The Gospel of St. Matthew
5 September 1910, Berne
It must be strictly remembered that there is no connection of kinship or other such relationship between Jesus, the son of Pandira, Jeschu ben Pandira, and the central figure in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke, or any other Gospel. A hundred years before our era, that is to say a hundred years before the coming of Christ, Jeschu ben Pandira was stoned and then hanged on a tree, and he must not be confused with any figure in the Gospels. I want to emphasize, however, that to speak about the personality or existence of Jeschu ben Pandira requires no occult knowledge or clairvoyant faculty, because information about him can be obtained, if so desired, from Hebrew and Talmudist records. Confusion with the real Jesus has constantly occurred, for the first time actually as early as the second century A.D. Although Jesus, the son of Pandira, is not to be identified with Jesus of the Gospels there is a historical connection between the two personalities. This connection can be established to-day only through spiritual-scientific research and to understand it in all its depth we must again speak briefly of the evolution of humanity.
Looking up to those Beings who are the great Leaders of evolution, we come finally to lofty Individualities generally known by the name of Bodhisattvas — because it is in the East that the theory of their existence has been most firmly established. There are a number of Bodhisattvas. Their task as the great Teachers of humanity is to allow wisdom from, the spiritual worlds to flow through the Mystery Schools according to the maturity attained by men in a given epoch. The two Bodhisattvas — to whom reference has often been made when 'we have been speaking of the evolution of humanity — of primary interest for our own times arc the son of King Suddhodana who became Buddha, and he who as Gautama Buddha's successor in the office of Bodhisattva still holds this office to-day and — as Oriental wisdom and clairvoyant investigation agree — will do so for the next 2,500 years. This Bodhisattva will then become Maitreya Buddha, attaining the saint: rank as did his predecessor, Gautama Buddha.
The Bodhisattvas succeed one another in the evolution of humanity as great Teachers and must not be confused with the One who is the very source of their teachings, from whom they receive what it is their mission to impart to the several epochs. We must picture a 'college' of Bodhisattvas and at its centre the living source of the teachings. This living source is none other than He whom we are accustomed to call ‘Christ’. It is from Christ that all the Bodhisattvas receive what they have to impart to men in the course of the ages.
As long as a Bodhisattva holds this office he devotes himself first and foremost to the task of teaching; for, as we have heard, when he attains the rank of Buddhahood he does not again descend to incarnation in a physical body. Once more in agreement with all Oriental philosophy it can be said that Gautama Buddha, who as the son of King Suddhodana passed through his final incarnation in a physical body, has since assumed embodiment only as far as the etheric body. In the lectures on St. Luke's Gospel we heard of the next task of this Bodhisattva after becoming Buddha. When the so-called Nathan Jesus of St. Luke's Gospel was born (he is not the same as the Jesus of St. Matthew's Gospel), the Buddha who was embodied at that time as far as the etheric body, penetrated into the astral body of this child. Hence we can say that since his incarnation as Gautama Buddha the function of that Being was no longer to give teaching but to work as a living power from the spiritual world into the physical world. To work through teaching and to work as a living, growth-promoting power arc entirely different matters. A Bodhisattva is a Teacher until he becomes Buddha; from then onwards he is a power, an organising, life-bestowing power. And the Buddha worked as such in the constitution of the Nathan Jesus.
Since the sixth century B.C., the successor of the Bodhisattva who then became Buddha has taken the latter's place in the series of great Teachers. This is the Bodhisattva who later on will become the Maitreya Buddha. Hence we have to look for teachings needed by mankind since the time of Gautama Buddha wheresoever the Bodhisattva who succeeded him has poured down his inspiration, inculcating into his disciples what it is their mission to communicate to the world. — I said in the lecture yesterday that the activities centred in the communities of the Therapeutae and Essenes were chosen to be an instrument for the work of this Bodhisattva, and that one of the very noblest, purest personalities in the Essene communities was Jesus, the son of Pandira. Thus it was through the Essenes that the teaching of the Bodhisattva sent its radiance into mankind on the Earth.
