7 October 1911, Karlsruhe
We must now turn our attention to the relation between ordinary religious consciousness and the knowledge that can be gained through higher clairvoyant powers concerning the higher worlds in general, and in particular — this is specially relevant to our theme — concerning the relation of Christ Jesus to these higher worlds.
It will be clear to you all that the evolution of Christianity so far has been such that most persons have not been able to attain through their own clairvoyant knowledge to the mysteries of the Christ-Event. It must be granted that Christianity has entered into the hearts of countless human beings, and to a certain degree its essential nature has been recognised by countless souls; but these hearts and souls have not been able to look up to the higher worlds and so to receive clairvoyant vision of what really took place in human evolution through the Mystery of Golgotha and everything connected with it. Hence the knowledge that can be gained through clairvoyant consciousness itself, or through a person having accepted on one or other ground the communications of the seer concerning the mysteries of Christianity, must be carefully distinguished from the religious inclination to Christ and the intellectual leanings towards Him of a person who knows nothing of clairvoyant investigation.
Now you will all agree that during the centuries since the Mystery of Golgotha there have been men of all degrees of intellectual culture who have accepted the mysteries of Christianity in a deep inner way, and from what has been said lately in various lectures you will have felt that this is quite natural, for — as has been emphasised again and again — it is only in the twentieth century that a renewal of the Christ-Event will take place, for this is when a certain general heightening of human powers of cognition begins. It brings with it the possibility that in the course of the next 3,000 years, and without special clairvoyant preparation, more and more persons will be able to attain a direct vision of Christ Jesus.
This has never happened before. Until now there have been only two — or later on today we may perhaps discover three — sources of knowledge concerning the Christian mysteries for persons who could not rise by training to clairvoyant observation. One source was the Gospels and all that comes from the communications in the Gospels, or in the traditions connected with them. The second source of knowledge arose because there have always been clairvoyant individuals who could see into the higher worlds, and through their own knowledge brought down the facts of the Christ-Event. Other persons followed these individuals, receiving from them a ‘never-ending Gospel’, which could continually come into the world through those who were clairvoyant. These two seem at first to be the only two sources in the evolution of Christian humanity up to the present time. And, now from the twentieth century onwards, a third begins. It arises because for more and more people an extension, an enhancement, of their cognitional powers, not brought about through meditation, concentration and other exercises will occur. As we have often said, more and more persons will be able to renew for themselves the experience of Paul on the road to Damascus. Hence we can say of the ensuing period that it will provide a direct means of perceiving the significance and the Being of Christ Jesus.
Now the first question that will naturally occur to you is this: What is the essential difference between the clairvoyant vision of Christ which has always been possible as a result of the esoteric development described yesterday, and the vision of Christ which will come to people, without esoteric development, in the next 3,000 years, beginning from our twentieth century?
There is certainly an important difference. And it would be false to believe that what the seer through his clairvoyant development sees today in the higher worlds concerning the Christ-Event, and what has been seen clairvoyantly concerning the Christ-Event since the Mystery of Golgotha, is exactly the same as the vision which will come to an ever greater and greater number of people. These are two quite different things. As to how far they differ, we must ask clairvoyant research how it is that from the twentieth century onwards Christ Jesus will enter more and more into the ordinary consciousness of men. The reason is as follows.
Just as on the physical plane in Palestine, at the beginning of our era, an event occurred in which the most important part was taken by Christ Himself — an event which has its significance for the whole of humanity — so in the course of the twentieth century, towards the end of the twentieth century, a significant event will again take place, not in the physical world, but in the world we usually call the world of the etheric. And this event will have as fundamental a significance for the evolution of humanity as the event of Palestine had at the beginning of our era. Just as we must say that for Christ Himself the event of Golgotha had a significance that with this very event a God died, a God overcame death — we will speak later concerning the way this is to be understood; the deed had not happened before and it is an accomplished fact which will not happen again — so an event of profound significance will take place in the etheric world. And the occurrence of this event, an event connected with the Christ Himself, will make it possible for men to learn to see the Christ, to look upon Him.
