is contained in Philia's words. In Astrid is contained what brings about the etheric-objective ability to confront the very truth of things. Inner resolve connected at first with the firmness of the physical body is given in Luna. We must begin to be sensitive to all this. Let us listen to the soul forces in Scene Seven:

Philia (Sentient soul)

I will imbue myself
with clearest essence of the light
from worldwide spaces.
I will breathe in sound-substance,
from far ethereal regions,
that you, beloved sister, with your work
may reach your goal.

Astrid (Intellectual soul)

And I will weave
into the radiant light
the clouding darkness.
I will condense
the life of sound,
that glistening it may ring
and ringing it may glisten,
that you, beloved sister,
may guide the rays of soul.

Luna (Consciousness soul)

I will enwarm soul-substance
and will make firm life-ether.
They shall condense themselves,
they shall perceive themselves,
and in themselves residing
guard their creative forces,
that you, beloved sister,
within the seeking soul
may quicken certainty of knowledge.

I would like to draw your attention to the words of Philia,

Dass dir, geliebte Schwester,
Das Werk gelingen kann.
(that you, beloved sister, with your work may reach your goal.)

and to those of Astrid that carry the connotation of something heavier, more compact,

Dass du, geliebte Schwester ...

Dass dir,” “Dass du,” and then we have the “Du” again in Luna's speech woven together with the still heavier, weighty

Der suchenden Menschenseele
(within the seeking soul)

There the “u” is woven into its neighboring consonants, so that it can take on a still firmer compactness.1In the English translation of The Portal of Initiation these three sound distinctions could not be kept, except in the word “soul” at the end of Luna's speech, in which the (spoken) diphthong possesses a nuance of “u.”

These are the things that one can actually characterize. Please remember, it all depends on the “How.” Let us compare the words Philia speaks next:

I will entreat the spirits of the worlds
that they, with light of being,
enchant soul feeling,
that they, with tone of words,
charm spirit hearing

with the rather different ones of Astrid:

I will guide streams of love
that fill the world with warmth,
into the heart
of him, the consecrated one

Just here, where these words are spoken, the inner weaving essence of the world of Devachan has been achieved.

I am mentioning all this, because the scenes should make it clear that when self-knowledge begins to unfold into the outer cosmic weaving and being, we have to give up everything that is one-sided. We have to learn, too, to be aware—as we otherwise do only in a quite superficial, pedestrian way—of what is at hand at every point of existence. We become inflexible creatures, we human beings, when we stay rooted to only one spot in space, believing that our words can express the truth. But words, limited as they are to physical sound, are not what best will communicate truth. I would like to put it like this: we have to become sensitive to the voice itself. Anything as important as Johannes Thomasius' path to self-knowledge can be rightfully experienced—it depends on this—only when he struggles courageously for that self-knowledge and holds on to it.

When self-knowledge has crushed us, the next stage is to begin to draw into ourselves, to harbor inwardly what was our outer experience, learning how closely the cosmos is related to ourselves (for this comes to us after we understand the nature of the beings around us); now we must attempt courageously to live with our understanding. It is only one half of the matter to dive down like Johannes into a being to whom we have brought sorrow and have thrust into cold earth. For now, we have begun to feel differently. We summon up our courage to make amends for the pain we have caused. Now we can dive into this new life and speak out of our own nature differently. This is what confronts us in Scene Nine. In Scene Two the young girl cried out to Johannes:

He brought me bitter sorrow;
I gave him all my trust.
He left me in my grief alone.
He robbed me of the warmth of life
and thrust me deep into cold earth.

In Scene Nine, however, after Johannes has undergone what every path to self-knowledge demands, the same being calls to him:

O you must find me once again
and ease my suffering.

This is the other side of the coin: first the devastation and despair, and now the return to equilibrium. The being calls to him:

O you must find me once again ...

It could not have been described otherwise, this lifting into perception of the world, this replenishing of himself with life experience. True self-knowledge through perception of the cosmos could only have been described with the words Johannes uses when he comes to himself. It has begun, of course, in Scene Two:

For many years these words
of weighty meaning I have heard.

Then—after he has dived down into deep earth, after he has united himself with it—the power is born in his soul to let the words arise that express the essence of Scene Nine:

For three years now I've sought
for power of soul, with wings of courage,
to give these words their truth.
Through them a man who frees himself can conquer
and, conquering himself, can find his freedom.

The words, “O man, unfold your being!” are in direct contrast to the words of Scene Two, “O man, know thou thyself!” There appears to us once and again the very same scene. It leads the first time downward to:

The world and my own nature
are living in the words:
O man, know thou thyself!

Then afterward it is the opposite; it has changed. The scene characterizes soul development.

You have also heard the devastating words:

Maria, are you then aware
through what my soul has fought its way?
For me, man's final refuge,
for me, my solitude is lost.

But Scene Nine shows how the being of the girl attains first hope and then security. That is the turning point. It cannot be constructed haphazardly; it is actual experience. Through it we can sense how self-knowledge in a soul like Johannes Thomasius can ascend into a self- unfolding. We should perceive, too, how his experience is distributed among many single persons in whom one characteristic has been formed in each incarnation.

At the end of the drama a whole community stands there in the Sun Temple, like a tableau, and the many together are a single person. The various characteristics of a human being are distributed among them all; essentially there is one person there. A pedant might like to object. “Are there not too many different members of the whole? Surely nine or twelve would be the correct number!” But reality does not always work in such a way as to be in complete agreement with theory. This way it corresponds more nearly with the truth than if we had all the single constituents of man's being marching up in military rank and file.

