The Apocalypse of St. John, by Rudolf Steiner

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

The Apocalypse of St. John, by Rudolf Steiner

Postby admin » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:27 am

The Apocalypse of St. John
by Rudolf Steiner
Twelve lectures with an introductory lecture given in Nuremberg, 17–30 June 1908
Edition revised 1958 by M. Cotterell, Introductory lecture published in English translation for the first time.
Translation font shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer, publication by permission of the Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.
© 1958 Anthroposophical Publishing Company, London, England

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TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Publisher's Note
Summary of Contents

Introductory Lecture June 17, 1908
Spiritual Science. The Gospel. The Future of Mankind. The pre-religious time. The Mythologies. The religious state. The different stages of consciousness and the I-Am.

Lecture I June 18, 1908
General character of the spirit of the Apocalypse. What takes place in Initiation and how is Initiation related to the nature of the Apocalypse?

Lecture II June 19, 1908
Concerning Initiation through training of the thinking-forces (pre-Christian time), the feeling-forces (Christian time), and the culture of the will in Rosicrucian training. Symbolic representations for the specific Christian and the Christian-Rosicrucian Initiation.

Lecture III June 20, 1908
What is Man? and what is he destined for in this age? Ascent by degrees into imaginative, inspirational and intuitive knowledge. The inner progress of the seven post-Atlantean cultures is expressed in the seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vials of wrath. The seven Churches are the representatives of the seven post-Atlantean culture-epochs and to each the Apocalyptist directs a message in which he says what can be retained of the old and what must be different.

Lecture IV June 21, 1908
What the seven epochs of the post-Atlantean culture have laid into the souls and sealed will live over into the seven epochs of the future. Seven times will souls be unsealed: seven seals must be opened out of the book. In this book, which is written into men's souls, will stand the entries of the culture-epochs. What is not fitted for immortality falls away, the new that has been prepared in our age emerges and is indicated through the symbol corresponding to the intelligence: the horse. The call of the I-Am overcomes death. Symbolic appearance of those to whom white raiment is given. Symbolic fulfilment of what is given by external life in the disappearance and transforming of sun and moon, the spiritualizing of mankind.

Lecture V June 22, 1908
Digression. The four conditions of our planetary existence. The Apocalypse shows how the future of the earth is revealed through Christian Initiation by the emergence of what has been prepared in souls in the past. The human being first becomes man in the middle of the earth's evolution. All the other beings who have gone through the human stage up to then have advanced beyond him and could therefore guide his development. They are the regulators of the age — the twenty-four Elders. The foundation for the animal, plant, human kingdoms was provided by the beings who remained behind. The glassy sea indicates the emergence of the mineral kingdom in its first form. From then on the writer of the Apocalypse shows us the pictures of future stages of evolution.

Lecture VI June 23, 1908
Digression (continued). The twenty-four categories of beings who had gone through the human stage and also other beings were united with the original world-mist of which occultism speaks. Jahve separated himself from the lofty beings, the seven Elohim, who went out with the sun. He remained connected with the earth. Solid parts have only gradually been incorporated into the original human form. The ancient Atlantean was still quite different in form and had a quite different soul-life. Only when the densification of the water led to the flood and the rainbow appeared did man learn to say “I” to himself. Earlier he was sheltered in the spirituality of the Group-soul; now he learnt to feel the God in himself: Jahve was the Ego-leader. That was the first lighting-up of individuality. Man had won his self-consciousness at the cost of spiritual darkening. This development took place through three culture-epochs into the fourth. Then a new force streamed through the earth, the earths whole aura was changed through the Blood that flowed on Golgotha, the Christ-Principle had united itself with the earth.

Lecture VII June 24, 1908
The future is a recapitulation of the past in an altered condition; the former dull clairvoyance will unite with the clear self-consciousness that has been gained. Through Christ's entry into the world the human being has been preserved from sinking down into a kind of abyss. Man stands before a decision. In a certain way he has already descended into the abyss; if he yields to the descent his personality is not saved for the ascent into the spiritual worlds. To the measure in which understanding for the Christ-Impulse is developed in man, will humanity ascend. Gradually those submerge into the abyss who have acquired the “I” in the form of egotism, but who cannot lift themselves to the spirit which has given them the human countenance. These become animal-like, the evil race. After the opening of the seals man will have in his countenance that which he bears in his heart. The sign, the name of Christ will be expressed in the countenance of the redeemed. We look to the past as the great school of love and its two forces; it leads those who strive to Christ — the true Light-bearer. Noah and the spiritual Adam. At the opening of the four seals the horse, symbol of mere intelligence, appeals four times in succession. At the opening of the fifth seal those appear in white raiment who have been preserved for spiritualization, who understand the call of the earth's mission and will be there when the slaves of personality sink into the abyss. The sixth culture-epoch will bring the opposite pole to intelligence in the little band out of all nations who will live in brotherhood in the sense of the Church of Philadelphia.

Lecture VIII June 25, 1908
Increase of egotism is the preparatory cause of the War of All against All. The two aspects of the ego. It brings about hardening if it does not find love; it is the seducer who thrusts into the abyss. It is, however, pledge of man's highest goal. Hence the symbol in the Apocalypse for ego-consciousness is the sharp two-edged sword in the mouth of the representative of humanity. Evil has a part in the plan of creation in order that through it may come the greater good. It is the Manichean principle. The opening of the seven seals characterizes the seven consecutive civilizations which will be formed after the great war: the initiate sees them in the symbolism of the astral world. When these civilizations will have run their course there begins a new age, symbolized by the sounding of the seven trumpets. Man perceives it from the actual spiritual world where the tones of the spheres ring forth. In the heavenly realm thought resounds. This heavenly realm will have descended into the physical world in the seventh epoch, as the astral world in the sixth epoch. The earth is transformed into an astral celestial body: a material globe is separated off with the beings who are not fitted for the ascent. The expulsion of matter is indicated in the Apocalypse through the outpouring of the seven vials of divine wrath. The reception of the highest which man can absorb, the message of love contained in the Gospels must penetrate not only the understanding, but man's innermost being: this book is swallowed by man. The Mars forces and Mercury forces, symbolized in the two pillars, are the heritage of the past now permeated by the force of love contained in the book.

Lecture IX June 26, 1908
After the seven trumpets have sounded an astral earth arises with the beings which belong to it. Digression on the possibilities of man's evolution. The working of the ego on the astral body, etheric body, physical body — at first unconsciously. At last a more or less self-conscious ego is worked out of the group-soul nature which reached full individuality with the appearing of Christ. To-day we have the beginning of Spirit-self. When the seventh trumpet sounds man will dissolve the physical element of his nature and live over as etheric being into the astralized earth. Retrospect to the first Adam and the corruptible body. The incorruptible body of the last Adam bears in its countenance the capacity of receiving Christ. It is the mystery of becoming man. Glance at the ancient earth as an organism permeated by regular currents out of which original man was born as a little separate place which raised itself from the earth and yet was connected with it by innumerable threads. Adam means son of earth. In the ancient earth everything was foreshadowed — the courses of the blood and nerves, all the organs. To-day man works on his soul and will make his body an image of the soul which has taken Christ into itself. He will implant the forces he has thus developed into the earth's next embodiment, Jupiter, out of which the Jupiter beings will be born. The body is truly the temple of the egohood to be found within. If it is formed rightly then Jupiter will be built with the proper measurements. With this spiritual condition of the earth appears again what was there formerly. Elijah and Moses, the spiritual representatives of what we have seen in the two pillars. After man has spiritualized himself and the earth has gone through the right degree of evolution he is mature enough to reunite with the forces that are in the sun. As conqueror of the moon he unites with the sun; the symbolic expression for this is the woman who bears the sun within her and has the moon under her feet. The part of humanity not impregnated by the Christ-principle has fallen away and formed a kind of secondary planet. There the four types of the Group-soul appear in their animal forms and three others as well. What has remained in the flesh is represented in the secondary planet by the seven-headed beast. They are now the seven adversaries. All that is organized in man by the etheric is called in occultism “head;” what becomes physically conscious through a member of the etheric body is called “horn.”

Lecture X June 27, 1908
The plan of world evolution takes its course in numerical relationships, the number seven governs all parts of world evolution. Seven conditions of planetary embodiments coincide with the development of human consciousness. Transformation of the four conditions of consciousness already passed through into the future three conditions: conscious picture-consciousness = Jupiter; inspired-consciousness when each being seems like a resounding musical form of what was earlier astral picture; intuitive-consciousness, when the soul remains individual and yet rests within all things and beings. Each of these conditions has seven conditions of life, which coincide with the seven kingdoms. The seven kingdoms of the earth correspond to the elementary kingdoms on the previous planets, which have disappeared into our world. Man belongs entirely to the mineral kingdom because this is the only one he can understand. The other kingdoms are pre-stages of what man will some time experience, they are prototypes; pointing to a future kingdom in which man will be later. On Jupiter there will still be something similar to the seven Earth kingdoms, on Venus and Vulcan the idea “kingdom” is no longer suitable. The seven life-conditions must again pass through seven form-conditions, the physical is the middle one. It descends and then reascends to a perfected astral and lower and higher Devachan. We must rise from this intellectual scheme to the living structure with the help of the pictures which are to be seen in the astral. These do not originate from brain-thinking but are given by clairvoyance of the facts. The form-conditions also pass through seven stages and give race- or culture-conditions. We live in the fifth; the sixth is indicated in the Apocalypse through the seven seals, the seventh through the seven trumpets. Then the physical passes over into the astral. Man had to go through four group-souls until he attained individual consciousness and thereby perfected four kinds of bodily members: four heads corresponding to the four parts of the body: the horns, densifications of the etheric system of force. After the ego-man receives the Christ-principle no more animal heads are formed. Man has become man-like and appears in white raiment. The seven heads and ten horns which are brought over from Atlantean times are overthrown. One who rejects Christ would bring the old form to view: the beast with the seven heads as at the time of the seals, so now in the time when the vials of wrath are poured out and the earth divides into two parts.

Lecture XI June 29, 1908
After the time indicated through the sounding of the trumpets the earth becomes spiritualized. The conditions of form and the number of evolution. This is now for us 344. At a future time the number will be 666; this future is prepared in our time. The age of the sounding of the seven trumpets will see men who descend deep into evil. And when that far-distant future comes which is indicated not through 466 but 666, they will no longer be able to alter these tendencies. The adversary of the Sun-Being, Christ, or the Lamb, is the Sun-Demon, Sorat, the principle that leads men to complete hardening. A sign of the Christ-adversary is hidden in numbers. The abuse of spiritual forces, black magic, is the method of seduction used by the two-horned beast. The hardening of matter is shown to the Apocalyptist in the Great Babylon. On the other side stand those who unite with the principle of the Lamb and prepare the main outlines of what Jupiter is to be — the New Jerusalem. The force through which the Sun-genius overcame the two-horned beast, the great Dragon, is called in Christian-Rosicrucian esotericism: the countenance of the Sun-genius, Michael, who has the key and holds the Dragon chained.

Lecture XII June 30, 1908
It is only possible for man to reach freedom and love through the descent of evil into the abyss. The Sorat-principle originates from other world-ages, must satisfy itself with those fallen away, with those who have hardened in matter on the earth. These will be the hosts of Sorat. What do the concepts “First Death” “Second Death” mean to the writer of the Apocalypse? The clairvoyant Jupiter-man will live consciously under other moral conditions. The astral body already transformed through the ego will be capable of working into the etheric body. The helper who makes this possible is the Christ-being. Only later will man, with the aid of the Father, be able to work into the physical body. The “first death” is the laying aside of the very last physical body. Men then go on living in the spiritualized earth with all that has been brought into the etheric body with the aid of Christ. They live in harmony with the Christ-principle. The etheric body of those who have rejected it will be adapted to the physical body and will live in disharmony and burning desire. In the further spiritualizing of the earth there will no longer be etheric bodies. Those who have received Christ will cast them off without trouble, the others will feel it as a second dying in each successive astral form. That is the “second death.” Those who have reached the goal on earth sketch out the plan for the Jupiter-evolution: that is the New Jerusalem. Those who have thrust away the forces which the Jupiter-consciousness can give them will be those who have remained behind, sunk down below. But it will still be possible to convert a certain number. Not till the Venus-embodiment comes the unalterable decision. It is the corrupted intelligence that falls a prey to the beast; therefore the number of the beast is the number of man. The regularity of the New Jerusalem is described in the cube of the last picture.
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Re: The Apocalypse of St. John, by Rudolf Steiner

Postby admin » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:28 am

Publisher's Note

In his autobiography, The Course of My Life (chapter 35 and chapter 36), Rudolf Steiner speaks as follows concerning the character and records of lectures and addresses printed originally for private circulation:

“The contents of this printed matter were intended as oral communications and not for print ...

“They contain nothing that is not a pure expression of anthroposophical knowledge in its progressive development and growth ... the reader may confidently take them as representing what Anthroposophy has to tell. Therefore it was possible, and moreover without misgivings ... to depart from the accepted custom of circulating these publications only among the membership. But it will have to be remembered that faulty passages occur in the transcripts, which I myself did not revise.

“It is only reasonable to expect that anyone professing to pass judgment on the contents of this privately printed matter will be acquainted with the premises that were taken for granted when the words were spoken. These premises include, at the very least, the anthroposophical knowledge of Man and of the Cosmos in its spiritual essence; also what may be called ‘anthroposophical history,’ told as an, outcome of research into the spiritual world.”
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Re: The Apocalypse of St. John, by Rudolf Steiner

Postby admin » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:29 am

SUMMARY OF CONTENTS

• INTRODUCTORY LECTURE Spiritual Science. The Gospel. The Future of Mankind. The pre-religious time. The Mythologies. The religious state. The different stages of consciousness and the I-Am. 17th June 1908

• General character of the spirit of the Apocalypse. What takes place in Initiation and how is Initiation related to the nature of the Apocalypse? 18th June 1908

• Concerning Initiation through training of the thinking-forces (pre-Christian time), the feeling-forces (Christian time), and the culture of the will in Rosicrucian training. Symbolic representations for the specific Christian and the Christian-Rosicrucian Initiation. 19th June 1908

• What is Man? and what is he destined for in this age? Ascent by degrees into imaginative, inspirational and intuitive knowledge. The inner progress of the seven post-Atlantean cultures is expressed in the seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vials of wrath. The seven Churches are the representatives of the seven post-Atlantean culture-epochs and to each the Apocalyptist directs a message in which he says what can be retained of the old and what must be different. 20th June 1908

• What the seven epochs of the post-Atlantean culture have laid into the souls and sealed will live over into the seven epochs of the future. Seven times will souls be unsealed: seven seals must be opened out of the book. In this book, which is written into men's souls, will stand the entries of the culture-epochs. What is not fitted for immortality falls away, the new that has been prepared in our age emerges and is indicated through the symbol corresponding to the intelligence: the horse. The call of the I-Am overcomes death. Symbolic appearance of those to whom white raiment is given. Symbolic fulfilment of what is given by external life in the disappearance and transforming of sun and moon, the spiritualizing of mankind. 21st June 1908

• Digression. The four conditions of our planetary existence. The Apocalypse shows how the future of the earth is revealed through Christian Initiation by the emergence of what has been prepared in souls in the past. The human being first becomes man in the middle of the earth's evolution. All the other beings who have gone through the human stage up to then have advanced beyond him and could therefore guide his development. They are the regulators of the age — the twenty-four Elders. The foundation for the animal, plant, human kingdoms was provided by the beings who remained behind. The glassy sea indicates the emergence of the mineral kingdom in its first form. From then on the writer of the Apocalypse shows us the pictures of future stages of evolution. 22nd June 1908

• Digression (continued). The twenty-four categories of beings who had gone through the human stage and also other beings were united with the original world-mist of which occultism speaks. Jahve separated himself from the lofty beings, the seven Elohim, who went out with the sun. He remained connected with the earth. Solid parts have only gradually been incorporated into the original human form. The ancient Atlantean was still quite different in form and had a quite different soul-life. Only when the densification of the water led to the flood and the rainbow appeared did man learn to say “I” to himself. Earlier he was sheltered in the spirituality of the Group-soul; now he learnt to feel the God in himself: Jahve was the Ego-leader. That was the first lighting-up of individuality. Man had won his self-consciousness at the cost of spiritual darkening. This development took place through three culture-epochs into the fourth. Then a new force streamed through the earth, the earths whole aura was changed through the Blood that flowed on Golgotha, the Christ-Principle had united itself with the earth. 23rd June 1908

• The future is a recapitulation of the past in an altered condition; the former dull clairvoyance will unite with the clear self-consciousness that has been gained. Through Christ's entry into the world the human being has been preserved from sinking down into a kind of abyss. Man stands before a decision. In a certain way he has already descended into the abyss; if he yields to the descent his personality is not saved for the ascent into the spiritual worlds. To the measure in which understanding for the Christ-Impulse is developed in man, will humanity ascend. Gradually those submerge into the abyss who have acquired the “I” in the form of egotism, but who cannot lift themselves to the spirit which has given them the human countenance. These become animal-like, the evil race. After the opening of the seals man will have in his countenance that which he bears in his heart. The sign, the name of Christ will be expressed in the countenance of the redeemed. We look to the past as the great school of love and its two forces; it leads those who strive to Christ — the true Light-bearer. Noah and the spiritual Adam. At the opening of the four seals the horse, symbol of mere intelligence, appeals four times in succession. At the opening of the fifth seal those appear in white raiment who have been preserved for spiritualization, who understand the call of the earth's mission and will be there when the slaves of personality sink into the abyss. The sixth culture-epoch will bring the opposite pole to intelligence in the little band out of all nations who will live in brotherhood in the sense of the Church of Philadelphia. 24th June 1908

• Increase of egotism is the preparatory cause of the War of All against All. The two aspects of the ego. It brings about hardening if it does not find love; it is the seducer who thrusts into the abyss. It is, however, pledge of man's highest goal. Hence the symbol in the Apocalypse for ego-consciousness is the sharp two-edged sword in the mouth of the representative of humanity. Evil has a part in the plan of creation in order that through it may come the greater good. It is the Manichean principle. The opening of the seven seals characterizes the seven consecutive civilizations which will be formed after the great war: the initiate sees them in the symbolism of the astral world. When these civilizations will have run their course there begins a new age, symbolized by the sounding of the seven trumpets. Man perceives it from the actual spiritual world where the tones of the spheres ring forth. In the heavenly realm thought resounds. This heavenly realm will have descended into the physical world in the seventh epoch, as the astral world in the sixth epoch. The earth is transformed into an astral celestial body: a material globe is separated off with the beings who are not fitted for the ascent. The expulsion of matter is indicated in the Apocalypse through the outpouring of the seven vials of divine wrath. The reception of the highest which man can absorb, the message of love contained in the Gospels must penetrate not only the understanding, but man's innermost being: this book is swallowed by man. The Mars forces and Mercury forces, symbolized in the two pillars, are the heritage of the past now permeated by the force of love contained in the book. 25th June 1908

• After the seven trumpets have sounded an astral earth arises with the beings which belong to it. Digression on the possibilities of man's evolution. The working of the ego on the astral body, etheric body, physical body — at first unconsciously. At last a more or less self-conscious ego is worked out of the group-soul nature which reached full individuality with the appearing of Christ. To-day we have the beginning of Spirit-self. When the seventh trumpet sounds man will dissolve the physical element of his nature and live over as etheric being into the astralized earth. Retrospect to the first Adam and the corruptible body. The incorruptible body of the last Adam bears in its countenance the capacity of receiving Christ. It is the mystery of becoming man. Glance at the ancient earth as an organism permeated by regular currents out of which original man was born as a little separate place which raised itself from the earth and yet was connected with it by innumerable threads. Adam means son of earth. In the ancient earth everything was foreshadowed — the courses of the blood and nerves, all the organs. To-day man works on his soul and will make his body an image of the soul which has taken Christ into itself. He will implant the forces he has thus developed into the earth's next embodiment, Jupiter, out of which the Jupiter beings will be born. The body is truly the temple of the egohood to be found within. If it is formed rightly then Jupiter will be built with the proper measurements. With this spiritual condition of the earth appears again what was there formerly. Elijah and Moses, the spiritual representatives of what we have seen in the two pillars. After man has spiritualized himself and the earth has gone through the right degree of evolution he is mature enough to reunite with the forces that are in the sun. As conqueror of the moon he unites with the sun; the symbolic expression for this is the woman who bears the sun within her and has the moon under her feet. The part of humanity not impregnated by the Christ-principle has fallen away and formed a kind of secondary planet. There the four types of the Group-soul appear in their animal forms and three others as well. What has remained in the flesh is represented in the secondary planet by the seven-headed beast. They are now the seven adversaries. All that is organized in man by the etheric is called in occultism “head;” what becomes physically conscious through a member of the etheric body is called “horn.”26th June 1908

• The plan of world evolution takes its course in numerical relationships, the number seven governs all parts of world evolution. Seven conditions of planetary embodiments coincide with the development of human consciousness. Transformation of the four conditions of consciousness already passed through into the future three conditions: conscious picture-consciousness = Jupiter; inspired-consciousness when each being seems like a resounding musical form of what was earlier astral picture; intuitive-consciousness, when the soul remains individual and yet rests within all things and beings. Each of these conditions has seven conditions of life, which coincide with the seven kingdoms. The seven kingdoms of the earth correspond to the elementary kingdoms on the previous planets, which have disappeared into our world. Man belongs entirely to the mineral kingdom because this is the only one he can understand. The other kingdoms are pre-stages of what man will some time experience, they are prototypes; pointing to a future kingdom in which man will be later. On Jupiter there will still be something similar to the seven Earth kingdoms, on Venus and Vulcan the idea “kingdom” is no longer suitable. The seven life-conditions must again pass through seven form-conditions, the physical is the middle one. It descends and then reascends to a perfected astral and lower and higher Devachan. We must rise from this intellectual scheme to the living structure with the help of the pictures which are to be seen in the astral. These do not originate from brain-thinking but are given by clairvoyance of the facts. The form-conditions also pass through seven stages and give race- or culture-conditions. We live in the fifth; the sixth is indicated in the Apocalypse through the seven seals, the seventh through the seven trumpets. Then the physical passes over into the astral. Man had to go through four group-souls until he attained individual consciousness and thereby perfected four kinds of bodily members: four heads corresponding to the four parts of the body: the horns, densifications of the etheric system of force. After the ego-man receives the Christ-principle no more animal heads are formed. Man has become man-like and appears in white raiment. The seven heads and ten horns which are brought over from Atlantean times are overthrown. One who rejects Christ would bring the old form to view: the beast with the seven heads as at the time of the seals, so now in the time when the vials of wrath are poured out and the earth divides into two parts. 28th June 1908

• After the time indicated through the sounding of the trumpets the earth becomes spiritualized. The conditions of form and the number of evolution. This is now for us 344. At a future time the number will be 666; this future is prepared in our time. The age of the sounding of the seven trumpets will see men who descend deep into evil. And when that far-distant future comes which is indicated not through 466 but 666, they will no longer be able to alter these tendencies. The adversary of the Sun-Being, Christ, or the Lamb, is the Sun-Demon, Sorat, the principle that leads men to complete hardening. A sign of the Christ-adversary is hidden in numbers. The abuse of spiritual forces, black magic, is the method of seduction used by the two-horned beast. The hardening of matter is shown to the Apocalyptist in the Great Babylon. On the other side stand those who unite with the principle of the Lamb and prepare the main outlines of what Jupiter is to be — the New Jerusalem. The force through which the Sun-genius overcame the two-horned beast, the great Dragon, is called in Christian-Rosicrucian esotericism: the countenance of the Sun-genius, Michael, who has the key and holds the Dragon chained. 29th June 1908

• It is only possible for man to reach freedom and love through the descent of evil into the abyss. The Sorat-principle originates from other world-ages, must satisfy itself with those fallen away, with those who have hardened in matter on the earth. These will be the hosts of Sorat. What do the concepts “First Death” “Second Death” mean to the writer of the Apocalypse? The clairvoyant Jupiter-man will live consciously under other moral conditions. The astral body already transformed through the ego will be capable of working into the etheric body. The helper who makes this possible is the Christ-being. Only later will man, with the aid of the Father, be able to work into the physical body. The “first death” is the laying aside of the very last physical body. Men then go on living in the spiritualized earth with all that has been brought into the etheric body with the aid of Christ. They live in harmony with the Christ-principle. The etheric body of those who have rejected it will be adapted to the physical body and will live in disharmony and burning desire. In the further spiritualizing of the earth there will no longer be etheric bodies. Those who have received Christ will cast them off without trouble, the others will feel it as a second dying in each successive astral form. That is the “second death.” Those who have reached the goal on earth sketch out the plan for the Jupiter-evolution: that is the New Jerusalem. Those who have thrust away the forces which the Jupiter-consciousness can give them will be those who have remained behind, sunk down below. But it will still be possible to convert a certain number. Not till the Venus-embodiment comes the unalterable decision. It is the corrupted intelligence that falls a prey to the beast; therefore the number of the beast is the number of man. The regularity of the New Jerusalem is described in the cube of the last picture. 30th June 1908
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Re: The Apocalypse of St. John, by Rudolf Steiner

Postby admin » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:32 am

INTRODUCTORY LECTURE: Spiritual Science — The Gospel — The Future of Mankind

IN the autumn of this present year Nuremberg can celebrate an important centenary, for it was in 1808 that this city received one of the greatest German spirits within her walls. He was one of those spirits of whom we hear little to-day and whose works are understood still less; but he will signify very much for inane intellectual life in the future when he is once understood. He is doubtless difficult to understated and it may be some time before people grasp him again. In the autumn of 1808 Hegel became Director of the Royal Grammar School in Nuremberg.

