On the Fifth Gospel
10th February, 1914
(The German transcript has been slightly abbreviated)
The information revealed by the “Fifth Gospel” sheds new light upon the great steps taken, as it were in the whole Cosmos, in preparation for the Mystery of Golgotha. Spiritual Science conceives the Mystery of Golgotha to be a kind of interim culmination of other happenings with which it is connected in the streams of world-realities.
We have heard that the Jesus boys were born in preparation for the Mystery of Golgotha. One of them was the “Solomon Jesus Child” who bore within him the Ego of Zarathustra. The age of the two boys was approximately the same and when they were twelve years old, the Zarathustra-Ego passed over into the body of the other Jesus boy who had descended from the “Nathan line” of the House of David. Then — from the source of the Fifth Gospel — it was possible to give details of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. His three bodily sheaths were those of the Nathan Jesus Child and the Zarathustra-Ego was present these three sheaths until Jesus of Nazareth reached his thirtieth year. You have also heard of the conversation with the mother which then took place and how, as he poured his very Self — his Ego — into the words, the Zarathustra-Ego departed from the bodily sheaths. Then, at the Baptism by John in the Jordan, the Christ Being descended into the threefold bodily sheaths of Jesus of Nazareth.
This conception of the Being Christ Jesus gives us an infinitely deeper and grander impression than is possible to those who draw only upon the sources of hitherto existing knowledge and the information contained in the Gospels.
Thee Event which, together with the “Crucifixion” and the “Resurrection” we call the Mystery of Golgotha, followed three other Events as a kind of culmination.
One of these other Events had taken place in very ancient Lemurian times; the second in the early period of the Atlantean epoch, and the third towards its end. These first three Events, however, transpired in the spiritual worlds, not on the physical plane. We have therefore to turn our eyes to four Events, of which the last only — the Mystery of Golgotha itself — took place on the physical plane. The three others were Events in the spiritual world, as it were in preparation for the fourth.
I have told you that the altogether unique character of the Being we know as the Nathan Jesus was revealed in that immediately after his birth he spoke certain words — albeit in a language unintelligible to everyone except his mother, who in her heart and feeling was able to discern what the words implied. It must be realised that the Nathan Jesus boy was not an ordinary human being; unlike the Solomon Jesus boy who bore within him the Zarathustra-Ego and, as other human beings, had passed through many earthly lives, the Nathan Jesus boy had no earthly incarnations behind him for the whole of his previous existence had been spent in the spiritual worlds.
I have spoken of this in earlier lectures by saying that when, from the Lemurian epoch onwards, human souls were coming down to earthly incarnations, something was as it were kept back in the spiritual worlds and incarnated for the first time in the Nathan Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth therefore was not the bearer of a human Ego in the ordinary sense, for the “human Ego” passes on from one earthly incarnation to another, whereas the previous existence of this Being had been spent in the spiritual worlds. And only the Initiates in the ancient Mysteries who were able to see into the spiritual worlds knew that this Being — who would eventually be born as the Nathan Jesus and become the bearer of the Christ — had been connected with certain previous Events in the spiritual worlds. In order to understand the nature of these Events we must remind ourselves of the following.
