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In What Sense Are We Theosophists and in What Sense Are We Rosicrucians?
GA 284

10 October 1907, Stuttgart

A spiritual movement can be injured very much by one-sidedness; and when we devote ourselves to such a subject as the occult standpoints of the Stuttgart building1The Branch-House in Stuttgart; the first building specially erected and designed for anthroposophical work; opened by Rudolf Steiner in October, 1911. we must clearly understand that when some single truth is specially emphasised, a strong light falls upon this truth, and one may then easily fail to recognise what should also be observed — the other side of the matter. In order to arrive at an all-round view one should always bear this in mind. For example, to all that was said yesterday2Special Building for Anthroposophy at Stuttgart from an Occult Point of View, Stuttgart, 15 October 1911 something else must be added. Certainly, a still greater perfection is attained when we are able purely in thought to erect around us such a temple, when we are able to imagine ourselves surrounded in thought by such a home. To this end our thoughts must be so strong that they act like a physical home. This may be achieved by a great power of concentration when, alone by ourselves, we follow rules such as are given in my books, The Way of Initiation and Initiation and its Results.3The Way of Initiation is an early version of the first half of the book entitled Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment. The book Initiation and Its Results corresponds to the second half of Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment.

But now, in order that we may have the right ideas about the necessity of such a building, we must say that when we devote ourselves to our studies in our lodge work, we require not only that we as individuals shall produce the conditions for our concentration, but also that we shall be disturbed as little as possible by what is around us. As the human being consists not only of the physical organism but also of supersensible principles, and these are active and set up relations with our environment, it is necessary when we exert our physical thought, for us to support the efforts of our will for our etheric and astral bodies. This we can do by providing for our subconsciousness — that is, for our etheric and astral bodies — conditions which may best be set up when we are in occult surroundings.

For this reason such a building is a great benefit and becomes a necessity to us.

We must bear in mind that in a certain way the great truths are at the same time difficulties to a person, something which he must first learn to bear, something which at first may be shocking, which may upset him, because it agrees so little with his everyday life. Therefore, in order to come to the higher truths in as favourable a way as possible it is necessary to provide a building such as this so that the spiritual knowledge which awaits us may indeed come into us — and in our age the Masters of Wisdom and of Harmony of Feeling are able to give us a great deal.

Since the end of the 19th century many doors have opened to the spiritual world, and many streams of spiritual life may be led into us. It may be said that just in the immediate future, towards which humanity is now going, the conditions are becoming more and more favourable for the influx of important spiritual knowledge which can enable us to progress quickly in every respect; but in order to clear away the hindrances which come through people — after they have just slipped out of materialism — not yet being sufficiently mature to receive the great truths, we must develop within ourselves a frame of mind which brings less danger of disturbance. This can be accomplished by means of suitable surroundings; and everywhere where from our standpoint just at this time care should be taken to see all is in order, there everything will really be observed which the occult point of view demands. It is natural that the needs and wishes of one who comes into Anthroposophy should go very far to one side or another, and because on the other hand there cannot be the necessary insight, it is difficult to be obliged to deny things which the other considers right. Very often it is not perceived that the denial is for the other’s welfare, and it is especially the case that some can only await the answer to one question or another with very great difficulty.

Because all knowledge is exoteric, one has grown so accustomed to expect that fundamentally everything that a person may ask can always be answered; but to this belongs two things at least. One is that the person who wants the answer should be in the position to understand it, that is to say, that through his whole anthroposophical or theosophical development he had progressed far enough to understand the answer. Abstract reasons prompt him to put the question much earlier than it is possible for him to understand the answer which is given from occult worlds. The other is that the one asked knows the answer. In regard to certain spiritual knowledge we are just at the stage when a question may be very premature, not only for individuals but for our whole age, although the answer will doubtless be given to us in the right form in the course of time. For this reason I said in the course of lectures at Karlsruhe4Course of lectures From Jesus to Christ, GA 131 that an essential thing in occultism is: to be able to wait. Particularly one who perhaps has undergone a certain development must be able to do this, and most of all one who has reached a certain height of occult development. When a person considers it extremely important to answer a question at a certain time, the intellect, which is always ready to answer, may very easily conjure up an answer, even from the feeling of a trained occultist. This answer is not only false or insufficient, but it takes away for a long time the possibility of a coming to the right answer at all, hence it is necessary to be able to wait until one is favoured with an answer from the spiritual world.

