The Christian Teachings of Wisdom
Berlin, 1st February 1906
The world appears in bewildering variety to the human being looking around at first, both the external nature and the human life. He directs his look up to the starry heaven and tries to fathom the sense of the marvellous, but at first mysterious variety of the stars of the luminous sky. The thoughtful human being will probably try to recognize the sense of the ways of the stars and the elements working during the day.
Then we probably feel a kind of faint at first towards all bewildering, which faces us. However, the most bewildering is that for us which faces us in the real life of the human being, in the historical development of the human being since millennia. Science, religion, and other human striving, feeling, intellect, and reason have always tried to introduce sense and coherence into the coloured variety of the stars, into life and into the activities of the beings on our earth.
Who could deny that the human mind has brought it so far in this respect and that it can hope to go farther and farther. However, also a legitimate sense, a kind of spiritual coherence is included in it what we call human development in history. Nevertheless, this seems to somebody rather doubtful, if he looks at the course of destiny with all misery which single human beings, tribes and peoples experience undeservedly, with all luck which meets the single or also many apparently undeservedly, with all sequences of historical experiences of the single peoples, races and nations. If we look into all that, then it probably appears to us as the pure chaos sometimes. There some people probably believe to look in vain for sense or coherence, believe to be unable to understand all that.
Great, astute spirits never doubted that the human mind is able to find sense and reason, lawful necessity also in the course of the historical events. I need to draw your attention only to the fact that our great German poet and thinker, Lessing (Gotthold Ephraim L., 1729-1781), in the testament of his life, in his last work, explained this human development as an education of the human race. He represented the antiquity as the childhood of humanity with the Old Testament as the first elementary book, the following age as a kind of youth from which we have the possibility to look at the future that should bring us something mature and male. I would still like to remind you that another great German thinker whom, admittedly, only a few know, even those who are destined to study him, the great German philosopher Hegel (Georg Friedrich Wilhelm H., 1770-1831) called history an education of the human being to become conscious of freedom. We could still add a hundred examples, and we would see everywhere that those human beings who look ingeniously into this activity, in this bewildering, apparently chaotic activity never doubted that there is also a lawful necessity, above all a higher order than outdoors in nature, in the world of the stars, plants, animals and physical beings generally.
If we let our eyes wander over the development of humanity, one thing faces us that is no longer felt with that liveliness with which it should be felt: a duality, a drastic division in two parts. It is this apparently something quite trivial that it seems so trivial, however, because the human beings are used to it. We reckon with the long period before Christ's birth and with the long period after Christ's birth. One no longer feels this as anything significant because humanity is used to it. However, is it not anything significant in the highest sense that our whole history was split after this sole event in two parts? That anything must have worked so incredibly as a strength that it was recognised by a big part of humanity? The fact that this could happen shows us that something of the consciousness of the unique, immense significance of the action of Christ Jesus is deeply hidden in the human breast. Who could deny, however, that today this significance has become somewhat questionable to many people, so that few of those who count themselves to the most sophisticated persons can really account to themselves why this is in such a way from which infinite depth, actually, humanity was induced to this division of history?
This question should occupy us today, the Christian doctrine of wisdom from the point of view of a detailed spiritual worldview. Among other things, the theosophical movement that spreads out more and more since thirty years in the educated world also tries to deepen the Christian doctrine of wisdom. Those who have already occupied themselves a little bit with the anthroposophic spiritual science know that the second principle of the spiritual-scientific movement is to search for the core of wisdom in all great religions. Just concerning the anthroposophic view of Christianity there are the conceivably biggest misunderstandings, and among those who are called to teach and explain Christianity are just only a very few who show real understanding of the anthroposophic striving. One said repeatedly, anthroposophy wants to transplant some Eastern teachings, a new Buddhism to Europe. This would be the most un-anthroposophic that one can imagine. If we mean it sincerely with the principle of searching for the core of wisdom in all religions, then we must be aware that we have to search for this core of wisdom in Christianity above all, in the religion by which the whole culture of Europe was created and from which the noblest currents of the West originated.