What is this event? It consists in the fact that a certain office in the Cosmos, connected with the evolution of humanity in the twentieth century, passes over in a heightened form to the Christ. Occult clairvoyant research tells us that in our epoch Christ becomes the Lord of Karma for human evolution. This event marks the beginning of something that we find intimated also in the New Testament: He will come again to separate, or to bring about the crisis for, the living and the dead.1Acts 10:42 "to testify that He is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and dead." and II Timothy 4:1 "Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead." Only, according to occult research, this is not to be understood as though it were a single event for all time which takes place on the physical plane. It is connected with the whole future evolution of humanity. And whereas Christianity and Christian evolution were hitherto a kind of preparation, we now have the significant fact that Christ becomes the Lord of Karma, so that in the future it will rest with Him to decide what our karmic account is, how our credit and debit in life are related.
This has been common knowledge in Western occultism for many centuries, and is denied by no occultist who knows these things. But recently it has been verified again with the utmost care, by every means available to occult research. We will now enter more exactly into these matters.
Ask all those who know something of the truth about these things, and you will find everywhere one fact confirmed, but a fact which only at this present stage in the development of our Movement could be made known. Everything which can make our minds receptive towards such a fact had first to be gathered together. You can find in occult literature information concerning these matters if you wish to search for it. However, I shall take no account of the literature; I shall only bring forward the corresponding facts.
When certain conditions are described, including those I have dealt with myself, a picture has to be given of the world a man enters on passing through the gate of death. Now there are a great many men, especially those who have gone through the development of Western civilisation — these things are not the same for all peoples — who experience a quite definite event in the moment following the separation of the etheric body after death. We know that on passing through the gate of death we separate ourselves from the physical body. The individual is at first still connected for a time with his etheric body, but afterwards lie separates his astral body and also his Ego from the etheric body. We know that he takes with him an extract of his etheric body; we know also that the main part of the etheric body goes another way; generally it becomes part of the cosmic ether, either dissolving completely — this happens only under imperfect conditions — or continuing to work on as an enduring active form. When the individual has stripped off his etheric body he passes over into the Kamaloka region for the period of purification in the soul-world. Before this, however, he undergoes a quite special experience which has not previously been mentioned, because, as I said, the time was not ripe for it. Now, however, these things will be fully accepted by all who are qualified to judge them.
Before entering Kamaloka, the individual experiences a meeting with a quite definite Being who presents him with his karmic account. And this Being, who stood there as a kind of bookkeeper for the karmic Powers, had for many men the form of Moses. Hence the mediaeval formula which originated in Rosicrucianism: Moses presents man in the hour of death — the phrase is not quite accurate, but that is immaterial here — Moses presents man in the hour of his death with the record of his sins, and at the same time points to the ‘stern law’. Thus the man can recognise how he has departed from this stern law which he ought to have followed.
In the course of our time — and this is the significant point — this office passes over to Christ Jesus, and man will ever more and more meet Christ Jesus as his Judge, his karmic Judge. That is the super-sensible event. Just as on the physical plane, at the beginning of our era, the event of Palestine took place, so in our time the office of Karmic Judge passes over to Christ Jesus in the higher world next to our own. This event works into the physical world, on the physical plane, in such a way that men will develop towards it the feeling that by all their actions they will be causing something for which they will be accountable to the judgment of Christ. This feeling, now appearing quite naturally in the course of human development, will be transformed so that it permeates the soul with a light which little by little will shine out from the individual himself, and will illuminate the form of Christ in the etheric world. And the more this feeling is developed — a feeling that will have stronger significance than the abstract conscience — the more will the etheric Form of Christ be visible in the coming centuries. We shall have to characterise this fact more exactly in the next few days, and we shall then see that a quite new event has come to pass, an event which works into the Christ-development of humanity.
With regard to the evolution of Christianity on the physical plane, let us now ask whether for the non-clairvoyant consciousness there was not also a third way, over against the two already given. Such a third way was in fact always there, for all Christian evolution. It had to be there. The objective evolution of humanity is not directed in accordance with the opinions of men, but in accordance with objective facts.