Hegel made a statement that we may perhaps take as foundation for what we are going to study. He said: The most profound thought is connected with the figure of Christ, with the outer historical figure. And it is the greatness of the Christian religion that every grade of consciousness can grasp the historical external figure, while at the same time it is a challenge to the most earnest labours of the mind and the deepest penetration. The Christian religion is comprehensible at every stage of culture and yet at the same time it challenges the deepest wisdom. — These are the words of Hegel, the German philosopher.

That the Christian faith, the message of the Gospel, can be understood at every stage of consciousness has been taught for a period to be reckoned almost in millennia. To show that it is a summons to the deepest thought, to a penetration into humanity's whole fund of wisdom, will be one of the tasks of Spiritual Science, if this is understood in its true sense and inmost impulse and made the guide of human life. What we are to consider to-day will be misunderstood if it is thought that Anthroposophy or Spiritual Science is in any way a new religion or desires to establish a new religious faith in place of an old one. One might say, not to be misunderstood, if Spiritual Science is grasped aright, it will be clear that though it is a sure and firm supporter of religious life, in itself it is no religion, nor will it ever contradict any religion as such. It is another matter, however, for it to be the instrument to explain the profoundest truths and the most earnest and vital secrets of religions and show how they may be understood.

It may seem somewhat far-fetched if we make the following comparison in order to show the relation of Theosophy or Anthroposophy to religious documents (and to-day we shall be concerned with the religious documents of Christianity). Anthroposophy is related to the religious documents as mathematical instruction is related to the books on mathematics which have appeared in the course of mankind's history. We have an old work which is really of interest only to students of history versed in mathematics, namely, the geometry of Euclid. It contains for the first time in a scholastic form the mathematical and geometrical facts that are now taught to children in school. How few of the children are aware, however, that all that they learn about parallel lines, triangles, angles, etc., stands in that old book, that it was given to humanity then for the first time. It is quite right to make the child conscious that one can realize these things in oneself, that if the human spirit sets its forces in motion and applies them to the forms of space it is able to realize these forms without reference to that ancient book. Yet someone who has never heard of the book and has been taught mathematics and geometry will value and understand it in the right sense if he one day comes across it. He will know how to prize what was given to mankind by the one who set this work for the first time before the human spirit. In this way one might characterize the relation of Spiritual Science to religious documents.

The sources of Spiritual Science are of such a nature that if it is understood in its true impulse it is not to be referred to any kind of document or tradition. Just as knowledge of the surrounding sense-world is given us by the free use of our forces, so can the knowledge of the super-sensible, the invisible lying behind the visible, be given us by the deep-lying spiritual forces and faculties slumbering within the human soul. When man uses the instruments of his senses he can perceive things lying before him and combine them with his intellect. In the same way someone using the means given him through Spiritual Science can look behind the veils of sense-existence to the spiritual causes, to where beings weave and work which are imperceptible to the physical eye and ear. Thus it is in the free use of man's forces, though they are still slumbering as super-sensible forces in the majority of men, that we have the independent source of spiritual knowledge, just as the source of external knowledge lies in the free use of forces directed to the sense-world. And when man possesses the knowledge which introduces him into the super-sensible behind the sensible, the invisible behind the visible, a knowledge as definite as his knowledge of outer objects and events, then he may go to the traditional books and records. Furnished with super-sensible knowledge he may approach the records through which, during the course of evolution, tidings have reached man of the super-sensible world, just as the geometrician approaches the geometry of Euclid. And then he tests them as the modern geometrician tests the geometry of Euclid; he can prize and recognize these documents at their true value. Nor does one who approaches the records of Christianity equipped with knowledge of the super-sensible world find that they lose in value; indeed on the contrary, they appear in a more brilliant light than they showed first to the mere believer, they prove to contain deeper wisdom than had been dreamt of earlier, before the possession of anthroposophical knowledge.

But we must be clear on another point before we can realize the right relation of Anthroposophy to the religious documents. Let us ask ourselves who is better able to judge the geometry of Euclid — one who can translate the words and give the contents without having first penetrated into the spirit of geometry, or one who already understands geometry and is therefore able to discover it in the book? Let us think of a mere philologist, one who knows nothing of geometry, how many incorrect statements would appear if he tried to convey the meaning of the contents. Many have done this with the records of religion, even those who are supposed to be chosen to fathom their true sense. They have gone to these records without first having any independent knowledge of super-sensible facts. And so we have to-day most careful explanations of religious documents, explanations that explore the history of the time and show how the documents originated, and so on. But the explanations resemble explanations of Euclid's geometry by a non-geometrician. Religion — and this we will hold fast — can only be found if one is aided by spiritual-scientific knowledge, although Spiritual Science can only be an instrument of the religious life, never a religion itself. Religion is best characterized through the content of the human heart, that sum of feelings and emotions through which man's sensitive soul sends up all that is best in it to the super-sensible beings and powers. The character of a man's religion depends on the fire of these feelings, the strength of his sensitivity, just as it depends on the warm pulse-beat in the breast and on the feeling for beauty how a man will stand before a picture. True it is that the contents of the religious life is what we call the spiritual or super-sensible world. But just as little as an aesthetic feeling for art is the same as an inner grasp of its laws — though it may assist understanding just as little are the wisdom, the science, that lead into the spiritual worlds the same as religion. This science will make religious feeling more earnest, worthier, broader, but it will not be religion itself. Grasped in its true sense it may lead to religion.

If we wish to understand the force and significance, the real spirit of the Christian religion we must penetrate far into spiritual life. We must look back into times of a primeval past, the pre-religious age of mankind, and try to envisage the origin of religion. Is there a pre-religious age of humanity? Yes, a time existed on earth when there was no religion; this is acknowledged by Spiritual Science though in a very different sense from the assertions of materialistic civilization. What does religion signify for mankind? It was and for a long time will still be that which the word itself signifies. The word “religion” means the uniting of man with his divine element, with the world of the spirit. The religious ages are essentially those in which man has longed for union with the divine, be it out of the sources of knowledge, or from a certain feeling, or because he felt that his will could only be strong if it were permeated by divine forces. Ages in which man had an inner premonition rather than definite vision, in which he rather sensed that a spiritual world was around him, than saw it — these are the religious ages of our earth. And before these ages were others when man did not need such a sense of longing for union with the super-sensible spiritual world, because he knew that world, as to-day he knows things of the sense world. Does man need to be convinced of the existence of stones, plants, animals? Does he need documents or doctrines to prove to him or let him surmise that there are rocks, plants, animals? No, for he sees them round him and needs therefore no religion of the sense-perceptible world. Let us imagine someone from quite another world, possessing quite different senses and organs of knowledge, one who would not see the stones, plants and animals because to him they were invisible. Let us imagine that he was informed through writings or in some other way of their existence, which to you is a matter of direct sight and knowledge. What would that be for him? It would be religion. If he were informed through some book of the existence of stones and plants and animals it would be religion to him, for he has never seen them. There was a time in which humanity lived amongst those spiritual beings and deeds that are recorded in the religious teachings and teachings of wisdom.

The word “evolution” has become a magic word in many fields of thought to-day, but it has been applied by science solely to outer sense-perceptible facts. To one who regards the world from the standpoint of Spiritual Science everything is in process of evolution, and most of all the human consciousness. The state of consciousness in which man lives to-day, through which when he wakes in the morning he is able to grasp the world with his senses, this state has evolved from a different one. We call the present consciousness the clear day-consciousness. But this has evolved from an ancient state which we call the dull picture-consciousness of mankind. There, however, we reach back to humanity's early evolutionary stages of which anthropology tells nothing, since it uses only the instruments of the senses and methods of the intellect. It believes that man has gone through stages in the far past which are the same as the animal creation passes through to-day. We have seen in earlier lectures how the relation of man to the animal is to be understood. Man was never such a being as the present animal, nor is he descended from beings like them. If we were to describe the forms out of which man has evolved they would prove very different in appearance from the present-day animal. These are creatures which have stayed behind at earlier stages of evolution, con-served these stages and hardened them. The human being has grown beyond his earlier evolutionary stages, the animal has gone down below them. So in the animal world we see some-thing like laggard brothers of humanity, who no longer, however, bear the form of those earlier stages.

The earlier stages of evolution took their course when there were different conditions of life on the earth, when the elements were not distributed as they are to-day, when the human being was not encumbered with the kind of body he now bears, and yet was man. He was able to wait, figuratively speaking, within the course of evolution for his entry into the flesh, was able to wait until the fleshly materiality had reached a condition in which he could develop the forces of the present spirit. The animals were not able to wait, they became hardened at an earlier stage, took on flesh earlier than was right. They were therefore obliged to stay behind. We can thus picture that the human being has lived under other conditions and other forms of consciousness. If we follow these back for thousands and thousands of years we shall always find different ones. What to-day we call logical thought, intellect, understanding, has only evolved late in man's history. Much stronger were certain forces in him which are already beginning to decline, such, for instance, as memory. In an earlier age memory was far more developed than it is now. With the growth of the intellect in mankind, memory has stepped essentially into the background. If one uses some measure of practical observation one can recognize that what Spiritual Science relates is not said without foundation. People might assert that if that were true about memory, then a person remaining backward in development by some accident, should be backward least of all in memory. It could also be claimed that if intellectuality were fostered in a person artificially kept back, then his memory would suffer. Here in this city a characteristic case of this very nature is to be found.

Professor Daumer, whom one must hold in the highest esteem, observed this case very thoroughly. It was the case of that human being, so enigmatic for many people, who was once placed into this city in a mysterious way, and who in just as mysterious a way met his death in Ansbach. An author, in order to indicate the mystery of his life, wrote that as he was carried out to burial the sun was setting on the one horizon and the moon was rising on the other. I speak, as you know, of Caspar Hauser. If you disregard all the pros and cons that have been asserted, if you look only at what has been fully verified, you will know that this foundling — who was one day simply there in the street, and who since he did not know whence he came, was called the Child of Europe — could neither read nor write when he was found. At an age of twenty years he possessed nothing of what is gained through the intellect but he had a remarkable memory. As they began to instruct him, as logic entered his soul, his memory disappeared. This transition in consciousness was accompanied by something else. He possessed at first an incredible, an entirely inborn truthfulness and it was precisely in this truthfulness that he went more and more astray. The more he nibbled, so to say, at intellectuality, the more it vanished. There would be many things to study were we to enter deeply into this human soul which had been artificially held back. It is not difficult for the student of Spiritual Science to credit the popular tradition, so unacceptable to the learned people of to-day, which relates that while Caspar Hauser still knew nothing, while he still had no idea that there were beings besides himself of different form, he exercised a remarkable effect upon quite savage creatures. Savage animals humbled themselves and became mild, something streamed from him that made such beasts gentle, although they savagely attacked anyone else. We could in fact penetrate deeply into the soul of this remarkable personality, so enigmatic to many, and you would see how things that cannot be explained from ordinary life are led back through Spiritual Science to spiritual facts. Such facts cannot be learnt by speculation but only by spiritual observation, though they are comprehensible to an unbiased and logical thinking.

All this has only been said in order to show you that the modern consciousness has evolved from another, an age-old-state when man was not in direct touch with outer objects in the modern sense, but on the other hand was in connection with facts and beings of the spiritual world. A human being did not see another's physical form — nor did this form resemble that of to-day. When another being approached him a sort of dream-picture arose and by its shape and colouring he knew whether the other was antagonistic to him or sympathetic. Such a consciousness perceived spiritual facts and the spiritual world. To-day man is among beings of flesh and blood, at that time, when he turned his gaze to himself and himself was soul and spirit, he lived among spiritual beings. They were present to him, he was a spirit among spirits. Although his consciousness was only dreamlike, yet the pictures that arose in him were in living relation to his environment. That was the far distant age when man still lived in a spiritual world. Later he descended from it in order to take on a corporeal nature suited to his present consciousness. Animals already existed as physical creatures while man still perceived in spiritual realms. He lived at that time among spiritual beings, and just as you need no proof to be convinced of the presence of stones, plants and animals, so man in those primeval times needed no testimony in order to be convinced of the existence of spiritual beings. He lived among spirits and divine beings and therefore needed no religion. That was the pre-religious age.

Then man descended, the earlier form of consciousness changed into the modern. Colours and forms are no longer perceived as floating in space, colour is laid upon the surfaces of sense-objects. In the same measure as man learnt to direct his senses to the outer world, did this outer world draw itself like a veil, like the great Maja, over the world of spirit. And humanity had to receive tidings of the spiritual world through this sheath, religion became necessary.

There is also a state, however, between the time preceding a religious consciousness and the time of actual religion: there is an intermediate condition. Thence are derived the mythologies, sagas, folk-stories of the spiritual worlds. It is a dreary arid learning that has no inkling of real spiritual events and asserts that all the figures of Nordic or German mythology, of Greek mythology with its accounts of the deeds of the gods are merely inventions of popular fantasy. They are not inventions, the peasant folk do not indulge in such fancies and if they see a few clouds stretched across the sky, say that they are little sheep. That the people have such fantasies is a fiction of our modern learnedness which abounds in lively fantasy about such things. The truth of the matter is quite different. The old saga and stories of the gods are the last relics, the last memories of the pre-religious consciousness. They are records of what men themselves have seen. Those who described Wotan, Thor, Zeus, etc., did so because they remembered that such things had been experienced once upon a time. Mythologies are fragments, broken pieces of what had once been experienced. The intermediate stage was shown in another way as well. Even when clever men had already — let us say — become very clever, there were still persons who under exceptional conditions (call them states of insanity or being carried away, as you will) could see into the spiritual worlds, who could still be aware of what in earlier times was seen by all. They recounted that they themselves still saw something of the spiritual world. This was linked with the memories and led to a living faith among the people. That was a state transitional to the state of actual religion.

We may ask: what paved the way in mankind to an actual religion? It was because men found a means of so developing their inner being that they were once more able to behold the worlds from which they had sprung, which they used to see in a dull consciousness. And here we touch upon a chapter which to many modern minds contains but little probability, the question of initiation. What are initiates? They were those who so developed their inner nature of soul and spirit through certain methods that they grew again into the spiritual world. There is initiation! In every soul super-sensible forces and faculties lie dormant. There is, or at least there can be, a great and mighty moment when these forces awaken. We can gain some idea of this moment if we picture the general course of human evolution. To speak in the words of Goethe we can say that we look back into the far past when the human body had no such physical eye or physical ear as exist to-day. We look back to times when there were undifferentiated organs, able neither to see nor to hear, at the places where these organs are now situated. A time came for physical humanity when such blind organs evolved to radiant points, gradually evolved until light itself dawned upon them. In the same way a time came when the human ear had developed to such a stage that the former silent world revealed itself in tones and harmonies. The sun's forces worked upon the formation of the human eye. And to-day man can live the life of spirit and thus develop the organs of soul and spirit which are largely undeveloped in present mankind.

The moment is possible and for many has already dawned when the soul and spirit are transformed just as once the external physical organism was transformed. New eyes and ears arise through which the light shines and tones resound out of the spiritually dark and silent world. Development is possible, even to the point of living into the higher worlds. That is initiation. And the Mystery Schools provided methods of initiation as in ordinary life the methods of the chemical laboratory or of biological research are made available. The difference is only this — official science has to prepare instruments and other apparatus for its use, while he who would become an initiate has but one instrument to perfect, namely, himself in all his forces just as the force of magnetism can lie dormant in iron, so there slumbers in the human soul the power to penetrate into the spiritual world of light and sound. And so the time came when normal humanity saw only physical sense-existence and when the leaders were initiates. These could see into the spiritual worlds and give information and explanation of the facts of that world in which man had earlier lived.

To what does the first stage of initiation lead? How does it appear to the human soul? Do not imagine that this development is merely a matter of philosophic speculation, a spinning out, a refinement of ideas. The ideas man has about the sense-world are transformed when he grows into the spiritual world. No longer does he apprehend things through sharply outlined concepts, but through pictures, through Imaginations. For the human being grows into the spiritual process of world creation. The firm definite contours of the physical material world exist, in fact, nowhere else. In the world creative process the animal does not appear with clear outline. One has there something like a basic idea of the animal from which the diverse external forms can originate, a living reality, membered in itself. One must take one's stand strictly on the basis of Goethe's words: “All things corruptible are but a semblance.” The initiate learns at first to know and grasp in pictures, he learns to ascend into the spiritual world. There his consciousness must be more mobile than that which serves us for apprehending the surrounding sense-world. Hence this stage of development is called the Imaginative Consciousness. It leads man again into the spiritual world, but not in a dull twilight state. The initiate consciousness to be gained is clear and bright, as clear as man's consciousness by day. There is thus an enrichment, the spiritual consciousness is added to the day-consciousness. In the first stage of initiation man lives in the imaginative consciousness. The documents of humanity record what the initiates experienced in the spiritual world just as information with regard to the science of geometry was imparted to mankind through Euclid. We recognize what stands in these records when we go back to the sources — the spiritual vision of the initiates.

Those were the conditions prevailing among men up to the appearance of the greatest Being who has trodden upon the earth, Christ Jesus. With his appearance anew element entered evolution. If we would understand the essential nature of the new element bestowed on mankind through Christ Jesus, we must realize that in all pre-Christian initiation the candidate was completely withdrawn from ordinary life, he must work upon his soul in centres of profoundest secrecy. Above all we must realize that when man raised himself again into the spiritual world something of that merely dreamlike picture-consciousness still remained. Man had to retreat from this sense-world to be able to enter the spiritual world. That this is no longer necessary to-day has been brought about through the appearing of Christ Jesus on earth. Through the fact that the Christ-principle has entered humanity, the Central Being, the very Centre of the spiritual world, has once existed historically in a human being on this earth. It is the same Being for whom all these have longed who have developed a religious life, who have beheld in the Mystery Centres, who have left the sense-world in order to enter the spiritual world. The Being of whom it has been proclaimed that man confronts it as his highest nature, this has entered humanity's evolution with Christ Jesus. One who understands something of genuine spiritual science knows that all religious proclamation before the coming of Christ Jesus is a prophecy of him.

When the ancient initiates wished to speak of the highest that was accessible to them in the spiritual world, of that which they were able to see as the origin of all things, then under the most diverse names it was of Christ Jesus that they spoke. We need only remember the Old Testament, itself a prophecy. We remember how when Moses was to lead his people he received the command: “Say to thy people that the Lord God has said unto thee what thou shalt do.” Then Moses asks: “How will the people believe me, how can I convince them? What shall I say when they ask who has sent me?” And he was commanded: “Say the ‘I-am’ has sent thee.” Read it again and compare as exactly as you can with the original text and you will see its significance. The “I-Am,” what does that mean? The “I-Am” is the name for the divine Being, the Christ-principle of man — the Being of whom man feels like a drop, a spark, when he can say “I am.” The stone, the plant, the animal cannot say “I am.” Man is the crown of creation inasmuch as he can say “I am” to himself, he can utter a name which does not hold good for anyone but the one who utters it. You alone can call yourself “I”; no one else can call you “I.” Here the soul speaks within itself in a word to which none other has entrance except a Being which comes to the soul through no external sense, on no outer path. Here Divinity speaks. Hence the name “I-Am” was given to the Godhead whose being fills the world. “Say that the ‘I-am’ has told thee !” Thus was Moses to speak to his people.

Men learn only gradually to understand the true, deep meaning of this “I-am.” Human beings did not feel themselves as individuals at once. You can still find this in the Old Testament, these men did not as yet feel individual. Even the members of the German tribes, right into the time of the Christian Church, did not feel themselves to be individualities. Think back to the Cherusci, the Teutons, etc., the German tribes in whose land modern Germany now lies. The separate members felt the tribal ego, and themselves as a part of it. A man would not have said “I am” in the clear, definite way it is said to-day; he felt himself part of an organism composed of those who were related by blood. This blood-relationship assumes the greatest proportions among the followers of the Old Testament religion. The individual felt himself sheltered in the whole folk which for him was ruled by one Ego. He knew the meaning of “I and the Father Abraham are one,” for he traced the blood-relationship back through the generations to Abraham. If he wished to go beyond his single ego he knew himself to be sheltered in the Father Abraham, from whom flows all the blood through the generations, which is the external bearer of the common Folk-Ego.

Now if this expression, which signified the highest they knew to the people of the Old Testament is compared with what has been brought through Christ Jesus then a lightning-flash illumines the whole advance that has come about through Christian evolution. “Before Abraham was, was the ‘I-am.’” What does this mean? “Before Abraham was the ‘I-am.’” (That is the right rendering of the biblical passage.) It means: Go back through all generations, and you find something in yourself, in your own individuality which is even more eternal than what flows through all blood-related generations. Before the ancestors were, was the “I-am,” that Being which draws into every human being, of which each human soul can directly feel something in itself. Not “I and the Father Abraham,” not I and a temporal Father, but I and a spiritual Father, who has no part in anything perishable, we are one! I and the Father are one. The Father dwells in each separate individual, the Divine Principle lives in him, something which was, which is, and which is to be.

Men have actually only begun after 2,000 years to feel the force of this world-impulse; in future ages, however, they will realize the significance for mankind of this forward step in the remission and evolution of the earth. What the ancient initiates tried to reach could only be realized if one went beyond the individual human being and grasped the spirit of a whole people. If the normal man heard that he would say: That is a transient entity which begins with birth and ends with death. But if he were initiated in the secrets of the Mysteries, he saw as the Folk Spirit, as the actual Being who flows through the blood of the generations, that which was only dimly sensed by the others. He could see what can be reached only in the spiritual realm and not in external reality. He could see a divine Being who flows through the blood of the generations. To stand face to face in the spirit before this God could only take place in the Mysteries.

Those who were round Christ Jesus with full understanding as his intimate pupils were conscious that a Being of divine spiritual nature stood outwardly before them, clothed in the flesh as human personality. They were sensible of Christ Jesus as the first human being to bear a Spirit who otherwise was felt only by interrelated groups, and who could only be seen in the spiritual world by initiates. He was the Firstborn among men.

The more individualized a man becomes the more he can become a bearer of Love. Where the blood links men together they love because they are led to what they should love. When man is granted individuality, when he tends and nurtures the divine spark within hit then the impulses of love, the waves of love, pass from man to man out of the free heart. And thus with this new impulse man has enriched the old bond of love that is bound to the blood-tie. Love passes over gradually into spiritual love which flows from soul to soul and which will ultimately encompass all humanity in a common bond of brother-love. But Christ Jesus is the Force, the living Force, once historically and externally present, through whom for the first time mankind has been brought to the bond of brother-love. Men will learn to understand this bond of brother-love as the perfected spiritualized Christianity.