Who does not understand Christianity today, does not understand himself, and if Christianity has to perform anything great for Europe in the future, it has to be deepened. If spiritual science shall have a share of this big achievement, it has the task to penetrate into the depths of Christianity and to search there for those springs which are able to flow in the future which are able to wake cultural hopes for the future.
When I spoke in a city of South Germany some time ago (Colmar, 21st November 1905, no transcript) about the teaching of wisdom of Christianity, about our subject today, also various Protestant pastors and Catholic priests were there. After the talk, the Catholic priests said to me, what you have said to us is the choicest Christianity, but it is only for the choice ones who want to have Christianity in such detailed way. However, we announce Christianity in a form in which everybody understands it and which it is accessible to all. — There I said, if you were right, you could be sure that it would never have occurred to me to speak about the core of wisdom of Christianity, because I would consider it as superfluous in the world. If you were right, could then there be a human being who felt compelled to secede from the way you teach? Then the number of those people could not increase with every day who find no satisfaction with the way you teach. Indeed, there are many for whom you can speak today. However, the fact that it is possible that numerous human beings do no longer find their satisfaction with you proves that there are human beings to whom one has to speak differently. It does not depend on the fact that we imagine that we find the way to everybody. We can do this easily and mean that we communicate in such a way that we find the way to everybody. However, it does not depend on it which opinions we have about what we regard as the right way. It depends not on our imaginations, but on the facts. If you observe this and let not speak what you put as your subjective confession, then you realise that you do no longer speak to many people. To those one has to speak in a new form. They are those to whom the spiritual scientist speaks.
However, spiritual science has not only to speak to those. It will also speak to those who remain in full Christian devoutness in old Christian traditions, and to those it will be a deepening, a spiritualisation of the truthful teachings of Christianity. The spiritual-scientific saying, nothing is higher than truth, is surely often misunderstood by such like the priest whom I have quoted. One believes, it is sufficient if one only has the belief that something is true. No, that is not enough that we have the subjective conviction and imagine we would have the right way. Just the spiritual-scientific world movement should overcome this. Truth is not in our opinion, but in the facts. The observation of the facts must be higher for us than our belief. This is the sense of the saying. What we believe is our personal affair. Transpersonal is that which speaks to us by the world of the facts. We have to submit to it, we have to follow it.
Indeed, it is true that the human development was split by the appearance of Christ Jesus on earth, and, hence, we have to look a little deeper into this way of the human development. Who penetrates only somewhat into a spiritual investigation of existence will soon recognize how vapid and superficial any materialist worldview is, that any material is only the expression of the spiritual, that the spiritual is the origin and spring of any external sensuous existence.
The earthly human being as this sensuous being, who developed since the times about which history, the human thinking generally reports, is only the expression of a supernatural spiritual being. I do not have the time today to explain these great thoughts in a complete, possibly scientific way. This has oftener happened here in these talks. Today I can show it only figuratively, and Christian and pre-Christian thinkers showed it always figuratively in such a way that the supersensible human being who was not yet touched by the matter descended and embodied himself in the sensuousness. We consider that human being who comes from other spiritual worlds into this sensuous world as the Adam Kadmon of the Jewish secret doctrine, the kabbalah. This coming in is called “fall.” However, you must not misunderstand this. Great Christian authors understood this as a fall, and the action of Christ Jesus was understood as a rise from this fall to a new spiritual height. We shall still see how Paul's remark that Christ Jesus is the reverse Adam has a deep spiritual sense (1 Corinthians 15:44ff). If we understand the human being quasi — I ask you not to tip the scales at the word “quasi” because it should be only an indication of the true relation — quasi descended from spiritual heights and embodied in the sensory world, then we also understand which task the human being had initially in the first times of historical development.
What had the human being to do on this earthly scene in the first times of historical and prehistoric development? His sensuous members were the tools whose use he had to learn in the first times. Now the high spiritual human being was embodied in the sensory world. He learnt there in the first epoch of his existence, which I would like to call the instinctive epoch of human development, to use his own tools. This was the first task of the first quarter of human development — we do not want to go back to the very old times.
