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On the Fifth Gospel
GA 148


6th January, 1914

Our study of the life of Christ Jesus according to what I have called the “Fifth Gospel” will certainly have brought home to us all the significance of what took place after the conversation between Jesus of Nazareth and the mother, of which I spoke here. And I want now to speak, in the way that may be possible in the intimate circle of a group like this, of what transpired immediately after that conversation, that is to say, of what happened to Jesus of Nazareth on his way to the Baptism by John in the Jordan.

What I have to tell consists of a number of facts which are revealed to the eye of Intuition; they are simply narrated, so that it is for each of you to form your own thoughts about them.

We have heard that after the life of Jesus of Nazareth from his twelfth until about his twenty-ninth or thirtieth year, a conversation took place between him and the mother who was, actually, his step- or foster mother. In this conversation, the effects of the experiences through which he had passed poured with such intensity into the words uttered by Jesus of Nazareth that together with his words a mighty force flowed into the soul of the foster-mother, a force of such power that the soul of the mother who had borne the body of the Nathan Jesus was able to descend from the spiritual world (for since the twelfth year of the Nathan Jesus the soul of his mother had been in the spiritual world), and permeated the soul of the foster mother. From then onwards, the foster-mother bore within her the soul of the mother of the Nathan Jesus. What had happened in Jesus himself was that together with the words, the Zarathustra-Ego had to a certain extent gone out of him. The being who now made his way to the Baptism in the Jordan was the Nathan Jesus as he had been up to his twelfth year, that is to say, without the Zarathustra-Ego; but the effects left by the Zarathustra-Ego were still present—the effects of all that the Zarathustra-Ego had been able to pour into the threefold sheath. And so we can understand that Jesus was prompted to make his way to the Baptism in the Jordan by an undefined Cosmic urge -—that is to say, in him it was an undefined urge, but in the Cosmos it was definite and deliberate. It is also obvious that this being was not like an ordinary human being, for the Zarathustra-Ego had gone out of him and only the effects remained. The “Fifth Gospel” reveals that as this being, Jesus of Nazareth, made his way to the Jordan, he met, firstly, two Essenes. They were two with whom he had often conversed on the occasions of which I have told you. But as the Zarathustra-Ego had gone out of him, for to physical eyes the outer physiognomy—which had developed under the influence of the indwelling Zarathustra-Ego—had not changed. The two Essenes addressed him with the words:

“Whither go you, Jesus of Nazareth?”

Jesus of Nazareth said: “I go whither souls of your kind are unwilling to gaze, where the pain of humanity can feel the rays of the forgotten Light!”

The two Essenes did not understand his words, and they perceived that he had not recognised them. Then they said to him:

“Jesus of Nazareth, do you not know us?”

And be said:

“You are like lambs gone astray, but I was the shepherd's son from who you strayed. When you truly recognise me you will stray yet again. It is so long since you fled from me into the world.”

The Essenes were greatly perplexed for they did not understand how such words could be uttered by any human soul, and they gazed at him questionly. He spoke again:

“What manner of souls are you? Where is your world? Why do you wrap yourselves in sheaths of deceit? Why does there burn within you a fire that was not kindle in my Father's House? You have upon you the mark of the Tempter. With his fire he has made your wool shining and glistening. The hairs of this wool prick my eyes, you erring lambs. The Tempter has filled your souls with pride. You met him on your flight.”

When he had said this, one of the Essenes answered:

“Have we not shown the Tempter the door? He has no longer any part in us!”

And Jesus spoke:

“True, you showed him the door, but he ran and came to the other men. Therefore he leers at you from the souls of these others. Do you then believe that you can exalt yourselves by abasing others? You do not exalt yourselves when you abase others; you think yourselves exalted but this is only because the others have been abased. You remain as you were, and it is only because you have abased the others that you imagine yourselves to be great.”

The Essenes were afraid, but at this moment Jesus of Nazareth vanished from their sight. And after their eyes had been as if clouded for a little while, they beheld in the distance a kind of Fata Morgana, revealing to them, but enlarged to gigantic proportions, the countenance of the one who had just stood before them. And then from this Fata Morgana they heard words which filled their souls with dread:

“Vain is your striving, for your heart is empty. Your heart is filled only with the spirit which conceals pride in the deceptive guise of humility.”