People say very lightly to-day that theosophy should seek the common kernel of truth in all religions, for the contents of all religions are the same. People who talk like that and only compare religions in order to note the abstract resemblance have no understanding of the principle of evolution. World evolution is not without meaning. All religions undoubtedly contain the truth, but inasmuch as they evolve from form to form they evolve to higher forms. It is true that if you search deeply enough you can find teachings in other religions that are also to be found in Christianity. Christianity has not brought new doctrine. The essential element of Christianity does not lie in its teachings. Take the founders of pre-Christian religions, in their case it was a matter of what they taught. If they themselves had remained unknown, their teaching would have been preserved and this would have been enough. But with Christ Jesus that is not the point. What matters is that he was there, that he has lived here on this earth in a physical body. Not belief in his teaching but in his Person — that is the essential thing. The point is that he has been beheld among mortals as the Firstborn; whom one asks: if Thou wert in the position in which I find myself, wouldst Thou feel as I do? Wouldst Thou think as I am now thinking? Will, as I am willing? That is else important thing, that he is the greatest example as Personality, with whom it is not a matter of listening to his teaching, but of looking at him himself, and seeing how he acted. And so the intimate pupils of Christ Jesus speak quite differently from the pupils and disciples of other religious founders. It is said of those: The Master has taught this or taught that. The disciples of Christ Jesus say: We are not telling you invented myths and doctrines; we say to you what our eyes have seen, our ears heard. We have heard his voice, our hands have touched the Source of Life whereby we have community with you. And Christ Jesus himself said: “You shall bear witness for me in Jerusalem, in Judea to the end of the world.” These words contain a very great significance; testimony shall you bear for inc to the end of the world. That means that there will at all times be those who, just as the men in Judea and Galilee, could say out of direct knowledge who Christ was, in the sense of the Gospel.

“In the sense of the Gospel” — what does that mean? Nothing less than that he was from the beginning the Principle that lived in all creation. He says, “If you do not believe in me, believe at least in Moses, for if you believe in Moses, then you believe in me, for Moses has spoken of me.” We have to-day seen this. Moses has spoken of him by saying: The “I-Am” has said it to me; the “I-am,” who up to then was only perceptible in the spirit. The fact that the Christ has entered visibly into the world, appearing as man among amen, is what distinguishes the Christ-gospel from the divine proclamations of other religions. In all of these religions spiritual wisdom was directed to something which was outside the world. Now, with Christ Jesus, something entered the world which was to be grasped as the sense-perceptible itself. What did the first disciples experience as the ideal of their wisdom? No longer merely to understand the life of the spirits in spirit-land, but how the Highest Principle could have been present on the earth in the historical Personality of Christ Jesus. It is much easier to deny divinity to this Personality than to acknowledge it. Here lies the distinction between a certain doctrine of early Christian times and what we may call inner Christianity — the distinction between Gnosis and esoteric Christianity. The Gnosis certainly recognizes Christ in his divinity, but it could not raise itself to the conception that the Word has become flesh and dwelt among us, as the writer of the John Gospel emphasizes. He says: You shall look upon Christ Jesus; not as something to be grasped purely in the invisible, but as the Word which has become flesh and dwelt among us. You must know that with this human personality a force has appeared which will work into the farthest future, which will encircle the earth with the true spiritual love as a force that lives and works in all that lives into the future.

And if man gives himself up to this force he grows into the spiritual world from which he has descended. He will ascend again to where the initiate's vision can already reach to-day. Man will divest himself of what belongs to the senses when he penetrates into the spiritual world. The candidate who was initiated in ancient times could see in retrospect the far past of spirit-life; those who are initiated in the Christian sense through receiving the impulse of Christ Jesus are enabled to see what becomes of this earthly world of ours when humanity acts in the sense of the Christ Impulse. As one can look back to earlier conditions, so, starting from the conning of Christ, one can look into the farthest future. Consciousness will alter again, there will be a new relation of the spiritual to the sense-world. Earlier initiation was directed to tine past, to age-old wisdom; Christian initiation reveals the future to one who is to be initiated. That is a necessity; man is to be initiated not only in wisdom, or in feelings but in his will. For then he knows what he is to do, he can set himself a goal for the future. Ordinary everyday people set themselves aims for the afternoon, for the evening or the morning; the spiritual man is able, out of spiritual principles, to set himself distant aims which pulse through his will and make his forces quicken. To set goals before humanity means in the true, highest sense, in the sense of the original Christ principle, to grasp Christianity esoterically. In this way it was grasped by the one who has written the great principle of the initiation of the will — the writer of the Apocalypse. We misunderstand the Apocalypse, if we do not understand it as the impulse given for the future, for action and deed.

Everything that we have let pass before us to-day can be understood out of anthroposophical Spiritual Science. I have been unable to give more than a slight sketch. When through Spiritual Science one grasps what lies behind the sense-world, one can look with understanding at all that has been given in the Gospels, at what has been proclaimed in the Apocalypse. And the more deeply penetrating is one's approach to the super-sensible worlds, the more profound is what one will find in the Christian documents. The records of Christianity will appear in higher brilliance, with deeper truths when one goes to them strengthened with the spiritual vision that may be gained by the help of Anthroposophy. True it is that the simplest heart can have some feeling of what truths lie hidden in Christianity. But man's consciousness will not be satisfied for ever with a dim sensing, it will evolve higher and wish to have knowledge and under-standing. Yet even when it mounts to the highest teachings of wisdom, there will always be mysteries in Christianity still more profound. It is for the simplest heart but also for the most developed intellectuality. The initiate experiences it again as pictures, and so the naive consciousness may divine what truths are slumbering there. Man, however, will demand knowledge and not faith — and even then he will find satisfaction in Christianity. If the explanations of the Gospels are given him through Spiritual Science he will be able to find the fully satisfying content in Christianity. Hence Spiritual Science will take the place of the highest philosophies of the past. It will bear testimony to the beautiful words of Hegel quoted at the beginning: “Profoundest thought is linked with the historical external figure of Christ Jesus, and every degree of consciousness — therein lies the greatness of Christianity — can grasp it externally. At the same time, however, Christianity demands the deepest and most penetrating wisdom. Christianity is for every stage of culture, but it can meet and satisfy the highest demands.”
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Re: The Apocalypse of St. John, by Rudolf Steiner

Postby admin » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:32 am

I

DURING the next few days we are to occupy ourselves with a very profound theosophical subject. Before beginning our studies let me express my great satisfaction that we are able to place before friends from so many parts of Germany, and indeed of Europe, this deep and important subject. Especially do I express it to our friends in Nuremberg, who for their part are certainly not less happy than the speaker to cultivate for is short period of time anthroposophical life un this city in common with our foreign friends. There has always been in this city a very earnest search for the knowledge of great spiritual truths, and a deep understanding of anthroposophical life, of the true anthroposophical attitude towards life, has always been manifest.

This kind of life which is only understood when our anthroposophical doctrines are not merely a theoretical interest, but something which spiritualizes, kindles and uplifts our inmost life, links us in closer bonds with our fellow-men and with the whole world. It means much to man to feel that everything he sees in the outer world in his objective sense-existence can be recognized as the external physiognomy of an invisible super-sensible existence lying at its foundation. The world and all it contains will at length become to one who applies Anthroposophy to life more and more a physical expression of divine spiritual realities; and when he observes the visible world around him it will be to him as if he penetrated from the mere features of a person's face to his heart and soul. All that he sees externally, the mountains and rocks, the vegetation of the earth, the animals and human beings, human activities — everything in the world surrounding him — will be to hint the physiognomical expression, or the countenance, as it were, of a divine existence lying behind it. From this mode of observation new life rises up within him and permeates him; and a different, a noble enthusiasm fires all that he wishes to undertake.

Let me give you a small symptomatic example from my experience on one of my latest lecture tours, showing how significant world history is when looked upon as the expression of the divine spiritual, and how it can speak to us in a new language. A few weeks ago in Scandinavia I noticed that in the entire life of Northern Europe there is still an echo of that ancient period of the Norse world when all spiritual life was permeated by the consciousness of the beings who were to be found as the gods of northern Mythology. One might say that in those countries one may hear the echoes everywhere of what the Initiates of the Druidic and Trotten Mysteries imparted to their pupils and which constituted the old Norse spiritual life. One becomes aware of the magic breath of that spirit life pervading the North; one sees something like the expression of beautiful karmic connections. One feels oneself placed — as it was my privilege in Upsala — in the midst of all this, when one contemplates the first German translation of the Bible, the Silver Codex of Ulfilas ... It came to Upsala through karmic complications of a peculiar kind. It had previously been in Prague. In the Swedish war it was taken as booty and brought to Upsala, and there it now lies; a token of something which can be penetrated by one who is able to look a little more deeply into the nature of the ancient Mysteries. The Mysteries within the ancient European civilizations in which pupils were taught how to penetrate into the spiritual world were all pervaded and permeated by a remarkable characteristic, which could be observed more deeply by those who received initiation in those ancient tines. Their hearts were filled with a feeling of tragedy when it was made clear to them that although they were indeed able to glimpse the secrets of existence, nevertheless, something would appear in the time to come which would give the most complete solution of the riddle. They were shown again and again that a higher light was to ray into that knowledge which could be given in the ancient Mysteries. One might say that in all these Mysteries it was prophetically indicated what was to come about in the future, namely, the appearance of Christ Jesus. The undertone, the attitude of expectation, this mood of prophecy lay in the nature of the Northern Mysteries.

The statement I am now about to make must not be pressed too far or too sharply outlined in thought. It is only intended to express symptomatically the deeper truth which lies behind in the legend of Siegfried, which has remained like a last page out of the traditions of the old German Mysteries, there is something like an echo of that mood. When we are shown that Siegfried is really the representative of the ancient nordic initiation, that on the place where he is vulnerable there lies a leaf, that this place is on his back, then one who is able to feel such a thing symptomatically feels: That is the spot on the human being where something different will rest, when such injury as the initiates of the ancient Northern Mysteries experienced can no longer touch him. This spot the Cross shall cover, there the Cross of Christ Jesus shall rest. It did not yet rest there in the case of the initiates of the ancient Northern Mysteries. In the old Mysteries of the German peoples, this is indicated in the legend of Siegfried. Thus even here is symptomatically indicated how the ancient initiations of the Druids and Trotten should be thought of as harmonizing with the Christian Mysteries. The placing of the first German translation of the Bible in the northern world reminds one of this like a physiognomic gesture. And the fact that it is like a karmic chain may also appear symbolically to you by the circumstance that eleven leaves were once stolen from this Silver Codex and that the one who possessed them later on felt such qualms of conscience that he would not keep these eleven leaves and so returned them. As already said, these things ought not to be pressed too far, but they may be taken as a pictorial representation of those karmic developments which come to physiognomical expression in the placing of the first German translation of the Bible in the northern world. And just as in the case of this historical event, so will everything which meets us in life, great or small, also be deepened and irradiated with a new light through the anthroposophical outlook, which sees everything physically perceptible as the physiognomical expression of super-sensible spirit. May we, during this course of lectures, be filled with the conviction that this is the case, and may the spirit and feelings which are to fill our hearts and hinds during this series of twelve lectures proceed from this conviction.

In this frame of mind let us approach these lectures which will deal with the most profound document of Christianity, the Apocalypse of John. The deepest truths of Christianity can be considered in connection with this document, for it contains nothing less than a great part of the Mysteries of Christianity, the profoundest part of what may be described as esoteric Christianity. It is therefore not to be wondered at that of all Christian documents this one has been most misunderstood. Almost from the beginning of the spiritual movement of Christianity it has been misunderstood by all who were not really Christian initiates. And it has always been misunderstood at various times according to the prevailing thought and disposition of those times. It has been misunderstood by the ages which, one might say, have thought in a spiritually materialistic way; by the ages which have forced great religious movements into one-sided fanatical party affairs; and it has been misunderstood in modern times by those who, its the grossest and most sense-bound materialism, believed themselves able to solve the riddle of the universe. The high spiritual truths announced in the early days of Christianity, and witnessed by those who were able to understand them, are disclosed as far as is possible in writing in the Apocalypse of John, the so-called canonical Apocalypse. But even in the first ages of Christianity exotericists were little inclined to understand the deep spiritual truths contained in esoteric Christianity. Thus in the very first ages of Christianity the idea came into exotericism that things which in the world's evolution first take place in the spiritual, and are recognizable by those who can see into the spiritual worlds — that such purely spiritual proceedings were to take place externally in material life. And so it came about that while the writer of the Apocalypse expressed in his work the results of his Christian initiation, others only understood it exoterically; and their opinion was that what the great seer saw — and of which the Initiate knows that spiritually in it takes place over thousands of years — must happen in the very war future in external life and be visible to the senses. They imagined that the writer indicated something like a speedy return of Christ Jesus, a descent from the physical clouds. As this did not happen, they simply lengthened the period and said, “With the advent of Christ Jesus a new period has begun for the earth its regards the old religious teachings, but” — this again was understood materialistically — “after a thousand years the earliest events represented in the Apocalypse will take place in the physical world.” Thus it came about that when the year A.D. 1000 actually drew near, many people waited for the coming of some power hostile to Christianity, for an Antichrist who should appear in the sense world. As this again did not occur, the period was further extended, but at the same time the whole prediction of the Apocalypse was elevated to a kind of symbolism — whereas the crass exotericists represented this prediction more literally. With the advent of a materialistic world-conception these things were enveloped in a certain symbolism; external events were invested with a symbolic significance. Thus in the twelfth century Joachim of Floris, who died at the beginning of the thirteenth century, gave a notable exploration of this mysterious record of Christianity. It was his opinion that Christianity contained a deep spiritual power, that this power would have to expand more and more, but that historical Christianity had always given this esoteric Christianity an external interpretation. Thus many people came to this point of view, which was that the Romish Church with the Pope at its head, this externalization of the spirituality of Christianity, was something hostile and anti-Christian. And this was particularly fostered in the following centuries through certain Orders attaching higher value to the fervent spiritual aspect of Christianity. Thus Joachim of Floris found followers among the Franciscans, and these looked upon the Pope as being the symbol of Antichrist. Then in the age of Protestantism this conception passed over to those who looked upon the Romish Church as an apostate of Christianity and Protestantism as its salvation. They considered the Pope as Symbol of Antichrist, and the Pope retaliated by calling Luther the Antichrist. Thus the Apocalypse was understood in such a way that each party drew it into the service of its own view, its own opinion. Each regarded the other party always as Antichrist and their own party as having the true Christianity. This continued into modern times when modern materialists developed, with which, for grossness, the materialism I have described as belonging to the early centuries of Christianity cannot be compared. For at that time spiritual faith and a certain spiritual comprehension still existed. Men could not understand, only because they had no initiates among them. A certain spiritual sense was there; for although it was crudely imagined that a Being would descend in a cloud, there still belonged to it a spiritual faith. A spiritual life such as this was no longer possible with the crass materialism of the nineteenth century. The thoughts of a genuine materialist of the nineteenth century regarding the Apocalypse may be described somewhat as follows: “No man can see into the future, for I myself cannot. No one can see anything more than I can see. To say that there are initiates is an old superstition. Such persons do not exist. What I know is the standard. I can scarcely see what will happen in the next ten years, therefore no man can say anything about what is to happen in thousands of years. Consequently he who wrote the Apocalypse, if he is to be taken as an honest man, must have been describing something which he had already seen — for I only know what has already taken place and what I can discover from documents. Therefore the writer of the Apocalypse could see nothing more either. What, therefore, according to this, can he relate? Only what has happened to him. Consequently it is obvious that the events of the Apocalypse, the conflicts between the good, wise and beautiful world and the ugly, foolish and evil world, this dramatic contrast is only intended to represent what the author had himself experienced, what had already taken place.” The modern materialist speaks in this way, it is his opinion that the writer of the Apocalypse describes things as he himself does.

What, then, was the most dreadful thing to a Christian of the first century? It was the beast which made war against the spiritual power of Christianity, against the true Christianity. Unfortunately only a few people perceived that there was something behind this, but they did not know how to interpret it correctly.

In certain esoteric schools there was a kind of writing in numbers. Certain words which it was not wished to impart in ordinary writing were expressed by figures. And, like much else, some of the deep secrets of the Apocalypse were hidden in numbers, particularly that dramatic event in the number 666. It was known that numbers were to be dealt with in a particular way, especially when such a distinct indication is given as in the words, “Here is wisdom.” “The number of the beast is 666.” When such an indication was given it was known that the figures must be replaced by certain letters, in order to ascertain what was intended. Now those who had heard something, and yet really knew nothing, came to the conclusion in their materialistic conception that when letters were substituted for the number 666, the word “Nero” or “Caesar Nero” resulted. And nowadays in a large part of the literature dealing with the deciphering of the Apocalypse you may read: Formerly people were so foolish that they imagined all sorts of things in connection with this passage, but the problem is now solved. We now know that nothing else is intended than the Emperor Nero. Therefore the Apocalypse must have been written after Nero's death, and the writer wished to say by all this that the Antichrist had appeared in Nero, and that what is contained in this dramatic element is an enhancement upon what had preceded it. We need now only investigate what happened immediately before and we shall discover what the writer of the Apocalypse really wished to describe. It is reported that earthquakes took place in. Asia Minor when the struggle between Nero and Christianity was raging. Therefore it was to these earthquakes that the writer was referring in the opening of the seals and the sounding of the trumpets. He also mentions plagues of locusts. Quite correct! We know from history that at the time of the persecution of the Christians by Nero there were plagues of locusts. He was, therefore, speaking of these. Thus the nineteenth century has come to materialize the profoundest document of Christianity so far as to see nothing in it but the description of what may be found by a mere materialistic observation of the world.

I have only mentioned this in order to point out how fundamentally this deepest and most important document of esoteric Christianity has been misunderstood. I shall postpone to the last lectures what is to be said about the historical part of the Apocalypse until we have understood what is contained in the Apocalypse. To those who have studied Anthroposophy but little, there can be no doubt that even the introductory words of the Apocalypse show us what it is intended to be. We need only remember that it says that he from whom the contents of the Apocalypse proceeded was placed in an island solitude, which had always been surrounded by a kind of sacred atmosphere, in one of the ancient places of the Mysteries. And when we are told that the author was in the spirit, and that in the spirit he perceives what he gives us, it may indicate to as that the contents of the Apocalypse originate from the higher state of consciousness, to which a person may attain through the evolution of the inner creative capacity of the soul, through initiation. In the Secret Revelation of the so-called John is contained that which cannot be seen and heard in the sense world, and cannot be perceived with external senses; and it is given in the way in which it can be imparted to the world through Christianity. In the Apocalypse of John we have therefore the description of an initiation, a Christian initiation. For the present we need only briefly recall what initiation is. We shall, indeed, go more and more deeply into the question as to what takes place in initiation, and how initiation is related to the contents of the Apocalypse, but to begin with we will only draw something like a rough sketch and paint in the details later.

Initiation is the development of the powers and capacities slumbering un every soul. If we wish to have an idea of the manner in which it really takes place we must clearly bear in mind what the consciousness of the present normal man is; we shall then also recognize in what way the consciousness of the initiate differs from that of the ordinary man of the present day. What is, then, the consciousness of the normal human being? It is a changing one; two entirely different states of consciousness alternate, that of the day, and that during sleep at night. The waking day-consciousness consists in our perceiving sense objects around us and connecting them by means of concepts which can only be formed with the aid of a sense organ, namely, the brain. Then, each night, the astral body and the Ego withdraw from the lower principles of the human being, the physical and etheric bodies, and therewith the sense objects around man sink into the darkness; and not only this, for until re-awakening unconsciousness prevails. Darkness spreads around man. For the human astral body to-day under normal conditions is so organized that it is unable of itself to perceive what surrounds it. It must have organs. These organs are the physical senses. Therefore in the morning it must plunge into the physical body and make use of the sense organs. Why does the astral body see nothing when during sleep at night it is in the spirit-world? For the same reason that a physical body without eyes or ears could experience neither physical colours nor physical sounds. The astral body has no organs with which to perceive in the astral world. In primeval times the physical body was in the same position. It too did not yet possess what later was plastically worked into it as ears and eyes. The external elements and forces moulded the physical body, formed the eyes and ears, and thus the world was revealed to man, a world which previously was hidden from him. Let us imagine that the astral body, which is now in the position in which the physical body was formerly, could be so treated that organs could be built into it in the sane way that the sunlight plastically moulded the physical eyes, and the world of sound die physical ears in the soft substance of the physical human body. Let us imagine that we could mould organs in the plastic mass of the astral body; then the astral body would he in the same condition as the present physical body. It is a question of moulding the organs of perception for the super-sensible world into this astral body, as a sculptor moulds his clay. This is the first thing. If a main wishes to become a seer, his astral body must be treated as a piece of clay by the sculptor; organs must be worked into it. This was, in fact, always done in the schools of initiation and the Mysteries. The organs were plastically formed in the astral body.

In what does the activity consist by means of which it is possible for the astral body to have organs plastically moulded into it? It might be thought that a person must first have the body in front of him before he can work the organs into it. He might say: “If I could take out the astral body and have it in front of me, I could then mould the organs into it.” That would not be the right way, and above all, it is not the way for modern initiation. Certainly an initiate who is able to live in the spiritual worlds could mould the organs like a sculptor, when during the night the astral body is outside. But that would entail doing something with a person of which he is not conscious; it would mean interfering in his sphere of freedom, with the exclusion of his consciousness. We shall see why this has not been allowed to happen for a long time past, and particularly not at the present time. For this reason, even in esoteric schools such as the Pythagorean or old Egyptian, everything had to be avoided whereby the initiates would have to work from outside upon the astral body which was taken out of the physical and etheric bodies of the neophyte. This had to be avoided from the very outset. The fast step towards initiation had to be undertaken with man in the ordinary physical world, in the same world where man perceives with the physical senses. But how can this be done? For it is exactly through physical perception coining into earthly evolution that a veil has been drawn over the spiritual world formerly perceived by man, although but dimly. How can one work from the physical world upon the astral body? Here it is necessary that we should consider what happens with regard to our ordinary everyday sense perceptions. What happens in these cases? What happens while man is perceiving all day long? Think of your daily life, follow it step by step! At every step the impressions of the outer world press in upon you, you perceive them; you see, hear, smell, etc. When you are doing your work impressions storm upon you all day long and you work upon these impressions with your intellect. The poet who is not an inspired poet permeates them with his fantasy. All this is true! But all this cannot, to begin with, lead man to the consciousness of the super-sensible spiritual which lies behind the sensible and material. Why does it not come to his consciousness? Because all this activity which man exercises with respect to the surrounding world does not correspond with the essential nature of the human astral body as it exists to-day. When in the primeval past the astral body proper to man saw the pictures of the astral perception rise up — those pictures of joy and sorrow, of sympathy and antipathy — inner spiritual impulses were present, causing something to rise in man which formed organs. These were killed when man had to allow all the influences from outside to stream in upon him, and at the present time it is impossible for anything to remain in the astral body from all the impressions received during the day which could mould it plastically.