Concerning Christ Jesus there have been many opinions in the course of the centuries, or the Councils and Church assemblies and theologians would not have disputed so much among themselves; and in no period, perhaps, have so many people held various views of the Christ as in our own. Facts, however, are not determined by human opinions, but by the forces actually present in human evolution. These facts could be recognised by many more people simply through noticing what the Gospels have to say, if people had the patience and perseverance to look at things really without prejudice, and if they were not too quick and biased in considering the objective facts. Most people, however, do not want to form a picture of Christ according to the facts, but one that suits their own likings and represents their own ideal. And it must be said that in a certain respect Theosophists of all shades of opinion do this very thing today. When, for example, certain highly developed individuals who have attained an advanced stage of human evolution are spoken of in theosophical literature as Masters, or Adepts, this is a truth that cannot be disputed by anyone who knows the facts. It applies to individuals who have had many incarnations; through exercises and holy life they have pressed on in advance of mankind and have acquired powers which the rest of humanity will acquire only in the future. It is natural and right that a student of Theosophy who has acquired some knowledge concerning the Masters, the Adepts, should feel the highest respect for such lofty individuals. If we go on to contemplate so sublime a life as that of Buddha, we must agree that Buddha should be looked on as one of the highest Adepts. And we shall then be able to gain through our minds and feelings an inward relationship to such a person.
Now because the Theosophist approaches the figure of Christ Jesus on the ground of this theosophical knowledge and feeling, he will naturally feel a certain need — and a very comprehensible need — to connect with his Christ Jesus the same concept he has formed of a Master, of an Adept, perhaps of Buddha; and he may be impelled to say: ‘Jesus of Nazareth must be thought of as a great Adept!’ This preconceived opinion would turn upside down any knowledge of the real nature of Christ. And it would be no more than a preconceived opinion only prejudice, although an understandable one. How shall someone who has won the deepest, most intimate relationship to the Christ not place the bearer of the Christ-Being in the same rank as the Master, the Adept, or the Buddha? Why should he not? This must seem to us quite comprehensible. Perhaps to such a person it would seem like a depreciation of Jesus of Nazareth if we were not to do so. But by applying this concept to Jesus of Nazareth we are led away from directing our thought according to the facts, at least as these facts have found their way to us through tradition. Anyone who examines without bias the traditional records — disregarding all opinions offered by Church Councils and Fathers and so on — will not fail to recognise one fact: Jesus of Nazareth cannot be called an Adept.
Where in tradition do we find anything which allows us to apply to Jesus of Nazareth the concept of the Adept as we have it in theosophical teaching? In the first periods of Christianity one thing was emphasised: that Jesus of Nazareth was a man like any other, a weak man like any other. And those who uphold the saying, ‘Jesus was truly man’ understand most nearly who it was that came into the world. Thus if we pay proper heed to the tradition, no idea of ‘Adept’ is to be found there. And if you remember all that has been said in past lectures concerning the development of Jesus of Nazareth — the history of the Jesus-child in whom up to his twelfth year Zarathustra lived, and the history of the other Jesus-child in whom Zarathustra then lived up to his thirtieth year — you will certainly say: Here we have to do with a special man, a man for whose existence the world's history, the world's evolution, made the greatest preparations, evident from the fact that two human bodies were formed, and in one of them up to the twelfth year, and in the other from the twelfth to the thirtieth year, the Zarathustra-individuality dwelt.
Since these two Jesus-figures were such significant individualities, Jesus of Nazareth certainly stands high; but not in the same way as an Adept does, for the Adept goes forward continuously from incarnation to incarnation. And apart from this: in the thirtieth year, when the Christ-Individuality enters into the body of Jesus of Nazareth, this very Jesus of Nazareth forsakes his body, and from the moment of the Baptism by John — even if we do not now speak of the Christ — we have to do with a human being who must be designated in the truest sense of the word as a ‘mere man’, save that he is the bearer of the Christ. But we must distinguish between the bearer of the Christ and the Christ Himself. Once the body which was to be the bearer of the Christ had been forsaken by the Zarathustra-individuality, there dwelt in it no human individuality who had attained any specially high development. The stage of development shown by Jesus of Nazareth sprang from the fact that the Zarathustra-individuality dwelt in him. As we know, however, this human nature was forsaken by the Zarathustra-individuality. Thus it was that this human nature, directly the Christ-Individuality had taken possession of it, brought against Him all that otherwise comes forth from human nature — the Tempter. That is why the Christ could go through the extremities of despair and sorrow, as shown to us in the happenings on the Mount of Olives.
Anyone who leaves out of account these essential points cannot come to a real knowledge of the Being of the Christ. The Christ-bearer was truly man — not an Adept. Recognition of this fact will open for us a first glimpse into the whole nature of the events of Golgotha, the events of Palestine. If we were to look upon Christ Jesus simply as a high Adept, we should have to place Him in a line with other Adept-natures. Some people may perhaps tell us that we do not do this because from the very outset, owing to some preconceived idea, we want to place Christ Jesus beyond all other Adepts, as a still higher Adept. Those who might say this are not aware of what we have to impart as the results of occult research in our time.