Let us now put ourselves into the Sun Temple. There are various persons standing in the places they belong to karmically, just as their karmas have brought them together in life. But when we think of Johannes here in the middle and think, too, that all the other characters are mirrored in his soul, each character as one of his soul qualities—what is happening there if we can accept it as reality?

Johannes Thomasius

Karma has actually brought these persons together as in a focal point. Nothing is without intention, plan, or reason; what the single individualities have done not only has meaning for each one himself, but each is also a soul experience for Johannes Thomasius. Everything is happening twice: once in the macrocosm, a second time in the microcosm, in the soul of Johannes. This is his initiation. Just as Maria, for example, has a special connection with him, so, too, there is an important part of his soul with a similar connection to another part of his soul. Those are absolute correspondences, embodied in the drama uncompromisingly. What one sees as outer stage- happening is, in Johannes, an inner happening in his development. There has to come about what the Hierophant has described in Scene Three:

There forms itself within this circle
a knot out of the threads
which karma spins in world becoming.

It has already formed itself, and this truly entangled knot shows what everything is leading toward. There is absolute reality as to how karma spins its threads; it is not an aimless spinning. We experience the knot as the initiation event in Johannes' soul, and the whole scene shows us a certain individuality actually standing above the others, that is, the Hierophant, who is directing, who is guiding the threads. We need only think of the Hierophant's relationship to Maria.

But it is just there that we can realize how self- knowledge can illuminate what happens to Maria in Scene Three. It is not at all pleasant, this emerging out of the Self. It is a thoroughly real experience, a forsaking of the human sheaths by our inner power; the sheaths left behind become then a battleground for inferior powers. When Maria sends down a ray of love to the Hierophant, it can only be portrayed in this way: down below, the physical body, taken over by the power of the adversary, speaks out the antithesis of what is happening above. From above a ray of love streams down, and below arises a curse. Those are the contrasting scenes: Scene Seven inDevachan, where Maria describes what she has actually brought about, and Scene Three, where, from the deserted body, the curses of the demonic forces are directed toward the Hierophant. Those are the two corresponding scenes. They complete each other. If they had had to be “constructed” theoretically from the beginning, the end result would have been incredibly poor.

I therefore have based today's lecture on one aspect of this Mystery Drama, and I should like to extend this to include certain special characteristics that underlie initiation.

Although it has been necessary to bring out rather sharply what has just been shown as the actual events of initiation, it should not let you lose courage or resolve in your own striving toward the spiritual world. The description of dangers was aimed at strengthening a person against powerful forces. The dangers are there; pain and sorrow are the prospect. It would be a poor sort of effort if we proposed to rise into higher worlds in the most convenient way. Striving to reach the spiritual worlds cannot yet be as convenient as rolling over the miles in a modern train, one of those many conveniences our materialistic culture has put into our everyday lives. What has been described should not make us timid; to a certain extent the very encounter with the dangers of initiation should steel our courage.

Johannes Thomasius' disposition made him unable to continue painting; this grew into pain, and the pain grew into perception. So, it is that everything that arouses pain and sorrow will transform itself into perception. But we have to search earnestly for this path, and our search will be possible only when we realize that the truths of spiritual science are not at all simple. They are such profound truths for our whole life that no one will ever understand them perfectly. It is just the single example in actual life that helps us to understand the world. One can speak about the conditions of a spiritual development much more exactly when one describes the development of Johannes, rather than when one describes the development of human beings in general. In the book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment,2Rudolf Steiner, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, Anthroposophic Press, Inc., Spring Valley, NY, reprinted 1983. the development that every human being can undertake is described, simply the concrete possibility as such. When we portray Johannes Thomasius, we look at a single individuality. But therewith we lose the opportunity of describing such development in a general way.

I hope you will be induced to say that I have not yet spoken out the essential truth of the matter. For we have described two extremes and must find the various gradations between them. I can give only a few suggestive ideas, which should then begin to live in your hearts and souls.

When I gave you some indications about the Gospel of St. Matthew,3Rudolf Steiner, The Gospel of St. Matthew, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1965. I asked you not to try to remember the very words but to try—when you go out into life—to look into your heart and soul to discover what the words have become. Read not only the printed lectures, but read also in a truly earnest way your own soul.

For this to happen, however, something must have been given from outside, something has first to enter into us; otherwise, there could be self-deception of the soul. If you can begin to read in your soul, you will notice that what comes to you from outside re-echoes quite differently within. A true anthroposophical effort would be first of all to understand what is said in as many different ways as there are listeners.

No one speaking about spiritual science could wish to be understood in only one sense. He would like to be understood in as many ways as there are souls present to understand him. Anthroposophy can tolerate this. One thing is needed, however, and this is not an incidental remark; one thing is needed: every single kind of understanding should be correct and true. Each one may be individual, but it must be true. Sometimes it seems that the uniqueness of the interpretation lies in being just the opposite of what has been said.

When then we speak of self-knowledge, we should realize how much more useful it is to come to it by looking for mistakes within ourselves and for the truth outside.

It shall not be said, “Search within yourself for the truth!” Indeed, truth is to be found outside ourselves. We will find it poured out over the world. Through self- knowledge we must become free of ourselves and undergo those various gradations of soul experience. Loneliness can become a horrid companion.

We can also perceive our terrible weakness when we sense with our feelings the greatness of the cosmos out of which we have been born. But then through this we take courage. And we can make ourselves courageous enough to experience what we perceive.

Then we will finally discover that, after the loss of all the certainty we had in life, there will blossom for us the first and last certainty of life, the confidence that finding ourselves in the cosmos allows us to conquer and find ourselves anew.

O man, experience the world within yourself!
For then—in striding forth beyond your self—
You will find yourself at last
Within you own true Self.

Let us feel these words as genuine experience. They will gradually become for us steps in our development.