Most of you will remember that in lectures on Anthroposophy given here some years ago, I spoke of the human senses. I emphasised then that in reality man possesses twelve senses — the five usually enumerated forming only a part of these twelve. We will not enter into this in greater detail to-day but speak of something else, namely, that the senses of man, the senses in the physical body, would have suffered a fate portending ill for human nature had not the first Christ Event taken place in the spiritual worlds during the epoch of ancient Lemuria in preparation for the Mystery of Golgotha. In the Lemurian epoch the foundations of the senses were actually present in man's bodily structure. But we know, too, that in this same epoch the Luciferic powers began to operate in human evolution and influenced the whole organism of man. If in the Lemurian epoch nothing else had happened than the descent of man to earthly incarnations and the onset of the Luciferic influence, the senses would not have developed into the organs they are to-day. They would have been hypersensitive, over-sensitive. We should have gone about the world with ‘untempered’ senses. The colour red, for instance would have affected the eye so strongly as to cause actual suffering; other impressions too would have caused pain to the senses. For example: the eye would have felt as if it were being drawn away, sucked away by the colour blue. And it would have been the same in all the other senses. The human being would have been obliged to go about the world with senses over-susceptible to pain or to immoderate, and therefore unhealthy, sensations of pleasure. Sensory activity would have been stronger and more intense than is healthy; the senses would have been affected by every single impression coming from the world outside. This would have been the outcome of the Luciferic influence, and it was averted from humanity not by anything that transpired in the physical world but by the first of the three Events which took place in preparation for the Mystery of Golgotha. In the Lemurian epoch, the same Christ Being Who later on, at the Baptism in the Jordan, came down into the body of Jesus of Nazareth, united at that time with a being still living in the spiritual world — the being subsequently born as “Nathan Jesus boy.”
If we say of the Event in Palestine that the Christ Being then united with a body, of this first Event we must say that in the spiritual world, during the Lemurian epoch, He “ensouled” (verseelte sich) a Being who in a later epoch came down to the Earth as the Nathan Jesus boy.
Thus there was present in the spiritual worlds a Being of soul-and-spirit Who through this union with the soul of the later Jesus of Nazareth and through all the consequences of this Deed, averted the calamity that would have befallen the human senses. It was as though this Being radiated His light from the spiritual worlds upon humanity in order that the senses might be saved from the suffering attendant upon over-sensitiveness. The first Event in preparation for the Mystery of Golgotha was for the well-being and salvation of the senses. The fact that we can go about the world with senses functioning as they now do, is due to this first Christ Event.
A second Event took place towards the beginning of the Atlantean epoch. The same being — the later Jesus of Nazareth — was again “ensouled” by the Christ Being, with the result that another evil was averted from human nature. Although the first Christ Event had brought salvation to the senses, the Luciferic and, later on, the Ahrimanic influences had so affected the seven life-organs of man that if the second Event had not taken place, human life in the world could not have been as it now is; man would have vacillated between wild, inordinate desire (in certain limits this is what we not call ‘sympathy’) and utter disgust for what he imbibes through his life-organs, for his means of nourishment. In the lectures on “anthroposophy” I also spoke of these seven life-organs. In the physical body they are vesicular organs, but what underlies them is actually a certain formation of the etheric body. Moreover for everything that found its way to his organs of breathing, too, man would either have felt inordinate desire or deepest loathing. Therefore the seven life-organs too would have become over-active as a result of the influence of Lucifer and Ahriman. The second Christ Event took place — again in the supersensible worlds. And this Event brought ‘moderation’ into the life-organs, enabled them to function with a certain restraint. Just as our senses would never have been able to face the world “in wisdom” if the first Christ Event had not taken place in the Lemurian epoch, so our life-organs could never have functioned with temperance and moderation if the second Christ Event had not transpired at the beginning of the Atlantean epoch.
But man was faced by yet another evil. This third evil threatened the astral body, in connection with thinking, feeling and willing and their due fields of activity. A certain harmony is maintained to-day in man's thinking, feeling and willing, and when this harmony is upset, the healthy life of the soul is disturbed. When thinking, feeling and willing do not interact in the right way, a man falls into conditions of extreme hypochondria, melancholy or actual insanity. As a result of the Luciferic and Ahrimanic influence, therefore, men's thinking, feeling and willing would have lapsed into utter disorder if, towards the end of the Atlantean epoch, the third Christ Event had not taken place. Once again the Christ Being united with the “Nathan-Jesus soul” in the supersensible worlds, bringing order and harmony into the soul-powers of thinking, feeling and willing.
These three Events all worked upon man from the spiritual worlds; they were not Events of the physical plane. But memories of the third Event in particular, have been well preserved in myths and legends; and as in many other cases, spiritual knowledge leads us to a much deeper understanding of the wisdom they contain.