As hearers of the deeper teachings, the Essene communities disappeared comparatively soon after the Christ Event—this is evident from external history. It will therefore certainly not seem incredible when I say that fundamentally and essentially the communities of the Therapeutae and Essenes were instituted in order that they might be instrumental in bringing down from the spiritual realms, from the spheres of the Bodhisattvas, what was needed to enable men to comprehend the momentous event of the appearance of Christ. The most important teachings given to mankind with the object of promoting understanding of the Christ Event stemmed from the communities of the Therapeutae and the Essenes. Thus Jesus, the son of Pandira, inspired as it were by the Bodhisattva who will become the Maitreya Buddha and whose influence was at work in these communities, was chosen to give teachings whereby the Mystery of Palestine, the Mystery of Christ, could be brought within reach of man's understanding. More detailed information about the Therapeutae and Essenes can be discovered only by means of spiritual-scientific investigation. Very little is known about them in external history. And as we are among anthroposophists, we shall not hesitate to draw from the secrets possessed by the Therapeutae and Essenes what is necessary for a deeper understanding of St. Matthew's Gospel, as well as of the other Gospels. We shall speak of the secrets in a way that tallies with the picture a spiritual scientist must have of these communities which flourished a century before the Christ Event in order to prepare for it through special teachings.
The essential feature in these communities was the Initiation undergone by members of the sects. This Initiation was specially adapted to promote understanding, through clairvoyant vision, of the significance of the part played by the Hebrews and by Abraham in preparation for the coming of Christ. That was the mystery with which the communities of the Therapeutae and Essenes were specially concerned. The very purpose of the Initiation undergone by their disciples was to promote deeper and more exact clairvoyant insight into the connection just mentioned. In the first place, therefore, it was necessary that an Essene should learn to assess the full significance of what had come about for the Hebrew people through Abraham, and so be able to see in him the progenitor of that people. Through his own vision an Essene was to realise that there had been implanted into Abraham the faculty of which I have spoken in the preceding lectures, which had then to be filtered through many generations, flowing down through the blood.
To understand how something of importance for the whole evolution of humanity can be brought about through a personality such as Abraham, you must keep this very significant truth clearly in mind: that always, whenever a personality is chosen to be a special instrument in the great process of evolution, a divine-spiritual Being must have a direct hold in that personality.
(Those of you who were present at the performance in Munich of the Rosicrucian Mystery Play, The Portal of Initiation, or have read it, will know that one of the most important dramatic moments 1Scene 3, pp. 1o7-8, in the translation by Adam Bittleston. The whole scene should be read. is when the Hierophant indicates to Maria that she can fulfil her mission only when the influence of higher Beings has actually taken effect in her, when, in her case, this has caused what may be called a separation of the higher members of her nature from the lower, making it possible for the latter to be 'possessed' by an inferior spirit. — Everything in the Mystery Play, if you let it work upon your souls and do not take it superficially, can make you alive to great secrets of the evolution of humanity.)
As such a momentous role in evolution had been assigned to Abraham, it was necessary that the Spirit once perceptible to men in Atlantean times weaving through the external world should penetrate into his inner, organic constitution. Abraham was the first in whom this came to pass and therewith a fundamental change in man's faculty of spiritual perception was made possible. This could be brought about only through the influence of a divine-spiritual Being and such a Being did, in fact, lay into the organic constitution of Abraham the seed for the bodies that were to descend from him in the line of generations.
Thus an Essene would have said: The power that could actually bring the Hebrew people into existence, the power that enabled this people to become the bearers of the mission which prepares for Christ's coming, was established, in rudiment to begin with, by the mysterious Being who is only to be discovered when the soul ascends through the entire sequence of generations to Abraham, to the point where this Being entered into Abraham's bodily constitution, thereafter to work through the blood as a kind of Folk-Spirit in the Hebrew people. If, therefore, this secret of the evolution of humanity is to be understood, a man must rise in soul to the Spirit who implanted that power and seek for him in the realm where he was to be found before he had penetrated into Abraham. — The Essenes said: If a man desires to ascend in soul to the Spirit inspiring the Hebrew people and to know him in all purity, such a man, if he is an Essene or a Therapeut, must undergo a certain development whereby he purifies himself from everything that since the time of Abraham has approached the human soul from the physical world. The spiritual Being within man, and all the spiritual Beings who work together to bring about the evolution of humanity are to be experienced in their purity only in the spiritual world; in the state in which they exist within man they have been defiled by the forces of the physical world of sense.