The human being gradually learnt to use his hands and the remaining limbs; he learnt to fit into the world and nature surrounding him. He needed no intellect for that; this was an instinctive empathising and settling in existence. When humanity learnt to control itself and acquired the use of the limbs as tools, it lived in the tribal history. The people were that within which the human being lived. It was a natural coherence, which was given by blood relationship. A sort of an animal instinct kept humanity together. Only the great masters were beyond the instinctive life. In the most different way, the human beings learnt to use their limbs, according to the state of the countries, regions, and times in which the peoples lived. The development generated a big variety in the human structure. That which was given to the human being developed most diversely. We can go back everywhere: we find this instinctive epoch of development with all peoples.
Then we find the second epoch. There the human being learns something that the Bible and other worldviews comprise with a certain word, with a word that is exceptionally important to understand properly. We understand this word properly if we realise what the first period of human development preferably had to produce. The instinct had taught the human beings most diversely to use their limbs, in one area in this way, in the other that way. People developed in the hot zone with a rampant plant growth where without effort the food was supplied, another developed in a cold, inhospitable area where it had to produce his food and create the conditions of existence with big trouble and that is why the human being had to form his limbs with big trouble. Because the human beings had so little intellect, they faced each other as it resulted from the different instinctive development. Something new took place due to the law, which the intellect created. The instincts of the peoples are different, the intellect is the same, and at the moment, when the uniform intellect was applied to the human living together, that appeared in the world which also the Bible calls the law.
The human being learnt to control his whole body as his tool first. Then the lawful period occurred where the human being tried to harmonise and order his community where he tried to compensate the instincts in the mutual action where he wanted to create conditions on this earth as they correspond to the intellect. The intellect was introduced by the way how the human being lived together. Thus, humanity developed in the first two quarters of existence. However, humanity was there not without guidance. The instinct developed to bigger and bigger brightness, until the law took on the form of the intellect widespread in the farthest circles.
Where from did all that come? Humanity would never have come so far without such brothers who were way ahead of their fellow men. At all times, always and everywhere there have been human beings, who developed the stages of existence faster to be able to lead the other human beings. Spiritual science calls such personalities, such individualities the guardians of wisdom, the guardians of human progress. There were always such guardians of human progress. Even today, there are some. These great persons, these personalities who have arrived at a stage of existence today where the majority of humanity will come only in a very distant future existed also in the pre-Christian times, in the first two quarters of human development.
They led the world; they were the shepherds of humanity and introduced order and coherence into humanity. Where from did those leaders of the human race get their knowledge, their wisdom? What did this wisdom consist of? — One led the visible by the invisible, the sensory by the extrasensory. One led the material connections by that which slumbers invisibly in the material. Does it slumber invisibly in the material? A simple reflection can convince you. Look up at the cloud. It appears bright and dark to you. It announces a thunderstorm. Moreover, while you are still looking upwards, the flash streaks through the cloud, the thunder rumbles. Where was the flash, where was the thunder? They slumbered; they slept as concealed material forces. As well as flash and thunder slumbered, a lot of concealed forces slumber in the visible as something invisible, in the sensory as something extrasensory. As well as our external civilisation has reached its present state, because the human being has learnt to wake up forces and abilities slumbering in the matter, the great spiritual culture comes from the fact that the guardians of humanity are able to wake up the supersensible forces slumbering in the sensuous and to control the lower by the higher.
As well as the master builder uses the force of gravity to lay the beam on the column, so using a force slumbering in the matter to erect our buildings by the different combination of columns and beams,
As the electrician controls our engines and other electric apparatuses with the invisible electric power,
The guardians of wisdom and human progress control the earthly forces by that which is not perceptible by the senses.
The visible is controlled not by the visible, but by the invisible. None is unworldly who rises by the invisible above the visible, but someone who is stuck in the visible. The true realist is that who controls the world by that which slumbers in him, so that he forms and builds up reality and introduces it into the service of human progress. As well as the master builder and the electrician use the forces slumbering in the matter to build houses, to create mechanical civilisation, the great guardians of wisdom and human progress use the forces existing in humanity to lead the human beings to their aim to order that which whirls chaotically in the outside world and to give it significance. Never was the advancement sensory from the instinctive, then lawful periods up to ours.