This applies not only to the highest questions, but also to more elementary ones. Even to the trained occultist there is a great temptation to produce the answer out of himself, but then he will be liable to fall into error. These two pictures [in our building here in Stuttgart] are an example. Our friend Stockmeyer has said for a long time that he wishes to finish them. The answer concerning the idea was promised him as soon as it was possible. That went on for a long time. To the despair of the architect the pictures were only finished very late indeed. Where did the fault lie? It was because the answer which was necessary as a kind of occult sketch for these pictures could only be given very late. One had to wait until the intuition came. These ideas might very easily be thought out, but then they would be worthless. What is so necessary is that one should not only go the straight way, as it were, but one should also have the resignation not to excogitate something; only to exercise the intellect upon occult truths when they are there, but not in order to find them. For this purpose the intellect must be absolutely laid aside. When occult truths are there they must then be taken up and established by the intellect, it must give them a logical character. One must make a practice of this if one wishes to progress; just as when one uses details which may perhaps be elementary in order to fit them into a whole. Then what will happen if in Munich we wish to build a great hall and at the right time we have not the idea which is to be embodied? We are Anthroposophists and know that karma works not only in individual beings, but in all connections, and when we have this faith we know that when a thing is necessary it can let us wait, but it will come, and indeed at the right time. We cannot judge when the right time is, for this we need confidence in the future; if it does not come, then it is not the right thing for us. This is not fatalism, for such a faith does not prevent us from making every effort, but it directs these efforts into the right lines. We make no false attempts with our intellect, but prepare ourselves for the moment when we shall be favoured. Instead of worrying oneself in front of a sheet of paper it is better to sink into prayerful meditation and ask of karma that this moment of intuition may come.

With this is also connected what might be called the right view of the Rosicrucian principle. If one who is acquainted with the Rosicrucian Temple5See description of the Temple of the Holy Grail in The Younger Titurel by Albrecht von Scharfenberg, about 1270 AD. in a pedantic, external manner were to come into this building, and if he were to remember the rules taught him from old traditions, he would say: “You have done it all wrong, that is not Rosicrucian.” We should have to reply: That which you demand we do not wish, and could not wish it, for Rosicrucianism does not mean to carry on certain truths throughout the centuries, but it means to develop the sense for what each age can give to man from the spiritual world. That which in the l4th century might perhaps be wrong is right in our age, and in our age it must be done in this way, for our relation to the spiritual powers around us requires exactly this form. This building, therefore, is not constructed after an old pattern, but it is built in accordance with the requirements of our age.

For what is the demand made of us by the spiritual powers? I give hardly a single lecture without using the word ‘theosophical’, as this is linguistically possible, although it is not grammatically correct. Perhaps many would find our address, “My dear theosophical friends,” blameworthy.6This lecture was given prior to the exclusion of the German Section from the Theosophical Society. Since then Dr. Steiner’s movement has continued as the Anthroposophical Society. This word is purposely used because the heart of our mission may be characterised by this word. Theosophy, or Anthroposophy is something which has always existed in the world and has been cultivated in all ages in the way in which humanity had to cultivate it according to its requirements — at one time in wider circles and at another in smaller ones, according to the peculiarities of the several ages. It is something which — after all the preceding developments have taken place — may now be given in such a form that, within certain limits, it can enter into each human I, into every feeling and every stage of intellectual maturity.

Today there need be no one who, if he has the goodwill, may not receive Theosophy or Anthroposophy. For this reason it is on the one hand something external and on the other a special task of our age. From this standpoint we must consider ourselves as the vehicles of the world-movement which must be described as the theosophical or anthroposophical movement.