According to the view held by the Essenes--and in a certain province of knowledge it is of course absolutely correct — every human being had within him whatever impurities had made their way into the soul in the past, clouding vision of the spiritual Being who had established in Abraham the power of which we have spoken. Accordingly it was essential that the soul of every Essene should be cleansed of everything that had penetrated into this power as a disturbing factor, dimming the vision of the Being indwelling the blood of the generations. The aim of all the methods of inner purification, all the exercises practised by the Essenes, was to liberate the soul from those inherited traits and influences which might obscure vision of the Being who was the Inspirer of Abraham. It was realised that the soul and spirit within man, this inmost core of his nature, had been clouded and sullied through the inherited traits.
There is a spiritual law which through their studies and clairvoyant perception the Essenes were well able to grasp, namely that the influence of heredity ceases only after 42 stages in the line of generations. Only after 42 stages have all traces of heredity been eliminated from a man's soul. He inherits something from his father and his mother, something from his grandfather and grandmother and so on, but the earlier the stages in the sequence of generations, the less are inherited impurities within him, and after 42 generations there are none; the influence of heredity no longer exists. Hence the aim of the methods of purification practised by the Essenes was to eliminate, through exercises and strict training of the inner life, whatever impurities had sullied the soul in the course of 42 generations. Every Essene was obliged to submit to severe discipline and to undergo difficult mystical experiences leading through 42 stages. There were 42 distinct stages on this mystical path to purification; when he had passed through them in actual experience an Essene knew that he was free from all influences of the world of the senses, from all the impurities in his inner nature resulting from heredity.
Thus an Essene rose in soul through 42 stages to the high level where he felt the inmost core of his own being to be related to the Divine-Spiritual. He said: By passing through these 42 stages I reach the God for whom I aspire ! — The Essenes had clear perception of how a man could rise in soul to a Divine Being who had not yet descended into matter, for the path of ascent was known to them from their own experience. Among all who were living on the Earth at that time, the Therapeutae and the Essenes alone were cognizant of the truth about what had come to pass through Abraham. They knew the truth concerning heredity through the generations and they knew too that to ascend to a Being who has entered the stream of heredity and reach the stage where that Being had not yet descended into matter, a man must rise in soul through 42 stages, corresponding to the 42 generations; then the Being would be found. But they knew some-thing else as well, namely this. — Just as a man must ascend in soul through the 42 stages to reach this Divine Being, so must the Divine Being himself take the path in the opposite direction, descending through 42 stages if he is to penetrate into the blood of a man. Just as there are 42 stages on the path of ascent to the Divine Being, so must the Divine Being descend through 42 stages in order to become a man among men.
Such were the teachings given among the Essenes, above all by Jeschu ben Pandira, under the influence of the inspiring Bodhisattva. Thus it was a doctrine of the Essenes that the Being who had inspired Abraham to receive the Divine Seed into his own organism, needed 42 generations to descend to manhood.
When we know this we also know the source of the know-ledge that enabled the writer of the Gospel of St. Matthew to enumerate precisely these 42 generations. And it was Jesus, the son of Pandira, who drew the attention of the Essenes to one point in particular. — The 42 generations would not be completed until a further hundred years had elapsed after the century in which he was living. He therefore taught the Essenes that they could rise in soul through the 42 stages only so far as a link with historical events was still possible, and that from that point onwards any further advance could only be through grace from above. But, so he taught them, the time will come when, as a natural happening, a man will be born for whom it will be possible to rise through his own blood to such a lofty height that there can descend into him the Divine Power enabling him to bring to manifestation the Spirit of the Hebrew people, the Jahve-Spirit, in the blood of that people. Jeschu ben Pandira taught: If Zarathustra, the herald of Ahura Mazdao, is to incarnate in a human body, this body must have been prepared in such a way that the divine-spiritual Being indwelling it has descended through 42 generations.