And when they had stood there for a time as it stupefied by this countenance and these words, the Fate Morgana vanished. But Jesus of Nazareth too had passed further on his way. The two Essenes went home and spoke to no one of what they had experienced, keeping silence about it their whole life long.

As I said before, I shall simply narrate the facts as they present themselves in the Akashic Record, and each one of you must think about them as you will. This is important at the present time, because it is possible that this Fifth Gospel will be revealed in greater detail as time goes on, and may kind of interpretation at this stage might well be a disturbing factor.

When Jesus of Nazareth had gone a little further on his path to the Jordan, he met a man in whose soul there was deep despair. And Jesus of Nazareth said:

“Whither hath thy soul led thee? Aeons ago I saw thee; then thou wert different.”

And the despairing man said:

“I was of high degree; I have risen to high positions in life; I have filled offices of distinguished rank. And often I said to myself that my learning and accomplishments had made me an exceptional human being. Then one might when I was asleep, I had a dream and in the dream it was as if a question were put to me. I knew at once that in the dream I was beholding myself, for the question was thine Who hath made me great? And there stood before me in the dreams, being who said: I have raised thee up, and in return for this thou art mine!—And I was ashamed, for I had believed that I owed everything to myself. And now this being was telling as that it was he who had raised me to a high position! Then, in the dream, I took flight; I left all my offices and honours behind and now I wander about seeking for something but not knowing what I seek.”

As the despairing man was speaking, the being he had seen in the dream again stood before him, between him and Jesus of Nazareth. And a feeling came to the despairing man that this being had something to do with Lucifer. Then Jesus of Nazareth vanished, and the other being too; and the man saw that Jesus of Nazareth had already passed on. And be went on
his way.

As Jesus of Nazareth continued his path, he met a leper, and to him he said:

“To what hath thy soul led thee? Aeons ago I saw thee; then thou wert different.”

The leper answered:

“Men have thrust me away; they have made we an outcast because of my disease; none would come near me; I could not even beg my bread. Then I wandered about, and in my wanderings I came one night into a wood. There I saw a shining, luminous tree which drew me towards it. And as I drew near, it was as if a skeleton came from the shimmering light of the tree. Dearth himself stood before me, and said: I am in thee. I feed on thee. Fear not! Why art thou fearful? Didst thou not once love me?—And yet I knew that I had never told him! And as he said: ‘Didst thou not once love me?’ his nature changed into that of a beautiful Archangel. And when I awoke in the morning I found myself beside the tree and my leprosy grew steadily worse.”

Then the being who had been transformed into the Archangel stood again before the leper and he knew: Ahriman or a being of Ahrimanic nature is standing before me. While he was still gazing, the being disappeared, and Jesus of Nazareth also, and the leper was left to go on his way.

After these three experiences Jesus of Nazareth came to the Jordan for the Baptism. And here too, I repeat that the Baptism in the Jordan was followed by an event that is also described in the other Gospels, namely, the Temptation. But in this Temptation Christ Jesus was confronted not only by the one being—the Temptation took its course in three stages. First there came a being who was now known to Him because he had seen him when the despairing man had come to him; hence he could recognise him as Lucifer. And then, through Lucifer, came the Temptation that is expressed in the words: “All these kingdoms and their glory I will give to thee if thou wilt acknowledge me as thy Lord.” Lucifer's attack was repulsed, but now came two attacks. Lucifer came again, but with him the being who had stood between Jesus of Nazareth and the leper, and whom He therefore now recognised as Ahriman.

And then came the Temptation which in the Gospels is clothed in the words: “Cast Thyself down; nothing can happen to Thee if Thou art the son of God.” But as Lucifer and Ahriman mutually paralysed each other's power, their attack failed. It was only the third Temptation—“Make stones into
bread”—that was not fully answered. This Temptation came from Ahriman alone. And the fact that Ahriman was not completely satisfied, led to events taking the course they did. Because of the unanswered Temptation, Ahriman was able to work through Judas, and all the later events became possible in the way of which we shall hear.