The question is not in the very least whether the prestige of other Adepts would be impaired. Within the world-conception to which we must adhere according to the occult results of the present time, we know just as well as others that there existed as a contemporary of Christ Jesus another significant individuality whom we regard as a true Adept. And unless we go into exact details, it is even difficult for us to distinguish inwardly this human being from Christ Jesus, for he really appears quite like Him. When, for instance, we hear that this contemporary of Christ Jesus was announced before his birth by a heavenly vision, it reminds us of the annunciation of the birth of Jesus, as told in the Gospels. When we hear that he was not designated merely as of human birth, but as a son of the Gods, this reminds us again of the beginning of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. When we hear that the birth of this individuality took his mother by surprise, so that she was overwhelmed, we are reminded of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, and of the events in Bethlehem, as told in the Gospels. When we hear that the individuality grew up and surprised all around him by his wise answers to the questions from the priests, it reminds us of the scene of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple. When we are told that this individuality came to Rome and met there the funeral procession of a young girl, that the procession was brought to a halt and that he awakened the dead, we are reminded of an awakening from the dead in the Gospel of Luke. And if we wish to speak of miracles, numberless miracles are recorded in connection with this individuality, who was a contemporary of Christ Jesus. Indeed, the similarity goes so far that after the death of this individuality he is said to have appeared to men, as Christ Jesus appeared after His death to the disciples. And when from the Christian side all possible reasons are brought forward either to depreciate this being or to deny altogether his historical existence, this is no less ingenious than what is said against the historical existence of Christ Jesus Himself. The individuality in question is Apollonius of Tyana, and of him we speak as a really high Adept.
If we now ask about the essential difference between the Christ Jesus event and the Apollonius event, we must be clear what the important point in the Apollonius event is.
Apollonius of Tyana is an individuality who went through many incarnations; he won for himself high powers and reached a certain climax in his incarnation at the beginning of our era. Hence the individual we are considering is he who lived in the body of Apollonius of Tyana and had therein his earthly field of action. It is with him that we are concerned. Now we know that a human individuality takes part in the building up of his earthly body. Hence we must say: the body of this individuality was built up by him to a certain form for his own particular use. This we cannot say of Christ Jesus. In the thirtieth year of Jesus of Nazareth the Christ came into the physical body, etheric body, and astral body of Jesus; hence He had not himself built up this body from childhood. The relationship between the Christ-Individuality and this body is quite different from that between the Apollonius-individuality and his body. When in the spirit we turn our gaze to Apollonius of Tyana, we say: ‘It is the concern of this individuality, and his concern plays itself out as the life of Apollonius of Tyana.’ If we want to represent in a diagram a life-course of this kind, we can do it like this:
Let the continuous individuality be shown by the horizontal line; then we have in (a) a first incarnation, in (b) a life between death and a new birth, in (c) a second incarnation followed again by (d) a life between death and a new birth, then a third incarnation, (e) and so on. That which passes through all these incarnations — the human individuality — is like a thread of human life, independent of the sheaths of the astral body, etheric body and physical body, and also, between death and a new birth, independent of those parts of the etheric body and astral body which remain behind. Thus the life-thread is always separated from the external Cosmos.
If we want to represent the nature of the Christ-life, we must draw it otherwise. When we consider the preceding incarnations of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ-life certainly develops in a certain way. But when we draw the life-thread, we have to show that in the thirtieth year of the life of Jesus of Nazareth the individuality forsakes this body, so that from now onwards we have only the sheaths of physical body, etheric body and astral body.
The forces which the individuality develops, however, are not in the external sheaths. They lie in the life-thread of the Ego, which goes from incarnation to incarnation. Thus the forces which belonged to the Zarathustra-individuality, and were present in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, preparing that body, pass out with the Zarathustra-individuality. Hence the sheaths which remain are a normal human organism, not in any sense the organism of an Adept, but the organism of a simple man, a weak man. And now the objective event occurs: whereas in other cases the life-thread simply goes farther, as in (a) and (b), it now turns along a side path (c); for through the Baptism by John in Jordan the Christ-Being entered into the threefold organism. In this organism the Christ-Being lived from the Baptism until the thirty-third year, until the Event of Golgotha, as we have often described.
