The Karma of Vocation
27 November 1916, Dornach
When we seek the answer to the question to which we referred in the last lecture as to how human beings may establish a relationship with the Christ today, the objection is made by many that a number of human beings already have a relationship with Him. I have spoken frequently about this objection, and we know that it is invalid. On more careful consideration, it turns out to be a thoroughly egoistic objection that can be made only by a person who has the following view: “I have a faith that makes me happy; anything else is no concern of mine.” But in general, humanity's relation to the Christ-Being is not satisfactory; that is easily recognizable from the events of our times and little needs to be added. The necessary answer to this objection can be given by everyone by saying that a basic element in the confession of Christ must be the truth that He died and rose for all men — for all men alike — and that, when man turns against man for the sake of external possessions, it can never be done in His name. It is possible for a person to turn away from this general human destiny to apply himself solely in egoistic fashion to his own creed. Certainly, but then no attenion is paid to the fact that the occurrence of the Mystery of Golgotha is something that primarily concerns human society. We will now have to mention something that may draw our attention to what is essential in the path that leads to Christ, since it is obvious that each soul must find the way to Him for himself with those means that are suitable for the present time.
When we seek to understand in a more profound sense what the Christ Being signifies for the earth, we must first acquaint ourselves with the truth of an essential element in the Mystery of Golgotha; that is, it actually occurred only once at a definite point in space and time. When we fix this in our minds, we shall discover a contradiction of a view that is generally held, even by us; we should not simply seek to remove it by argumentation since it is justifiable and must first be recognized if we desire to remove it for our own souls. You see, provided the Mystery of Golgotha is an inner and genuine truth, it cannot represent anything but the meaning of the evolution of the earth. But, as we know, everything that occurs in time and space belongs to the realm of maya, the great illusion; that is, it does not belong to the real and eternal, the essential nature of things. Thus we face the highly significant contradiction that the Mystery of Golgotha belongs to maya, the great illusion, and we must place this contradiction before our souls in its full validity.
Now, since this Mystery of Golgotha occurred during the time of the earthly evolution of humanity, let us first consider this evolution. We know, of course, that what we have to deal with is that the human being has come over from earlier worlds and that at a definite point of time, as we have set forth in my book, An Outline of Occult Science, he was subjected to what may be called a luciferic temptation, a seduction. We have often considered this luciferic seduction in the sense in which spiritual scientific investigation shows it, and we know it was expressed in a magnificent image at the beginning of the Old Testament. In the so-called “Fall of Man,” the image of Lucifer as a serpent in Paradise is one of the mightiest representations of religious documents.
When we survey the time through which humanity passed from the luciferic temptation to the Mystery of Golgotha, we find it to be a time in which human beings gradually descended from a primeval, atavistic clairvoyant, revelation that was brought over from earlier planetary stages in which the spiritual worlds had a real existence before their souls. During the centuries preceding the Mystery of Golgotha, therefore, they were no longer able to look up to the spiritual world as they had done before, but they now possessed only echoes of the ancient knowledge of the spiritual world.
Taking now a relatively short period of earthly time since we cannot go all the way back to the luciferic temptation, let us review the successive descending stages of human evolution down to the Mystery of Golgotha. If we go back far enough, we discover that what men possessed at an earlier time as an atavistic wisdom, as a real perception of the spiritual world, now echoed in the world conceptions of the religions as reverence for a more or less significant, but highly regarded, ancestor. That is to say, in various regions of the earth we find religious cults that we may call ancestral cults. Such cults in which men look up with reverence to an ancestor still survive among those who have remained at a more or less early stage of evolution. What is the reason for this adoration? What is the reality behind this looking up to an ancestor in ancient times? In those most ancient times to which history can still look back, in that hoary antiquity, we have a certain epoch in which ancestral cults are customary (cf. chart on p. 194).
Such ancestral cults were not based on fact, as is supposed by superficial contemporary science, that those belonging to them imagined they had to look up to a certain ancestor, but the nature of the most ancient ancestral cults was such that men had a direct vision of their ancestors at a certain time in their lives. At these times, in a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping such as was universal in the earlier stages of human evolution, a person who looked up to an ancestral god really attained a condition of union with what he reverenced as his ancestor. The ancestor appeared to him not merely in a dream, but in a dream-like image that signified something real to him, and those individuals to whom the same ancestor appeared belonged together in a single ancestral cult. What these individuals beheld in spirit was, to be sure, a human form elevated to a lofty level, but something entirely different was concealed behind it. If we wish to know what was really concealed behind this spirit form, we must realize that the ancestor had once died and had left the earth as a highly regarded personality who had wrought much good for a human community. He had passed through the portal of death and when these individuals looked up to him, he was on the way between death and a new birth. As these human beings looked up to him, what was it they saw of him?
We know, of course, that when a human being passes through the portal of death, he remains for a short time in his etheric body before it is cast off. But the casting off of this body signifies that it passes over into the spiritual worlds, into the etheric world. The human being continues to develop in his ego and his astral body; the etheric body passes over into the etheric world. Since this man had performed something lasting on earth, the memory of his etheric body continued for a long time. It is this etheric body of the ancestor that was beheld in the ancient atavistic, dream-like clairvoyance and people revered what was revealed to them through it. But during the period between death and a new birth, this etheric body comes into contact with the spirits of the higher hierarchies; most particularly with those belonging to the hierarchy of the archai, the spirits of time. Since this particular ancestor was a significant personality for human evolution, he thus established a union with the time spirit who was bringing human evolution one step forward.
What made itself known through this ghost, as we may call it, of the ancestor was, in reality, one of the time spirits; so worship within the most ancient religions was really directed to the time spirit. Wherever we go back into those times that we may look upon as the hoary antiquity of history, we find that human beings worshipped the etheric bodies of their forefathers to cause the time spirits to reveal themselves. That is to say, as we go back to the ancestral cults, what we find is the worship of the time spirits, the archai.