You see, my dear friends, an “Akasha-Intuition” here sheds light on the moment that is of such infinite significance in the whole development of the life of Christ Jesus and in the evolution of the Earth. It was as if the connection of Earth-evolution with the Luciferic and Ahrimanic forces were mirrored in the events between the conversation with the mother and the Baptism by John in the Jordan. He who was the Nathan Jesus, who for eighteen years had borne the Zarathustra-Ego within him, was made ready, by these events, to receive the Christ Being.

And this bring, us to the point where it is of vital importance to have right and true conceptions. That is why I have tried to bring together various results of occult investigation which can make our human evolution on the Earth intelligible. It may, perhaps, be possible to speak here too about matters that were the subject of the Lecture-Course in Leipzig, where I tried to indicate the connection between the Christ Event and the Parsifal event. To-day I will speak of one or two points only.

I want to show you how the whole meaning and course of the evolution of humanity comes to expression in manifold events if only they are understood in the right light. I do not want to go into the idea behind the story of Parsifal and its connection with the development of the Christ Impulse, but to speak of something that underlay everything that was said in Leipzig. I shall begin by asking: How does the figure of Parsifal come before us?—Parsifal was one who some centuries after the Mystery of Golgotha was destined to represent an important stage of the further development of the Christ Impulse in a soul. We know the story. Parsifal was the son of an adventurous knight; his mother was Hezeleide. The knight bad ridden away before Parsifal's birth. His mother suffered deep pain and grief before he was born. She wished to shield her son from the vaunted qualities of knighthood and she reared him in isolation, protecting him from the consequences of intercourse with others. He was to know nothing about what goes on among other human beings. We are also told that be knew nothing about what the external world calls religion. From his mother he heard only that there is a God, a God behind all things, a God whom he must serve... but more he did not know. But a meeting with two knights caused him to leave his mother, in order that be might discover to what his inner urge was leading him. And after may wanderings he was led to the Castle of the Holy Grail. What he there experienced is described best of all by Chrestian de Troyes—a source upon which Wolfram von Eschenbach also drew.

We are told that one day Parsifal came to wooded country at the edge of a lake where.two men were fishing. In answer to his question, these men directed him to the Castle of the Fisher-King. He went into the Castle and there found a man lying weak and ill on his bed. The sick man gave him a sword—it was the sword which belonged to Parsifal's mother. Then came a page carrying a lance from which blood was dripping on his blood; then came a maiden, carrying a golden Cup radiating light more brilliant than all the lights in the room. This Cup was carried into the adjoining room where lay the father of the Fisher-King, who is nourished by what this Cup contains. Now Parsifal had previously been advised by a knight to abstain from asking many questions. At the time, therefore, he put no questions but the next morning decided that be must ask about these strange things. When he woke up the following morning, however, the Castle was empty. In the courtyard be found his horse ready saddled and when he had mounted and galloped away the drawbridge was immediately raised behind him. There was no sign of any of those whom he had found in the Castle the previous day.

As we know, the point of salient significance is that Parsifal asked no questions, although miraculous things had been revealed to him. And as the story goes on we hear again and again from those persons who meet Parsifal and who are connected with his mission, that he ought to have asked, that his troubles were to some extent due to this. He is told that by not asking he has brought about disaster.

And now think of Parsifal. He had remained apart from outer civilisation and culture; he is led to the Holy Grail with his virgin soul untouched by the mundane world... Now the Christ Impulse was a Deed which mankind had not at once been capable of understanding, But because the Christ had passed into the Aura of the Earth, He was working on—as indeed men had conjectured in their dogmas and teachings. Christ was working in the hidden foundations of the human soul, in the hidden depths of historical evolution, not in the surface consciousness of men or in the wranglings of Theology. In Parsifal we have a picture of the moment when a further stage was to be reached; therefore he had learned nothing of the teachings of the Gnostics, the Apostolic Fathers or the various theological movements. He was to know nothing of these things; his connection with the Christ-Impulse was to be purely in the life of soul, in his sub-consciousness, where standards of contemporary life played no part. His connection with the Christ Impulse would have been impaired and clouded by knowledge of man-made doctrines. Only the supersensible influences in the onflowing Christ Impulse were to work in Parsifal. External doctrine belongs to the material world but Christ works in the supersensible and it was this supersensible influence that as to come to expression in Parsifal. He must ask only at that place where the living essence of the Christ Impulse confronts him, that is to say, in the Holy Grail. He should have asked what the Holy Grail contains, what the Christ Event actually signifies. He should have asked!