We are all familiar with imagery often used for the portrayal of supersensible beings; the Archangel Michael, or St. George overcoming the Dragon, vanquishing death. This is a pictorial presentation of the third Christ Event: St. George or the Archangel Michael is inspired by the Christ Being; and the ‘Conquest of the Dragon’ indicates the overcoming of those elements in the desire-nature of man which would bring confusion and disorder into thinking, feeling and willing.
There is deep meaning in these pictures; they have not been created for the intellect but for the feeling, in order that what eludes intellectual understanding may be presented to the human soul in the form of visible symbols.
In earlier lectures we have heard how in its world of Gods and Spirit-Beings, Greek culture preserved the shadow-images of the Divine Spiritual Beings who in the Atlantean epoch had been present, in all their reality, in the sphere immediately above the world of men. The Greeks had preserved definite consciousness of the third Christ Event, the Event that is portrayed elsewhere as St. George or the Archangel Michael overthrowing the Dragon. — In their Apollo the Greeks portrayed the Christ Being permeating the soul of the later Jesus boy. And we may say with truth that in ancient Greece, St. George and the Dragon are real beings, cosmic beings. The Greeks had their Castalian fountain on Parnassos; vapours arose from a gorge in the earth and these vapours, winding around the mountain like snakes, were a picture of those wild tumultuous passions of men which cast thinking, feeling and willing into confusion and disorder. At the place — it was the abode of Python — where these curling, snake-like vapours issued from the gorge, the Greeks erected the sanctuary of the Pythian Oracle. Sitting there on her tripod above the gorge, she was transported by the rising vapours into a state of visionary consciousness and her utterances were conceived to by the words of Apollo himself. Those who sought advice addressed themselves to the Pythian Oracle and received it from Apollo through her mouth.
In Greece, therefore, Apollo was a real and living Being. We know now that he was the Being who was ensouled by the Christ and later on became the Nathan Jesus boy. This being was known to the Greeks as “Apollo.” He eliminates the effects of the Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences from what rises out of the earth into the soul of the Pythian Oracle. And because the Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences no longer creep into her soul with the vapours which had been purified by Apollo, the forces issuing from her no longer bring thinking, feeling and willing into confusion but into order and harmony on the Earth.
And so we perceive in the figure of Apollo the idea that the God whom we in later time call Christ sent His influence into the thinking, feeling and willing of men. — He was the God Who sacrificed Himself at that time by uniting with the soul of the later Nathan Jesus, in order that harmony and order might prevail in the thinking, feeling and willing of the human soul, instead of the confusion wrought by the influence of Lucifer and Ahriman.
In the supersensible worlds, therefore, three Christ Events take place in preparation for the Event of Golgotha.
What was actually achieved by this Event? What is it that would have fallen into chaos and disorder if the Event of Golgotha had not taken place?
In the Fourth post-Atlantean epoch, the Greco-Latin epoch, humanity was ready for the development of the ‘I’. The first peoples who were ready for this were those who inhabited the lands stretching from Western Asia across Southern Europe and into Middle Europe. The encounter between the Roman peoples and the Germanic peoples in Middle and Southern Europe was to give a strong impetus to this development of Ego-consciousness. The ‘I’, the Ego, was to develop in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch — but something would have gone wrong with this development had not the Mystery of Golgotha taken place in that same epoch. Just as the senses would have been impaired in the Lemurian epoch if the first Christ Event had not taken place; just as irregularity would have crept into the development of the seven life-organs if the second Christ Event had not taken place at the beginning of the Atlantean epoch; just as thinking, feeling and willing in man's life of soul would have been cast into disorder if the third Christ Event had not taken place towards the end of the Atlantean epoch... so, too it would have been with the development of the ‘I’, if the fourth Christ Event — the Mystery of Golgotha — had not taken place in the Greco-Latin epoch. For as we know, in this fourth post-Atlantean epoch men had reached the stage of Egohood, of ‘I’-consciousness.