The process of perception is as follows: All day long we are subjected to the impressions of the external world. These work through the physical senses upon the etheric and astral bodies, until the ego becomes conscious of them. The result of what affects the physical body is expressed in the astral body. When the eyes receive impressions of fight, these influence the etheric and astral bodies and the ego becomes conscious of them. So, too, with the impressions made upon the ears and other senses. Thus the whole of one's daily life affects the astral body through-out the day. The astral body is continually active under the influence of the outer world. Then in the evening it withdraws from the physical body. It now has no power in itself to become conscious of the impressions in its present environment. The ancient forces of the distant past were killed with the first perception of the present sense world. During the night it has no power because the entire life of the day is incapable of leaving anything in the astral body which could work formatively upon it. All the things you see around you produce effects as far as into the astral body, but that which then takes place is unable to create forms capable of becoming astral organs. It must be the first step of initiation to allow a person to do something during the life of the day, to allow something to play into his soul, which continues during the night when the astral body is withdrawn from the physical and etheric bodies. Imagine that — pictorially expressed — something were given to a person while he is fully conscious, which he has to do, which he has to allow to happen, and which is so chosen, so constructed that it does not cease working when the day is over. Imagine this activity as a sound, which continues when the astral body is withdrawn; this resounding would then constitute the force which worked plastically on the astral body, as at one time external forces have worked upon the physical body. This was always the first step of initiation — to give a person something to do during the life of the day, which has an after-effect in the life of the night. What is called meditation, concentration, and other practices which a person undertakes during his daily life, are nothing but exercises of the soul, the effects of which do not die away when the astral body withdraws, but reverberate, and then in the night become constructive forces in the astral body.

This is called the purification of the astral body, the purification from all that is unnatural to it. This was the first step, which was also called catharsis, purification. It did not yet constitute activity in super-sensible worlds; it consisted in exercises of the soul which the pupil performed during the day as a training of the soul. It consisted in adopting certain forms of life, certain feelings, a certain way of treating life, so that it could reverberate; and this worked upon the astral body until it had been transformed, until organs had developed in it. When the pupil had progressed so far that these organs had developed in the astral body, the next thing was that everything which had been formed there should be imprinted in the etheric body. Just as the characters on a seal are imprinted in sealing-wax, so must everything which has been formed in the astral body be imprinted in the etheric body. This imprinting is the next stage of initiation; it was called illumination. For it brought with it an important stage in initiation. A spiritual world then appeared around the pupil, just as formerly the sense world was around him. This stage is also characterized by the fact that the events of the outer spiritual world do not express themselves as physical objects do, but in pictures. At this stage of illumination the spiritual world first expresses itself in pictures. The pupil sees pictures. Think of the ancient initiate I referred to yesterday who saw the group-soul of a people. When he had progressed to this stage, he at first saw this group-soul in pictures. Imagine an initiate such as Ezekiel, who, when his illumination began, became aware of spiritual beings as folk-souls, group-souls; he felt himself in their midst; he saw group-souls in the form of four symbolical beasts.

To begin with, the spiritual world appeared to the pupil in significant pictures — that was the first stage. Then followed a further penetration into the etheric body. What at first was present as the impression of a seal, continued as a further penetration into the etheric body. Then there began to be added to the pictures what was known as the music of the spheres. The higher spiritual world is perceived as sound. The higher initiate having, through illumination, perceived the spiritual world in pictures, begins spiritually to listen to those sounds which are perceptible to the spiritual ear. Then he comes to the later transformation of the etheric body, and afterwards in a still higher sphere something else approaches him. If, for example, there is a screen here and behind it a man is speaking whom you cannot see, yet you may hear sounds. It is somewhat similar with the spiritual world. At first it appears in pictures, then sounds are heard, and them the last veil falls away, so to speak — as if we were to take away the screen behind which the man is standing and speaking. We see the man himself; we see the spiritual world itself, the beings of the spiritual world. First we perceive the pictures, then the sounds, then the beings, and lastly the life of these beings. It is indeed only possible to give a hint of what exists as pictures in the so-called Imaginative world by making use, as symbols, of pictures from the sense world. One can only give an idea of the harmony of the spheres by comparing it with ordinary music. Now what may be compared with the impressions of the beings at the third stage? It is comparable alone with that which to-day constitutes the inmost being of man, his acting in accordance with the divine will. If the pupil works according to the will of the spiritual beings who are helping the world onwards, the being within him will then become similar to these beings and he will perceive in this sphere. He perceives that the element within him which opposes the evolution of the world, which retards its progress, is something which must be thrown off in this world, something which must fall away like a last covering.

Thus the pupil first perceives a world of pictures as a symbolic expression of the spiritual world, then a world of sphere-harmony as a symbolic expression of a higher spiritual sphere, then a world of spiritual beings of whom he can to-day only form an idea by comparing them with the depths of his own being, with that which works within him in accordance with the good powers or even in accordance with the evil spiritual forces.

The neophyte passes through these stages, and they are faithfully portrayed in the Apocalypse of John. The start is made from the physical world. That which is first to be said by means of the physical world is said in the seven letters. What we wish to do in outer civilization, what we wish to say to those working in the physical world, we say in letters. For the word expressed in the letter can produce its effect in the sense world. The first stage provides symbols which must be brought into relation with what they express in the spiritual world. After the seven letters comes the world of the seven seals, the world of pictures of the first stage of initiation. Then comes the world of the sphere-harmonies, the world as it is perceived by those who can hear spiritually. It is represented in the seven trumpets. The next world, where the initiate perceives beings, is represented by those who appear at this stage and who strip off the shells of the forces opposed to the good. The opposite of the divine love is the divine wrath. The true form of the divine love which carries the world forward is perceived in this third sphere by those who for the physical world have stripped off the seven shells or husks of wrath.

Thus the neophyte is led step by step upward into the spheres of initiation. In the seven letters of the Apocalypse of John we have that which belongs to the seven categories of the physical world, in the seven seals that which belongs to the astral imaginative world, in the seven trumpets that which belongs to the higher world of Devachan, and in the seven husks of wrath that which must be cast aside if the pupil wishes to rise into what is spiritually the highest to be attained in our world, because this spiritually highest is still connected with our world.

To-day we wished to give merely a sketch of the outer structure of the Apocalypse of John, which serves to show that this is a book of initiation. In our next lecture we shall begin to fill in this brief sketch.
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Re: The Apocalypse of St. John, by Rudolf Steiner

Postby admin » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:33 am

II

YESTERDAY we described the spirit of the Apocalypse of John in a general way. We tried to give a few broad outlines showing that in this Apocalypse is described what may be called a Christian initiation. To-day it will be my task to present to you in general the nature of initiation, to describe what takes place in a man when through initiation he is enabled to see for himself those spiritual worlds which lie behind the sense worlds; and further it will be my task to give in broad outline a description of the experiences in initiation. For only by entering a little more closely into the nature of initiation can we gradually understand this significant religious record known as the Apocalypse.

First of all we must again consider closely the two states of human consciousness, the one lasting from morning when a person awakes until evening when he goes to sleep, and the other which begins when he goes to sleep and ends when he awakes. We have often brought to mind that man as we know him in his present form is, to begin with, a fourfold being; that he consists of the physical, etheric and astral bodies and the “I.” To spiritual vision these four principles appear in their external form as if the human physical body is enclosed in the centre like a kind of kernel. During the day this physical body is permeated by the so-called etheric or life-body which projects very slightly round about the head as a luminous halo, but which also completely permeates the head; further down it becomes more cloudy and indistinct and the more it approaches the lower parts of man the less definitely does it show the form of the physical body.

Now these two principles of the human being are during the day enveloped by what we call the astral body, which projects on all sides like an ellipse, in the shape of an egg, and in its fundamental form it has luminous rays which look as if their direction really were from outside inward, as if they would penetrate from outside to the inner part of the man. Within this astral body are outlined a great number of different figures, every possible kind of lines and rays, many like flashes of lightning, many in curious twists; all this surrounds the human being in the most varied manifestations of light. The astral body is the expression of his passions, instincts, impulses and desires, as also of all his thoughts and ideas. The clairvoyant consciousness sees portrayed in this astral body all that one calls soul-experiences, from the lowest impulses to the highest ethical ideals.

Then we have the fourth principle of the human being, which one might sketch as if something were sending in rays to a point lying about one centimetre (3/8 inch) behind the forehead. That would be the diagrammatic representation of the fourfold man. In the course of these lectures we shall see how the several parts are distinguished in the whole.

This is a picture of man during the day from moving when he wake, until night when he goes to sleep. Now, when he goes to sleep, the physical and etheric bodies remain on the bed and a kind of streaming-out of the astral body takes place. “Streaming-out” does not express it quite exactly; it is really as if a kind of mist formed. So that in the night we see the astral body which has withdrawn from the physical and the etheric bodies like a kind of spiral mist around the man, while the fourth principle of the human being disappears almost entirely towards one side, that is, it disperses and becomes vague. The lower part of the astral body can only just be seen; it is the upper part which is indicated as the “astral body which has withdrawn.”

Yesterday we emphasized what has to happen to a person if he is to receive initiation. If he occupies himself only with the customary activities of the present day he is unable to receive initiation. He must be so prepared that during ordinary daily life he performs the exercises of meditation, concentration, etc., prescribed for him by the schools of initiation. The effect produced by these exercises is, on the whole, the same in all kinds of initiation. They only differ an that the further we go back into pre-Christian schools of initiation, they are directed more to the training of thought, to the exercise of the power of thinking. The nearer we approach to Christian times the more are these exercises directed to train the forces of feeling; and the nearer we come to modern times the more we see how, in the so-called Rosicrucian training — conditioned by the demands and requirements of humanity — a particular kind of will culture, the exercise of the will is introduced. Although the meditations are at first similar to those of pre-Christian schools, there nevertheless prevails everywhere at the basis of the Rosicrucian exercises a particular training of the element of Will. The chief aim is, so to influence a person during the day — even if only for a short time, perhaps five to fifteen minutes — that the effect continues when the pupil falls asleep and the astral body withdraws. This effect was produced by the exercises given in the Oriental Mysteries, in the Egyptian Mysteries, in the Pythagorean schools, and it also resulted from the exercises of meditation based chiefly upon the Gospel of John. The astral body of a man who performs such, shall we say, occult exercises, gradually manifests many different changes at night. It manifests different light-effects; it shows that plastic formation of the organs of which we have already spoken and this becomes ever more distinct. The astral body gradually acquires an inner organization such as the physical body possesses in its eyes, ears, etc.

Yet this would never lead one to see much, particularly in the case of the man of the present day; the pupil, however, has some slight perception when his inner organs have been developed to a certain extent. He begins to become conscious during sleep. A spiritual environment gleams forth from the otherwise universal darkness. He perceives wonderful pictures of plant life; this was more especially the case in ancient times: to-day it takes place more seldom. These are the most primitive achievements of clairvoyance. Where previously there had been only the darkness of unconsciousness there now arises something of a dreamlike plant structure yet living and real. Much of what is described in the mythologies of ancient peoples was seen in this way. When we read in legends that Woden, Willy and Weh found a tree on the seashore and that from it they created man, this indicates that it was first seen in such a picture. In all the mythologies you may perceive this primitive kind of sight, this vision of plants. Paradise is also the description of such a vision, Paradise with its two trees of knowledge and of life. It is the result of this astral vision. It is not without cause that in Genesis itself is indicated that Paradise, together with all that is described in the beginning of the Bible, was seen in this manner. First we must lean to read the Bible, then we shall understand how closely and significantly it portrays this mysterious condition in its descriptions. In former times they did not teach of Paradise, of the beginning of the Bible, as we do now. The early Christians were told that “Adam fell into a sleep,” and that this was the sleep in which Adam, looking back, perceived the visions described in the beginning of Genesis. It is only in our day that the belief has grown that such words as “Adam fell into a sleep” are just an accident. They are no accident. Every word in the Bible has a deep meaning and only he can understand the Bible who knows how to value every single word.

That is the first thing. Then, however, in the pre-Christian Mysteries something special had to take place. When the pupil had performed his exercises for a long period — and this lasted for a very long time — when he had received what was necessary to produce order in the soul., when he had absorbed what we now call Anthroposophy, then he was at last able to participate in the old initiation proper. In what did this old initiation consist?

It is not sufficient that organs be formed in the astral body. They must be imprinted in the etheric body. Just as the letter of a seal is imprinted in sealing wax, so must the organs of the astral body be imprinted in the etheric body. For this purpose the neophyte in ancient initiations was brought into a particular condition. For three and a half days he lay in a death-like condition. We shall see more and more that this condition cannot and may not be brought about in our day, but that there are now other means of initiation. I am now describing the pre-Christian initiation, in which the neophyte was for three and a half days put into a death-like condition by the hierophant. Either he was laid in a kind of small chamber, a kind of grave where he lay in a death-like sleep, or he was bound in a particular position with outstretched hands on a cross, for this facilitated the arrival of the condition aimed at.

From many different lectures we know that death takes place in a man through the etheric withdrawing together with the astral body and the “I,” and only the physical body remaining behind, At death something takes place which otherwise has never occurred between birth and death in the ordinary course of life. The etheric body never, even in the deepest sleep, leaves the physical body, but is always within it. At death it leaves the physical body. Now during the death-like condition part at least of the etheric body leaves the physical body, so that a part of the etheric body which was within it before, in this condition finds itself outside. This is described, as you know, in more exoteric lectures by saying that the etheric body is withdrawn. That is not actually the case, for we can only now make the necessary fine distinctions. In the three and a half days during which the Priest-Initiate carefully watched over the neophyte, only the lower part of the body of the pupil was united with the etheric body. This is the stage when the astral body, with all the organs formed in it, imprints itself in the etheric body. At this moment illumination takes place. When the neophyte was awakened after three and a half days, what is called illumination had come to him, that which had to follow after purification, which consists merely in the development of the organs of the astral body. The pupil was now a “knower” in the spiritual world; what he had previously seen was only a preparatory stage of vision. This world consisting of forms somewhat resembling plants was now supplemented by essentially new structures.

We have now to describe more exactly what the initiate then began to see. When he had been led to illumination it was clear to him when he was awakened, that he had seen something which he had previously never been able consciously to grasp. What then had he seen? What was he able to call up in a certain sense before his soul as an important memory-picture of his vision? If we wish to understand what he had seen we must cast a glance at the evolution of man. We must remember that man has only gradually gained the degree of individual consciousness he now possesses. He could not always say “I” to himself as he does to-day. We need only go back to the time when the Cherusci, the Heruli, etc., lived in the parts now inhabited by the Germans. The different human beings did not then feel themselves as separate human egos, but as members of the tribe. Just as a finger does not feel itself to be something existing independently, so each Cheruscan did not feel that he could unconditionally say “I” to himself; his “I” was the “I” of the whole tribe. The tribe represented a single organism and a group of men who were related by blood had one “I”-soul in common. In those days you yourselves were members of a great community, just as to-day your two arms belong to your “I.” This may be clearly seen in the case of the people dealt with in the Old Testament. Each single member felt himself to be a member of the race. The individual did not speak of himself in the highest sense when he uttered the ordinary “I,” but he felt something deeper when he said “I and the Father Abraham are one.” For he felt a certain “I”-consciousness which descended from Abraham through all the generations to each member of the race. That which was related by blood was included in one “I.” It was like a common group-soul-“I” which included the whole race and those that understood the matter said: That which really forms our inmost immortal being dwells not in the separate members but in the entire race. All of the several members belong to this common “I.” Hence one who understood the matter knew that when he died he united himself with an invisible being which reached back to Father Abraham. The individual really felt that he returned into Abraham's bosom. He felt that his immortal part found refuge, as it were, in the group-soul of the race. This group-soul of the entire race could not descend to the physical plane. The people themselves saw only the separate human forms, but these were to them not the reality, for this was in the spiritual world. They dimly felt that that which flowed through the blood was the Divine. And because they had to see God in Jehovah they called this Divinity “Jahve” or also his Countenance, “Michael.” They considered Jahve as the spiritual group-soul of the people.

The individual human being on the physical plane could not see these spiritual beings. The initiate, on the other hand, who experienced the great moment when the astral body was imprinted in the etheric body, was able to see first of all the most important group-souls. When we look back into ancient periods of humanity we everywhere find that the present “I” has developed from such a group-consciousness, a group-ego; so that when the seer looks back he finds that the individual human beings flow together more and more into the group-souls. Now there are four chief types of group-souls, four prototypes. If we observe all the various group-souls of the different souls we notice a certain similarity but there are also differences. If we classify them there are four groups, four types. The spiritual observer sees them clearly when he looks back to the time when man was not yet in the flesh, when he had not descended to the earth. We must now consider more exactly the moment when from the spiritual regions man descended into flesh. This can only be represented in great symbols.

There was a time when our earth was composed of very much softer material than it is now, when rock and stone were not so solid, when the forms of the plants were quite different, when the whole was as if embedded like a primeval ocean in water-caves, when air and water were not separated, when all the beings now dwelling on the earth, the animals and plants, were developed in water. When the minerals began to assume their present form, man emerged from invisibility. The neophyte saw it in this way: Surrounded by a kind of shell, man descended from the regions which are now the regions of air. He was not yet as physically condensed when the animals already existed in the flesh. He was a delicate airy being even in the Lemurian epoch and he so developed that the spiritual picture presents the four group-souls: On one side something like the image of a Lion, on the other the likeness of a Bull, up above something like an Eagle and below something similar to Man. Such is the spiritual picture. Thus man moves forth from the darkness of the spirit-land. And the force which formed him appears as a kind of rainbow. The more physical powers surround the entire structure of this human being like a rainbow (Rev. 4). We have to describe this development of man in various realms and in various ways. The above description represents the way it appears to the investigator when lie looks back and sees how these four group-souls have developed out of the common Divine-human which descends. From time immemorial this stage has been symbolized in the form represented in the second of the so-called seven seals. [Note 1] That is the symbolic representation, but it is more than a mere symbol.

There you see these four group-souls emerging from an indefinite background, the rainbow surrounding it and the number twelve. Now we must understand what this number twelve signifies. When that which has just been described is seen coming forth, there is a clairvoyant feeling that it is surrounded by something of an entirely different nature from that which emerges from the indeterminate spiritual. In ancient times that by which it is surrounded was symbolized by the Zodiac, by the twelve signs of the Zodiac. The moment of entering into spiritual vision is connected with many other experiences. The first thing perceived by one whose etheric body goes forth is that it seems to him as if he grew larger and larger and extended himself over what he then perceives. The moment comes when the initiate says: “I do not merely see these four forms, but I am within them, I have expanded my being over them.” He identifies himself with them. He perceives that which is symbolized by the constellations, by the number twelve. We shall best understand that which spreads itself around, that which reveals itself, if we remember that our earth has passed through previous incarnations. We know that before the earth became earth it went through the condition of Saturn, then through that of Sun, then through that of Moon, and only then did it become our present earth. This was necessary, for only in this way was it possible for the beings we see on the earth around us to come forth as they have done. They had gradually to work through those changing forms.

So when we look back into the primeval past we see the first condition of our earth, that of ancient Saturn which at the beginning of its existence did not even shine. It consisted of a kind of warmth. You would not have been able to see it as a shining globe, but had you approached you would have come into a warmth space, because it then consisted only of warmth.

Someone might now ask: Did then the development of the world begin with Saturn? Have not perhaps other conditions brought about that which became Saturn? Was not Saturn preceded by other incarnations? It would be difficult to go back before Saturn because only with Saturn begins something without which it is impossible to go beyond Saturn, namely, that which we call time. Previously there were other forms of being; that is to say, we cannot really speak of a “before,” because time did not yet exist. Even time had a beginning! Before Saturn there was no time, there was only eternity, duration. All was then simultaneous. Only with Saturn did it come about that events followed one another. In that state of the world where there is only eternity, duration, there is also no movement. For time belongs to movement. There is no circulation, no revolution; there is duration and rest. As one says in Spiritual Science: there is blissful rest in duration. That is the expression for it. Blissful rest in duration preceded that Saturn condition. The movement of the heavenly bodies only entered with Saturn. The path indicated by the twelve signs of the Zodiac was conceived of as signs, and the time during which a planet passed through one of these constellations was spoken of as a cosmic hour; twelve cosmic hours, twelve hours of day and twelve of night! To each cosmic body, Saturn, Sun and Moon, is reckoned a consecutive number of cosmic hours which are grouped into cosmic days; and of these periods of time seven are outwardly perceptible and five are more or less outwardly imperceptible. We distinguish there-fore seven Saturn revolutions or seven great Saturn days and five great Saturn nights. We might also say five days and seven nights, for the first and last “days” are twilight days. We are accustomed to call these seven revolutions, these seven cosmic days, Manvantaras, and the five cosmic nights, Pralayas. If we wish to have it exactly correspond to our reckoning of time, we reckon two planetary conditions together, that is, Saturn and Sun, Moon and Earth; and we then get twenty-four revolutions. These twenty-four revolutions form important epochs in the representation of the world and we picture these twenty-four revolutions ruled by beings in the universe who are represented in the Apocalypse as the twenty-four Elders, the twenty-four rulers of the cosmic revolutions, the cosmic periods. In the seal (shown by Dr. Steiner) they are typified as the cosmic clock. The numbers on the clock are here only interrupted by the double crowns of the Elders to indicate that these are the Time-Kings because they rule the revolutions of the cosmic bodies. The initiate sees this when he first looks back into the picture of the past.

We must now ask: Why does the initiate see this picture? Because in it are represented symbolically in astral pictures the forces which have formed the human etheric body in its present shape, and corresponding with this the physical body. Why this is so you may easily imagine. Imagine a man lying in bed. With his astral body and “I” he leaves the physical body and etheric body. But now the physical and etheric bodies as they are to-day, belong to the present physical human body; and to the present etheric body belong the astral body and the “I.” This physical and this etheric body cannot exist alone. They have become what they are because the astral body and “I” have been membered into them. Only a physical body which contains neither blood nor nerves can exist without an astral body and “I.” That is the reason why the plant can exist without astral body and “I,” because it has neither blood nor nervous system, for the nervous system is connected with the astral body and the blood with the “I.” There is no being having a nervous system in the physical body which is not permeated by an astral body and there is no human being having a blood system in the physical body into which the “I” has not entered. Think of what you do every night. You callously desert your physical and etheric bodies and leave them with the blood and nervous systems to themselves. If it merely depended upon you, your physical body would have to die every night through your deserting your nervous and blood systems; it would die the very moment the astral body and “I ” left the physical and etheric bodies. But the spiritual investigator sees how other beings, higher spiritual beings, then occupy it. He sees how they pass into it and do what man does not do in the night, namely, take care of the blood and nervous systems. These are the same beings, however, who have created man, in so far as he consists of a physical body and etheric body, not only to-day but from incarnation to incarnation. They are the same beings who caused the first rudiments of the physical body to originate upon ancient Saturn and who formed the etheric body upon the Sun. These beings who from the very beginning of the Saturn and Sun periods have ruled in the physical and etheric bodies, now rule every night while man is asleep and basely leaves his physical and etheric bodies, surrendering them to death, so to speak; they penetrate and take care of his blood and nervous systems.

Hence, too, it is comprehensible that at the moment when the astral body touches the etheric body in order to imprint itself in it, man is then pervaded by those forces which have formed him; he then sees the picture of the forces which are symbolized in the seal. That which upholds him in life and connects him with the whole universe flashes out at this moment of initiation. He sees what has formed the two members of his being, the physical body and etheric body, that which preserves their life every night; but he himself has still no share in it for he cannot yet work into these two principles of his being. If it depended upon man, the physical body and the etheric body, which during the night lie on the bed, would be condemned to a plant existence, for he leaves them to themselves. Hence to man the state of sleep is an unconscious condition such as the plant always possesses.

Now what has happened, in the case of an ordinary man, with that which has withdrawn during sleep? What has become of the astral body and the “I”? These also are unconscious during the night. The ordinary man experiences nothing in his astral body during sleep at night. But suppose a person were passing through the seven stages of the John-initiation — those important stages in Christian initiation — he experiences not merely what has been described up to now; quite apart from the fact that when the astral body touches the etheric body he is able to develop clairvoyant power, something else would come about. He becomes conscious of the soul-peculiarities, the human soul-qualities of the astral and devachanic worlds from which his soul is really born. To this picture is added a still higher symbol which seems to fill the whole world. To this symbol of the old initiation there is added for one who passes through the stages of the initiation of John something else which may best be represented by the first seal. The Christian initiation possessed this as the symbol of the old initiation. We are now presenting these things from the standpoint of Christianity, which, however, has to receive then and change then into something different. He sees a spiritual vision (Rev. i, 12) of the Priest-king with the golden girdle, with feet which seem to consist of cast metal, his head covered with hair as of white wool, out of his mouth a fiery sword flaming and in his hand the seven cosmic-stars, Saturn, Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus.