Men then descended further and began to worship those gods who are known to us from the various mythologies, and whom we call archangels; even Zeus in Greek mythology possessed archangelic manifestations. In the most ancient times people looked up to the time spirits; later, they looked up to those spirits who are not time spirits but are of equal value with the spirits who control the guidance of different peoples, the archangels. Thus we may say that polytheism, when human beings worshipped archangels, follows after ancestral worship.
Then human beings descend still further to the period in which the ego is gradually to be born in the individual. We now find that the most advanced nations pass over to monotheism at a relatively early period — the Egyptians, for example, even in the second millennium before Christ, the people of the Near East later. That is, they begin to worship angels, every person his or her own angel, rather than an archangel. They descend from the higher polytheism to the lower monotheism. After what has previously been presented to you, you will not consider what I am about to say as something strange. You will see that people must cure themselves of the pride that permeates the entire field of religious studies, which deems itself justified to consider monotheism as a religion superior to polytheism. By no means is it so, but the relationship of the two is just as has been described.
Why, then, could the ancient peoples still worship archai, archangels, and angels? They could do so because they still preserved a remnant or echo of the atavistic clairvoyant capacity. For this reason they were able to lift themselves up to what is superhuman; they could, in a certain sense, rise above the human and elevate themselves to the superhuman. In the ancient mysteries, this process of elevating oneself to the superhuman was especially cultivated. Human beings were developed so they could unfold within themselves what extended beyond the human, whereby the human soul lifted itself into the realm of spirituality. But then came the time when the human ego, as it lives here between birth and death, was born for human beings. This was the period coinciding with the occurrence of the Mystery of Golgotha. If the Mystery of Golgotha had not occurred, people would have degenerated; they would have descended from worshipping angels to worshipping the next subordinate hierarchy, man himself. When we recall how the Roman Caesars had themselves worshipped as gods, how they really were “gods” to the people, we shall know that at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha human beings had degenerated so far that they now no longer prayed to archai, archangels, or angels, but to man. In order to save men from praying to earthly human beings, it was necessary for the Divine Man to appear.
The entrance of the Divine Man into history signified an important new way to relate oneself to religious life. Where had the worship of angels, archangels, archai, and even that of man in the form of the Roman Caesars, been found? In man himself; no one worshipped the Caesars through the Caesars, but through the worshipper himself, obviously; this had arisen from man; it came from the human soul. It was necessary that the Christ should appear as historic fact in the evolution of humanity; it was necessary that He should be seen, like the phenomena of nature, from without. He had to come into touch with human beings in an entirely different way from that of the gods of the ancient religions — in an entirely different way. “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” This is an important principle in Christianity because it signifies that, whereas it is possible through mere individual mysticism to find angels, archangels, even archai, it is not possible by this individual mysticism to find the Christ. Those who wish to practice individual mysticism, as this is often described even among theosophists, generally reach only the individual angel. They simply internalize this angel more, even making him often somewhat more egoistic than other persons make their gods. The Christ is found in different ways, not through the mere development of one's inner being, but when we are most of all aware that the Christ belongs to the community of human beings, to the whole of human community.
We now come to a most important differentiation, which can be taken into the human mind, we must admit, only with great difficulty. It is imperative, however, that we force ourselves to its level. When we face another human being in life, it is in maya that we, as human beings, face each other. Just as we have before us only the maya of natural phenomena, so are we likewise confronted only with the maya of the other human being. It is within maya that this human being stands before our external senses and all that is connected with the external world of the senses; then he stands before us as belonging to his family, his nation, his time. If we should survey him completely, we should see behind him the angel, the archangel, the archai, but they all express themselves in what the person is. It is because the archangel and the archai stand behind the observer and the human being observed, the latter is in a sense a member of certain human groups. In other words, the observed person in this way stands within heredity and hereditary relationships. Only our shortness of vision — understandable because we are human — prevents us from consciously judging a human being before us according to these essential connections; unconsciously we always do this. Unconsciously we face one another within this differentiation, which must inevitably be brought into humanity by these three hierarchies. But the Christ demands something more, something different. He demands in reality that when you face someone, you shall feel that what such a human being appears to you to be in the external world is not the entire and complete human being. When you face a human being, you should perceive his or her real being as coming not only from archai, archangels and angels, but from higher spirits no longer belonging to the earthly or even planetary evolution because this begins with the archai, the higher heavenly spirits, as you know from An Outline of Occult Science. You must see that with the human being something enters into maya that is supramundane.
To understand fully what I have just expressed, you must not allow it to remain a mere concept but carry it over completely into your feelings. It is necessary to understand clearly that in every human being something supramundane in his nature comes to meet us, something not to be understood by earthly human means. Then everyone will experience that sensitive reverence in the presence of all that is human. Before the Mystery of Golgotha, man had gradually lost this superhuman element and had descended all the way to being human. The superhuman element had been lost because — listen carefully — when a human being such as a Roman Caesar comes to be worshipped as a god, he loses his humanity and sinks to the level of the subhuman. He ceases to be a human being if he permits himself to be worshipped as something superhuman in social life. Man was threatened, therefore, with the loss of his humanity and it was restored to him through the appearance of Christ on earth. Read the cycle of lectures, From Jesus to Christ, 118 Von Jesus zu Christus (Karlsruhe, 1911), Bibl.-No. 131, CE (Dornach, 1974). From Jesus to Christ, (London, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973). in which I spoke on this question, telling you that something is really imparted to every individual human being through the fact that Christ was on earth.
Thus, the coming of the Christ has brought it about that we recognize in every earthly human being, even if he is a sinner or a publican, the Christ who is behind him. The Christ sat down with sinners so that we shall recognize in every earthly human being the truth of the statement, “What thou dost to the least of My brethren, thou has done unto Me.” 119 Matthew 25:40. As I have said, this concept must be transferred entirely into our feeling nature; only then shall we attain to its full truth. Then one also sees all concepts and ideas that separate men from one another fall away, and something belonging to all men in common spreads as an aura over the entire earth when we vow that we shall carry our search, not merely to the archai, but upward to what stands above them whenever we are in the presence of a human being.