For human beings not belonging to this particular phase of evolution, a different kind of revelation was given. The characteristic difference between the Buddha revelation and the Christ revelation is that the Buddha revelation was given to human beings not destined to unfold consciousness of the ‘I’ which passes through the series of incarnations. Without understanding what this implies, it is not possible to have a true conception of Buddhism. I have often spoken of a simile employed in a later phase of Buddhism, to the effect that the true Buddhist likens what passes over from one incarnation to another to the fruit of the mango which, when it is laid into the earth, produces a new tree upon which new fruit grows; the new mango fruit has in common with the old only ‘name’ and ‘form.’ The ‘form’ alone remains, the individual entity disappears and nothing that has real being passes on. Buddhism teaches nothing about the transmission of the Ego — for the reason that the Eastern peoples had not yet reached full consciousness of the ‘I’. And to this very day we find that when adherents of purely oriental teachings endeavour to understand Western thought and philosophy, they come to a standstill at the point where Egohood becomes an essential and basic factor. The Ego was destined to come to birth in the peoples of the West.
The time for the birth of the Ego was the Fourth post-Atlantean epoch, but if nothing had intervened, irregularity would have set in. This is indicated by something that made its first appearance in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, namely Greek Philosophy. Greek philosophy is a significant sign of the birth of the Ego, but side by side with Greek philosophy we find the Sibylline soothsayers. Unlike the Pythia under the influence of Apollo, the Sibyls were women whose life of soul lacked order and harmony, who allowed the revelations they received to work chaotically in their thinking, feeling and willing. Great and sublime truths were often contained in these Sibylline revelations which began to play a part from about the eighth century B.C. and continued right on into the Middle Ages. — But the wisdom was confused and chaotic, fraught with all kinds of extravagance. Sibylline ‘wisdom’ is a striking example of he fact that the birth of Ego-consciousness (just as would have happened to the twelve senses in the Lemurian epoch, the seven life-organs in the earthly Atlantean epoch and the three soul-faculties at the end of the Atlantean epoch had it not been for the first three Christ Events. In the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, disorder would have crept into the development of Ego-consciousness if the Mystery of Golgotha had not taken place.
The Mystery of Golgotha comes down as it were by stages, from those lofty heights of Spirit where the Christ Event had taken place in the Lemurian epoch, to the physical plane itself — as our earthly Mystery of Golgotha.
Here again we have an indication of the supreme significance of this unique Event in Earth-evolution, prepared for as it had been by great and momentous happenings in the spiritual worlds. The connection with the sublime Sun Being we know as the Christ is revealed, too, in the Greek Apollo, for Apollo is the ‘Sun God.’
I have spoken in bare outline only of matters which help me to realise the significance of the Mystery of Golgotha. All these things could be expounded in detail and would reveal the untold Cosmic significance of this Event.
We have been considering the Mystery of Golgotha from the aspect of the Cosmos; but it is possible, too, to make a different approach.
A human being passes into the spiritual world through the Gate of Death or through initiation, but we will think now only of one who enters the spiritual world through death. He lays aside his physical body and this outermost sheath is given over to the earthly elements through burial or through cremation. Suppose that after death a man looks back from the spiritual world upon what is happening to his physical body as it passes over through decay or through cremation into the physical elements of the Earth. — What he beholds in the processes here taking place can be called a ‘happening of Nature’, like any other, in which no moral concepts, for example, are involved — for we do not apply moral concepts when clouds form, when lightening strikes from one cloud to another, and so forth. Man looks at his physical body in process of dissolution, just as he looks at these phenomena of Nature. But for a few days, as we know, his connection with the ether-body remains and then the second separation, the separation of the ether-body from the astral body and Ego takes place.
As man looks back upon the discarded ether-body, the processes in which it is involved are not of the same character as those operating in the discarded physical body. After death we can by no means look at what the ether-body is and what is becoming of it, as if it were a ‘phenomenon of Nature’. The ether-body reveals its own individual character, coloured by the feelings and sentiments we have harboured during life. The whole gamut of our feelings — good or bad — is revealed to us by the ether-body. The temper and tenor of our soul is stamped into the ether-body and becomes visible to us after death. Then by a complicated process it dissolves into the universe of ether, is absorbed into the other world.