That within this movement, according to the capacities of the individuals, the most varied shades may be found, should be self-evident, and this has been the case in our movement in every age. When Theosophy becomes conviction it provides the ground upon which the most varied knowledge may blossom forth, but they have to be obtained on the paths of actual truth. Among those who understand the heart of occultism it is always the case that they cannot disturb one another; it is impossible for persons to disturb one another who are engaged in occult practice and through proceeding from different starting-points arrive at other formulations. That is a strict law. The occultist may not fight when he sees that other occultists have correct starting-points and are striving rightly, even if he finds their formulation clumsy. The fact that various occultists formulate what they have to say in different ways may depend upon the various starting-points, and according to how they consider it necessary to bring this or that from the higher worlds.

It is different when it becomes evident that other movements are not on the same level, when they simply set to work with more elementary conditions and then assert that this is the final truth. Not to recognise a higher standpoint is wrong. If someone were to say that Christ — whose nature we have tried for years in our spiritual movement to render more and more plain — can incarnate more than once upon the earth in a fleshly body — upon what would this assertion rest? From what you have heard and will still hear you will clearly understand that there is a Being Who works in such a way that He could sojourn but once in a physical body for three years, and cannot come again and again in a physical body. This is a truth which has always been emphasised by Rosicrucianism; and it was also clearly shown in the Mysteries. One who does not know this may arrive at an incorrect formulation from a knowledge which does not extend so far into these regions; incorrect because it uses the name Christ.

On the other hand it is possible to say: Why does the other speak differently? He speaks differently because he is not thinking at all of what we have here called Christ. He designates someone else as Christ, of whom perhaps might be said what he says, but it is not the one who is spoken of in this movement, because it is the unconditional necessity of our age — as the requirements of the Masters of Wisdom and Harmony of Feeling — that we should speak of this high Being whom we call Christ. And when we read the Gospels we may recognise and identify Him with the One who for 2,000 years has been thus described. This is an historical right, not an absolute one, of course! Although the knowledge of Him has been very imperfect for 2,000 years, He has been thus described, and we do the same for historical reasons. On this account this name ought not to be used for other beings. This is something which has always been emphasised and which today can really be quite easily understood by anyone.

It is, however, interesting to notice how difficult for some to understand this matter clearly, but those who from the very beginning have no particular inclination to enter into more detailed explanations will have felt it uncomfortable that we do not by any means make the matter concerning Christ so easy. This one could see again in Karlsruhe (when the preceding course of lectures on the subject of ‘Jesus to Christ’ was given). What was said there was only possible because of everything else which had preceded it. Thus at the present time it is not yet very easy to arrive at the Christ principle, but it is a necessity which is laid upon us by the leaders of the spiritual movement.

It is very remarkable that there has been a certain difficulty in introducing the special investigations of Rosicrucianism into the theosophical movement, and even the position of this movement is very misunderstood here; exactly in how far does this movement merit the name of a Rosicrucian movement? But I shall never say: “My Rosicrucian friends!” You may gather from this that it was never correct to consider what belongs to Rosicrucianism as something exclusive. If someone outside our movement were to say that we were Rosicrucians, that would not only be a misunderstanding, but it would be a somewhat defamatory designation for our movement. This always reminds me of a man in the market place who once said that so and so was a phlegmatic, and a woman said, “Oh, is that what he was? But I know he is a butcher!” It is somewhat similar when in order to distinguish us someone calls us Rosicrucians. This has no meaning. Rosicrucianism has flowed into our movement, it is assimilated and to a certain extent practised. How difficult it is to let this current flow in you may see in the remarkable fate of the personality to whom all we in this movement look up with great respect: Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. If you follow her development from Isis Unveiled to The Secret Doctrine you will see that a great amount of Rosicrucian knowledge has streamed into Isis Unveiled. For reasons which cannot now be discovered she then swerved to one side in The Secret Doctrine, which did not further develop what could have been carried further, but on the contrary took a side path. But how strongly these Rosicrucian principles acted we may see in the third volume of The Secret Doctrine. There one finds the greatest truths next to really impossible things. One who is able to discriminate may connect this with what is being revealed today.