The form in the centre of the second picture seal was only indicated in the old initiation as the fifth of the group-souls. It is that which only existed germinally in ancient humanity and only came forth as what is described as the Son of Man who rules the stars when he fully appears to man in his true form.

Thus from this symbolical representation we must first of all clearly understand that the separation of the various principles in present-day humanity — physical body and etheric body on the one hand and astral body and “I” upon the other — may be so considered, that each may contribute its part, as it were, to initiation, first of all through the form of initiation when the astral body touches the etheric body, when the four group-souls flash out, and then in the treatment of the astral body so that this too acquires the ability to see. Previously the highest vision in the super-sensible world had only reached as far as a kind of plant experience of the world. Through the Christian initiation a higher stage of initiation is reached in the astral body. Here you have the two things mentioned at the beginning of the Apocalypse described from the principle of initiation itself The writer of the Apocalypse has, however, described then in the reverse order, and rightly so. He first describes the vision of the Son of Man, the appearance of Him Who is, Who was and Who is to come — and then the other. Both are symbols of what the initiate experiences during initiation.

Thus we have described what happens in certain cases of initiation and what at first is experienced. In our next lecture we shall proceed further to the details of these real, actual experiences and we shall find them reflected in the mighty presentation given in the Apocalypse of John.

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Notes:

Note 1: Dr. Steiner is referring to the seven symbolic Seals which had been drawn from his indications. They showed stages of human evolution visible in the astral world to the seer. See Occult Seals and Columns with introduction by Rudolf Steiner.
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Re: The Apocalypse of St. John, by Rudolf Steiner

Postby admin » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:34 am

III

AT the close of our last lecture we were able to point out what the specifically Christian and the later Christian-Rosicrucian initiation first gives us in a great and significant symbol. We have indicated the meaning of this symbol, this initiation picture which is also described as the Son of Man who has the seven stars in his right hand and the sharp two-edged sword in his mouth. We saw that this initiation enables a person to have a certain high degree of vision while within his “I” and astral body and outside the physical and etheric bodies. We shall now consider all this still more closely.

Initiation enables a person to attain that which can only be observed with spiritual vision, with spiritual eyes, which is only clear to super-sensible perception, and only in this way can this be really seen and known. Now one of the first and most important things a candidate for the Christian initiation has to know is the development of humanity in our period, so that he may understand the tasks of man to a higher degree. All that higher knowledge and higher perfection gives to man is connected with the question: What am I and what is my task in this age? The answering of this question is of great importance.

Every stage of initiation leads to a higher standpoint of human observation. Even in the first lecture we were able to point out that man progresses step by step, first to what we call the imaginative world, where in the Christian sense he comes to know the seven seals, then to what we call inspired knowledge, when he hears the “trumpets.” and finally to a still higher stage where he is able to understand the true significance and nature of the spiritual beings, the stage of the so-called vials of wrath. But let us now turn our attention to one particular stage of initiation. Let us imagine that the pupil has reached the stage of initiation where he experiences what was described at the close of our last lecture. We shall imagine him just on the border, between the most ethereal beings of our physical world and the one above it, the astral world, where he is permitted to stand as if on a high peak and look down. What can the pupil see from this first pinnacle of initiation?

In spirit he sees all that has happened since the Atlantean flood destroyed ancient Atlantis and the post-Atlantean man came into existence. He sees how cultural periods follow one another up to the time when our epoch also will come to an end and give place to a new one. Ancient Atlantis came to an end through the waters of the Atlantean flood. Our epoch will come to an end through what we call the War of All against All, by frightful devastating moral entanglements.

We divide this fifth epoch, from the Atlantean flood to the mighty war of All against All, into seven consecutive ages of civilization, as shown in the diagram below.

Image
Diagram 1

At one end we imagine the great Atlantean Flood, at the other the great world war, and we divide this into seven sub-ages, seven periods of civilization. The whole epoch containing these seven sub-ages is again the seventh part of a longer period; so that you have to imagine seven such parts as our epoch between Flood and War, two after the great war and four before the flood. Our epoch, the post-Atlantean, is then the fifth great epoch.

When the pupil rises to a still higher pinnacle of initiation he surveys these seven epochs, each with its seven sub-divisions; lie sees them when he arrives at the boundary of the astral and of the spiritual or devachanic world. And so it goes on step by step; we shall see later what the still higher stages are.

Now we must bear in mind that the pupil is first able to rise to a peak at which the wide plain of the seven ages of civilization of the post-Atlantean epoch became visible as if from a mountain-top. We all know these seven cultural ages. We know that when the Atlantean flood had swept Atlantis away, the ancient Indian civilization came as the first, and that it was succeeded by the ancient Persian civilization. This was followed by the Assyrian-Babylonian-Chaldaic-Egyptian-Hebrew civilization, this by the fourth age of civilization, the Graeco-Latin, which was followed by the fifth, the one in which we are now living. The sixth, which will follow ours, will be in a certain sense the fruit of what we have to develop un the way of spiritual civilization. The seventh age of civilization will run its course before the War of All against All. Here we see this terrible devastation of civilization approaching, we see also the small group of people who have succeeded in taking the spiritual principle into themselves, and are rescued from the general destruction which comes through egoism.

As we have said, we are now living in the fifth of the sub-ages. Just as from the summit of a mountain, towns, villages and woods appear, so do the results of these ages of civilization appear from the pinnacle of initiation described. We perceive their significance. They represent what has taken place in our physical world as human civilization. For this reason we speak of ages of civilization, in contradistinction to races. All that is connected with the idea of race is still the remains of the epoch preceding our own, namely, the Atlantean. We are now living in the age of cultural epochs. Atlantis was the age in which seven great races developed one after another. Of course the fruits of this race development extend into our epoch, and for this reason races are still spoken of today, but they are really mixtures and are quite unlike those distinct races of the Atlantean epoch. To-day the idea of civilization has already superseded the idea of race. Hence we speak of the ancient Indian civilization, of which the civilization announced to us in the Vedas is only an echo. The ancient and sacred Indian civilization was the first dawn of the post-Atlantean civilization; it followed immediately upon the Atlantean epoch.

Let us recall once more how man lived at a time which now lies more than eight or nine thousand years behind us. If we speak of the actual periods of time, then these figures hold good. The civilization of which we are now speaking was directly under the influence of the Atlantean flood, or the great glacial epoch, as it is called in modern science. The engulfing of Atlantis by the flood was a gradual process, and there then lived upon the earth a race of men of which a part had worked up to the highest stage of development possible to be attained. This was the ancient Indian people, a race which then dwelt in distant Asia, and lived more in the memory of the ancient past than in the present. The greatness and power of the civilization of which written descriptions such as the Vedas and Bhagavad Gita are only echoes, lies in the fact that the people lived in the memory of what they themselves had experienced in the Atlantean epoch. You will remember that in the first lecture of this course we said that most human beings of that epoch were capable of developing a certain dim kind of clairvoyance. They were not limited to the physical sense world; they lived among divine spiritual beings; they saw these divine spiritual beings around them. In the transition from the Atlantean to the post-Atlantean epoch man's vision was cut off from the spiritual, astral and etheric worlds and limited to this physical world. In the first post-Atlantean age of civilization men were possessed by a great longing for what their ancestors had seen in ancient Atlantis, on which, however, the door had closed. Our ancestors saw the ancient wisdom with their own spiritual eyes, though dimly. They lived among spirits, they had intercourse with gods and spirits. Such was the feeling of those who belonged to that ancient sacred Indian civilization; they longed with all their might to look back and see what their forefathers had seen, and of which the ancient wisdom spoke. And thus the land which had just appeared before the physical vision of man — the rocks of the earth, which had just become visible, which previously had been seen spiritually — all this external world seemed of less value to them than that which they could remember. All that the physical eyes could see was called Maya, the great illusion, the great deception, from which they longed to escape. And the most advanced souls in that first age could be raised to the stage of their ancestors by the method of initiation of which a few remnants remain in Yoga. From this proceeded a fundamental religious mood which may be expressed in the words, “That which surrounds us here in external sense-appearance is a worthless and vain deception, the real and true is above in the spiritual world which we have left.” The spiritual leaders of the people were those who could transpose themselves into the regions in which man formerly lived.

That was the first age of the post-Atlantean epoch. And all the ages of this epoch are characterized by the fact that man learned to understand the outer sensible reality more and more, so that he came to say: “What surrounds as here and is perceptible to our outer senses, is not to be considered as a mere appearance, it is a gift of the spiritual beings, and the gods have not given us senses to no purpose. That which forms the foundations on earth of a material world culture must gradually be recognized.”

What the ancient Indian looked upon as Maya, from which he fled, from which he longed to escape, was looked upon by those who belonged to the second age as their field of action, as some-thing upon which they had to work. Thus we pass to the ancient Persian age, which lies about five thousand years back, that age of civilization in which the earth around man at first seemed something hostile, but no longer — as formerly — an illusion from which he had to flee; he looked upon it as a field of work upon which he had to imprint his own spirit. The Persian considered the earth ruled in its material character by evil, by a power opposed to the good, by the god Ahriman. He controls it but the good god Ormuzd helps man, when man puts himself in his service. When he fulfils the will of Ormuzd he changes this world into arable land of the upper spiritual world, he imprints into the sensibly real world what he himself knows in the spirit. In the second age of civilization the physically real world, the sensibly real world, was a field of work. To the Indian the sense world was still an illusion or Maya; to the Persian it was indeed ruled by evil demons, but it was nevertheless a world out of which man had to drive the evil and bring in the good spiritual beings, the servants of Ormuzd, the god of Light.

In the third age man conies still nearer to the external sensible reality. It is no longer merely a hostile power which he has to overcome. The Indian looked up to the stars and said: “All that is there, all that I can see with external eyes, is only Maya, illusion.” The Chaldean priests saw the orbits and positions of the stars and said: “When I observe the positions of the stars and follow their courses it becomes to me a script from which I know the will of the divine spiritual beings. From what I there see I recognize what the gods intend.” To them the physically sensible world was no longer Maya but, as the writing of a human being is the expression of his will, so that which was visible in the stars of heaven, which lived in the forces of nature, was to them a divine script. And with love they began to decipher nature. Thus arose the wonderful star-lore of which mankind to-day no longer has knowledge; for what is known as astrology has originated through a misunderstanding of the facts. In the writing of the stars a deep wisdom was revealed to the ancient Chaldean priest as Astrology, as secrets of what his eyes beheld. He considered this as the revelation of something inward and spiritual.

And what was the earth to the Egyptians? We need only point to the discovery of Geometry, when man learnt to divide the earth according to the laws of space, according to the rules of Geometry. The laws within Maya were investigated. In the ancient Persian civilization they ploughed up the earth, the Egyptians learnt to divide it according to the laws of space, they began to investigate the laws. Still more; they said: “The Gods have not left us a writing in the stars to no purpose, not for nothing have they announced their will to us in the laws of nature. If we wish to accomplish salvation through our own work, then in the arrangements we make here we must produce a copy of what we can discover from the stars.” If you could look back into the laboratories of the Egyptian initiates, you would find a different kind of work from that in the realm of science to-day. At that time the initiates were the scientists. They investigated the courses of the stars, they understood the laws of the position and the orbits of the stars and the influence of their aspects upon what took place below on the earth. They said: “When this or that constellation appears in the heavens, this or that must take place below in the life of the State, and when a different constellation arises, something else must take place. In a hundred years' time certain constellations of a different kind will appear,” so they said, “and then something corresponding to these must take place.” It was predetermined for thousands of years in advance what was to happen. In this way originated what are called the Sibylline books. That which is contained in them is not foolishness; after careful observations the initiates wrote down what was to happen for thousands of years, and their successors knew that this should be carried out, they did nothing which was not indicated in these books for thousands of years according to the courses of the stars. Let us say some law was to be made. They did not at that time vote, as is the case with us; they consulted the sacred books in which was written what should happen here on the earth, so that it might be a mirror of what is written in the stars. They carried out what was written in the books. When the Egyptian priest wrote those books he knew that his successors would carry into effect what was written, for they were convinced of the necessity of law.

Out of this third epoch of civilization developed the fourth. But a few remnants of this prophetic art of the Egyptians have been preserved, such a remnant can still be seen. When they wished to exercise this prophetic art in ancient Egypt, they divided the next age into seven parts and said: “The first must contain this, the second that, the third that,” etc., and this was the plan which succeeding generations carried out. That was the chief characteristic of the third age of civilization.

The fourth contained but faint echoes of it. You may still recognize these in the story of the origin of the ancient Roman civilization. Aeneas, the son of Anchises of Troy, a city which flourished in the third age, set out on his wanderings and came at length to Alba-longa. This name indicates a place where an ancient sacred priestly culture flourished; Alba-longa or the long Alba, the place from which a priestly culture, the culture of Rome was to proceed. We still see the remains of this in the vesture worn by a Catholic priest during the celebration of the Mass. A sevenfold age of culture was sketched out in advance by the priests. The reigns of the seven Roman kings were outlined beforehand. The historians of the nineteenth century have been the victims of a bad joke as regards these seven reigns. They came indeed to the idea that in the secular material sense there is no truth in the story of these Roman kings; but they were unable to discover what lay behind, namely, that this is really a sketch taken from the Sibylline books, of a civilization prophetically drawn out in advance according to the sacred number seven.

This is not the place to go into details regarding the several kings. You would be able to see how the several kings, Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, etc., correspond exactly to the consecutive cultural epochs according to the seven principles which present themselves in such different domains.

In the third age man had been able gradually to penetrate Maya with the human mind. This was completed in the fourth age of civilization, the Graeco-Latin, when in the wonderful works of art man produced a perfect image of himself in the outer material world, and portrayed in the drama of Aeschylus, pictures of human fate. Observe on the other hand how in the Egyptian civilization men still sought the will of the Gods. The conquest of matter such as we see in the Greek age signifies another stage, in which man made a step further in love of material existence; and finally in the Roman age he completely entered into the physical world. One who understands this knows also that in this age we must recognize the full appearance of the principle of personality. Hence in Rome first appears what we call the conception of justice, and man as “a citizen.” Only a confused science is able to trace jurisprudence back to all sorts of previous ages. What was previously understood as equity was something quite different. The old law is much more correctly described in the Old Testament in the Ten Commandments. What God commanded belonged to the ancient idea of law. It is absurd in our age to try to trace back the ideas of law to Hamurabi, etc. True equity and the idea of man as a citizen, was fast actualized in Rome. In Greece the citizen was still a member of the municipal body. An Athenian or a Spartan counted for much more as an Athenian or a Spartan than as an individual. He felt himself part of the municipality. It was in Rome that the individual first became a citizen; only then had he reached this stage. This could be proved in detail. What we now call a testament or will did not exist in this sense before Roman times. A will or testament in its present meaning first originated at that time, because only then did the separate human being become determinative in his egoistic will, so as to impose his will upon his successors. Previously other impulses than the personal will were present which held the whole together. Thus it could be shown by many examples how man then entered into the physical world as an individual being.

We are now living in the fifth age, when culture has descended even below the level of man. We are living in an age when man is actually the slave of outer conditions., In Greece the mind was employed to spiritualize matter; we see spiritualized matter in the form of an Apollo or a figure of Zeus, in the dramas of a Sophocles, etc.; there man has emerged as far as to the physical plane but has not yet descended below the level of man. Even in Rome this was still the case. The deep descent below the sphere of the human has only just coin about. In our age the mind has become the slave of matter. An enormous amount of mental energy has been used in our age to penetrate the natural forces in the outer world for the purpose of making this outer world as comfortable a place as possible for man. Let us compare our age with former ones. In those ancient times man beheld the vast writing of the gods in the stars; but with what primitive means were the attainments of the civilization of that age, the Pyramids, the Sphinxes, produced? How did man in those days procure his food? Think of all the conveniences of civilization man has achieved up to the present day. What an enormous amount of spiritual energy has been expended to invent and build the steam engine, to think out the railway, the telegraph, telephone, etc.! An enormous force of intellect had to be used to invent and construct these purely material conveniences of civilization — and to what end are they used? Does it make any essential difference to the spiritual life, where in an ancient civilization a man crushed his grain between two stones, for which naturally very little mental power was needed, or whether to-day we are able to telegraph to America and obtain thence great quantities of grain and to grand it into flour by means of ingeniously constructed machinery? The whole apparatus is set into motion simply for the stomach. Try to realize what an enormous amount of spiritual life-force is put into purely material culture. Spiritual culture has not yet been advanced very much by these external means. For example, the telegraph is very seldom used in anthroposophical affairs. If you were to make a statistical comparison between that which is used for the material culture and that which benefits the spiritual life, you would understand that the spirit has plunged below the human level and has become the slave of the material life. Thus we have a decidedly descending path of culture, up to our age, the fifth age of civilization, and it would have descended ever more and more deeply. For this reason humanity had to be preserved by a new impulse from slipping completely into matter. The earth-being has never before descended so deeply. A stronger impulse, in fact, the strongest, had to come to the earth. This was the appearance of Christ Jesus, who gave the impulse to new spiritual life. We owe to the mighty impulse which came through Christ Jesus such upward impelling forces as existed in the spiritual life during the descent. There were always spiritual impulses present in this descent into matter. Christian life is only now gradually beginning to develop. In the future it will rise to a transcendent glory, because only then will humanity understand the Gospels. When these are fully understood it will be seen what an enormous amount of spiritual life they contain. The more they are disseminated in their true form, the more will it be possible for humanity, in spite of all material culture, to develop a spiritual life and rise again into spiritual worlds.

Now that which develops from age to age in the post-Atlantean epoch is represented by the writer of the Apocalypse as being expressed in small communities. These small communities, divided in space in the external world, represent to him these cultural epochs. When he speaks of the community or Church at Ephesus he intends the following: “I assume that at Ephesus there was a community which accepted Christianity in a certain sense; but as everything develops only gradually, there is always something remaining from each cultural epoch. In Ephesus we have indeed a school of initiates, but the Christian teaching is there coloured in such a way that we can still recognize every-where the ancient Indian civilization.” He wishes to show us the First Post-Atlantean Age. Hence this first age P represented by the community at Ephesus, and that which is to be announced is to be communicated by letter to the community at Ephesus. We must represent it approximately thus: The character of that remote Indian age of civilization of course remained; it continued in various streams of culture. We find something of this character in the community at Ephesus, which comprehended Christianity in such a way that it was still determined by the typical character of the ancient Indian civilization.

Thus in each of these letters we have a representative of one of the seven post-Atlantean ages of civilization. In each letter it is said: “Ye are so and so. This and that side of your nature is in accordance with Christianity, but the rest must become different.” The writer of the Apocalypse says to each cultural epoch what may be retained, and what no longer harmonizes and should become different.

Let us see whether the seven consecutive letters really contain something corresponding with the character of the seven consecutive cultural epochs. Let us try to understand what the tenor of these letters would have to be if they were to correspond with what has just been said. The writer thinks: In Ephesus is a community, a church; it has accepted Christianity but colours it with the tone of the first cultural epoch — strange to external_ life, not filled with love for that which is the real task of post-Atlantean humanity. The one who directs this letter to the community is satisfied that they had put away the worship of gross sensuality and turned to the spiritual life. We know what the writer of the Apocalypse means from the circumstance that Ephesus was the place where the Mysteries of the chaste Diana were cultivated; he indicates that the turning away from matter specially flourished there, the renunciation of the sensual life and the turning to the spiritual; but, “I have this against thee, that thou hast left thy first love,” the love which the first post-Atlantean site should have, which expresses itself in looking upon the earth as the field in which the divine seed must be sown.

How, then, does he who dictates this letter characterize him-self? He describes himself as the forerunner of Christ Jesus, as the leader of the first cultural epoch. Christ Jesus speaks as if through this leader or master of the first age of civilization, that age when the initiates looked up to the spiritual world. He says of himself that he holds the seven stars in his right hand and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are nothing else than symbols for the seven higher spiritual beings who are the leaders of the great ages of civilization. And of the seven candle-sticks we are expressly told that they are spiritual beings who cannot be seen in the sense world. Reference is also made to these in clear words in the Yoga initiation; but he also shows that man never works according to evolution if he hates external works, if he ceases to love external works. The community at Ephesus forsook the love for external works. So it is quite rightly said in the Apocalypse, “Thou hatest the works of the Nicolaitanes.” “Nicolaitanes” is nothing else than a designation for those who express life merely in a material sense. In the time referred to in this letter there was a sect called the Nicolaitanes, who considered the external fleshly sensual life of primary importance. “This you shall not do,” says the one who inspires the first letter. “But do not forsake the first love,” says he also, “for inasmuch as you love the external world you vivify it, you exalt it to spiritual life.” “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear; to him that overcometh will I give to eat not merely of the perishable tree, but of the tree of life.” That is, he will be able to spiritualize the He of the senses and so elevate it to the altar of the spiritual life.

The representative of the second age of civilization is the community or church at Smyrna. The leader of humanity addresses this one through his second ancestor, the inspirer and master of the ancient Persian civilization. The mental attitude of the ancient Persian was as follows: “There was once the God of Light who had an enemy, external matter, the dark Ahriman. At first I was united with the Spirit of Light, who first was there. Then I was membered into the world of matter, into which the backward and hostile power, Ahriman, instilled himself; and now, in conjunction with the Spirit of Light, I shall work upon matter and embody the spirit in it. Then, after the evil Deity has been conquered, the good Deity, the Spirit of Light, will reappear.” “I am the first and the last, who is killed in material life and made alive again in the spiritual resurrection.” So we read in the second letter, “I am the First and the Last, Which is, and Which was, and Which is to come, He who has become alive again” (Rev. I, 8). It would lead too far to go through every sentence in this way, but we must consider more closely the sentence which describes minutely how a person stands as a member of the community at Smyrna when he transforms it into the Christian principle. There we read that man gives life to dead matter, that he spiritualizes it. He is not destroyed by it. If he were, then death would be an event loading him to a spiritual life in which the results of this earthly life could have no place. Let us take a person who has not lived his life in such a way that he can gather its true fruits. He takes no fruits with him into the spiritual life. But only from these fruits can he live in the spiritual world. If, therefore, he brought with him no fruits he would experience the “second death.” By working in this earthly field he is saved from the “second death.” “He who hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (Rev. ii. 11).

Now we shall pass on to the community at Pergamos. It is the representative of the age when humanity came down more and more to the physical plane, when man saw in the starry script something that his spirit could understand, something that was given him in the third age of civilization. Man works by means of that which is within him. Through his having an inner being he can investigate the outer world. Only because he was gifted with a soul could he investigate the courses of the stars and invent geometry. This was called “exploration by the word,” and is expressed in the Apocalypse by the “ sword of my mouth.” Hence the one who caused this letter to be written, points out that the power of this age is an incisive word, a sharp two-edged sword. It is the Hermes word of the old priests, the word by which the powers of nature and the stars were explored in the old sense. That was the civilization gained primarily by means of die inner astral soul-forces of man in the physical world. If it were still achieved in that old form, it would verily be a two-edged sword, for then wisdom would he perilously near the edge between white and black magic, between that which leads to blessedness and that which ends in destruction. Therefore he says he well knows that where the representatives of this age dwell, there also is Satan's seat. This indicates all that could lead astray from the really great purposes of evolution; and the teaching of Balaam is none other than the teaching of the black magicians. For that is the teaching of the devourers of the people. The devourers of the people, the destroyers of the people, are the black magicians who work only in the service of their own personality and therefore destroy all brotherhood, they devour everything which lives in the people. But the good side in this civilization consists in man's beginning to purify and transform his astral body. This is called the “hidden manna.” That which is merely for the world, transformed into the food of the gods, that which is only for the egotistical man transformed into the divine, is called the “hidden manna.” All the symbols here indicate that man purifies his soul so as to make himself into the pure vehicle of Manas or the Spirit Self. To this end, however, it is still necessary to pass through the fourth age of civilization, for then the Saviour appears, Christ Jesus himself.