Looking back in this way upon what becomes of our ether-body, we have before us an image of what we ourselves were in earthly life. And this image tells us: ‘If your feelings were good, if you were truly devoted to the spiritual worlds, then you have given over to the universe of Ether something that is good and beneficial; if your feelings were unrighteous, if you turned a deaf ear to information concerning the spiritual worlds, then you have given over to the Cosmos of Ether something that is injurious and harmful.
In the spiritual world it is part of the destiny of our soul, that is to say of our astral body and Ego, to behold ourselves in the fate of the ether-body — which cannot be changed once the separation from the physical body has taken place. It is a moment of paramount significance after death when we realise that just as in the world of sense we saw clouds and mountains, so now, after death, we see, as a kind of background, all that we ourselves laid into our ether-body through our feelings and tenor of soul. The picture expands as the ether-body dissolves, becomes as it were a “firmament” against which everything else stands out in relief. After death, therefore, man sees what is happening to his ether-body.
Something else is revealed as well, namely, two different kinks of properties, or forces, in the now dissolving ether-body: one of these properties gives rise to an impression that must always weigh heavily upon the soul after death. The best way to understand what this means is to think of the destiny confronting the physical Earth.
The destiny of the physical Earth is recognised to-day even by the physicists, who rightly speak of the “Wärmetod” (equilibration of heat and cold) to which the physical Earth will succumb. The relation of heat to the other physical forces is such that as scientific calculations already show, a time will come when all temperature will be reduced to a dead level. No life or existence in the physical kingdom of Earth will then be possible; the whole physical Earth will perish.
Materialists are bound to assume — for otherwise they would be inconsistent — that this equilibration of temperature, the Wärmetod, also entails the end of everything know to them as culture, the end of all human thinking, reflection, aspiration, endeavour, in short the disappearance of all human existence.
Those who understand the conditions as revealed by Spiritual Science know what this means, namely, that the physical Earth will fall away from the Spiritual like a corpse, just as the physical corpse falls away from that part of a man's being which passes onwards through the Gate of Death. At death, the corpse is discarded and as a being of soul-and-spirit, man lives through an intermediate period between death and a new birth, passing over from one state of existence to another. In the same way the spiritual part of the Earth will pass over to the ‘Jupiter existence’ when physical existence comes to an end. This ‘Jupiter existence’ will be a further embodiment of everything that is connected spiritually with the Earth.
And so when we are able after death to look back at the ether-body, we realise that in very truth one part of the ether-body has to do with everything in the realm of Earth that will ultimately perish. Certain forces in our ether-body have to do with the process by which the Earth is led onwards to its end. But the ether-body contains other forces too, quite different forces. We can picture the relation of these forces to the physical Earth by thinking of the seed of the plant surrounded by substance out of which the next plant arises. Similarly, we perceive in the ether-body, forces which have only to be active as long as the Earth exists, until the Earth comes to an end with the Wärmetod. But there are other forces too, ‘young’, fertile forces, and these are connected with everything that makes the Earth capable of germination in the Cosmos, of passing over to its next embodiment. This ‘fertile’ part of the ether-body can only be perceived — and here we come to another significant secret disclosed by Spiritual Science — when the human being has established a certain relationship with the Christ, the Christ Impulse. For this part of the ether-body is permeated with the Christ Forces which since the Mystery of Golgotha have poured into the sphere of the Earth. It is these Christ Forces in the ether-body which enable the ‘fertile seed’ in the human soul, too, to pass over to the Jupiter embodiment of the Earth. Our connection with the Christ Impulse therefore, enables us to perceive the fertile seed, the seed of the future within our ether-body. And this brings the certain knowledge that the power of the Mystery of Golgotha has flowed, in very truth, into the Earth-sphere and that this power was responsible for quickening the spiritual forces of the Earth with which we ourselves, as human beings, are inwoven. When a human being who has attained Ego-consciousness in the real sense — as is the case in the West to-day — gazes upon his ether-body after death, he must not find this ether-body devoid of the forces flowing from the Christ Impulse. For it means a life of unblessedness after death if the vista of the ether-body reveals that ether-body is not permeated by the Christ Impulse.