If we look back again to the ancient mysteries, we find that in them the human being endeavored to transcend his own being in order to have his soul coalesce with the spiritual world. But through the occurrence of the luciferic temptation this is only partially possible. In this ascent the possibility is lost to ascend still further. It is not possible to bear anything more up into the higher world. Why is this so? The answer to this question will come to us if we fix our attention on the profounder meaning of the luciferic temptation. What does Lucifer truly purpose for humanity? We have often emphasized this. Humanity lives in maya, something that is not the real world but only a mirror of it. What, then, is Lucifer's intention? In this mirror the human being can lift himself up a few stages as far as to the archai, but he must then be taken over by Lucifer if he desires to rise still higher into the spiritual. In a certain sense, he must then take Lucifer as his guide; Lucifer, who constitutes the light that guides him further. If the luciferic evolution had continued, if Christ had not entered into human evolution, the following would have come about after the time in which the Mystery of Golgotha ought to have taken place: human beings within the mysteries would have developed to such an extent that the archai would have been openly visible to them. Then they would have entered into the luciferic world. In that case, however, all that the higher gods such as the exusiai implanted into earthly evolution in the form of the human element would have remained on earth. Man would have spiritualized himself in an entirely ascetic way and would have entered into the spiritual luciferic world in this ascetic spiritualization, leaving behind the corporeal. Human souls would have found their salvation, but the earth would have remained purposeless. The bodies of human beings would never have been able to render the service to the souls that they really ought to render. To prevent this constitutes the significance of the Mystery of Golgotha.
We must now look back once more to the evolution before the Mystery of Golgotha if we wish to understand this matter completely. From the very beginning of the evolution of the earth, it was Lucifer's intention to lead men away from the earth into his spiritual kingdom. He had no interest in the rest of earthly evolution but wanted only to possess what the higher gods had initiated in connection with man. He wished to lead this away in the form of the soul from the earthly evolution after it had remained for a time in the earthly form that comes from the exusiai, the spirits of form. In other words, he wished to lead the souls away and leave the earth to its fate. Why is it, then, that human beings did not follow this endeavor of Lucifer, before the Mystery of Golgotha, to lead them into a luminous world? Why didn't they? You may understand the reasons from many suggestions I have given here, even in these very lectures. They did not follow Lucifer because something was introduced into the evolution of the earth by the higher gods that prevented them from becoming light enough to do so.
As I have shown you, what is called the eighth sphere was introduced into earthly evolution in ancient times. As one of its aspects, the eighth sphere consists of man's acquiring such a preference for and attachment to his lower nature that Lucifer is not able to remove the higher nature from it. Every time Lucifer endeavored to spiritualize human beings, they were too strongly habituated to the flesh to follow him. If they had not been possessed by this cleaving to the flesh, to the physical nature, they would have followed Lucifer. This is one of the great mysteries of cosmic existence, that a divine element was actually implanted in human nature so that it might have, as it were, a greater heaviness than it would have possessed if this divine and necessary element had not been implanted in it. If it had not been implanted, human souls would have obeyed Lucifer. When we go back into ancient times, we find everywhere that the religions lay emphasis on the necessity of human beings reverencing what is earthly, what is an earthly connection living in flesh and blood so that they may be heavy enough not to be led out into the universe. Since all things having a relationship to both the human and the cosmic require not only an earthly, but also a cosmic arrangement, what you find described in my Occult Science occurred. At a certain time, as you know, not only was the earth formed, revolving in its orbit around the sun, but it was provided with the moon as its satellite.
What does it mean that the earth has a moon as its satellite? It means nothing more than that it acquired a force through which it can attract and hold the moon nearby. Should the earth not possess this power to hold the moon, then the spiritual correlative of this force would not be able to chain man to his lower nature because this force, from the spiritual point of view, is the same as that with which the earth attracts the moon. It may be said, then, that the moon is placed in the universe as an opponent of Lucifer in order to hinder him. I have already alluded to this mystery 120 Cf. the lectures in Die okkulte Bewegung im 19. Jahrhundert und ihre Beziehung zur Weltkultur, Bibl.-No. 257, CE (Dornach, 1969). The Occult Movement in the Nineteenth Century, (London, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973). and pointed out that in the period of materialism of the nineteenth century, this truth has been exactly reversed in Sinnet's book, Esoteric Buddhism. 121 Alfred Percy Sinnett, Esoteric Buddhism (1883). There the moon is described as something actually hostile to man. The truth is that it is not hostile to him but prevents him from falling victim to the temptation of Lucifer; it acts as the cosmic correlative of what constitutes the attachment of the human being to his lower nature. Rather than tearing the souls out of the lower nature and thereby preventing its concomitant spiritualization, a subconscious process was required. Had the arrangement been conscious, man would have followed the urges of his lower nature in full consciousness and would have sunk to the animal level. There had to be something in the lower nature of which man was not conscious and which he did not follow except as a human being on earth would follow what flowed into his lower nature as a divine element. Especially the God of the Old Testament, the Jahve God, was concerned that the human being should remain on earth. Jahve is connected in this mysterious way with the moon, as you will find explained also in Occult Science. From this statement you can estimate how materialistic it was to designate the moon as the eighth sphere, whereas it really is the force itself, the sphere, that attracts the moon. In her misguided ways, Blavatsky developed special malice in her Secret Doctrine by maligning the Jahve God as a mere moon god. She wanted to replace him with Lucifer whom she undertook to represent as the friend of the spirit. To be sure, Lucifer is just that, but only in the particular sense I have explained. Blavatsky tried to represent the Jahve God as the god of the mere lower nature, whereas what really constituted an opposition to Lucifer was implanted in the lower nature.