However, the wise guardians of humanity had to find out and to experience this at first; they had to be steeped in it completely, not due to blind faith, not due to vague convictions, but due to spiritual experience. They had to be clear in their mind
That there is something extrasensory, something extrasensory inside and outside the human being
That that which happens between birth and death is only one side of our existence and
That an essence outreaches birth and death
That there is something in the human being that is more comprehensive than all sensuous and is the creator of the form and the preserver of everything sensuous, and this not based on a supposition, but based on the immediate extrasensory, everlasting view.
Out of this view, the guardians of humanity had to act, then out of the knowledge that death is to be defeated, that a consciousness is to be gained that there is something that lets death appear as an event like other events of life. Only from such an experience the force arises to the human being to control the sensory from the extrasensory, the visible from the invisible. Had I to say with few words what the big secret of the great guardians of humanity is, I would say, these guardians of wisdom and human progress knew that there is something in the human being that defeats death.
They had to go behind the scenery of existence, to look behind the regions of existence, which the human being enters after death. What exists behind the sensuous had to be accessible to the students by experience. They learnt to know that in the temples of initiation of the ancient Egyptian priests and teachers of occultism, in the Eleusinian and other Greek schools or temples of initiation. Those who were mature to acquire these convictions were initiated into these secrets. Only with few words — I explain the other matters in the next talks — I can indicate what was imparted to the human beings in these temples of initiation, in these high schools of spiritual life.
There the human being went through death at first; he already experienced within this life that rise which takes place in the human being if he passes the gate of death. If he passes the gate, which leads to the other world with his natural death, he enters another land, the land on the other side of existence. One can enter it also already during this life, one can enter it by another state of consciousness, awakening the abilities which slumber in the human breast, which enable us not only to experience the unconscious state during sleep in the spiritual environment, but to enter the beyond using the spiritual qualities, to be a citizen of the spiritual world. One called this death, resurrection, and ascension.
They experienced the great initiates. If I may express myself in such a way, they experienced death with the living body, for three and a half days, they were dead, so to speak, they came out of their physical bodies and experienced the facts of a higher world, a spiritual world, that world to which the human being belongs according to his deeper nature. This happens to that part of the human being that enters the extrasensory existence. After the human being had passed this higher world, those who were already initiates recalled him to his earthly existence. Then he was a new human being whom one called a risen one. As a symbol of it, he got a new name that had a deeper meaning. Such a human being who had come into the mysteries and the temples of initiation to behold spoke a new language, and in his words, the spiritual world sounded which he had experienced during his initiation. He was a messenger of higher worlds, his words had wings because of the experiences in the spiritual world, and he spoke another language. He was one of those who talk the language of the gods, as one said, he talks the wisdom which the gods know. This is fundamentally theosophy, the divine wisdom.
One called such a human being a blessed (German: selig) one if one translates the word in German. The words have a deep meaning if one understands them in the right sense; they did not originate by chance. About such a man, who felt sympathy for the spiritual world because he had beheld it, one said, he is blessed. Those who know something about that great bliss, about those marvellous experiences of another world tell about it, even if they write profane writings about it. The most important of these matters was never written down and can never be written down.
However, those who tell and write down something of it write about it in tones that sound quite different from those who say something about a sensuous existence. Those who knew something of initiation speak of a renewal of the whole human being. One of them said, that only has become a human being in the true sense of the word who was blessed with his everlasting essence in the mysteries, while the others have still to wait, until they also get this mercy. — Plato, the unique Greek philosopher, says: those walk in the mud who got to know nothing of the divine of initiation.
Thus, we could still state many voices of antiquity and of the pre-Christian time, which emphasise the holiness, the power, and greatness of initiation, so that it resonates in our souls. Only a few, choicest ones could be blessed with the higher spiritual life in such a way, immediately beholding. The crowd received nothing but the announcements of such initiates.