The Essene communities, therefore, were the source of the teaching concerning the generations with which St. Matthew's Gospel begins. But to understand these facts thoroughly, reference must be made to an even deeper aspect of the subject.
Because man is a twofold being, everything connected with his development presents itself to us from two sides. During waking consciousness the four members of man's being are united and his twofold nature is not immediately apparent. But during sleep he is quite clearly twofold: his physical and etheric bodies remain in the physical world and his astral body and Ego have emerged from the other two members. As long as we are concerned with that which makes man part of the physical world, we can speak only of physical body and etheric body. In truth, all man-made institutions and affairs in the physical world concern the physical body and etheric body, although during waking life the activity of the other members is also involved. During the hours of waking consciousness man works from his Ego and astral body into the other two members; during sleep he leaves the latter to themselves. But in reality, the moment he goes to sleep, forces and beings begin to work from the Cosmos and to permeate the members he has temporarily abandoned; it is a fact, therefore, that a constant influence from the Cosmos is exercised upon his physical and etheric bodies. These bodies that re-main in the bed during sleep constitute the outer side of man's structure and their attributes are comprised within 42 generations, during which span these attributes are transmitted by heredity. If we take everything that belongs to the physical nature in the first generation and then pass on through 42 generations, when these have been completed, no trace at all will be found of the rudimental qualities that were the most fundamental in the first generation. In other words, the active characteristics and forces in the physical and etheric bodies of a human being arc comprised within 6 times 7 generations. Whatever the inherited traits in these two bodies may be, they must be sought among the ancestors, but only within the course of 42 generations. Beyond that, nothing is to be found; everything belonging to an earlier generation has vanished. The forces inherent in the outer constitution of a human being are therefore essentially connected with 42 generations.
In this sense the evolution or development of man in Time is based upon a principle of number. This must be studied more closely, for it has an important bearing upon the genealogy given in St. Matthew's Gospel.
Everything relating to the physical body is connected with 42 generations, because everything that has to do with development or evolution in Time is governed by the number 7. Evolution through the period during which physical attributes are inherited was known by the Essenes to be connected with this number. An Essene said to himself: You have to pass through 6 times 7 stages=42 stages; then you come to the next 7 stages which complete the multiples of 7 : 7 times 7 =49 stages. It is however the case that whatever lies beyond the 42 stages can no longer be attributed to the forces and beings working as active factors in the physical and etheric bodies. In accordance with the law governing the number 7, the whole evolution of the physical and etheric bodies is actually achieved only after 7 times 7 generations; but in the final 7 generations complete transformation has already taken place and nothing of the earlier generations is any longer present. The Essenes knew that what primarily concerned them was comprised within the 6 times 7 generations; but that when the multiples of 7 were complete, something new was there. In the sphere entered after the 42 generations, they realised that they no longer had to do with human but with superhuman existence. They said: 6 times 7 generations are connected with the Earth, and what lies beyond them to make 7 times 7 already leads beyond the Earth: this is the fruit for the spiritual world. After the 6 times 7 generations the fruit is produced which then, with the completion of the 7 times 7, emerges for the spiritual world.
Hence the thoughts of those among whom the Gospel of St. Matthew originated were somewhat to the following effect. — The physical body used by Zarathustra must be of such maturity that after the 42 generations it is already at the point of spiritualisation, therefore of deification. It is in existence at the beginning of the 43rd generation, but instead of passing into the further stages this body allows itself to be permeated by another Being — by the spirit of Zarathustra who incarnated on the Earth as Jesus of Nazareth. — Thus through the fulfillment of the mystery of numbers the most fitting body and the most fitting blood had been provided for the Zarathustra-soul in Jesus of Nazareth. — Such is the preparation of whatever relates to physical and etheric body in human evolution.