I have said many, many times that Christ has come to the Earth as a Real Being and that even those who in their surface-consciousness to-day resist the Christ Impulse... they too will gradually find their way to it, although perhaps one or two incarnations later than the peoples of the West. Man's blessedness after death depends upon the realisation that the Christ Impulse is present in the ether-body; whereas he is doomed to tribulation if he can perceive in the ether-body only that which must inevitably perish with the Earth. A man belonging to Western civilisation, born as he is with the clear Ego-consciousness to which the Oriental peoples have not yet attained, is doomed to a state of unblessedness if, after death, he must look back upon an ether-body lacking the‘substance’ of the Christ Impulse and containing only those forces by which Earth-evolution is finally led to its end. When a man cannot perceive the young, fertile forces of the Christ Impulse in his ether-body, it is rather like having to live after death under the constant impression of an earthquake or a volcanic eruption.
These young, fertile forces of the Christ Impulse... what are they?
Of one aspect I have spoken many times, namely, of the part played by the blood in the physical body of Christ Jesus. The blood is, of course, one of the physical components of the body, and in the case of an ordinary human being it dissolves away at death in the physical Elements. This did not happen to that part of the blood in the body of Christ Jesus which flowed from the wounds on Golgotha. This blood was ‘etherised’, was actually taken up into the etheric forces of the Earth. The blood that flowed from the wounds on Golgotha became Ether-Substance. And perceiving this Ether-Substance gleaming and glistening in the ether-body after death, man knows it to be the young, fertile life by which he is borne onwards into the future.
These quickening, freshening life-forces pour into the human ether-body from yet another source. Contemplation of the Fifth Gospel reveals — it is a deep and solemn impression — that after the body of Christ Jesus had been laid in the Grave, a certain happening led, in actual fact, to the scene described with such marvellous exactitude in the Gospel of St. John: the clothes lay scattered around the empty Grave. The Fifth Gospel reveals that it was indeed so. An undulating earthquake had produced a rift in the earth and into this rift the body of Christ Jesus fell. The rift then closed again and, as described in St. John's Gospel, the clothes in which the body had been shrouded were hurled about the empty sepulchre by the tempest. When these things are revealed to one from the Fifth Gospel, it is a deeply moving experience to find them confirmed in the Gospel of St. John.
And so something else too flowed into the human ether-body. What had been received into the rift in the earth poured through the blood now agleam in the Ether, making this gleaming blood visible in the human ether-body. As I said before, the ether-body expands after death and man sees it as a ‘firmament’ against which everything else stands out in relief. And the feeling arises: The body of Christ Jesus, empty of blood, spreads through the expanding ether-body like a basic substance. The body which had fallen into the chasm passed into the Earth, and the etherised blood now reveals itself in the tableau of the human ether-body, filling the tableau with life. And from this revelation arises the certainty: Mankind does not perish, but lives on as the spiritual essence of Earth-existence when the Earth falls away, just as the corpse falls away from the indwelling spiritual being on man. True, the ‘I’ and astral body guarantee freedom and immortality for man; but he would live on only for himself, he would pass over to Jupiter only to find himself in an alien world if the forces poured by the Christ Impulse into the Earth-sphere were not carried over to Jupiter.
If individual human beings were not rooted within an Earth-sphere that has been pervaded by the Christ Impulse, they would pass over to Jupiter in ‘poverty of soul’, with faculties hardly richer than those belonging to the Lemurian epoch. And this ‘poverty of soul’ which would give the conviction that earthly life is doomed to perish would betoken a state of unblessedness for man between death and rebirth; whereas realisation of what the Christ Impulse has wrought for the spiritual part of the Earth brings blessedness to the soul in the life between death and rebirth.
Since the Mystery of Golgotha, every experience by which the human soul is quickened and enriched comes from what was poured into the spiritual aura of the Earth by the Christ Impulse.