Whose concern, then, is the life of Christ Jesus from the thirtieth to the thirty-third year? It is not the concern of the individuality who went from incarnation to incarnation, but of that Individuality who from out of the Cosmos entered into the body of Jesus of Nazareth; the concern of an Individuality, a Being who was never before connected with the earth, who from out of the Universe connected Himself with a human body. In this sense the event which took place between the thirtieth and thirty-third years of the life of Christ Jesus, between the John-Baptism and the Mystery of Golgotha, are those of the Divine Being, Christ, not of a man. Hence this event was not a concern of the earth but a concern of the super-sensible worlds, for it had nothing to do with a man. As a sign of this — that it had to do with no man — the human being who had dwelt in this body up to the thirtieth year forsook it.
These happenings have originally something to do with events that took place before such a life-thread as our human one had passed into a physical human organization. We must go back to the ancient Lemurian time, into the age wherein human individualities, coming from Divine heights, incarnated for the first time in earthly bodies; back to the event which is indicated for us in the Old Testament as the Temptation through the Serpent. This event is of a very remarkable kind. From its outcome all men suffer as long as they are subject to incarnation. For if this event had not happened, the whole evolution of mankind on the earth would have been different, and men would have passed in a much more perfect condition from incarnation to incarnation. Through this event, however, they become more closely entangled in matter, allegorically designated as the ‘Fall of Man’. But it was the Fall that first called man to his present individuality; so that, as he goes as an individuality from incarnation to incarnation, he is not responsible for the Fall. We know that the Luciferic spirits were responsible for the Fall. Hence we must say that before man became man in the earthly sense, there occurred the divine, super-sensible event by which a deeper entanglement in matter was laid upon him. Through this event man has indeed attained to the power of love and to freedom, but through it something was laid upon him that he could not lay upon himself by his own power. This becoming entangled in matter was not a human act, but a deed of the Gods, which happened before men could cooperate in their own fate. It is something which the Higher Powers of progressive evolution arranged with the Luciferic powers. We shall have to go into all these events and characterise them more exactly. Today we will place only the chief point before our minds.
What happened at that time needed a counterpoise. The pre-human event — the Fall of Man — needed a counterpoise, but this again was a concern not of human beings, but of the Gods among themselves. And we shall see that this action had to take its course as deeply in matter as the first action had taken place above it. The God had to descend as deeply into matter as He had allowed man to sink into matter.
Let this fact work upon you with its full weight; then you will understand that this incarnation of the Christ in Jesus of Nazareth was something that concerned Christ Himself. And what part was man called upon to take in it? First of all, as spectator, to see how the God compensates for the Fall, how He provides the compensating act. It would not have been possible to do this within the personality of an Adept, for an Adept is one who by his own efforts has worked his way out of the Fall. It was possible only in a personality who was truly man — who, as man, did not surpass other men. This personality had surpassed them before he was thirty years of age — but no longer. Through that which then took place, a Divine event was accomplished in the evolution of mankind, just as had been done at the beginning of human evolution in the Lemurian time. And men were partakers in a transaction which had taken place among Gods; men could look upon it, because the Gods had to make use of the world of the physical plane in order to let their transaction play itself out to the end. Hence it is much better to say: ‘Christ offered to the Gods the atonement which He could offer only in a physical human body’, than to use any other form of words. Man was a spectator of a Divine occasion.
Through this atonement something had happened for human nature. Men simply experienced it in the course of their development. Thereby the third way was opened, besides the two already indicated.
Men who have gone deeply into the nature of Christianity have often pointed out these three ways. From among the large number of those who could be named I will mention only two who have given eminent testimony to the fact that Christ — who from the twentieth century onwards will be seen through the more highly developed faculties — can be recognised, felt, experienced, through feelings which were not possible in the same form before the Event of Golgotha.
There is, for example, a man who in his whole cast of mind can be looked upon as a sharp opponent of what we have characterised as Jesuitism: Blaise Pascal, a great figure in spiritual history, standing forth as one who has set aside all that had arisen to the detriment of the old Churches, but has also absorbed nothing of modern rationalism. As always with great minds, he really remained alone with his thoughts. But what is the fundamental feature of his thinking at the beginning of the modern period? When we look into the matter we see from the writings he left behind, particularly from his inspiring Pensées — a book accessible to anyone — how he perceived and felt what man must have become if the Christ-Event had not taken place in the world.