The community at Thyatira. Here he announces himself as the “Son of God,” who has “eyes like flames of fire and feet like brass.” He now announces himself as the Son of God. He is now the leader of the fourth age of civilization, when man has descended to the physical plane, when he has created his image even in the media of external culture. The period has now come when the Deity himself becomes man, becomes flesh, becomes person; the age in which man descended to the stage of personality, where in the sculptures of the Greeks the individualized Deity appears as personality, where in the Roman citizen personality comes into the world. At the same time this age had to receive an impulse through the Divine appearing in human form. Main, who had descended, could only be saved through God Himself appearing as man. The “I Am” or the “I” in the astral body had to receive the impulse of Christ Jesus. That which previously only existed as a germ, the “I” or the “I Am,” was to appear in history in the outer world. The Son of God may therefore, as the leader of the future, say, “And all the churches shall know the ‘I Am,’ which searches the reins and hearts” (Rev. ii. 23). Stress is here laid upon the “I Am,” upon the fourth principle of the human being. “As I have received from my Father; and I will give him the morning star” (Rev. ii. 28). What does the morning star mean? We know that the earth passes through the conditions of Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan. That is the way it is usually expressed, and it is quite correct. But I have already pointed out that the Earth-evolution is divided into the Mars period and the Mercury period on account of the mysterious connection existing in the first half of the earth-evolution between the earth and Mars, and in the second half between the earth and Mercury, so that in the place of Earth (the fourth period of evolution) we some-times put Mars and Mercury. We say that the earth in its evolution passes through Saturn, Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus. And the most potent stellar force in the second half of the earth is seen in Mercury. Mercury is the star representing the directional force, the upward tendency in which man must be enveloped. Here I come to a point where a little secret, so to say, must be unveiled, one which may only be divulged at this point. The teachers of spiritual wisdom have always had what might be called a mask for those who would only have misused it, especially in bygone times. They did not express themselves directly, but presented something which was intended to conceal the true state of affairs. Now the esotericism of the Middle Ages resorted to drastic measures and called Mercury Venus, and Venus Mercury. In truth if we wish to speak esoteric-ally, as the writer of the Apocalypse has done, we must speak of Mercury as the morning star. By the morning star he meant Mercury. “I have given the direction upwards to thine ‘I’ or ego, to the morning star, to Mercury.” You may still find in certain books of the Middle Ages which describe the true state of affairs, that the outer stars of our planetary system are enumerated thus: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Earth, and then comes, not as it is now, Venus, Mercury, but the reverse, Mercury, Venus. Therefore it says here, “Even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star” (Rev. ii. 27, 28).

And now we have come to our own epoch, the one to which we belong and have to ask: Is this Revelation fulfilled right into our own age? Were it to be fulfilled, he who has spoken through the four preceding ages would have to speak to us, and we should have to learn to understand his voice and become familiar with our task for the spiritual life. If there is to be a spiritual movement and if it is to understand the mysteries of the universe, then, in so far as it is to agree with the Revelation of John, it must fulfil what the speaker, this great Inspirer, demands of this age. What does he demand and who is he? Can we know him? Let us try. (Rev. iii. 1): “And unto the Angel of the Church in Sardis write.” (We must feel that we ourselves are spoken to here.) “These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars.” What are the seven Spirits and the seven stars?

In accordance with the concept of the writer of the Apocalypse, man as we know him is an outer expression of the seven human principles we have enumerated. These are the principle of the physical body, of which the external physical body is the expression, the principle of the life body whose expression is the etheric body, the principle of the astral body. This last when transformed yields Spirit Self, the transformed etheric body, Life Spirit, and the transformed physical body, Spirit Man; in the centre is the “I”-principle. These are the seven spiritual constituents in which the divine nature of man is displayed as in the members of a leader. According to the technical expression used in occultism these seven principles are called the seven Spirits of God in man. And the seven stars are those from which we understand what man is to-day and what he is to become in the future. The consecutive stars of the incarnations of the earth, Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan, are the seven stars which make the evolution of man comprehensible. Saturn gave to man the plan for his physical body, the Sun that of his etheric body, the Moon that of his astral body, and the Earth has given him the “I” or Ego. The next three — Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan — develop the spiritual being of man. If we understand the call of the spirit who has these seven stars and the seven Spirits of God, the sevenfold nature of man in his hand, then we shall be studying Anthroposophy in the sense of the writer of the Apocalypse. To study Anthroposophy is to know that the writer is here referring to the fifth age of human evolution in the post-Atlantean epoch, to know that in our age, when man has descended most deeply into matter, we are again to ascend to spiritual life by following the great individuality who gives for our guidance the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, in order that we may rightly proceed on our path.

And if we follow this path we shall bring into the sixth age the true spiritual life of wisdom and of love. The spiritual wisdom we have acquired will become the impulse of love in the sixth age, which is represented by the community expressing itself even in its name, the community of brotherly love, or Philadelphia. All these names are carefully chosen. Man will develop his “I” to the necessary height, so that he will become independent and in freedom show love towards all other beings in the sixth age, which is represented by the community at Philadelphia. In this way the spiritual life of the sixth age will be prepared. We shall then have found the individual “I” within us in a higher degree, so that no external power can any longer play upon us if we do not wish it; so that we can close and no one without our will can open, and if we open no opposing power can close. These are the Keys of David. For this reason he who inspires the letter says that he has the key of David: And to the Angel of the community in Philadelphia write: These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that path the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth and no man openeth. ... Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it” (Rev. iii. 7) — the “I” that has found itself within itself.

In the seventh age those who have found this spiritual life will flock around the great Leader; it will unite them around this great Leader. They will already belong so far to the spiritual life that they will be distinguished from those who have fallen away, who are lukewarm, “neither cold nor hot.” The little flock which has found spirituality will understand him who may then say, when he makes himself known, “I am he who contains in himself the true final Being towards which everything is steering.” For this final Being is described by the word, Amen. “And unto the Angel of the church of Laodicea write: Thus saith the Amen, he who in his being presents the nature of the end” (Rev. iii. 14).

So we see that in the Apocalypse of John is presented the contents of an initiation. Even the first stage of this initiation, where we see the inner progress of the seven post-Atlantean ages, where we still see the spirit of the physical plane, shows us that we are dealing with an initiation of the Will. For this book can inspire our will at the present time when we know that we ought to listen to the inspirers who teach us, when we learn to under-stand what the seven stars and the seven Spirits of God signify, when we learn that we ought to carry the spiritual knowledge into the future.
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Re: The Apocalypse of St. John, by Rudolf Steiner

Postby admin » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:35 am

IV

IN the last lecture we showed how the Apocalypse of John prophetically points to the cycle of human evolution lying between the great upheaval upon our earth which the legends of various peoples describe as a flood, and geology the glacial period on the one hand, and that event which we designate as the War of All against All on the other. In the epoch between these two events lies everything prophetically referred to in the Apocalypse — that book which reveals to us the beings of past ages in order to show what is to fire our will and our impulses for the future. We have also seen how we ourselves, in the spiritual movement to which we belong, should consider the words of the so-called fifth letter as a summons to action, to work. We have seen that we ought to follow that Being with the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. Then we saw how, through this spiritual movement, the next age is prepared which is represented by the community of Philadelphia, the age when — among all those who have under-stood the word of the summons — there is to be that brotherly love over the whole earth which is described in the Gospel of John. Afterwards another age, the seventh, will follow, which the writer of the Apocalypse describes by saying that on the one hand there is placed all that is bad in the community representing the seventh age, that is lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, that could not warm to the spiritual life and hence must fall away, and on the other hand those who have understood the word of invitation, those who will form his following who says, “I am the Amen,” that is: I am he who unites in himself the goal of the human being, who contains the Christ principle in himself.

Now let us keep for a later occasion all that could be added in further explanation of the several letters and in justification of the several names of the cities. To-day we shall pass on in our studies to that which presents itself to the pupil when he advances to the next stage of initiation. We were confronted by the seven sub-ages of the present cycle of humanity, and we have said that this entire cycle with its seven sub-ages is itself a small cycle contained in a longer period also containing seven epochs. Our epoch, which embraces seven ages, was preceded by the Atlantean epoch, during which were prepared the races whose echoes still exist. When the seventh age of our present epoch is at an end, t will be followed by another epoch again consisting of seven parts. The present epoch is preparing indirectly for the following one, so that we may say, our age of civilization will gradually pass over into one of brotherly love, when a comparatively small part of humanity will have understood the spiritual life and will have prepared the spirit and attitude of brotherly love. That civilization will then again divide off a smaller portion of human beings who will survive the event which will have such a destructive effect upon our epoch, namely, the War of All against All. In this universal destructive element there will be everywhere individuals who lift themselves above the rest of warring humanity, individuals who have understood the spiritual life and who will form the foundation for a new and different world in the sixth epoch.

Something similar also took place during the transition from the fourth epoch to ours. When one who with spiritual vision can review the course of time has passed back through the ages we have considered, the Graeco-Roman, the Babylonian-Egyptian, the ancient Persian and the ancient Indian and beyond the time of the great flood, he comes into the Atlantean epoch. We need not now consider it in detail but we must at least under-stand how this Atlantean civilization passed over into our own. There, too, the greater part of the Atlantean population was not sufficiently mature to develop farther, it was incapable of coming over into our epoch. A smaller part, living in a region near to our present Ireland, developed to the highest flower of the civilization of Atlantis and then journeyed towards the East. We must clearly understand that this was only the principal stream. There were always peoples who emigrated from the West to the East, and all the later peoples of Europe, of northern and central Europe, proceeded from the stream which then went from the West to the East. Now that most advanced part of the Atlantean population was under the guidance of a great leader of humanity and eventually settled down as a very small tribe of chosen individuals in Central Asia. From this point the colonists migrated to the various regions of civilization mentioned, to ancient India, to Persia, Egypt, Greece, etc.

You might now be inclined to say: Is it not an extremely bitter thought that whole bodies of peoples remain immature and do not develop their capacities; that only a small group becomes capable of providing the germ for the next civilization? This thought will no longer disquiet you if you distinguish between race-development and individual soul-development, for no soul is condemned to remain in one particular race. The race may fall behind; the community of people may remain backward, but the souls progress beyond the several races. If we wish to form a true conception of this we must say that all the souls now living in bodies in civilized countries were formerly incarnated in Atlantean bodies. A few developed there in the requisite manner, and did not remain in Atlantean bodies. As they had developed further they could become the souls of the bodies which had also progressed further. Only the souls which as souls had remained backward had to take bodies which as bodies had remained at a lower stage. If all the souls had progressed, the backward races would either have decreased very much in population, or the bodies would be occupied by newly incoming souls at a low stage of development. For there are always souls which can inhabit backward bodies. No soul is bound to a backward body if it does not bind itself to it.

The relation between soul-development and race-development is preserved to us in a wonderful myth. Let us imagine race following race, civilization following civilization. The soul going through its earth mission in the right way is incarnated in a certain race; it strives upward in this race, and acquires the capacities of this race in order next time to be incarnated in a higher one. Only the souls which sink in the race and do not work out of the physical materiality, are held back in the race by their own weight, as one might say. They appear a second time in the same race and eventually a third time bodies in similarly formed races. Such souls hold back the bodies of the race. This has been wonderfully described in a legend. We know, indeed, that man progresses further in the fulfilment of the mission of the earth by following the great Leaders of humanity who point out the goals to be attained; if he rejects them, if he does not follow them, he must remain behind with his race, for he cannot then get beyond it. Let us think of a personality who has the good fortune to meet a great Leader of humanity, let us suppose such a personality confronting Christ Jesus himself, for example; he sees how all his deeds are evidence for leading humanity forward, but he will have nothing to do with this progress, he rejects the Leader of humanity. Such a personality, such a soul would be condemned to remain in the race. If we follow this thought to its conclusion such a soul would have to appear again and again in the same race, and we have the legend of Ahasuerus who had to appear in the same race again and again because he rejected Christ Jesus. Great truths concerning the evolution of humanity are placed before us in such a legend as this.

We must distinguish between soul-development and race-development. No soul is undeservedly obliged to remain in an old body, no soul will undeservedly remain in a body belonging to our age. Those who hear the voice which calls them to progress will survive the great period of destruction — the War of All against All — and appear in new bodies which will be quite different from those of the present day. For it is very short-sighted if one thinks of the Atlantean bodies of men as being like the present bodies. In the course of thousands of years the external physiognomy changes and after the great War of All against All man will have quite a different form. To-day he is so formed that in a certain sense he can conceal the good and evil in his nature. The human physiognomy already betrays a good deal, it is true, and one who understands this will be able to read much from the features. But it is still possible to-day for a scoundrel to smile most graciously with the must innocent man and or taken for an honest man; the reverse is also possible; the good impulses in the soul may remain unrecognized. It is possible for all that exists in the soul as cleverness and stupidity, as beauty and ugliness, to hide itself behind the general physiognomy possessed by this or that rare. This will no longer be the case un the epoch following the great War of All against All. Upon the forehead and in the whole physiognomy it will be written whether the person is good or evil. He will show in his face what is contained in his inmost soul. What a roan has developed within himself, whether he has exercised good or evil impulses, will be written on his forehead. After the great War of All against All there will be two kinds of human beings. Those who had previously tried to follow the call to the spiritual life, who cultivated the spiritualizing and ennobling of their inner spiritual life, will show this inward life on their faces and express it in their gestures and the movements of their hands. And those who have turned away from the spiritual life, represented by the community of Laodicea, who were lukewarm, neither warm nor cold, will pass into the following epoch as those who retard human evolution, who preserve the backward forces of evolution which have been left behind. They will show the evil passions, impulses and instincts hostile to the spiritual in an ugly, unintelligent, evil-looking countenance. In their gestures and hand-movements, in every-thing they do, they will present an outer image of the ugliness un their soul. Just as humanity has separated into races and communities, in the future it will divide into two great streams, the good and the evil. And what is in their souls will be outwardly manifest, they will no longer be able to hide it.

If we look back and see how humanity has hitherto developed on the earth, we shall find that this development of the future just described is quite in harmony with it. Let us look back to the origin of our earth after Saturn, Sun and Moon and a long interval had passed. The earth then emerged anew out of the cosmic darkness. At that time, in the first part of the earth development, there were no other creatures upon the earth besides man. He is the first-born. He was entirely spiritual, for embodiment consists in a densification. Let us imagine a body of water suspended in space which, through a certain process, partially crystallizes into ice, first a small part and then the same process continually repeated. And now let us imagine that the small pieces of ice which have crystallized fall from the body of water, so that they are now separated from the whole mass. Now, because each small piece of ice can only grow larger so long as it is in the whole body of water, when it has separated from this it remains at the same stage. Let us imagine a portion of the body of water separated in the form of very small pieces of ice; let us imagine that the freezing of the water continues and at the next stage more water assumes the form of small lumps of ice; these again fall out, and so on, till finally a very large part is crystallized out of the mass of water and takes the shape of ice. This last has taken the most out of the mother-substance of the water; it has been able to wait the longest before separating.

It is the same in evolution. The lowest animals were unable to wait, they left their spiritual mother-substance too early and hence have remained behind at an earlier stage of evolution. Thus the gradually ascending grades of lower beings represent backward stages in evolution. Mai waited until the last; he was the last to leave his spiritual divine-mother-substance and descend as dense substance in fleshly form. The animals descended earlier and therefore remained at that stage. We shall see the reason for this later. At present we are interested in the fact that they descended and have remained at earlier stages of evolution. What, therefore, is an animal form? It is one which, had it remained united with the spirit from which it proceeded, would have developed up to out present humanity. But the animal forms have remained at a standstill; they have left the spiritual germ; they have separated themselves and are now degenerating. They represent a branch of the great tree of humanity. In ancient times man had the various animal natures within him, as it were, but then separated them off one after another as side branches. All the animals in their different forms represent nothing else than human passions which condensed too early. That which man still possesses spiritually un his astral body, the several animal forms represent physically. He kept this in the astral body until the latest period of earth existence, and hence he could progress the furthest.

Man still has something within him which must separate itself from the universal evolution as a descending branch, as the other animal forms have done. That which man has within him as tendency to good and evil, to cleverness and stupidity, to beauty and ugliness, represents the possibility of an upward progress or a remaining behind. Just as the animal form has developed out of progressing humanity, so will the race of evil with the horrible faces develop out of it as it progresses towards spirituality and reaches the later goal of humanity. In the future there will not only be the animal forms which are the incarnated images of human passions, but there will also be a race in which will live what man now hides within him as a portion of evil, which to-day he can still conceal but which later will be manifest. Let us make clear the chief thing that will appear by an illustration that may perhaps seem strange to you.

We must understand that this separation of the animal forms was actually necessary to man. Each animal form which separated in bygone times from the general stream signifies that man had then progressed a step further. Imagine that all the qualities distributed throughout the animal kingdom were in man. He has purified himself from them. Through this he was able to develop higher. If we take a muddy liquid and allow the gross matter in it to settle to the bottom, the finer part remains at the top. In the same way the grosser parts which man would have been unable to use for his present condition of development have been deposited in the animal forms. Through man having cast out of his line of development these animal forms — his elder brothers, as it were — he has reached his present height. Humanity has risen by throwing out the lower forms in order to purify itself and it will rise still higher by separating another kingdom of nature, the kingdom of the evil race. Thus mankind rises upward. Man owes every quality he now possesses to the circumstance that he has rejected a particular animal form. One who with spiritual vision looks upon the various animals knows exactly what we owe to them. We look upon the lion form and say, “If the lion did not exist in the outer world, man would not have had this or that quality; for through his having rejected it he has acquired this or the other quality.” This is the case too with all the other forms ha the animal kingdom. Now the whole of our fifth epoch of human evolution (including the various stages of civilization from the ancient Indian to our own), really exists in order to develop intelligence and reason and all that belongs to them. Nothing of this existed in the Atlantean epoch. Memory was present and also other qualities, but to develop the intelligence and what pertains to it — the turning of the attention to the outer world — is the task of the fifth epoch. If we direct our spiritual vision to the surrounding world and inquire, “To what do we owe the fact that we have become intelligent; what animal form have we put forth from ourselves in order to become intelligent?” curious and grotesque as it may appear, it is nevertheless true, if More were not around its the animals which belong to the horse nature, man would never have been able to acquire intelligence! In former times men were aware of this. All the intimate relations existing between certain races of men and the horse originate from a feeling which may be compared with the mysterious feeling of love between the two sexes, from a certain feeling of what one owes to this animal. Hence when die new civilization arose in the ancient Indian age, the some played a mysterious role in religious ceremonial, in the worship of the gods. And all customs connected with the horse may be traced back to this fact. If you observe the customs of ancient peoples who were still clairvoyant such as, for instance, the old Germans, and notice how they placed horse-skulls in front of their houses, this leads you back to the fact that these people were aware that man has grown beyond the unintelligent condition by separating out this form. There was a profound consciousness that the acquisition of cleverness is connected with it. You need only remember the Odyssey and the wooden horse of Troy. Such legends contain deep wisdom, much deeper than our science contains. Not without reason is such a type as the horse employed in legend. Man has grown out of a form which once contained within it that which is now embodied in the horse; and in the form of the centaur, art still represented man as connected with this animal in order to remind him of the stage of development out of which he had grown, from which he had struggled free in order to become the present human being.

That which thus took place in bygone times in order to lead to present humanity will be repeated at a higher stage in the future. It is not the case, however, that this would in the future have to run its course in the physical world. Those who become clairvoyant at the boundary between the astral and the devachanic planes can see how man continually purifies and develops that which the owes to the separation from the horse nature. He will accomplish the spiritualizing of the intelligence. After the great War of All against All he will elevate to wisdom, to spirituality, that which to-day is merely reason, merely cleverness. This will be experienced by those who then will have reached the goal. The fruits of that which was able to develop in humanity in consequence of the separation of the horse nature will be manifested.

Now let us imagine one who clairvoyantly looks into the future of mankind. What will he see, what will it show him?

Everything which man has prepared throughout the seven ages of civilization (for his soul was incarnated in the past civilizations and will again be incarnated in the future ones) will be there in a following age, and survive the great War of All against All into the more spiritual epoch. In each age he took what could be taken up. Think how your soul lived in the ancient Indian civilization! You then received the wonderful teachings of the Holy Rishis; although you have forgotten them you will re-member them again later. Then you progressed further from one incarnation to another. You have been able to leann what the Persian, the Egyptian and the Graeco-Roman civilizations made possible. All this is within your soul to-day, but it is not yet outwardly manifest in your countenance. You will live further into the age of Philadelphia and into the age which will be pled by the “Amen.” And a community of people will develop more and more who will manifest in their countenances what has been prepared in the various ages of our epoch. What is already working in your soul, that which you received in the Indian age, will appear in your physiognomy in the first sub-age of the epoch following upon the great War of All against All. And that which a man acquired in the ancient Persian age will change his countenance at the second stage. And so on, stage after stage. The spiritual teaching, which you who now sit here receive and unite with your souls, will bear its visible fruit in the epoch after the great war. You are now uniting with your soul that which the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars give. You carry it home. No one will read it in your faces to-day, nor even after centuries; but it will come after that great war.

In the sixth epoch there will come a fifth age and then you will bear the image of it in your face; on your forehead will be written what you have now worked out, what are now your thoughts and feelings. So step by step, after the great war, will issue and reveal itself all that is now hidden in the soul. Let us imagine the beginning of the great war; the soul which has heard the call which from age to age the Christian principle has uttered, will live on after all that is indicated in the “letters.” What these ages can give has been given throughout seven ages. Let us imagine how the soul waits, how it waits on. It is sealed seven times. Each age of culture lays one seal upon it. Within you is sealed what the Indians wrote in the soul; within you is also imprinted what the Persians, the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans have written in the soul, and what our own age of civilization inscribes in it. The seals will be unloosed, that is, the things written there will be outwardly revealed after the great War of All against All. And the principle, the power, which brings it about that the true fruit of our ages of civilization shall be made manifest in the countenance, is to be found in Christ Jesus. Seven seals of a book must be opened. What is this book? Where is it? We will explain what a book is according to the Bible. The word “book” occurs in the Bible only seldom. This must not be overlooked. If you search in the Old Testament you will find the word in Genesis (Gen. v. I): “This is the book of the generations of man; When God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; and he created him male-female, and blessed him, and called his name Adam.” You may then open where you will, you will only find the word “book” again in the first Gospel (Matt. i. 1). “This is the book of the generation of Christ Jesus, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob,” etc. Again generations are enumerated. That which flows through a long series is enumerated. And again the expression “book” appears here in the Apocalypse of John. It appears where it is said that the Lamb alone is worthy to open the book with the seven seals. The expression “book” has always the same significance, it is never used otherwise. We only need to understand the records literally. A book in our present sense is not intended. The Domesday book or register of landed property had the old signification of the word “book.” The word “book” is used where something is entered consecutively, where one thing depends upon another, where a possession is registered so that it may be handed down from generation to generation. In such a record we are dealing with something whereby a foundation is made for that which is handed on by heredity. In the Old Testament the word “book” signifies a document in which are recorded the generations transmitted through the blood. It is there used in no other sense than that the generations are recorded. It is used afterwards in the first Gospel in the same way for the recording of the lineage. Hence what follows consecutively in time is written in a “book.” By a book nothing else is ever intended than the recording of what follows in time, that is to say, approximately in the sense of a chronicle, a history. The book of life which is now laid down in humanity, in which from age to age is written in the “I” of man that which each age supplies, this book which is written in the soul of man and which will be unsealed after the great War of All against All, this book is also meant here in the Apocalypse. In this book there will be the entries trade by the various ages of civilization. Just as through the generations the entries were made in the genealogical tables of the old books, so it is here, only that in this case that which near spiritually acquires is written down. And as he acquires through intellectuality what it is possible to acquire in our age, the gradual progress of this development will be represented imaginatively by the symbol which corresponds with this quality. By having passed through the Indian age in a frame of mind in which he turned away from the physical world and directed his gaze towards the spiritual, man will, in the first age after the War of All against All, gain the victory over the things of sense. He will be the victor by acquiring what was written in his soul in the first age. Further, that which appeared in the second age, the conquest of matter by the ancient Persians, will appear in the second age after the War of All against All; the sword here signifies the instrument for the over-coming of the external world. That which man acquired in the Babylonian-.Egyptian age, when he learned how to measure everything correctly is seen in the third age after the great war, as that which is represented by the scales. And the fourth age shows us what is the most important thing, that which man acquired in the fourth age of our epoch through Christ Jesus and his appearance on earth; the spiritual life, the immortality of the “I.” All that is not fit for immortality, that which has to die, falls away; this must appear for the fourth age.