Mark this word my dear friends. There was another, the disciple of Sais, who was not allowed to ask. The disciple at Sais was doomed in that he felt constrained to ask why it was not lawful for him to ask; he desired that the veils of Isis should be lifted. The disciple at Sais represents the Parsifal of the epoch preceding the Mystery of Golgotha! But in that age the disciple was told: “Take heed that what is behind the veil be not disclosed until thy soul is prepared and ready.” The disciple at Sais after the Mystery of Golgotha is represented in the figure of Parsifal. Parsifal was to undergo no special preparation; he was to be led to the Holy Grail with a virgin soul. And he missed the vital opportunity, for he neglected to do what the disciple at Sais was forbidden to do.—Parsifal ought to have asked about the mystery of his soul... Thus do the times change in the onward march of evolution.

To begin with we can only think of these things in a more abstract sense... What was the mystery of Isis? We are told of Isis with the Child Horus, of the mystery of the connection between Isis and the Child Horus, of the Connection between the Son of Isis and Osiris. A deep, deep mystery lies here. The disciple at Sais was not ripe for the disclosure of the mystery.

When Parsifal rode away from the Grail Mountain, having neglected to ask about the wonders of the Holy Grail, one of his first experiences was that he met a woman, a bride, weeping over the dead bridegroom in her arms.—A true picture, this, of Mary mourning for her Son—the motif of so many Pietàs later on. This is the first indication of what Parsifal would have experienced if be had asked about the wonders of the Holy Grail. Knowledge would have come to him of the new connection between Isis and Horus, between the Mother and the Son of Man. Parsifal ought to have asked. Now significantly this points to the progress that had taken place in the evolution of mankind! What was not lawful before the Mystery of Golgotha, was now, after the Mystery of Golgotha, both lawful and necessary. For in the meantime the evolution of mankind had progressed.

These things are only of value when we turn them to real disciple at Sais is that in accordance with the nature of the times, we must put the right kind of questions, for here lies the secret of ascent. Since the Mystery of Golgotha there have been two main currents in evolution: one which bears within it the Christ Impulse, the other which is, as it were, the continuation of the process of decline and leads to the materialism of the present age. In our age, by far the greater part of external culture is steeped in materialism. And everything that Spiritual Science can tell us about the Christ Impulse makes us realise how deeply the souls of men need the inner impulse of spirituality to counteract the steadily increasing materialism, of external life. To this end we must all learn to question, to ask! But the current of materialism leads men away from questioning. Let us compare the two currents.—There are people who really cling to materialism, even while they assert their belief in this or that spiritual dogma, or profess to acknowledge the existence of a spiritual world in words and theories. Mere words are of no account. What matters is that we shall live with our whole soul in the current of spiritual life. It can be said of those who cling to materialism that they do not question, for they claim to know everything already! It is characteristic of materialistic culture that even the young and immature think they know everything and therefore do not question. To give one's opinion at every turn is thought to be a matter of personal freedom. But it is not usually realised to what these opinions amount.—We grow up in the world, absorbing more and more without noticing it; according to our Karma, we find one thing more pleasing, another less; we reach, say, the respectable age of twenty-five and feel absolutely mature and certain in our judgment because we think it comes from our own soul. But such judgment contains absolutely nothing more than our experiences in the external world. And in that we feel obliged to assert our own judgment in the outer world, we become all the more slavishly dependent upon our inner life. We pass judgment, but we omit to question, to ask. We learn to ask aright only when we acquire that inner sense of proportion which maintains respect and reverence for the things that are holy as sacred in life, when we enter the sacred domains of life in an attitude of waiting without asserting our own judgment. A certain diffidence is necessary in face of things that are holy. We must ask the spiritual world—to which we bring, not our own judgments but our questionings, and a mood-of-soul which asks. Try, my dear friends, to understand the difference between facing the spiritual world in an attitude of “judging” and in an attitude of questioning. There is a radical difference between the two attitudes. Moreover something is connected with this to which we ought to give particular heed in our Movement, for this Movement will not thrive unless we understand the difference between questioning and judging. Naturally, we must also judge, but over against the mysteries of the spiritual life we must unfold the attitude of questioning, of expectancy. The progress of our Movement will be furthered by this attitude of questioning; it will be hindered by the contrary attitude. And when in solemn moments we ponder the story of the one who ought to have asked about the Mystery of the Holy Grail, the figure of Parsifal becomes the personification of an Ideal for our Movement.