But now there are in man — hence also in him who was to be the bearer of the Christ Being — not only physical body and etheric body but astral body and Ego as well. Therefore the astral body and Ego too, not only the physical and etheric bodies, had to be adequately prepared. For an event of such stupendous importance this could not be accomplished in one personality, and two were necessary. The physical body and the etheric body were prepared in the personality with whom the Gospel of St. Matthew is primarily concerned; the astral body and Ego-principle were prepared in the personality of whom the Gospel of St. Luke tells and whom we know as the Nathan Jesus. During the early years this was a different personality. Whereas Jesus of St. Matthew's Gospel received the suitable physical and etheric bodies, Jesus of St. Luke's Gospel was to receive the suitable astral body and Ego-principle. How could this come to pass?
As I said before, it is a fallacy due to the assertions of an inferior kind of clairvoyance that the whole astral being and the Ego of a man are contained in the cloudlike formation hovering near the physical and etheric bodies of one who is asleep. The truth is that when, during sleep, man passes out of the physical and etheric bodies, his being expands into the whole Cosmos, into everything pertaining to the Cosmos. The mystery of our sleep is that We draw from the world of t he stars — hence we speak of ‘astral’ body — the purest cosmic forces We then bring these forces with us when, on waking, we descend into the physical and etheric bodies. We emerge from sleep strengthened and vitalized by everything we have been able to draw into ourselves from the Cosmos.
When a man develops clairvoyance in its higher form to-day — and this applies also to the time of Christ Jesus — what experiences must he undergo? In the conditions normal at the present time, man becomes unconscious when with his astral body and Ego he passes out of the physical and etheric bodies. Clairvoyant consciousness must, however, be brought to the stage where there can be vision through the astral body and Ego alone, to the entire exclusion of physical and etheric bodies. This clairvoyant consciousness then participates in and perceives the happenings of the world of the stars — not only gazes into that world but actually penetrates it. Just as the consciousness unfolded by the Essenes rose upwards through the chronological sequence of generations governed by the number 7, so must a man pass through the stages that make it possible for him to have clairvoyant vision of the Cosmos.
I have often spoken of where the danger lies for development either in the one direction or in the other. Among the Essenes it was fundamentally a matter of descent into the physical and etheric bodies in order that after traversing the 42 generations they might find the Divine. With them it was as if, on waking, instead of seeing the world around him, a man were to plunge into his physical and etheric bodies in order to observe their forces — in other words, to perceive his external nature from within. Normally, man does not descend consciously into these bodies on waking; lie is protected from doing so because at the moment of waking his consciousness is diverted to the environment and is not directed to the forces of the physical and etheric bodies. What was essential for the Essenes was to learn to perceive all the forces and capabilities originating from the 42 generations, to learn to disregard entirely what the eyes observe in the outer world and to plunge straightaway into their own physical and etheric bodies where they then beheld the living produce of the secret of 6 times 7=42 generations.
Man must raise his consciousness in a similar sense if his aim is to ascend into the Cosmos in order to learn of the mysteries underlying cosmic existence. This is a mightier task. When descending into his own inner nature the only danger facing him is that of being laid hold of by its forces, by desires, passions and other tendencies in the soul to which lie generally pays no heed or even has no inkling that they exist, because in ordinary circumstances his external interests keep him from direct knowledge of them. In normal circumstances there is no possibility that he will be overpowered by these forces, because at the very moment of waking his attention is diverted by the appearance of the outer world. Whereas, therefore, when descending into his inner nature the danger is that a man will be overwhelmed by his own lowest and most egotistical urges, a different danger confronts one who is living through the experience. of expanding over the Cosmos. This danger cannot be more exactly characterized than by saying: One who at the moment of going to sleep does not become unconscious but retains so much consciousness that in his astral body and Ego he has an instrument for perception of the spiritual world — for such a one the danger may be that he is utterly dazzled, as if he were facing the blinding rays of the sun. He is dazzled and bewildered by the stupendous grandeur of the impressions.