Then Christianity appeared and changed these conditions completely. The depth of this change of humanity is expressed in a powerful saying, and that is: “Happy (Blessed) are they who find faith without seeing me” (John 20:29). The secret of Christianity is contained in this saying, and we understand it only if we take it as literal as possible. What does it mean? We know that somebody who had experienced initiation in the temple knew that he defeated death that he took part in the entombment and was blessed by the vision. Now a great individuality came who carried out this great event on the external plane of history in front of all, as far as they wanted to see it or could take up it by faith, by the union with the unique personality. That happened once on the historical plane, which had often happened to the initiates in the deep darkness of the mystery temples. This event took place in Palestine in the year 33.
What was received and protected till then more or less symbolically in the depths of the temples had become historical truth, historical reality on the big stage of life. One must understand this, because this is important. I entitled my small writing about Christianity really with full care not Mysticism of Christianity but Christianity as Mystical Fact (CW 8). I wanted to show not the mysticism of Christianity, but Christianity itself should be understood as a mystical fact. It should be understood that the event in Palestine is a fact of deep symbolism and at the same time something that is actual reality, actual truth. We should understand each other just concerning this point, because it belongs to the most important points of the knowledge of Christianity. If one speaks of the fact that in Palestine the event of death, resurrection, entombment and ascension took place as a historical event in 33 and says that this event has happened also before so and so often in the mystery temples, then one does not regard that as something real, then one does not believe in the real Christ. On the other side, other people who believe in Christ think that death, entombment, and resurrection are profound symbols. It is hard to understand that something can be fact and symbol at the same time.
Somebody never understands who explains history “really” and considers it indifferently that a fact also has deep symbolic significance. He has never grasped that there are high and low mountains in history, high mountains that outreach the high that they are facts and symbols at the same time. That is the point. Now we have put an event before all human beings, which pronounces before them that death can be defeated and that there is a spiritual life, which outreaches death, because the only One had defeated death. In front of all human beings, he had experienced what the initiates experienced in the mysteries. Now, one did no longer need to go into the mysteries to behold, now, one could believe and feel connected with Him who experienced the great event of the victory of life over death in the physical world. Now, one could believe even if one did not behold. That understands the religious books correctly who brings himself to a literal understanding again. Beholding means literally the beholding in the mysteries, and faith is the faith in the fact that death was defeated by Christ's life. Hence, we are allowed to say that the greatest teaching of wisdom of Christianity is that the teachings of wisdom of the various religions became fact in Christianity.
What were the teachings of wisdom of the various religions? Deepening really in the spiritual-scientific teachings you can convince yourselves that the religions comply with each other concerning their teachings. Take the teachings of Hermes, Pythagoras, and Zarathustra or also of other religious founders: in that which they expressed and taught one can find a deep consistent core of wisdom. All teachers who announced the great teachings of wisdom could say, I am the way and the truth. — For truth flowed out of their mouths; that truth which they had experienced in the mystery temples, they had become messengers of the divine truth. With Christ Jesus, it was another matter.
He could say more of himself. He became that which is expressed in the great and beautiful saying: I am the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). He taught that in front of everybody, which the other religious founders said, living concealed to the rest of humanity in the twilight of the mysteries. The life by which experience was won inside of the mystery was invisible. It became visible because of the event in Palestine.
Thus, Christianity outranks the old pre-Christian religions. That wisdom which was won by the concealed life of the initiate came out to the public, and we have in the newer time in Christianity the truth that became person, life, and existence. Hence, it does often not depend with the old religions on telling how the religious founders lived. We do not hear telling, how the Egyptian Hermes, the Indian Rishis, how Zarathustra, how Buddha lived. If we receive the teachings and raise our hearts and our senses in them, the blessing flows from them to us. However, if we want to understand Christianity, we have to consider that Christ did not speak only that way, but also that he went his own way. Hence, no book by him, but only books about him are preserved. The good news, the Gospels, is not the wise language of Jesus. They are the stories of the life of Jesus. Others spoke about him. If the disciples of Buddha and Hermes spoke, they would say, we have heard this, these are his holy words, and we want to echo them to you. — However, if the disciples of Jesus moved into the world, they emphasised that He was there that they were connected with Him that they were His companions. They attempted to keep up the tradition, to reproduce it from generation to generation: we ourselves heard the word on the holy mountain together with Him; we laid our hands in His wounds. — It was the truth element of the living together that should transfer the liveliness to the future generations. This is somewhat different from that which existed before in the other religions. This is new.