Thus everything that has been prepared throughout the ages of this present epoch comes out consecutively in the next, and it is indicated by the symbol which corresponds with the intelligence. If we read about the opening of the first four seals in the sixth chapter of the Apocalypse of John, we shall see that what is revealed expresses stage after stage in a mighty symbolism, what will in the future be revealed. “And I saw, and behold a white horse” — this indicates that the spiritualized intelligence comes forth. “And he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him; and he went forth to conquer, and he conquered. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, ‘Come and see.’ And there went out another horse that was red. And to him that sat thereon was given power to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another.” (That that might be destroyed which is not worthy to take part in the ascent of humanity.) “And to him was given a great sword. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, ‘Come and see.’ And I beheld, and lo, a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, ‘A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny.‘” “Measure” and “penny” to indicate what humanity learned in the third age; the fruits are carried over and unsealed. And in the fourth age Christ Jesus came to conquer death, and the manifestation of this achievement is seen. “And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, ‘Come and see.’ And I looked and behold a pale horse; and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” “Behold a pale horse” — this all falls away, falls into the race of evil; but that which heard the call, which overcame death, partakes in the spiritual life. Those who have understood the “I Am” and his call are those who have overcome death. They have spiritualized the intelligence. And now what they have become can no longer be symbolized by the horse. A new symbol must appear for those who have understood to follow the call of his who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. They now appear under the symbol of those who are clothed in white garments, who have put on the robes of the immortal, eternal, spiritual life.

We are then further told how all that appears which goes upward to good and that which goes downward to evil. This is clearly expressed. “Paid when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain because of the word of God and because of the testimony which they held; and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou judge and not avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto then, that they should rest yet a little while, until there came to them their fellow-servants and their brethren, who should be killed as they were” — will be killed as to the external form and live again in the spiritual. How is this expressed?

Let us realize what according to Anthroposophy becomes of the external sense world. How have we described the seven stars? We went back to Saturn and showed how the physical human body originated, how it was constructed out of warmth. We then saw how the Sun appeared; we drew a mental picture of it. The sun is for us not merely a physical sun; it is the bringer of life which in the future of humanity will appear as the highest form of spiritual life, The moon is to us the element which retards the rapid march of life and slows man down to the necessary pace. Thus we see spiritual powers in sun and moon. And the knowledge we acquire through Anthroposophy also appears rightly symbolized in a future age; to our spiritual. vision the sun and moon appear as the forces which have constructed man. Symbolically the external physical sun and the external moon disappear, they become like a human being, but in an elementary form! “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.” All this is the symbolical fulfilment of what we are seeking in spiritual life. Thus we see that what is being prepared in this epoch is prophesied in significant pictures for the next epoch. We now carry invisibly within us the transformation which we take in hand with the sun and moon when the physical changes into the spiritual elements. When spiritual vision is directed toward the future, the physical disappears and the symbol of the spiritualizing of humanity appears before us.

To-day we have pointed out in somewhat bold features what the seven seals and their unveiling in the Apocalypse should say to us. We must go still deeper into the subject, and then much of what might seem improbable to us to-day will become quite clear. We have, however, already seen how the mighty pictures described by the seer regarding the present and future development of humanity are arranged in a necessary order; how this goes on into the future and thereby gives us stronger impulses to live into the future and to do our share in the spiritualizing of human life.
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Re: The Apocalypse of St. John, by Rudolf Steiner

Postby admin » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:37 am

V

YESTERDAY we saw how the human race will develop when our present epoch has run its course, how it will divide, so to speak, into two streams, into the good and the evil races, and how the secrets of this future are unsealed through the “seven seals” which are symbolically unloosed in the Apocalypse of John. After this general analysis concerning the manifestation in the outer physiognomy of what is being prepared in our epoch in the souls of men, one might well ask: How is it that the Apocalyptist describes the seals in such frightful pictures? We shall best answer this question if we now introduce an intermediate consideration into our whole study of the Apocalypse.

So far we have tried to confirm the statement that the Apocalypse of John represents an initiation, the Christian initiation, through which the future of humanity is revealed. We shall best understand what follows if we now look back and consider once more the past epochs of human evolution. We will do this to the extent which is necessary for the explanation of the Apocalypse. We know already the general outlines. We know that our earth, which forms the present dwelling-place of man, took its rise in the far-distant past, but that as earth it was the reincarnation of another planetary being usually called the old Moon or the Cosmos or Planet of Wisdom, in contradistinction from our present earth, which we designate as the Cosmos or Planet of Love. The Cosmos of Wisdom or the ancient Moon is again only the re-embodiment of a still earlier condition which we call the Sun-planet; that is not the present Sun, which is a fixed star, but the Sun-planet. And the Sun-planet is the reembodiment of ancient Saturn. We have therefore to distinguish four consecutive conditions of our planetary existence which we call Saturn, Sun, Moon and Earth.

We will now describe these four conditions so far as we need this for the explanation of the Apocalypse of John. When with spiritual vision we go back to the ancient Saturn existence, we come to a remarkable planet. This ancient Saturn is a heavenly body upon which is to be found nothing of our present minerals or solid earthly substances, no animals or plants, no water or fluid substances, no current of air or gas. If you were to imagine that with the present eyes — which did not then exist — you were somewhere in space and approached this Saturn, you would be able to see nothing of its first condition, for it did not yet shine. With your eyes you would have been unable to see anything of Saturn from outside in the first half of its existence. Had you approached it and penetrated into the space it filled, you would have felt somewhat as if you had crept into a heated oven, if you had then been able to use the present senses. You would only have been able to distinguish this globular space from the rest by its being warmer than its surroundings. Of all the conditions we now know, warmth is the only one we meet with on ancient Saturn; but it is a remarkable kind of warmth. You would not find it equally warm in all parts. In some parts it is warmer and in others colder, so that if you were to trace and connect the parts of equal warmth by lines, there would appear figures perceptible only through the difference in warmth. Every-thing is warmth, but organized, differentiated warmth. Were you to fly through the whole of Saturn in this way you would say, “There is indeed something present, but something which I can only perceive through the various degrees of warmth.” These differentiated conditions of warmth were all that existed of the present characteristics of our earth, and the first beginnings of the physical human body were expressed at that time in this warmth. That which then existed you still have within you to-day, only it has withdrawn from outer space and is within your being it is the warmth of your blood. If you were to construct figures from your blood-warmth you would have the echoes of that part of your physical body which existed on ancient Saturn. The warmth you now have in your blood is the first foundation of the physical body, the oldest part of it, so that you may also say: The whole of Saturn consisted of blood-warmth. You would be able to find something like the figures which could be drawn to-day, if you were to trace the various channels of your blood according to the different degrees of warmth. That is the physical existence of ancient Saturn. Of all the present physical substances it only possessed warmth, and of all the beings now peopling the earth there was only man, and of him there existed only the foundation of the physical body. Saturn consisted only of such foundations of physical human bodies formed out of warmth. Just as a blackberry is made up of separate little balls, so was Saturn composed at that time, but of human beings such as we have just described.

On the other hand it was surrounded by spiritual beings. Just as the earth is now enveloped in air, Saturn was enveloped in a spiritual atmosphere. Beings lived there who were at various stages of development, but they all needed this dwelling-place of Saturn at their stage of development at that time. It was necessary to them; they could not have done without this dwelling-place. There were those, for example, who also had seven principles, but not like the present man. The latter has his seven principles, which we call the Seven Spirits of God, in such a way that one begins with the physical body. With these beings it was not so. For example, there were beings who had an etheric body as their lowest principle. They had a physical body only by anchoring their etheric body, as it were, to the physical bodies of Saturn and so using these.

Thus as compared with our present earth this Saturn is in substance a very rarefied cosmic body; it did not possess any-thing like our air or gas; these would have been too gross for it. It possessed only warmth, and surrounding the warmth were spiritual beings. Now through the beings in its environment developing further, Saturn passed through various changes. One of these changes may easily be described by saying that in the middle of its development Saturn actually begins externally to light up; so that if one follows it, it appears at the beginning as a dark warmth-body, then it begins to glimmer, and towards the end sends forth a dim light into the world. This spiritual atmosphere around Saturn which contains various beings, contains amongst others a certain definite kind of beings in whom we are particularly interested. About the middle of the Saturn evolution these beings passed through the stage man is now passing through upon the earth. They are the Spirits of Personality. About the middle of the ancient Saturn period they have approximately reached the stage of development of man. You will, of course, not fall into the mistake of asking, “Did they then have bodies such as the present human beings? “It would be a great mistake to suppose that these men had human fleshly bodies. It is possible to pass through the human stage in the most varied forms, and these Spirits of Personality passed through their human stage on Saturn in such a way that to begin with they used as physical body that which was present in the atmosphere as warmth; that as ether body (which they did not yet possess) they used what was contained in the atmosphere; and lastly they also used what existed as astral substance; as yet they possessed nothing of this themselves. Essentially they had at that time an “I”-vehicle, an “I,” and this “I,” which was at the human stage, which lived exactly as the present human “I” upon the earth, passed at that time through these various stages of humanity upon Saturn in another form and un another way. Thus about the middle of the Saturn period we have the Spirits of Personality in this human stage. If one reckons in this way, that which I have just related is the middle stage of the Saturn evolution. There are three others which precede it and three others following it. These are called “Rounds” or “Epochs” of Saturn. If you imagine the whole evolution of Saturn you may picture it thus:

Image
Diagram 1

In the middle (X) are the Spirits of Personality. At each of the three preceding and the three following stages certain beings become man just as our earth can be divided into seven epochs, so too can the Saturn evolution — at every stage some beings or other, and it was always just when the time had come for them to be able to use what was on Saturn in order to pass through the human stage. Thus we have seven kinds of beings upon Saturn, who there passed through their human stage, who rose to the human stage, who therefore in the ensuing stages no longer need to develop this. The present man was not yet man upon Saturn. The beings who have become man upon Saturn — whose representatives are the Spirits of Personality — progress further and are to-day exalted above man, they have man within themselves, so to speak. They carry him within them as, for them, a past stage of evolution.

Now after Saturn had proceeded with its evolution for a certain length of time, the whole passed over into a spiritual sphere, into a condition not externally perceptible to senses like those of the present day. Then came the second embodiment of our earth, the Sun-planet. This was distinguished by the fact that comparatively early in its development it had progressed so far that it radiated light. This was because it consisted not only of warmth but because the warmth material had already condensed into gaseous, airy material. There was neither water nor solid substance; it consisted of an airy or gaseous mass. But it was already able to be a luminous body; it could have been seen by the present eye as a planet shining in space. When this planet had so far developed, it was possible for the etheric body to be membered into the first rudiments of the physical human body. Thus man now consisted of physical and ether body, while on Saturn he possessed only the first rudiments of the physical body. But he had not progressed far enough to have his own astral body. Human forms looked quite different from those of to-day. Man had the form of plant existence, for like a plant he possessed a physical body and an etheric body, but upon the Sun he looked quite different from our present plants. With this progress of development was connected the fact that a second kind of being appeared on the Sun. Upon Saturn there were only men, no other beings. It consisted only of men, as a blackberry consists of little berries. Now some of these human germs remained at the Saturn stage, they had not all reached as far as was possible. These backward beings coming from Saturn cannot therefore acquire an etheric body and must remain on the Sun merely with a physical body, thus they have only progressed as far as man upon Saturn. These beings who upon the Sun have merely the physical body are the first germs of our present animals, so that upon the Sun we have human germs with physical body and etheric body, and animal germs with physical body only.

Again it is the case that in the middle of the Sun period certain beings pass through the human stage. This the present man could not yet do. The spiritual beings around the Sun who then pass through the human stage are called the Fire Spirits, Archangels. To-day they are two stages above man. They bear man within themselves; they experienced in another form what man experiences now in his earthly existence. But the Sun also passes through seven stages, and at each stage there are beings who reach the human stage, so that again during the Sun period we have seven phases of development. If they go back into their own past, they see, as it were, a peculiar stage in their life, of which they may say, “At that time when beneath me there was no solid earth and no watery globe, I experienced what man experiences to-day. I can therefore feel and experience what man experiences upon the earth.” These beings can say this to-day. They understand it because they too have experienced what man now experiences during, his earthly life.

Then once again came a kind of intermediate condition in which to outer observation (if this had indeed been possible) the luminous planet gradually ceases to glow, then it disappears from a certain stage of clairvoyant observation and is only apparent to the highest spiritual vision. Then it again emerges in a new form of existence, to a tied condition which we call the Moon condition. This is the third embodiment of our planet, the ancient Moon. This has now developed so far in the evolution of its substance that what formerly upon the Sun was merely gas has now condensed to water. Through the entry of the watery element, man — who gradually develops again like the plaint from the seed — can receive the astral body; so that man now consists of three parts, the physical body, etheric and astral bodies. He is not yet really man, for he does not yet possess an “I” in these three bodies.

Certain beings always remain behind at every stage, there-fore the beings who remained behind upon the Sun, who were unable to attain to the Moon stage and who only passed through their Sun stage on the Moon, are now unable to incorporate the astral body; upon the Moon they consist only of physical and etheric body. These are especially those who already remained behind upon the Sun, but who in the meantime had developed so far that they could take up an etheric body. These are again the ancestors of our present animals. Those, however, which were not yet so far advanced upon the Moon that they could take up an etheric body, are the ancestors of still lower beings, the present plants. Thus upon the Moon we have three kingdoms, the human kingdom, consisting of physical body, ether body and astral body; the animal kingdom, consisting of physical body and etheric body; and the vegetable kingdom consisting only of physical body.

Again there are certain beings who about the middle of the Moon period pass through their human stage. They are the spirits who in the literature of spiritual science are usually called the Spirits of Twilight or Angels. They also carry man within them as memory. And again the Moon passes through seven such stages. At each stage there are beings who can pass through human existence. It is always the case that some beings hurry forward and others remain behind. Thus upon the Moon too we have seven grades of beings who had passed through their human stage when the Moon had finished its evolution.

Now in order to understand the ancient Moon fully, we must mention something of importance which took place in the course of the old Moon evolution. When it began, or at least shortly after the beginning, it was a fluid globe. Had it developed further in this way throughout its seven stages it would not have been able to give man the right foundation for his further development. It was only fitted to be a preparatory stage for earthly humanity by dividing first into two planetary bodies. One of these was the forerunner of the present sun, and the other which separated was the forerunner of the present earth, but in such a way that you must imagine the earth mingled with the present moon, so that the present earth and moon were then one. Now imagine these two bodies, earth plus moon on the one hand and the sun on the other, separated from each other; the ancient Moon as a watery body and the ancient Sun on the way to becoming a fixed star. Something very essential was connected with this division. It was primarily the sun which brought about the separation and took with it the finest parts, the most etheric substances, while the grosser substances remained behind in the Moon, that is, the present earth plus the present moon. Hence the sun is composed of extremely fine substances, while the Moon becomes a much denser body, a watery mass. Through the sun taking with it the finest and most spiritual forces, it could now be the arena for much more highly developed beings. In fact, many of those high beings who were still able to bear the Saturn existence would have been hindered in their development if they had been bound to the Moon any longer. They needed a field of activity with the finest materials; only there could they develop. So they drew their field of action forth and developed further upon the sun. On the other hand, with the Moon, which had suffered a densification through the exit of the finer substances, there were connected those human germs which consisted of physical body, etheric body and astral body, and there were also the germs of the animals and plants. Now this ancient Moon had an extraordinary appearance. You would not yet ford any-thing like rocks or arable soil, although it already circled round its sun. Mineral substances did not yet exist. The principal part of this Moon, upon which these beings hopped about, so to speak, was a kind of mush, a kind of pulp or puree. The basic substance of the ancient Moon consisted of this puree, just as the basic substance of our earth consists of soil. In it were embedded masses, like, shall we say, wood and the bark of trees. If you were to climb a mountain to-day you would walk upon rocks. At that time you would have passed over a basis which, if it was solid, was something like a surface of wood substance. Instead of granite you would have found blocks which might be compared to wood. Of course this is speaking comparatively. Such was the basic substance and out of it came continually luxuriant growths. This was the lowest kingdom, the present mineral kingdom, which at that time lay between the present mineral and vegetable kingdoms. In a certain way it was alive. It continually produced luxuriant growths. It was not like it is now. If to-day there should be a deposit of soil which one wishes to be rid of, it must be carried away by external means. This substance of the ancient Moon died away — but not like separate plants — it died away and formed itself afresh. It was continually in inward living motion. The fundamental substance of the Moon was in a continuous state of decay and growth. And out of this foundation grew another kingdom. Through the exit of the Moon from the Sun the earlier kingdoms had changed. Upon the Sun they corresponded approximately to our kingdoms. Through the exit of the Moon the ancient plant kingdom-was forced down about half a stage, and so were the other kingdoms, so that the next kingdom was a kind of animal-plant kingdom, but it grew out of the ground. The animal-plants grew out of the ground; they were in the form of plants, but when one took hold of them they had sensations, they squeaked, etc. They were actually half animal and half plant; plants inasmuch as they grew on the ground, most of them firmly rooted to the ground, and animals inasmuch as they had a certain capacity for sensation. And the kingdom which preceded the present human beings were human-animals, beings standing between the present man and the present animals; higher than the present apes, but not as high as the present human beings. That was approximately the form of our human ancestors upon the Moon.

Legends and myths have preserved these truths in a wonderful way. Think how a German legend has preserved the secret hidden behind all this. Certain beings always remain behind. Beings between the present plants and the present animals, which could only take root in a vegetable basis such as was the substance of the ancient Moon — these beings also remained behind, and on this account are incapable of thriving on the mineral ground of our present earth. Our present plants can grow in this, but those which stood between the plants and animals and which needed a living basis, cannot, if they have remained behind, grow in mineral soil. Mistletoe is such a plant. Hence it has to “sponge” upon the present plants because it is a backward being. It no longer has sensation, although the astral body enveloping mistletoe is quite different from that of other plants. The German legend perceived that mistletoe does not belong to our earth, that it is a stranger. In the god Baldur the legend recognizes the god of the earth-sun, the earth force. No being of the earth can approach hire with hostile feelings. Hence also the god whom the German legend knew to be a straggler, namely, Loki, cannot kill Baldur with anything belonging to the earth; he has to kill him with a branch of mistletoe, because this is a stranger among the creations of the earth, and for this reason can serve the straggler, Loki, who is not related to the earth gods. Deep wisdom is hidden behind these legends, and in this legend of Baldur-Loki, this can be clearly traced. It can also be seen in the customs connected with the mistletoe. If you were to study these you would fund that what is said about them proceeds from an ancient wisdom.

Then in the second half of the Moon-evolution came the time when the Sun-beings, as well as the beings who had remained behind upon the Moon., had attained what had to be attained during the old Moon period. And then the Sun and Moon united again; they came together and for a time continued their evolution as one body.

Then the evolutionary condition gradually darkened and passed through the purely spiritual condition usually called Pralaya, and then came the dawning of our Earth evolution. At first this dawning cosmic body contained not only our present earth substance; it consisted of what you would obtain if you were to mix together in a gigantic cauldron the substance of the present sun, earth and moon. That was approximately the condition at the beginning of the earth's evolution. This was first a kind of repetition of the Saturn condition and then of the Sun condition and then of the Moon condition.

Now the most important thing for us to realize is that man really only becomes man in the present sense in the middle of the Earth evolution. In the Earth period also we have to distinguish seven conditions. We are now in the fourth. Three have gone before and three will follow. It was in the fourth principal cycle that our present human race was to become man. Now, just as in all the Rounds upon Saturn, Sun and Moon, certain beings reached the human stage (upon Saturn the Asuras or Original Forces, upon the Sun the Archangels, and upon the Moon the Angels), there were always beings who remained behind. Upon the Moon there were also beings who could no longer reach the human stage, backward Angels, shall we say, who could only catch up their human stage upon the Earth planet during the first three Rounds. Man reached this stage at the fourth. We therefore say: Before man three other kinds of beings passed through the human stage upon the earth, and the fourth to pass through the human stage upon the earth is man himself. At that moment in cosmic evolution when man is about to become man, all the beings who have been able to pass through the human stage, throughout Saturn, Sun, Moon and the first three Rounds of the Earth, are beings who have more or less progressed beyond man. But they are all able to look back, as it were, and remember the stage at which they themselves passed through the human stage. They could look down upon the evolving human being and say, “He is now becoming something which we have already been, something which we can understand; although we passed through the stage under different circumstances.” For this reason they could guide and regulate his evolution from the spiritual world.

Let us enumerate how many of these beings there are who are able to look back at the human stage, who are able to under-stand evolving man. Seven from the Saturn evolution, plus seven from the Sun, plus seven from the Moon stage, plus three from the Earth; twenty-four beings in all. Twenty-four “Men” look down upon the present man. These are the beings whom for good reasons we have called the guides of evolution, the directors of time. Time is connected with evolution. They are the twenty-four Elders who meet us in the Apocalypse of John. They are the same beings who are described in the part relating to the secret of the seven seals. They are described as the real directors of history, the true Alpha and Omega. Thus we have also found the twenty-four Elders again here and you see how the Apocalyptist who wrote this important document has secreted in his pictures in a wonderful way what we ourselves are able to find from the study of the spiritual evolution of the world.

Now certain beings had remained behind at every stage; so that the backward Saturn beings came out upon the Sun as the first foundations of the present animal kingdom, and the backward Sun beings came out at the Moon stage as the first foundations of the present plant kingdom. Only upon the Earth did a stage of evolution appear as the mineral kingdom. We have stressed the fact that upon the Moon there was as yet no mineral kingdom, man had as yet no rocks to walk upon. At the time when present man began to pass through the human stage, the first mineral masses, the first crystals appeared in the planet which then stood at a stage between the substances of the ancient Moon and the present earthly substance. This was the moment when the mineral kingdom burst forth, and you find this bursting forth described in a very unique manner in the Apocalypse of John where he says: “Around the throne it was crystallized like a glassy sea.” This “glassy sea” is to indicate the bursting forth, the budding forth of the mineral kingdom in its primary form. Thus we see that this secret of cosmic evolution is also indicated in the Apocalypse of John. And from it we have also learnt to perceive that to this degree the writer wishes to present to us in his mighty pictures exactly what we are able to recognize in the development of the earth from the spirit life itself. But in this way the Apocalyptist has led us, at the beginning of his book, to the heights where man can see the pictures of the future stages of evolution.