Human souls before the Mystery of Golgotha possessed the old, inherited clairvoyance which had been carried over from incarnation to incarnation, but it was gradually fading away. This fading clairvoyance was bound up with that upon which our external sight and other sense-activities are also dependent. When human beings who lived before the time of the Mystery of Golgotha were growing up as children, they learnt not only how to walk and talk, but they also learnt clairvoyance. Clairvoyance arose from the nature and organisation of man, just as speech arises from the organisation of the brain and larynx. Human beings in those times did not stop at learning to speak, but they also learnt clairvoyance. The old clairvoyance therefore was bound up with the human organism. as it was in the physical world. Clairvoyance in one who was a libertine was tainted by his particular characteristics; clairvoyance in a pure man bore the mark of his purity. The consequence of this fact was that a certain mystery, the mystery of the connection between the spiritual world and the physical world as it existed before the descent of Christ, might not be disclosed to an ordinary, unprepared human being. His constitution must first have become mature and ready. It was not lawful for the disciple at Sais to gaze upon the image of the soul of Isis.

In the Fourth post-Atlantean age, when the mystery of Golgotha took place, the old clairvoyance had faded away. The new constitution of the human soul is such that the soul must remain shut off from the spiritual world if it does not ask concerning the spiritual world, if it lacks the urge that is contained in questioning. The harmful forces which in ancient times drew near any human soul who desired to penetrate into these mysteries without due preparation, cannot now approach when a man asks in the right way about the Mystery of the Holy Grail. For in this Mystery there is concealed the power which since the Mystery of Golgotha has flowed into the aura of the Earth but was not previously there. It remains shut off, however, from one who does not ask. There must be an urge really to unfold what is contained in the soul. Before the Mystery of Golgotha this urge was not present, for the Christ had not yet passed into the Aura of the Earth. Before the Mystery of Golgotha, merely by gazing at the image of Isis and striving to fathom the mystery in the lawful way with such powers of clairvoyance as still existed, a human being would have poured all his forces into such an act and thus have recognised the mystery. In the age after the Mystery of Golgotha, a soul who learns to ask in the right way will be able to perceive and feel the new Mystery of Isis. Hence, my dear friends, everything depends upon asking, upon the right attitude to the spiritual conception of the world that is made known in our time. One who comes merely with the intention of judging, may read all the books and the lecture-courses, but he will gain nothing whatever, for he lacks the attitude Parsifal. If a man comes as one who truly asks, a great deal more than what the mere words contain will be revealed to him—for the words will then bear fruit in his soul as actual experience. And this above all is important—that the spiritual teachings should become actual experience.

These things are brought home to us by such events as transpired between the time of Jesus of Nazareth's conversation with the mother, and the Baptism by John in the Jordan. Such things will have meaning for us only when we ask what it is that distinguishes the time before the Mystery of Golgotha from the age that followed it... It it best to allow these things to work upon the soul; all that they can say to us is really contained in the story.

At this point in our study of the “Fifth Gospel” I wanted merely to indicate how important it is in this age to understand the attitude of Parsifal. It was brought to the fore by Richard Wagner, who tried to clothe it in musical and dramatic form. I do not propose to enter the lists of the fight that is going on about it in the outer world, because it is not for spiritual science to mingle in such strife. I shall not pronounce judgment as between those who wish to preserve it in Bayreuth and those who want to consign it to Klingsor's realm—which has, as a matter of fact, already happened. My aim is to show that in the onward flow of the Christ Impulse, the Parsifal attitude must come into play in domains that are beyond the reach of the power of judgment belonging to man's ordinary consciousness but to which this consciousness can more and more be directed by a spiritual conception of the world.