You see how dangerous it is to set up truths that may be perverted to their opposite. Blavatsky was misled by certain beings who had an interest in guiding her into putting Lucifer in the place of Christ, and this was to be achieved by introducing precisely the opposite of the truth of the eighth sphere and by maligning the Jahve God, representing him merely as the god of the lower nature. Thus did those cosmic powers who desired to advance materialism work even through what was called “theosophy.” Materialism would obviously have sunk to its worst abyss if men had come to believe that the moon was really the eighth sphere in the sense indicated by Sinnet or Blavatsky, and that Christianity must be fought in every way.
Now, placing the opponent of Lucifer in the lower nature of man was only possible so long as the human being had not developed his ego in the manner in which this took place at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha. The degree to which this ego was subdued in ancient times is greatly underestimated. It was subdued and appeared only during the centuries just prior to the Mystery of Golgotha. Then it no longer sufficed merely to place in the subconscious, or unconscious, nature what strove against Lucifer. Something had to come that the human being could take up into his consciousness; this is the Christ, who follows the Jahve God in evolution. It was necessary that the Christ should come so that through an avowal of Him the human being might consciously oppose mere spiritualization as this was striven for on the part of Lucifer. Christ descended for all human beings and only through our feeling related to everyone else do we belong to the earth. The deeper understanding of the Christ derives from our connection with all human beings and from our effort to attain a full and complete connection with them.
You see, as long as men lived without the fully developed ego before the Mystery of Golgotha, they passed through the portal of death into the spiritual world and entered into relationship with archai, archangels and angels. But since they had not yet developed the complete ego here on earth, even after they had passed through the portal of death they did not need to develop a connection with the higher spiritual beings consciously. This was regulated through the atavistic powers that lay within them. But since the Mystery of Golgotha — not by reason of it but since that time — everything has become quite different. Let us look at ourselves and see how things have changed.
A human being passes through the portal of death as do others or perhaps one person passes through the portal of death and others remain here on earth. By virtue of his or her passing through the portal of death, an individual continues to be a human being and if we desire to keep our connection with such an individual, our relationship to him or her cannot change. Let us now bear in mind, however, that at the present time, since we live after the Mystery of Golgotha, the human being in ascending into the spiritual worlds passes through the hierarchies of the angels, archangels, and archai. Since he is now within the period in which his ego has developed here on earth, he possesses a consciousness also for the other hierarchies that are above them. That is to say, he develops consciously the forces poured into him from beings that are even higher than the archai. What does this signify? Let us take a concrete case and assume that through death a person loses one who is dearly beloved. The one who has passed through the portal of death maintains for many years, of course, the connection with certain inclinations and tendencies that he had during his lifetime. However, since he developed his ego here in his lifetime as a human being, something in him begins consciously to work on the perspective of his next incarnation immediately after he has passed through the portal of death. This occurs in a decisive way in what I have called in the 122 Rudolf Steiner, Vier Mysteriendramen [Four Mystery Plays], Bibl.- No. 14, CE (Dornach, 1962). Four Mystery Plays, (Steiner Book Centre, Toronto, 1973). the midnight of existence; it appears to some extent in human consciousness immediately after death. When a person is in this state, however, there lives in him what already draws him away from what he was born into in his last life. Let us suppose that in his last life he belonged to a certain nation. The person who has remained behind continues to belong to this nation in his physical body, but a force belonging to an entirely different nation takes possession of the one who has died. How can the bond between the two continue beyond death undiminished in strength? Only when the one who remains here has an understanding for what extends above the angels, archangels and archai; that is, above what one may develop here through one's inclination toward relationships to human groups. If someone remains behind as a member of a certain nation and loses a friend through death who is already preparing to be a member of a different nation, the bond of love with the dead person cannot remain undisturbed. Only through the fact that both confess Christ, that they understand Christ in what extends above all differentiations of men can this bond be supramundane. What did John the Baptist say when Christ Jesus came to him to be baptized? “Behold, the Lamb of God, who beareth the sins of the world.” The full significance of these words might make us grow pale were we to take it in its full weight.
It may be asked why Christ has been victorious and not Mithras. During the time when Christianity was spreading from the East toward the West, the Mithraic cult expanded along the Danube all the way to France and Spain in Western Europe. The cult of Christ, however, has been victorious over the Mithraic cult. Why? Because the cult of Mithras had developed from extending above angels, archangels, and archai, and through this upward extention wished to attain to the Light-giver and Ruler of the World. What is the Christ in contrast to this? The Christ is He who took upon Himself for the evolution of the earth all that is bound up with angels, archangels, and archai; that is, all that chains man to the earth. He bears the sins of the world, those sins that have come into the world through human differentiation. He is a being in whose presence we must say, “I belong to a single human community, but because I belong to a single human community, to something connected with the earthly, I separate myself from the divine. From this I can be redeemed only by a Being who has nothing to do with human differentiation. The Christ in me leads me beyond earthly differentiations, teaches me to feel that what has been produced by earthly differentiation is suffering, that it brings death. Only through such an understanding of the Christ in me do I find my connection with the spiritual world.” All that entered humanity through the fact that differentiations have come about has been removed from it through the entrance of Christ into the world. Christ could not, therefore, be a divinity like Mithras, who guides the human being beyond himself. He is the one God who descended to earth and took away the sins of differentiation and cleansed man of them. Mithras rushes through the world with a sword in his hand that he thrusts into the lower nature to slay it; under him the lower nature dies. Christ offers Himself as the Lamb of God, who takes the lower nature into Himself in order to redeem it.