In the secrecy of his soul, Pascal set himself the question: What would have become of man if no Christ had entered into human evolution? And he replied: We can feel that in his soul man encounters two dangers. One danger is that he should recognise God as identical with his own being: knowledge of God in knowledge of man. Whither does this lead? When it arises so that man recognises himself as God, it leads to pride, haughtiness, arrogance; and man destroys his best powers because he hardens them in haughtiness and pride. This is a knowledge of God that would always have been possible, even if no Christ had come, even if the Christ-Event had not worked as an impulse in the hearts of all men. Human beings would always have been able to recognize God, but they would have become proud through this consciousness in their own breasts. Or there might be human beings who hide themselves from the knowledge of God, who want to know nothing about God. Their gaze falls on something else; it falls on human powerlessness, on human misery, and then of necessity there follows human despair. That would have been the other danger, the danger of those who had put away from them the knowledge of God.
Only these two ways, said Pascal, are possible: pride and arrogance, or despair. Then the Christ-Event entered into human evolution, and worked so that every man received a power which not only enabled him to experience God, but the very God who had become like unto men, who had lived with men. That is the sole remedy for pride: when we turn our gaze upon the God who bowed Himself to the Cross; when the soul looks to Christ bowing Himself to death on the Cross. And that, too, is the only healing for despair. For this is not a humility that makes a man weak, but a humility that gives healing strength which transcends despair. As the mediator between pride and despair, there dawns in the human soul the Helper, the Saviour, as Pascal understood Him. This can be felt by every man, even without clairvoyance. This is the preparation for the Christ who from the twentieth century onwards will be visible for all men; who as the Healer for pride and despair will arise in every human breast, but earlier could not be felt in the same way.
The second witness I would summon from the long line of men who have this feeling, a feeling that every Christian can make his own, is one already mentioned in many other connections, Vladimir Soloviev. Soloviev also points to two powers in human nature, between which the personal Christ must stand as a mediator. There is a duality, he says, for which the human soul longs: immortality, and wisdom or moral perfection; but neither belongs to human nature from the start. Human nature shares the characteristic of all natures, and nature leads not to immortality, but to death. In beautiful meditations this great thinker of modern times works out how external science shows that death extends over everything. If we look at external nature, our knowledge replies, ‘Death is!’ But within us lives the longing for immortality. Why? Because of our longing for perfection. We have only to glance into the human soul to see that a longing for perfection lives in us. Just as truly, says Soloviev, as the red rose is endowed with red colour, so truly is the human soul endowed with the longing for perfection. But to strive after perfection without longing for immortality, he continues, is to give the lie to existence. It would be meaningless if the soul were to end with death, as all natural being ends. Yet all natural existence tells us, ‘Death is!’ Hence the human soul is under the necessity of going beyond natural existence and seeking the answer elsewhere.
Proceeding from this thought, Soloviev says: Look at the natural scientists, what answer do they give when they wish to teach the connection of the human soul with nature? A mechanical natural order, they say, prevails and man is part of it. And what do the philosophers answer? That the spiritual, meaning an empty abstract thought-world which pervades all the facts of nature, is to be recognised philosophically. Neither of these statements is an answer for a man who is conscious of himself, and asks from out of his consciousness, ‘What is perfection?’ If he is conscious that he has a longing for perfection, a longing for the life of truth, if he asks what Power can satisfy this longing, there opens for him an outlook into a realm, the realm of Grace over and above nature, which at first stands before the soul as a riddle; and unless the answer to it can be found, the soul is constrained to regard itself as a falsehood. No philosophy, no natural science, can connect the realm of Grace with existence, for natural forces work mechanically, and thought-powers have only thought-reality. But what is it that is able, with full reality, to unite the soul with nature? He Who is the personal Christ working in the world. And only the living Christ, not one that is merely thought of, can give the answer. Anything that works merely in the soul leaves the soul alone, for the soul cannot of itself give birth to the kingdom of Grace. That which transcends nature, which like nature itself stands there as a real fact, the personal historic Christ — He it is who gives not an intellectual answer but a real answer.
And now Soloviev comes to the most complete, the most fully spiritual answer that can be given at the end of the period now closing, before the doors open to that which has so often been intimated to you: the vision of Christ which will have its beginning in the twentieth century. In the light of these facts, a name can be given to the consciousness which Pascal and Soloviev have so memorably described: we can call it Faith. So, too, it has been named by others.