If we want to imagine the whole significance of this new, we have to realise the difference that existed between the first quarter of human evolution and what happened now. What happens now? What does Christianity prepare humanity for, actually? Why had somebody to experience the great event in such a way that the human beings could look at him, could look up at him as evidence of the victory of life over death? One needed such evidence because now another historical epoch of humanity began, because now the intellect, the strength of mind was used for something different for centuries, even for millennia. With the propagation of Christianity, that approximately begins which we can call the triumphal procession of humanity about our material world. Christianity had to prepare for it first. In the middle of the Middle Ages, the material victory of humanity begins, the laws become more and more perfect with which the human beings found it. The human being becomes the master of nature by the perfection of his mechanisms, establishes a big system of, traffic and trade. The human intellect wins over our earth.
That did not exist in the pre-Christian times. Try to realise how our science begins in the times when also Christianity arises. You know that Thales (~624-~547 B.C.) was the first philosopher. Then Christianity prepares the ground for the use of the human strength to control the external nature. It was necessary that the conviction of a spiritual life comes from quite a different side so that humanity is not completely isolated from spiritual life. Now the efficient personality had to be used to conquer the globe in a material respect. Hence, science had to separate from the feeling, from faith. It was the characteristic feature of those who were initiated into the mysteries that science and faith, feeling and faith were one. For that who comes out of the material there is no separation between faith and knowledge, between truth and feeling. The forms in which the stars were arranged were the letterings of the godhead with the Chaldean initiates. This had to change in the new time. At first, the human being directed his look up at the starry heaven, and a science divested of divine feelings encompassed the skies and the earthly existence in all its phenomena. The knowledge of the world could no longer go the same way as faith and wisdom.
Because both had to separate, an event had to take place that guaranteed faith that founded such a firm feeling in humanity that faith could found itself besides the material science and that faith lived on throughout the material time. Thus, we have the firmly founded faith and science side by side, which does not have faith, but looks at the personality, at Christ. A personal relationship to the only One establishes itself besides the material striving. Thus, that which was put in Palestine in 33 was the bulwark to preserve the everlasting, the consciousness of the spiritual during the development of humanity towards materiality. Those had to be blessed who could believe in the only One, while they had to use their looking for the achievement of the material life. Thus, the second epoch of antiquity points prophetically to Christ Jesus. Not without good reason the teachings of the Old Testament are interpreted as predictions of Christ Jesus. Any initiation was such a prediction. What the initiate experienced, he experienced it spiritually first, then symbolically, then it was there in the world. Then it was a fulfilment, the fulfilment of the Old Testament was the New Testament. In addition, this word appears to us in its full significance if we grasp it in its depth. Thus, I have described three epochs of human evolution that go side by side, of faith, knowledge, and wisdom.
Let us carry our mind back to the times in which the poor Egyptian slaves dragged the big, massive boulders and worked themselves to blood on huge stone giants. The modern worker cannot imagine that labour. Bliss and contentment were the feelings, which penetrated the soul of the wretched slave. However, this slave knew one thing. He knew that the life that he lived in such a hard work was one life of many. The initiate often said it to him to make humanity aware of the fact that the human being embodies himself repeatedly and that he experiences that which he prepared himself, and that he is recompensed in future lives. Thus, the riddle of human destiny is solved for him really. Among the hard working slaves, bliss and religious feeling prevailed. The slave said to himself, he who commands me today was once as I am and I become once, as he is if I carry out all that now. — The prudent men who conquered the material world later, who dealt with the merely material science would not be able to achieve this, as overwhelming the teachings of Galilei and Copernicus, the teachings of the modern investigation of the sensory material existence may be.