Thus it has come about that Helena Petrovna Blavatsky has very clearly said that it must never be thought that Christ Who is to come again will reappear in a fleshly body, but that the coming Christ must only be understood as an event which a person experiences through a connection with the spiritual world. We take the same ground that she did in this respect, when in a clearer way than was possible to her, we work out what she commenced. When she turns with such severity against the idea that Christ could incarnate again in the flesh it is not easy when the reproach is made against our movement that her most important knowledge, which sometimes is not well formulated, is violated. There is continuity, and there is no need to make this breach with the original starting-point, by coming into conflict with what concerns the coming of Christ. Although we always set what is true in place of what is false, in many things we may go back to the original statements of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. And we may know that in the form in which she now lives she wished that the continuity should be developed, which should not be an adhesion to the formulas but a working in the spirit which existed at that time. It was not a spirit of standing still, and least of all a spirit of retrogression! We work in the best way when we bring out that which was still closed to Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. The doors have opened in quite a different way, especially since 1899.

Without taking into account anything that has gone before, we try to penetrate into the meaning and importance of the Christ Principle. This leads us naturally to join on to the occult investigations which have been made with special care in Rosicrucian circles since the l3th century.

But those who have heard my various courses and lectures will know that we are not now teaching the Rosicrucianism of the 13th century. We are Rosicrucians of the 20th century! It is our task to join on to the principles which Rosicrucianism possessed, to utilise them in theosophical progress. We cannot do otherwise than recognise that what has thus been found is something higher in every way than anything else in the world with respect to the Christ Principle. We must, however, admit that on account of the energy with which this principle has been worked out the teachings regarding Karma and Reincarnation passed into the background. Therefore we are dealing not with the spirit of an historical epoch, nor with the spirit of Rosicrucianism, but with the Spirit of Truth. It is quite indifferent to us where one faith or another appears, we have to deal with the Spirit of Truth, and on this account all division into categories and forms must always give rise to misunderstandings in our movement; we desire only to serve the Truth, as was described with respect to our small festival. We wish to represent not what this or that age has said, but what comes directly from the spiritual world. That which can be recognised by the human intellect is our concern; in accordance with this we shall lead our movement further, and with respect to all other creeds we may call ourselves theosophists, according to the motto of our movement: No religion is higher than Truth. In this respect we take the most theosophic ground.

For this reason we surround ourselves not with a building modelled according to Rosicrucian pattern but with one that is planned for a particular object. For example, the size of the space is the external condition for this. Perhaps we should have been quite unable to add one thing or another if the space had been larger or smaller. No scheme is of any value, but we have to wait for what comes to us as a gift from spiritual worlds. In other words, our whole effort is to understand something that sounds so simple: To open our hearts to the spiritual world which is always around us, to understand words such as those which Christ said: “I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” If someone were to examine the work we have done in past years he will not be able to say that we present Christianity in a way it was thought in the early centuries. We desire to acquire the spirit which wishes to come close to Christ as He is today; and only when we have recognised that this Christ is a living One we shall illuminate what took place in former times.

In the same way we consider Buddha as a living One, who follows his principle that Buddha does not return any more in the flesh. If someone were to affirm this, we should have to reply that he understands nothing about Buddhism, for one who has risen from Bodhisattva to Buddha does not return. For Buddha lives, and he works in our movement and illuminates what he accomplished 2,500 years ago by what he does today.

Just as only he may speak of Buddha who knows him, so also only he who knows Christ may speak about Him. Therefore if someone says that a very important being will come in a fleshly body, that may be correct, but he has nothing to do with Christ. The fact is that if a person enters deeply into the nature of Christ he comes to understand that the other is making a mistake; it can never be the reverse. This brings difficulties, but it must be borne in mind — especially by one who has occasion to practise theosophical principles in the true sense — that one should exercise tolerance even towards error. But to exercise tolerance means, not to acknowledge error but to deal with it with love, otherwise it would be a sin against the Holy Spirit. We must exercise tolerance precisely because in regard to Christ we represent the Rosicrucian principle.

We can wait until opposition comes, exactly concerning Christ. If you understand this word, the principle of the most real search for truth and on the other hand real tolerance, you will be able to answer for yourselves the question: In what sense are we Theosophists and in what sense are we Rosicrucians?