Much lies in this comparison, immeasurably much! It is for this reason that the idea of Christ is not to be separated from the idea of death and resurrection. Only when we realize that what leads man to the earth brings him death, that there is more in him than what brings him into the earthly atmosphere, and that something is in him that is the Christ Who leads him away again: In Christo morimur — only then do we understand the Christ and know that we are united with Him. Thus, the representations of the ancient gods could set triumphant beings before us, but the Christ could only be presented by the joining of human beings in suffering and death because Christ endured all that enters into the differentiations of man throughout the earth. It is thus that Christ becomes the One Who leads man through death and back into the spiritual world, but this also makes Him the Divinity Who may be approached here on earth as we pass beyond maya or illusion. As the Christ is born here from the womb of maya, so must we draw near to Him by advancing beyond maya and appealing to Him in all the higher reality that projects into maya, but isn't maya itself.
If it is to turn to this worship of Christ, mankind will still need a long time on earth. Nevertheless, we must begin again to take Christianity earnestly. It is taken least of all seriously by the theologians who are frequently in conflict over whether or not Christ performed miracles and, for example, drove out demons through them. Well, it is entirely superfluous to argue over whether or not Christ drove out demons. It is more important that we learn to reproduce His miracles and thereby cast the demons out now where we can. We still have little power to cast out demons in the higher sense as antiquity knew how to do through its atavism. That is the destiny, the karma, of our epoch. But we can begin to drive out those demons of whom I spoke yesterday; they are there and it is negative superstition to suppose that they are not. How do we drive them out? Humanity will be convinced that they are being driven out when what is unholy service today becomes holy; that is, permeated with the Christ consciousness. In other words, this means that we must change to a sacramentalism in which man's deeds are imbued by the consciousness that the Christ stands behind him everywhere. Thus, he ought to do nothing in the world except that in which the Christ can help him. If he does something else, the Christ must also help him but He is thus crucified again and again in human deeds. The crucifixion is not merely a single deed; it is a continuing deed. So long as we do not drive out the demons through what lives in our souls by changing external mechanical actions into holy actions, we will continue to crucify Christ. It is from this point that our education to a true Christianity must begin. What was symbolically practiced in the ancient cults of Christianity and was once performed only on the altar must take hold of the entire world. Humanity must learn to deal with nature as the gods have done; it should learn not to construct machines in an indifferent way but to fulfill a divine service and bring sacramentalism into everything that is produced.
It is already possible to make a beginning in many things. Most of all, human beings can begin to develop sacramentalism in two areas. The first is that of educating and teaching children. We will begin to spiritualize what the religions call “baptism” when we look upon every human being who enters the world through birth as bringing his/her Christ forces with him/herself. Thus we will have the right reverence before the growing human being and can then direct the entire education and especially the teaching of the child in this spirit so that we bring in this teaching a sacramentalism to fruition. We can achieve the same end when we not only look upon educating and teaching the child as a divine service, but also make it such a divine service. Finally, when we endeavor to bring what we call our knowledge into our consciousness in such a way that, as our souls are filled with ideas of the spiritual world, we are aware that the Spiritual world is entering into us and that we are being united with the spiritual; when we look upon that as a “communion;” when we can realize true knowledge in a sentence you find expressed before 1887: “Thinking is the true communion of humanity,” 123 Cf. Preface to: Goethe's Scientific Writings, II, Rudolf Steiner, ed. (1887) in Kürchner's Deutsche National-Litteratur. Photomechanic reprint, 5 vols., Bibl.-No. 1 a-e, CE (1975). Goethe the Scientist, (New York, Anthroposophic Press, 1950). when the symbolic sacrament of the altar will become the universal sacramental experience of knowledge. It is in this direction that the Christianizing of man must move forward. You will then come to the knowledge that, everywhere in life, reality enters into maya in everything that is related to the Christ, and that to look upon reality after the manner of modern science with its world conception is in the most eminent sense unchristian.
It is strange how people nowadays are so easily able to adjust to what is unchristian and how little they can find their way to everything in Christianity that is appropriate to our time. As yet, we can see very little that counteracts materialism from, as I might say, a darkling inclination. If there are some beginnings, people embracing them proceed on false paths in that they, in a confused way, turn to old relations rather than to spiritual science.
Forgive me if I mention in this connection something that concerns me personally, but I am doing this only to cite an example. I may already have pointed out in these lectures that Hermann Bahr, 124 Hermann Bahr (1863–1934), a Viennese writer who was the author of the book Expressionismus, 3rd edition (Munich, 1919) and of the play Die Stimme [The Voice] (Berlin, 1916). a contemporary personality whom I knew very well in my youth, is again in the process of seeking spiritual things. He is not seeking them in spiritual science because his interest for it is very limited. Take his very fine and intelligent book on expressionism and you will discover that he has only a marginal interest in spiritual science. But you can also see from the book itself that up to its publication he has informed himself about spiritual science only to the extent of his having read Levy's book 125 Eugene Levry, Rudolf Steiners Weltanschauung und ihre Gegner [Rudolf Steiner's World View and its Opponents] (Berlin, 1913). on my world view and on the people who oppose it. He has not found the way yet to really engage himself more deeply. However, it is interesting that he wrote a novel whose hero becomes acquainted with everything: contemporary chemical laboratories and so on, attending Oswald's 126 Wilhelm Oswald (1853–1932) was a chemist. lectures in Leipzig, busying himself a bit with the theosophers in London, and so forth. His hero becomes exposed to everything which the present day offers in spiritual sensations, and he even dabbles in spiritism. And then he asks someone — I don't remember who it was — to give him esoteric exercises, which he practices for a while. But he is impatient, continues them only for a short time, does not achieve results and then abandons them; in fact, he gives up on all his endeavors after a short while. Then he has some strange experiences — the most interesting thing for me has been that, in a curious way, much in this book is reminiscent of what I have mentioned most recently in lectures, even about actual events, although I haven't seen Hermann Bahr for the past twenty-eight years except once, but then we definitely did not discuss questions related to our views of the world. Recently, Hermann Bahr also had a play of his staged which is entitled The Voice. One need not defend this play for the simple reason that Hermann Bahr just is not trying to find his way into spiritual science, which he finds too difficult, but is relapsing into orthodox, or let's say, more recent Catholicism. At any rate, he is in search of spiritual life.