With the concept of Faith we can come from two directions into a strange conflict regarding the human soul. Go through the evolution of the concept of Faith and see what the critics have said about it. Today men are so far advanced that they say Faith must be guided by knowledge, and a Faith not supported by knowledge must be put aside. Faith must be dethroned, as it were, and replaced by knowledge. In the Middle Ages the things of the Higher Worlds were apprehended by Faith, and Faith was held to be justified on its own account.
The fundamental principle of Protestantism, also, is that Faith, alongside knowledge, is to be looked upon as justified. Faith is something which goes forth from the human soul, and alongside of it is the knowledge which ought to be common to all. It is interesting to see how Kant, whom many consider a great philosopher, did not get beyond this concept of Faith. His idea is that what a man should attain concerning such matters as God, immortality and so forth, ought to shine in from quite other regions, but only through a moral faith, not through knowledge.
The highest development of the concept of Faith comes with Soloviev, who stands before the closed door as the most significant thinker of his time, pointing already to the modern world. For Soloviev knows a Faith quite different from all previous concepts of it. Whither has the prevailing concept of Faith led humanity? It has brought humanity to the atheistic, materialistic demand for mere knowledge of the external world, in line with Lutheran and Kantian ideas, or in the sense of the Monistic philosophy of the nineteenth century; to the demand for the knowledge which boasts of knowledge, and considers Faith as something that the human soul had framed for itself out of its necessary weakness up to a certain time in the past. The concept of Faith has finally come to this, because Faith was regarded as merely subjective. In the preceding centuries Faith had been demanded as a necessity. In the nineteenth century Faith is attacked just because it finds itself in opposition to the universally valid knowledge which should stem from the human soul.
And then comes a philosopher who recognises and prizes the concept Faith in order to attain a relationship to Christ that had not previously been possible. He sees this Faith, in so far as it relates to Christ, as an act of necessity, of inner duty.
For with Soloviev the question is not, ‘to believe or not to believe’; Faith is for him a necessity in itself. His view is that we have a duty to believe in Christ, for otherwise we paralyse ourselves and give the lie to our existence. As the crystal form emerges in a mineral substance, so does Faith arise in the human soul as something natural to itself. Hence the soul must say: ‘If I recognise the truth, and not a lie about myself, then in my own soul I must realise Faith. Faith is a duty laid upon me, but I cannot do otherwise than come to it through my own free act.’ And therein Soloviev sees the distinctive mark of the Christ-Deed, that Faith is both a necessity and at the same time a morally free act. It is as though it were said to the soul: You can do nothing else. If you do not wish to extinguish the self within you, you must acquire Faith for yourself; but it must be by your own free act! And, like Pascal, Soloviev brings that which the soul experiences, in order not to feel itself a lie, into connection with the historic Christ Jesus as He entered into human evolution through the events in Palestine. Because of this, Soloviev says: If Christ had not entered into human evolution, so that He has to be thought of as the historic Christ; if He had not brought it about that the soul perceives the inwardly free act as much as the lawful necessity of Faith, the human soul in our post-Christian times would feel itself bound to extinguish itself and to say, not ‘I am’, but ‘I am not’. That, according to this philosopher, would have been the course of evolution in post-Christian times: an inner consciousness would have permeated the human soul with the ‘I am not’. 1Cf. Carlyle's famous account in Sartor Resartus, Book II, Chapter VII, of his encounter with a repudiation of the ‘Everlasting No’. (Translator's note.) Directly the soul pulls itself together to the point of attributing real existence to itself, it cannot do otherwise than turn back to the historic Christ Jesus.
Here we have, for exoteric thought also, a step forward along the path of Faith in establishing the third way. Through the message of the Gospels, a person not able to look into the spiritual world can come to recognition of Christ. Through that which the consciousness of the seer can impart to him, he can likewise come to a recognition of the Christ. But there was also a third way, the way of self-knowledge, and as the witnesses cited, together with thousands and thousands of other human beings, can testify from their own experience, it leads to a recognition that self-knowledge in post-Christian time is impossible without placing Christ Jesus by the side of man and a corresponding recognition that the soul must either deny itself, or, if it wills to affirm itself, it must at the same time affirm Christ Jesus.
Why this was not so in pre-Christian times will be shown in the next few days.