Indeed, nothing should be said against these teachings and nobody can estimate its greatness and power more than I do. Nevertheless, it is true and one has to say also that the materialistic researchers could not find those fiery words, that spirit which opens the souls which gives the human being hope forever which gives the human beings the certainty of the mental-spiritual life. However, this certainty came from the personal connection with the unique Christ. The external science was also gradually deepened again. Science became wisdom bit by bit again, and the result of the fact is that this external science claimed to appear again as founder of a religion. What then are the enlighteners, the freethinkers? What do they want? They are, actually, religious natures. They want to found a religion; they want to conjure up such a religion from the modern science. In particular, Moleschott (Jacob M., 1822-1893, Dutch physiologist and philosopher), Haeckel and others with their books which founded a kind of materialistic Gospel for many are nothing else than founders of a materialistic religion. Because the worldly-sensuous has won such an immense strength and authority that the human being wants to gain the highest by science and its wisdom, the scientists have turned away from Christ Jesus, also those who feel only a bit of the power of science and have something to inform of the greatness and the power of science. Thus, we have the separation of science. However, Jesus spoke a word, a word that we cannot grasp deeply enough, and this is, I will be with you always, to the end of time (Matthew 28:20).
We do not need to borrow this wisdom only from traditions and books, but if we rise into the higher worlds, we have the greatest experience in ourselves again, which can be experienced only in the higher worlds beyond the gate of death. Then He speaks again to us, then He shows us that He is there today that we can hear Him immediately in the present. Hence, we need such a deepening of humanity again that the human being has the experience of Christ in himself and that the human being can find out something similar like the initiates in the ancient mysteries again in himself. At least a reflection of the great, significant experience of the mystery temples should be delivered gradually to those who turn to anthroposophy. They enter the spiritual region, the other side of life already here during this life. Thus, they can experience what Goethe expressed significantly in his poem, which begins: “Tell nobody except the wise, because the mob is immediately scornful,” and closes: “And so long as you don't have it, this “Die and be transformed!,” you will only be a gloomy guest on the dark earth.”
Today it concerns this passing away and becoming. There are methods of spiritual development with which we can wake the inner divine essence in ourselves, with which we can outgrow into the spiritual world. Our eyes are opened there for the spiritual world; our ears become active, so that we hear something higher speaking. We are able to become citizens of a higher world; we find that Christ is with us to the end of the world. Then we can also hear that language again, which spoke to the disciples on the mountain. This is indicated in the deepest mystery of Christianity.
Let us consider this great mystery at the end. Christ had initiated pupils too; he also led them away from the crowd. When he wanted to explain what he had said to the crowd in parables, he led his three initiated disciples: Peter, James, and John on the Mount Tabor. They beheld the transfiguration there (Matthew 17). Who understands the transfiguration recognizes the deepest mystery of Christianity. The disciples are translated from the sensuous existence. What faces them? Elijah and Moses. Elijah is the word meaning way or aim, Moses is simply the esoteric word meaning truth, and Jesus is life. While eternity appeared to them in temporality, while those who are dead long since appeared to them, before their spiritual eyes, it means that they had ascended to the spiritual world. Peter says to Jesus, it is good that we are here. Would you like me to make three shelters...? You can read the expression “make shelters” where a pupil attains the second stage of chelahood. One says of him that he makes shelters in the beyond.
The great truth in the religious documents is recognized everywhere by that who recognizes the so-called key words. The saying “I am the way, the truth and the life” faces you there. When they descended from the mountain, Jesus forbade them to tell anyone about the vision, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead. They questioned themselves: what is “rising” from the dead? — They said to Jesus, the scribes say that Elijah must come first. — He answered, Elijah is to come and set everything right. — The disciples, in the most intimate sanctum, speak here about reincarnation as about something that is a matter of course to them. The Lord Himself spoke about it like about a matter of course, saying, Elijah has already come, John the Baptist is Elijah, but they failed to recognise him. — This is the testament on the mountain. “Mountain” is the key word for initiation. Where initiation is concerned, the term “on the mountain” is applied. What means: do not tell anybody that I come again? That is, until I speak again to you, until you yourselves are there again in such figure that humanity can again perceive the word of truth. Christ Jesus was as a deputy on earth. Looking at his death, humanity should feel the victory of life over death. The faith by which even the Egyptian slave knew of the beyond should be substituted by the faith that the everlasting is in the essence, which passes through the physical. Now they had to start the triumphal procession through the world. Nothing material remains to us of that which is wisdom, immediate knowledge of the beyond. Nothing of reincarnation should be taught to humanity during the following two millennia. Jesus determined this as his testament. Not before the human beings have gone through the third epoch of development, they have gained this material victory over the globe; they will have applied intellect and reason to the external civilisation. Then only a new epoch is permitted to begin, then wisdom can understand that again which lived uniquely. Then Christ appears again on earth, so that He can be grasped immediately.