It is interesting how the hero of this play is in search of spiritual life. He is married to a lady, the daughter of a very orthodox mother and herself very orthodox in view. This lady is deeply serious about Christianity — more so than can be expected of a human being. However, her husband, the hero of the play, is a disciple of Oswald and Haeckel and is quite a materialist. Since his wife and mother-in-law are serious Christians, they are, of course, pained by the fact that the husband is a disciple of Oswald and Haeckel 127 Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) was a renowned zoologist. and does not want to hear anything about the spiritual world. The wife grieves so much about this that she dies. After her death, the husband, from an unknown dark feeling, frequently thinks his deceased wife is calling out one thing or another to him. One day, in the sleeping compartment of a train, he hears the voice of his wife with special clarity. This almost makes him insane; when the train stops at a station he rushes out and behaves like a lunatic in what I believe was the waiting room of a station. The train went on without him, and later, it was demolished in a railroad accident. The injured people are carried into the station and then he realizes that he had been saved by the voice of his deceased wife; she had caused him to leave the train in which he would have otherwise perished. This was the first time that he associated the voice of his wife with the conditions of reality. I do not want to condemn this; I simply want to tell you what a contemporary human being commits to paper these days. The hero of the play, by experiencing this apparent miracle and the after-effect of this woman's being beyond her death, realizes that he has been saved by her and this causes him to reflect anew about the connection of human beings with the spiritual world. Later, his wife continues to communicate with him frequently and the ensuing intimate friendship between his soul and the soul of his deceased wife leads him back to Christianity in the truest sense, and he overcomes his materialistic world view.
Even though we do not need to defend this play as such, we see that there are human beings nowadays who strive to instill the view into life that a truth of the spiritual world can manifest itself in maya, the great deception. Only a clear understanding of Christianity will build the bridge between the life here on earth and the life that exists in the spiritual world. Quite a few people today have a need for this spiritual world but we must admit that their number is insignificant in relation to the large number of those people who are either mired in traditional religions — and thus have fallen prey to materialism even if they don't admit it — or whose lives are directly determined by materialism and who do not have a real connection with the spiritual world. As I said before, we need not defend Bahr's play but it can nevertheless direct us to this important realization: Whoever wants to understand Christianity in its deepest meaning must get beyond the problem of death. After all, the most interesting thing in this play is that it takes as its point of departure the relation between the human soul and the human body which transcends the portal of death. To be sure, there is a basic error in all these things: instead of being led to Christianity — for which process spiritual science, as we understand it, wants to make a real beginning — we are again led back to an individual religious denomination.
If human beings would only understand the Christ in the way I have indicated today — and if we may still continue to speak here, I will deal with this matter more thoroughly — if they could so understand the Christ as the matter has been explained today in only the most elementary suggestions, then the feeling and conceptions that are developed in regard to Him could be conveyed to all human beings. Christ did not die only for those who belong to some Christian sect, but He died and rose again for all mankind. We must not associate some specific religious confession with the Being of Christ, but every religious confession is to be brought into connection with Christianity. If all people would come to understand how to conceive the Christ as has been indicated, Christianity would spread over the entire earth because the revelation of Christ and the revelation of Jesus are two different things.
If we go as missionaries to foreign cultures, or even to people in our own lands, and wish to force upon them the worship of Jesus within a religious denomination, we will not be understood since the knowledge of these people extends far beyond what is brought to them by this or that missionary. I should like to know, for example, what a Turk would say if a modern Protestant pastor should try to convey to him his conception of Christ. This conception as it is dealt with by modern Protestant pastors holds that there was once a Socrates, and then one who was somewhat more than Socrates, the Christ, the human being, the special human being, but still the human being — or any of those confused things that are said today in modern Protestantism about Christ. The Turk would say to him, “What! You tell me such a thing and you wish to be called a Christian? Just read the nineteenth chapter of the Koran; 128 The nineteenth sura of the Koran is entitled “Mary.“ much more is contained in it about the Christ than what you are telling me!” In other words, the Turks know a great deal more concerning Christ Jesus than what the modern Protestant pastors are prone to present because the Koran contains more about Him and Christ is represented much more as the Divinity in the Turkish confession than in that of the modern Protestant. This is simply not realized because nowadays people do not often go so far as really to read the original religious documents; rather, they utter much superficial nonsense regarding all possible religions.
The Jesus revelation, too, will touch men in the proper way, but they themselves must attain its truth by their own power. They will be able to do this after having passed through a sufficient number of incarnations. Everyone today is to some degree prepared to receive the Christ revelation; this is a distinction that must be made. However, many forces are at work to suppress the real Christ revelation and genuine spiritual science. In this regard you need only to remember some of the things I previously mentioned regarding my characterization of various endeavors which lay claim to being occult.
And now I would like to conclude today's lecture, but not without offering a short supplement which, for definite reasons that will become apparent to you momentarily, should not be considered as part of the lecture itself. What I have stated thus far I have said without reservations whatsoever; but what I am about to add I shall have to formulate, at least for the time being, with certain qualifications. That is why I am presenting these additional remarks separately. If I mention them today, it is because I consider them somewhat important within the framework of the considerations at hand.
I had indicated earlier that materialism reached its zenith in the middle of the 19th century. During that time, the people who knew that spiritual life would always be necessary for humanity considered teaching mankind that our environment really contains spiritual beings and effects. But I had also indicated that the leading occultists in those days branched off into two groups. One of them maintained that mankind was not yet ready to accept spiritual things, while the second one was saying in the middle of the century that mankind was indeed ready to be exposed in an elementary way to the most important concepts of spiritual life.