We have now laid a good foundation to link up again with what we have already learnt about the first ages of the future evolution of humanity. In this digression we have now cast a glance into the past, to where man is ready to become man, where the mineral kingdom shoots forth. And now we shall see how human evolution proceeds further as far as to our own age and thence into the future. We shall find the connection with the secret of the seven seals and their unsealing, up to the outpouring of the vials of wrath.
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Re: The Apocalypse of St. John, by Rudolf Steiner

Postby admin » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:38 am

VI

IN material science it is customary — with the exception of a few circles who in modern times have come to a different explanation — to represent our present solar system as having developed out of a kind of nebula which embraced a space as far as the orbit of Neptune, that is, as far as the orbit of the outermost planet of our solar system. And then, it is supposed, through a condensing process, our sun and the planets moving round it gradually formed. As we have said, there are now a few exponents -who have a somewhat different view; but they too do not bring forward anything essential for us who take a spiritual view. So our sun and the planets circling round it are supposed to have formed themselves into globes. In connection with this a neat little comparison has always been made use of in the schools, and it is still employed to-day, to show by ocular demonstration how a whole planetary system can originate through rotation. Some oily liquid is taken, which, when placed in water takes a globular form. Then a small disc is cut and inserted through the equatorial line of this oily ball so that it is divided into two halves. This is then rotated by means of a pin stuck through the centre of the disc, and one sees at first one drop separate itself and circle as a separate body round the large globe, then a second and a third drop, and finally a large drop remains in the centre around which many smaller ones revolve. “A planetary system in miniature!” says the experimenter. Then he says: Why should not our solar system originate from that primeval nebula in this way, if we can now imitate it in this miniature solar system? Usually this comparison seems to be extremely illuminating and people now understand how once upon a time Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Earth, Venus, Mercury separated from that primeval nebula. But the whole affair, not only the comparison but the whole idea, proceeds from the emptiness of all present-day thinking, for the persons in question, otherwise quite learned men, who put for-ward this illustration in such an illuminating manner, forget only one thing, namely, that they themselves are present and turn the pin. Now self forgetfulness is very good in certain realms of life, but in this case, if the experimenter is forgotten, the most important thing is forgotten, for without him the drop of oil would never rotate at all. The learned person who believes in such a superstition — this superstition is called the Kant-Laplace system — should at least be logical in his thinking, he should at least presume that some sort of being must have sat on a gigantic stool in space at that time and set a gigantic axis in motion. But human thought has gradually become so accustomed to consider only the material, that the contradiction in such a comparison is no longer noticed. As a matter of fact, there is a certain truth in this so-called Kant-Laplace system, although the truth is different from the materialistic explanation of the matter. There is a certain truth in it because to spiritual vision everything contained in our present solar system actually appears as having proceeded from such a primeval nebula; only to him who can really investigate historically it is clear that the good in the Kant-Laplace hypothesis comes from occult traditions. This was forgotten when the word “occultism” became something of which one was afraid, as children are of the chimney-sweep. That which really took place did not happen without the influence of spiritual beings and powers. Matter can do nothing unless spiritual beings are behind it.

It would take us too far to-day if, linking on to what was said yesterday, we were to explain the whole of our solar system. Leaving the planets such as Jupiter, Saturn, etc., out of our present study, let us only keep in mind what is of special importance to human life and human evolution.

At one time there was, in fact, such a nebula; and in this all the parts of our solar system were as if dissolved. But, bound up with this nebula, so that they belonged to it, were all the beings mentioned in the course of our observations yesterday. For example, all the beings who passed through the human stage in the twenty-four Rounds were connected with this cosmic nebula. Other beings too were bound up with it. They all dwelt in this nebula which, if not thought of in connection with these beings, is a fantastic abstraction. In the way the materialistic chemist imagines this nebula, it is impossible; it exists only in thought, there is no reality. In reality, the nebula only exists because it is inhabited by a number of spiritual beings. For when this nebula again became visible, there were connected with it all the beings who once inhabited ancient Saturn, who then passed through the various stages of evolution through Sun and Moon right on up to Earth, when after a long intermediate pause the Earth-nebula arose, so to speak. The other beings also with whom we became acquainted on the Sun, were connected with this nebula. It is the whole choir of these beings, who filled the nebula, who produced the movements. For it is beings who create their field of work.

For example, there were beings who needed a dwelling place quite different from that of man if they were to undergo the evolution suited to them. The men who lived upon the ancient Moon as the ancestors of the present men had only physical body, etheric and astral bodies. With these three members of their being they came out of the so-called pralaya again like a plant from the seed. Thus when the entire system began it was unsuitable for the beings who had brought with them the germs for the present man. Had the speed of development been maintained which our solar system had at the beginning when it came forth from the cosmic twilight, man would have been unable to find the path of his evolution. It would have been as if you were now to be born and then in a very short time become old. If the speed of evolution natal to the Sun had been maintained, man would have grown old quickly; he would be unable to take the slow course through the decades which he now actually does; after a short time he would have white hair, he would be old almost before he was a child.

But this was not to be. There were beings who needed a quicker tempo. These only went through a part of evolution with man, then they took out the heavenly body which now stands as the sun in the heavens and made it their dwelling place. They drew out the substance of the sun together with their own being. For the sun which sends its light to us to-day is inhabited by spiritual beings, just as our earth is. With every sunbeam descending to the earth come the actions of those spiritual beings who in the course of the evolutions of Saturn, Sun and Moon had progressed so far that they were able to participate in the rapid development taking place on the present sun. High, exalted beings were connected with this sun existence at the beginning of our earth development. These separated from the earth; and that which then remained you must imagine as if you had mixed together the present moon and earth in a great cauldron, and this mingled earth and moon circled round the sun for a time.

Thus before we reached the point described yesterday as human incarnation, we have first to recognize the separation of the sun from the earth, that is, the present earth plus the present moon. Upon the sun remained the beings who are the spiritual directors of earthly events. When they came over from the ancient Moon there were seven such beings; in Genesis they are called Elohim, Spirits of Light. For a time they went through their evolution together with the earth, then they drew forth the sun so that they could now work upon the earth from the sun. These Elohim, these Spirits of Light, were seven in number. Six of them united their existence with the actual cosmic sun, and one, known in the Old Testament as Jehovah, separated from them and remained at first united with the earth. He guided and directed the earthly evolution from within, while the others worked upon it from without. That was the position for a time. But after what was pointed out yesterday concerning the ancient Moon, you will understand that with the withdrawal of the sun was connected a condensation of all that emerged as earth plus moon. There came a period in the earth's evolution when not only the substance, but all beings, underwent a coarsening. For example, the beings who later became man, who at that time were very soft and delicate, underwent a coarsening through taking on horrible instincts. A coarsening of all life took place.

Evolution could not remain thus if man were to arise. A coarsening would have taken place, everything would have become more and more dense and the human beings would have stiffened into mummies, they would have become mummified. And there would very soon have been a planet upon which some-thing not exactly beautiful, but human-like mummies, statues would have collected. The earth would have become mummified. A different event had to take place. Through the government of Jehovah, as cosmic spirit, that which you now see as the moon as the burnt-out moon-dross in the heavens, was separated from the whole mass of earth plus moon. Not only were the grossest substances separated but also the grossest beings. Hence only through the withdrawal of the sun it was brought about that man did not proceed too quickly in his evolution, and through the withdrawal of the moon it was brought about that he did not develop towards a condition of drying up, densification, or mummification.

Thus the earth was separated from the whole mass, and now the course of human evolution was guided on the earth under the influence of these two heavenly bodies — that is, of course, of their beings, the six sun Spirits and the moon Spirit, who had separated himself for the salvation of man. And it was so guided that on the whole these two forces were balanced. Through the exit of both the sun-forces and the moon-forces, exactly the right tempo for human development was attained.

Now in order to understand this more clearly, imagine a man as if influenced only by the sun. You know that man goes through his evolution upon the earth in many, many incarnations. Man began with his first incarnation, then took on a new body over and over again, until he goes through his last incarnation. He passes through a series of incarnations, as a result of which he develops slowly and rises from one incarnation to the next. Men trod the surface of our earth as true spiritual infants. Since the separation of sun and moon from our earth they have risen to the present stage. All these souls will return in different bodies up to the end of the earth's evolution. Now if man were influenced by the sun alone he would have to pass through in a single incarnation all that he now goes through in so many. The right tempo comes into the many incarnations through the balancing of the forces between the sun and moon from without.

Modern man was gradually shaped during the period which followed the withdrawal of sun and moon; the first germs of the present-day man were then created. That was at a time when man moved upon this earth in quite a different way from that in which he moves now. You must not imagine that when the moon had just gone forth man moved upon this earth in a fleshly form as he does now. There appear again all the forms which had previously been there, as a repetition; and when the earth was liberated from the sun and moon it looked approximately like the old Moon, even softer. And if a being with eyes organized like those of the present day had looked at the earth he would not yet have been able to see man. On the other hand, certain other beings were there who were not sufficiently mature to await a later time. These had to take bodily form while the stage of evolution was still incomplete; so that some time after the moon's departure from the earth certain forms of the lower animals could already be seen physically condensed. Man had not yet descended, nor yet the higher mammals. Man was still a spirit being. He floated as a spirit round the earth and took into himself the finest substances from the environment of the earth. Then gradually he densified so far that he could descend to where the earth had already become solid and islands had formed.

Thus we see that the first human beings appeared comparatively late in the earth's evolution and at that time they had a very different constitution from the present human being. I cannot describe to you the forms of those men which first crystallized, so to speak, out of the spirit. Although you have already heard much that is difficult to believe, you would be greatly shocked if I were to describe to you the grotesque forms of the bodies in which your souls were then incarnated. You would not be able to bear such a description. However, at a later date, when these things which are only now beginning to come to the consciousness of man through Anthroposophy, when they more and more penetrate men's consciousness, this will have to be made known, and it will have a tremendous result, it will be extremely important to the whole life of man. For only when man learns how his body has developed, how the organs he now possesses have gradually developed out of entirely different forms, will he feel that remarkable relationship existing between the organs in the human body which to-day are apparently far apart. He will then see the correspondence between certain organs, for example, between the appendix and the windpipe, which in their earlier form grew together in those remarkably formed beings. All that to-day is man is the previous form unrolled as it were, the previous form unfolded in the most varied ways. Organs which to-day are separated formerly grew together. They have, however, kept their relationship, and very frequently this relationship is manifested in illnesses. It is seen that when a certain organ is diseased another one is of necessity involved. Hence those who really study medicine will have to make many discoveries, of which the present medical age, which is only a collection of notes, does not dream; then only will physicians really learn something about the true nature of man. All this is merely to point out how entirely different was man's earlier form.

The solid parts have only been built into this human form gradually. There were originally no bones in the human body, even when it had already descended. The bones were developed from soft cartilaginous structures which traversed the human body like cords. These in their turn originated from quite soft substances, and these soft substances from fluid substances, these from airy, the airy from etheric and the etheric from astral which had densified from spiritual substantiality. If you trace it back you will find that everything material has originated from the spiritual. Everything is in archetype in the spiritual world. It was only the Atlantean epoch that the bones, formerly merely indicated, actually developed in man.

We must now more closely examine Lemurian humanity in order the better to understand the writer of the Apocalypse. I need only indicate that following the first period, when the moon had separated from the earth and man descended, he was of a very different nature as regards his will power from what he became later. At that time the will of man worked magically — by his will he could work upon the growth of flowers. When he exerted his will he could make a flower shoot up quickly, a capacity which can only be acquired to-day by an abnormal process of development. Hence at that time the natural surroundings depended upon how the will of man was constituted. If it was good it worked soothingly upon the billowing waters, upon the storm and upon the fiery structures which were then all around, for the earth was to a great extent of a volcanic nature. Man worked soothingly upon all this through a good will and destructively through all evil will. Whole islands could be destroyed by evil will. Thus the human will was in complete correspondence with its environment. The tracts of land upon which man then lived were destroyed essentially by the evil will of man, and only a small part of mankind was saved (we have here to distinguish between race-development and soul-development) who lived on into the epoch which we may describe in so far as words can express clairvoyant perception.

After this catastrophe by fire we come to the Atlantean epoch when the human race developed essentially on a continent which now forms the bed of the Atlantic Ocean, between the present Europe and America. At that time man lived under very different physical conditions. At the beginning of the Atlantean epoch he was a structure which perceived in quite a different way from the present man; we have already indicated this in the first lecture and again later; to-day we shall again point out this different kind of vision of the man of that epoch. He still had a kind of spiritual vision, because the construction of iris body was different from what it is now. The etheric body was not yet so firmly bound up with the physical body. The etheric body of the head extended far beyond the physical body. Only towards the last third of the Atlantean epoch did the projecting etheric body draw in and take the form of the present physical human head. Since the form of the ancient Atlantean was so very different from that of present man and his members so differently joined together, his whole life of consciousness, his whole soul life was also different. And here — if we wish to understand the Apocalyptist — we must touch upon a very important, but a very mysterious, chapter.

If you were to enter this ancient Atlantis, you would find that it was surrounded not by such pure air as the present earth but by air saturated with volumes of mist, with water. This air became clearer and more transparent the further Atlantis developed, but the mists were densest where the more advanced Atlantean civilization referred to developed. The thickest mists were there, and from these developed the foundations of the later civilizations. Atlantis was covered far and wide by those mists. A division of rain and sunshine such as we have to-day did not then exist. Hence in ancient Atlantis that which you know as the rainbow could not appear. You might search the whole of Atlantis and you would not find it. Only when the condensation of the water led to flooding, when the great flood spread itself over the earth, could the rainbow originate physically. And this is a point where from Spiritual Science you will gain the greatest respect for the religious records. For when you are told that after the flood, Noah, the representative of those who then saved the human race, sees the rainbow first appear, this is really an historical event. After the flood humanity saw the first rainbow; previously it was not physically possible. Here you will see how profound, how literally true the religious records are. To-day many are distressed when one says that the religious records are literally true. Many quote a saying which is true; it is quoted, however, by lazy people, not as a true statement but from indolence. It is the saying: “The letter killeth but the spirit giveth life.” From this they deduce the right to take no notice at all of what stands in the records, to have no longer the will to recognize what is actually there, for it is the “dead letter” they say. And so they like to let their spirit shine and concoct all sorts of fantasies. These persons may indeed be very clever in their explanations, but that is not the point; the point is that we ought really to see in the records what is contained in them. “The letter killeth but the spirit giveth life” has the same significance in mystical language as the saying of Goethe, “He who has not this, this dying and becoming, is but a sad guest upon the dark earth.” This saying does not mean: “If you wish to lead some one to a higher knowledge you must slay him,” but it means that just through the culture of the physical world man must uplift himself to spirituality. So also the letter is the body of the spirit, and we must first have and understand it, then we may say that we can find the spirit in it. The letter, the understood letter, must then die so that the spirit may be resurrected from it. This saying is not an injunction to fancy anything you please about what is contained in the religious records. When we recognize the true significance of this rainbow as we have represented it, something like deep respect for the religious records invades our soul, and we get an idea of how, through the deepening of the understanding by the teachings of Anthroposophy, man first attains to true and real feelings and advances to a true understanding of the religious records by an act of will.

We will now look back into ancient Atlantis. We have already said that man then lived in a different state of consciousness and that his memory was different from what it is now; but the difference is much more considerable. If we go far back not merely into the later period of Atlantis but to the beginning, we then find the human consciousness very different from that which we possess to-day.

Let us once more consider the present consciousness. During the day a person uses his senses. At night he goes to sleep. On the bed lie the physical body and the etheric body; the astral body and the “I” withdraw. The sphere of consciousness darkens. The man of to-day sees nothing and hears nothing. Then again in the morning when the astral body and the “I” re-enter the physical body and etheric body, physical objects again confront him. How was it in the early Atlantean epoch? Let us take the moment when in the morning man plunged into the physical body and etheric body; at that time he did not have a physical world around him such as we have to-day. All the present objects which are now seen with clear outlines were then seen as if surrounded with an aura, with coloured edges, quite indistinct. In ancient Atlantis the appearance was somewhat similar to what is now seen when in the evening there is a dense fog and you cannot see the street lamps clearly, but surrounded by coloured edges. Thus it was in early Atlantis. All objects were seen indistinctly, not with clear outlines and surfaces as to-day, everything was as if enveloped in coloured mist. Only gradually have clear outlines developed. Had we looked at a rose in the first portion of Atlantis it was as if a cloudy structure arose and in the middle something red. Only gradually did the external colour appear to be laid on the surface; only later did objects obtain sharp outlines.

Hence you see that the physical world surrounding man was quite different in ancient Atlantis. It was also different when at night he rose out of his physical body when — shall we say — he went to sleep. Really it was not sleep in the present sense. However, the entire world of the misty physical formations remained below, and a spiritual world arose. Possessing no sharp outlines man lived within a spiritual world. Spiritual beings were his companions. In the first portion of the Atlantean epoch day and night alternated in such a way that when man plunged into his physical body he had only hazy, indistinct pictures of the physical world; but when at night he left the physical body he was able to live spiritually, although somewhat indistinctly, among spirits; he moved among spirits. And above all, man's entire life of feeling was also different in the Atlantean epoch. At that time when he went out of his physical body and etheric body, he did not feel fatigue and the need for rest. Neither did he find rest. He had to enter into the spiritual world; that was then his sphere of activity. On the other hand, when the morning came, he felt the need for rest and sought out his resting-place, which was his own body. There he lay peacefully. He crept into his own body and rested during the day.

Thus in the first period of Atlantis it was entirely different from what it is now. During the Atlantean epoch, man gradually passed from the very opposite conditions into those of the later period. This came about more and more as the etheric body was driven into the physical body. This occurred during the last third of the Atlantean epoch. Before this event man felt himself as a waking being above in the spiritual world; but as yet he did not say to himself “I,” he did not possess self-consciousness. When he withdrew from the physical body and etheric body in order to go into the brilliance of the night, he felt himself to be a member of the spirituality which was above, he felt himself safely hidden, so to speak, in his group-soul. It always became bright around him during the night; but he felt himself dependent. Just as our finger belongs to our “I,” so man felt that he belonged to the group-souls which are seen spiritually as the four heads of the Lion, Eagle, Bull and Man, described in the Apocalypse of John. Man felt himself transposed into one such group-soul. And only when, snail-like, he was in his bodily shell did he feel that he possessed something of his own. For the circumstance that man became an independent being resulted from his being able to envelop himself in his body. He had, however, to pay for this confinement in his body by the gradual obscuration of the spiritual world, until it completely withdrew. In its place the world which he saw below when he was in the physical body became brighter and clearer. In this way it gradually dawned upon him that he was an “I,” that he had self-consciousness within him. He learned to say “I” to himself. If we wish to characterize what took place at that time we must imagine man creeping out of his “snail-shell,” as it were, into the spiritual world. There he is among spiritually divine beings. There re-sounds to him from without the name of what he is. One group heard the word which in the original language was the word for that group; another group heard a different word. Man could not name himself from within; his name sounded into him from without. When he thus crept out of the “snail-shell” of his body he knew what he was, because this knowledge was poured into his soul. Now when in his body he learned to perceive the physical environment, he learned to feel himself as “I,” he learned to feel within himself the divine power which previously was poured into him, he learned to feel God within him. The God nearest to him, who pointed to his “I,” he called Jehovah. This God was the “I”-leader, and man felt the power of this God arising within his “I.” External events were connected with this. When the first Atlantean thus descended into his physical body and looked out into space, he did not see an actual rainbow; in the place where the sun later emerged, he may something like a circle formed of colour; the sun did not yet penetrate in power, but acted through the mist; though hindered and held back by the fog, its forces influenced the earth. It appeared very gradually. All that we have described as the awakening of external consciousness was connected with the emergence of the sun from the mist. That which was up above where the other six spirits had their abode, who together with Jehovah had to guide the earth evolution, gradually emerged and shone down upon the earth in deeds.

What had taken place in man? When previously he rose out of his body, when it was night, so to speak, his soul and spirit entered into the inner astral brilliance to which the external sun is not necessary. This brilliance surrounded him. It was the same light which later shone down physically from the sun, from mighty spiritual beings. As he gradually enclosed himself in his physical consciousness, the door of inner vision was closed. Darkness surrounded him when at night he left his physical and etheric bodies and entered the spiritual world. To the extent to which he confined himself, to the same extent arose the external light which represents the deeds of the spiritual beings of the sun; the light of the spiritual beings shone externally upon the earth. Man prepared himself to look upon the external light as something material. The light shone in his then darkened inner being, but the light was not then comprehended by his darkness. This is a world-historical event. Man bought his self-consciousness at that time through spiritual darkening. In this way man grew out of the brilliance connected with the group-souls. But it was only the very first dawning of the individuality. It was a long, long time before he really grew possessed of it. The last portion of the Atlantean epoch passed away and the flood came.

The post-Atlantean epoch began. The ancient Indian civilization passed away. True self-consciousness had not yet developed. Then came the Persian and Babylonian-Egyptian ages. Man gradually matured so as to develop self-consciousness within him. At length came the fourth age. At this stage something of tremendous importance took place for which all that had gone before was the preparation. Imagine yourself now uplifted from the earth to a distant star and gifted with spiritual vision, looking down to the earth from that distant star. You would then see that this earth as physical body is not only physical body, but that an etheric body and an astral body belong to it, just as with man. The earth has all this too. You would see the earth surrounded by its aura and from that star you would be able to follow the development of the earth's aura for thousands of years. You would see this earth surrounded by all sorts of colours; in the centre the physical kernel and around it the aura floating in various forms and colours; and in this spiritual atmosphere of the earth you would see the most varied structures. You would sec these colours and forms change in various ways in the course of thousands of years; but there would come a moment, a moment of great importance, when the whole aura assumes a different form and colour. Seen from outside the earth then appears in a new light; and this takes place extremely quickly, so that one has to say: From this moment a fundamental trans-formation of the earth has taken place; its aura has changed completely. When is this? It is the moment when upon Golgotha the blood flowed from the wounds of the Redeemer. This moment is an extremely important one, the most important moment in the whole of the earth's evolution! The moment when the blood flows from the wounds of the Redeemer is the same as that in which the aura of the earth shapes itself anew. An entirely new power enters in, the power which gives the most important impulse to the earth's evolution, for which all that we have considered up to now was only the preparation.

To the chemist the blood of Golgotha is the same as any other blood; but in reality it is quite different. It signifies that the substance of the blood flows down to the earth, and that the spirit corresponding to it fills the aura of the earth with new impulses and new forces which have significance for the future evolution of humanity. From there the forces which change the earth stream forth, from there they stream through man. Only a small part of what flowed in at that moment has been realized up to now. Ever more and more man will learn to understand what the earth has become through that moment of Golgotha, and what man can develop towards in that consciousness which he has gained since Atlantis. What, then, has man gained since Atlantis? Two things: the “I”-consciousness and the faculty of sight in the external world. That which previously was open to him, the spiritual world, has been closed. Truly these earlier men saw what the later myths relate — Woden, Mercury, Jupiter, Zeus. They saw all these beings at night; they were then among them. This door to the spiritual beings has closed. In its place man gained the world now surrounding him. The spirits have withdrawn from him; all that he was able to see at that time has disappeared. Formerly he saw the Divine when he slipped out of the snail-shell of his physical body. He had now to see the Divine within the body if it were to appear before him. This means nothing else than that we must receive the Divine in bodily visible shape because human consciousness has become adapted to physical vision, and for this reason the Divine Itself had to assume bodily physical form. Therefore the Divine appeared once on the earth in a fleshly body. It had to appear in this form because man had advanced to this stage of perception it had to be presented in this way to his perception so that he could understand it. And all the appearances which had previously taken place at other stages of evolution had to be united in that greatest event in the earth's history, which will throw light on the whole future and which we shall now unveil from the Apocalypse; in that event which physically looks as if drops of blood stream down to the earth, but spiritually as if something rises up which changes the aura of the earth. The force which then flowed in will work together with the earth throughout the whole future. The earth-soul, the spirit of the whole earth, was then inoculated with something new. The Christ principle united with the earth at that time and the earth has become the body of this Christ principle. So that the statement is literally true, “He who eats my bread treads me underfoot.” When man eats the bread of the earth he eats the body of the earth and this is the body of the earth-spirit which, as the Christ-Spirit, since the event on Golgotha, is united with the earth. And man walks upon the earth-body, he treads this body underfoot. All can be understood literally if only we are able first of all to comprehend the text in the right way.

To such a man as the writer of John's Gospel, all that he knew, all that he could grasp with spiritual vision, was a summons to understand the greatest event in the earth's evolution. Of all that he was able to stream through spiritual vision he said, “I must use it in order to understand Christ and His work.” It was the intention of the writer of the Apocalypse to use all his occult knowledge in order to explain the Event of Golgotha. Whatever he could learn from occult science was regarded by him as a road to wisdom, helping him to understand this event which he has placed before us in such a wonderful way, and regarding which we shall see what it signified for him.
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