Then the human being does no longer need the life on Tabor, and then he experiences the initiation in himself, finds the divine human being in himself. Then he will look up again at the divine life that was common property of humanity in the pre-Christian times. The anthroposophic teaching has introduced this new epoch. What Christ left on the mountain Tabor, the spiritual-scientifically striving human beings feel this as their mission, as their vocation. Christian mystics of the Middle Ages already indicated this. You find it expressed by Angelus Silesius, the great Silesian initiate: “If Christ is born a thousand times in Bethlehem and not in you, you still are lost forever.” As the blind person experiences the awakening of light, somebody who arrives at the new condition can experience the apparition like that on Tabor. This is the future. Thus, we had a Christianity of faith in the third epoch of humanity, and we shall have a Christianity of wisdom in the fourth epoch. What did humanity perform in the third epoch? The instinctive period is the pre-Christian time. We have had the period of the external material civilisation, and now we enter the fourth period of human development.
The human being has encompassed the world with industry and trade; without distinction of nation and race industry and trade work. The machine prepares the same goods in Japan, Brazil, and Europe. The same railways cross the globe in all areas without distinction of race, nation, and class. The differences within humanity have fallen in our civilisation. The cheque, which is written here in Berlin, can be redeemed in Tokyo. Everything in our civilisation has taken place in such a way that we can put up as a principle of the third period what no one could have put up as a principle in the starting point of our civilisation: we want to found a civilisation that encompasses the globe, without distinction of race, gender, occupation, and confession. This material civilisation has encompassed the world under this motto. This civilisation must receive soul. It is the task of the fourth epoch of humanity; it is the task of anthroposophy and of our lifestyle to introduce this cultural soul into humanity. We have a material civilisation, and we need a spiritual culture with the same qualities. The human beings are strong where they founded the moral connection. The Japanese trader understands the traders of all other countries. The human beings must understand each other in their souls.
This will be if these achievements are also made fruitful for the human science. The cultural body has three epochs. It needs a soul. The fourth epoch has to bring cultural spirit. This is the great basic idea, the big aim, which the big cultural movement must have, if it wants to be something else than a mere play for those who deal with nothing but brooding over mystic thoughts. If the Theosophical Society continues to exist, it manages this. Hence, it has to understand Christianity in its deepness. It has to understand its deepest teachings of wisdom and must also have the strength to practice these teachings of wisdom not in old traditional form, but to reshape them so that they live on usefully at all times. With it, Christianity is not anything past, but has the living strength to work on future more and more. Thus, anthroposophy, the anthroposophically understood Christianity is no doctrine, no dogma, no sectarianism, but it is something else. It is something that makes hearts leap for joy in the best sense of the word; it is something that raises the soul to the biggest tasks of the present because the biggest tasks can only correspond to the beneficial hope for the future.
Then we have understood Christianity if it gives us life for the future. Then we understand the high spirits correctly if they become our future teachers. We are their right pupils if we do not want to reproduce authoritatively what they themselves had said, but if their words, their actions have become the energy for the new that we create. This is the great secret, the big lawfulness and necessity that shall fulfil us in the progress of human evolution and that shall constitute our life in the highest sense of the word. This is the true education of humanity that we receive the strength of creating in the future and the hope for a beneficial effect in the future from a real knowledge of the great actions of our ancestors.