This second group, which advocates the teaching and the dissemination of the doctrine, has been reduced to a tiny number of people. However, the anthroposophical movement subscribes to the belief that the dissemination of the doctrine, as it is practiced by us in today's activities, is important for the transmission of spiritual knowledge to mankind. This question was first raised in the fourth decade of the 19th century, but those who held this view were, in a way, outvoted. After that had happened, they agreed to chart a new course and adopt the practice of spiritism. These people attempted to show that spiritualistic media — individuals who can be considered psychics — are able to receive messages from the spiritual world and that it would be possible by these means to get in touch with the realms of the spirit.
I have characterized these things before, and I also indicated that this entire attempt was a failure. It was a failure because in contrast to what I explained in my recent speech in Bern, the people involved in the experiments were unable to pinpoint the various stages of our connection with the dead. Yet, the people in question did not want to deal with that phenomenon and, thus, the entire attempt was unsuccessful. All of the psychics indicated in the most primitive and elementary way that they were in direct communication with the deceased persons, and people always wanted to receive direct pronouncements from some deceased person through these media. Please note, this is not to say that what passes through a medium in an experiment cannot in some way lead to a contact with a dead person. But it is another matter to decide whether or not this is an unconscious, a genuine, and a proper mediation, and whether the mediation is possible at all. Some entirely different results were expected from the experiments. The psychic media were expected to make people understand that not only sensuous, but also spiritual forces flow continuously into human beings. Moreover, the experiments were supposed to teach people that spiritual things were preferably to be sought in the immediate environment, and not in the announcements of this or that dead person.
Since the whole attempt has proven to be a blunder, the serious occultists withdrew from this spiritistic experiment, and mankind now has to pay for this in that the psychic media have been usurped by all kinds of occultists. The latter do not pursue purely occult endeavors, but they chart a course that serves some specific human purpose. I have often mentioned this before: The person who wants to be a genuine occultist cannot merely serve a specific human purpose; rather, he must serve general human purposes, and above all, he or she must never employ improper and incorrect means in order to reach any goals whatsoever. But what isn't called occultism these days! You could get a notion of this if you read the report of the last Theosophical Convention, which contained the speeches of Mrs. Besant 129 Cf. footnote 99. and Mr. Leadbeater. 130 Charles Webster Leadbeater (1847–1934) was a prominent personality in the Theosophical Society. In these speeches, the present situation is depicted as the big struggle between Lords of Light, on whose side Mrs. Besant and Mr. Leadbeater are naturally to be found, and the Lords of Darkness. In these speeches the opinion is expressed that any neutral person not taking sides with any of these opposite parties, or more properly, with Mrs. Besant's and Mr. Leadbeater's Lords of Light, is a traitor. But still other things were discussed in these meetings. Mr. Leadbeater, for example, related from one of his profound occult insights that Bismarck 131 Otto Furst von Bismarck (1815–1898) was the Prussian Chancellor who founded the Second German Empire in 1871. was supposed to have gone to France before 1870 and established magnetic centers in the North, South, East, and West of France. During the 1870/71 war, these magnetic centers established by Bismarck had been at work, according to Mr. Leadbeater, because otherwise the war with France would have been lost. This is the kind of stuff people listen to in theosophical meetings! Yes, they do listen to it, and one can only marvel at this or do something more drastic when one learns such things are mentioned. But as I said, there are many kinds of occultism in our age.
Now that serious occultists have withdrawn from spiritism, it is important to keep in mind that the latter has been taken over by people pursuing specific purposes. And it is quite easy to do this. Please keep in mind what I want to say in this supplement: Spiritism originated from an honest attempt to find out whether mankind nowadays is ready to accept spiritual truths. Also, remember that the attempt was a failure and that all kinds of movements, occult brotherhoods, as well as individuals — especially from America — have attempted to manipulate the psychic media one by one for their own specific purposes.
Following all this, I now want to speak about a report that our dear friend, Mr. Heywood-Smith, gave to me yesterday concerning the book that deals with the experiences of Sir Oliver Lodge. 132 Oliver Lodge (1851–1940) was an English physicist and a member of the Royal Society. I repeat, I am relating this with every possible reservation because I only have a report in front of me; it, however, is revealing enough. I reserve the right to make further comments when I am in possession of the book itself. However, since I do not consider the matter unimportant, I would like to deal with it today. Should the report prove to be incorrect, I would, of course, clarify the things mentioned today. That is why I speak with reservations.
It is an extraordinarily significant fact, isn't it, that one of the most renowned scientific personalities of England, the great naturalist Sir Oliver Lodge, has written a book 133 Oliver Lodge, Raymond, or Life and Death (1916). containing things which, when accepted as he presents them, should be counted among the most significant pronouncements of the present time. We know, of course, that Sir Oliver professed in some of his other books that he acknowledges the existence of the spiritual world. But let me come to the facts:
Sir Oliver Lodge had a son by the name of Raymond who was born in 1889 and who, when the war broke out, volunteered for military service while Sir Oliver and his wife were in Australia. In March 1915 Raymond came to a vicinity of Ypern — and you can imagine how worried his parents were. Soon thereafter, Sir Oliver received a message from an American medium, a Mrs. Piper, which was dated August 15. This message from America had a peculiar content which, according to the report that I have in front of me, reads as follows: “Myers will take an interest in whatever fate has ordained for you and will protect you.” However, this message was couched in the classical form of a poem by Horace. To repeat, Sir Oliver was notified by an American medium in August that Myers, formerly chairman of the Society for Psychical Research in London 134 Frederic W. H. Meyers (1843–1901), a spiritist and friend of Sir Oliver Lodge, was a co-founder of the Society for Psychical Research in London. but deceased fourteen years prior to the date of the letter, would protect and support Sir Oliver Lodge during a difficult event of which he, Sir Oliver, would be a part and thus work toward his protection. Please bear in mind that this message mentions only that Myers would help Sir Oliver during a difficult event.