While it was necessary for the Essenes to recognize that all inherited attributes in the physical and etheric bodies were connected with the secret of the number 6 times 7, a certain secret of number was also connected with the attainment of knowledge of the mysteries of the Cosmos, of the Great World. Again, the best approach to this secret was to turn to movements and constellations in the Cosmos, to the manifestations of the stars themselves. As we have heard, 6 times 7 stages lead to the secrets of man's inner nature; the secrets of cosmic space are reached after 12 times 7=84 stages. A man who has passed 12 times 7 stages arrives at the point where the labyrinth of the spiritual forces of the Cosmos is no longer bewildering; he attains the state of calm in which he can find his bearings in this labyrinth and see through its intricacies. In a certain sense that too was a teaching given by the Essenes.
When a man who possesses the clairvoyant faculties here described goes to sleep, his being flows out into conditions expressed in the secret of the number 12 times 7. But at the last of these stages he is already in the super-sensible; for when he has completed the it times 7 stages he has reached the boundary of the conditions to which the numerical secrets apply. Just as the 7 times 7 stages have already led into the Spiritual, so too have the 12 times 7. To reach the Spiritual along this path a man must have passed through t times 7 stages in the astral body and Ego. This is indicated in the stellar script itself, 7 being the number of the planets and I 2 that of the constellations of the Zodiac which the soul must traverse in cosmic space. As the seven planets group them-selves within the twelve zodiacal constellations and pass in front of them, when a man is ascending in soul into the Cosmos he must pass through 7 times 12, or rather 7 times it stages to reach the Spiritual.
You can, if you like, picture the 12 constellations of the Zodiac as the spiritual periphery, with man himself in the centre. If he is to reach the Spiritual, he cannot begin by spreading as it were from the centre, but he must expand in spirals, gyrating in 7 spirals and passing all the 12 constellations in each complete circuit — therefore 7 times 12 stages. Man expands in spirals gradually into the Cosmos — all this is of course only a figurative description — and if, circling in this way, he were to have passed through the 12 constellations for the seventh time, he would have reached the Divine-Spiritual. Then, instead of looking into the Cosmos from the centre, he looks inwards from the spiritual periphery, from the twelve stations, and from these vantage-points he can behold the external world and all that is in it. There must be twelve such vantage-points; one alone does not suffice. Thus a man who aspired to reach the Divine-Spiritual must sublimate astral body and Ego through 11 times 7 stages; when 12 times 7 stages had been scaled, he was within the Spiritual.
Astral body and Ego had in this way to pass through 1 2 times 7, or rather t times 7 stages to reach the Divine. But if the Divine is to descend and a human Ego be made fit to be its vehicle, the descent must equally be through times 7 stages.
Therefore in setting out to describe these spiritual forces whereby astral body and Ego were rendered fit to be bearers of the Christ, it was natural that the Gospel of St. Luke should indicate how the Divine-Spiritual Power descended through 11 times 7 stages. And this the Gospel does. Because the Gospel of St. Luke is describing that other Personality for whom astral body and Ego-bearer were prepared, it does not — as the Gospel of St. Matthew — describe 6 times 7 generations, but a sequence of it times 7 stages through which the Power indwelling the Individuality of the Jesus of whom this Gospel is speaking, came down from God himself. This is expressly stated. Count the stages enumerated in St. Luke's Gospel as those through which the Divine Power descends, and you will find that there are 77.
Because the Gospel of St. Matthew is describing the secret of what is taking effect during the descent of the Divine Power working formatively in physical body and etheric body, the ruling number is 7 times 7. And in the Gospel of St. Luke the number 11 times 7 must necessarily appear, because this Gospel is describing the descent of the Divine Power by which the astral body and Ego are transformed. From this we can realise what deep foundations underlie these presentations and how in very truth the secrets of Initiation, the stages in the descent of the Divine-Spiritual into a human individuality and in the expansion into the Cosmos arc indicated in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke.
We will speak again tomorrow of the reasons why the Gospel of St. Luke enumerates a line of generations and why, in an age when the mystery of Christ Jesus was imparted to only a very few human beings, it was made known that from God and from Adam down to the Jesus of St. Luke's Gospel there had been 77 generations.