Now, when Sir Oliver's son Raymond was killed in action in September 1915, Sir Oliver at first related the message which had indicated that Myers would help him, to the death of his son. Subsequently, however, Sir Oliver's family was the subject of all kinds of pronouncements by the psychic media; in fact, several psychic media appeared on the scene simultaneously and delivered quite a few messages. Little by little, it turned out that all these messages had the following basic content: “Myers is united with your son” — Sir Oliver's and Lady Lodge's son, because seances were conducted with her as well. “Myers is helping your son, whose primary concern is that you receive word from him and, especially, that Sir Oliver should thereby be placed into a relationship with the spiritual world.” — If one reads the various pronouncements of the individual psychics as presented in this report, one thing stands out everywhere. Throughout, the pronouncements exhibit interesting examples of psychic elevation; everything happens at a precise time; questions are being asked and so on, and they are then answered by the media. The whole process is extremely interesting. Even a picture of Raymond Lodge that was unknown to his family is found because the deceased son points to it and describes it, and it is then found in exactly the same place that he pinpointed. In short, in this book there seems to be compiled with extraordinary precision and exactitude all that can be experienced in many a spiritistic séance and which could lead to the events narrated. It is known that Sir Oliver had always been somewhat inclined toward these practices, much to the displeasure of his sons. However, after these happenings they became believers, too. Sir Oliver himself seems to have described in the most detailed manner how this bridge to his deceased son was constructed through the various psychic media.
What is important and what is presented is the fact that such a highly respected personality is induced to transcend into the spiritual world through the use of psychic media. I have to say this: From what I know about the various séances, they themselves do not reveal too many new features. — But something else is very important. We have here a modern scientific personality of the first rank who, when writing in this fashion, can have a tremendous influence on the minds of human beings and who feels compelled to write in this way. That is very important because such writing influences many people and causes them to turn to the “media enterprise,” which seeks to relate itself with the spiritual world in this fashion.
We are, of course, presented here with the same mistake of wanting to attain access to the spiritual world through spiritism which I previously described to you. But now let me ask you to look at the matter more closely. In the first message by the medium Piper which Sir Oliver Lodge received from America, a forecast is made of only one event against which Myers would protect Sir Oliver. To be sure, this event could have occurred in several ways. Suppose the son hadn't been killed in action. In that case, the statement that followed would have been quite compatible with the content of the message: “Well, you have been told that Myers protects your son in the spiritual world and keeps him from dying on the battlefield.” — You will probably not doubt that the people in America could have known that Raymond Lodge had been stationed in an endangered zone of the battlefield and that, therefore, one could have made pronouncements similar to those of the old oracles: “Myers will protect your son.” And had the son come out of the war unscathed, one could have said after the fact: “Myers did protect him by getting him out of the battle zone alive.” Suppose, however, the son was killed in action, one could then easily relate the prophecy to Myers' role as a mediator in bringing father and son together from the spiritual world. Thus we can see that the original pronouncement was shrewdly phrased. The whole affair was contrived in America. Since such fellowships extend, of course, over the whole world, the next medium was then put in touch with Lady Lodge. It is not necessary to know how such an anonymous session, as it is called in the report, comes into being. The procedures are as is customary in those sessions. But by now the sad news of the son's death had been received and Lady Lodge's psyche harbors all the after effects that such a message evokes. It is not difficult to demonstrate that what dwells in one soul migrated into another and communicates through the medium. Moreover, the son survived beyond death in the soul of his mother, in the manner that we are all acquainted with. Therefore, the accomplishment of the medium was nothing more than a rendering of what was already present in the souls of Lady Lodge or her family. This can be nicely substantiated from the protocol of the seances, which in each case is modulated to allow for the character of the major participants in these sessions. The name Myers is mentioned even by the media who were not acquainted with him. That, however, is not all that miraculous because Sir Oliver Lodge was a very good friend of Myers and had worked with him and so on. In short, everything would have been fine if only Sir Oliver, aside from the personal interest he took in his son's fate, had been content with carrying out an experiment whose sole purpose it was to show that there are spiritual effects in our environment. This was the original intention of the occultists, but then they abandoned this path.
I do not want to make judgments as I am sure the book itself will explain this matter, too. However, it seems we are confronted here with the obvious. Some people want to use Sir Oliver in order to attain definite special purposes. By using the constellations at hand, one very sorry occult brotherhood is likely to cite our case as characteristic when it makes its thrust to possibly, if you will, win over science to spiritism. Spiritism always likes to be considered as being “scientific,” and it can be easily used to attain special purposes.
To mention just one example, the attempt had been made in another place in America to cure mankind of the idea of reincarnation. What took place? During the time when the events I characterized had already happened, that is, when the serious occultists had already left spiritism, a certain Langsdorff, 135 Georg von Landsdorff was a physician who had previously lived and worked in Freiburg i.Br. if I am not mistaken, organized all kinds of séances in several localities. When media were put in touch with the dead, the latter everywhere gave testimony that they were not at all waiting for reincarnation. And so the doctrine of repeated lives on earth was especially attacked in America. One can accomplish a great deal if one allows people to be approached in this matter by the pronouncements of the dead.
I wanted to discuss this matter quickly with you in a few words because I had talked about these things recently and because the example cited seems to be an especially good one. For how will the world be informed about this? The world will learn that a renowned scientist has confessed his allegiance to spiritism. Then, people will read the book, and most likely — we see this from our example — they will think that the case for spiritism has never been made so convincingly as in this book. As I said, I am speaking in this supplement to our lecture with qualifications because I reserve the right to come back to the matter after I have read the book myself. We are probably confronted here with an attempt by the so-called brotherhood of the left wing to attain special things by these very means. This may not be clear at first blush, but it is well known that there are numerous brotherhoods who wish to attain their special purposes in this fashion, and more is attained in this way than people are accustomed to believe. We will talk about these things some more later on.