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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Festivals of the Seasons

2. The Mystery of Golgotha II

1 April 1907, Berlin

In this lecture we shall speak about the Mystery of Golgotha and connect it with an anthroposophical consideration of Easter. In the last lecture I was able to point out that the Mystery of Golgotha is extremely important, not only in the historical development of humanity, but that it has the deepest significance for the evolution also of the earth, inasmuch as we human beings are included in it. If an observer were to direct his gaze for thousands of years towards our earth from a distant planet it would appear to him to be undergoing a transformation. If he were to see clairvoyantly and not only physically, he would be able to observe that with the advent of Christ Jesus a spiritual transformation took place, and that the spiritual atmosphere of the whole earth changed. The earth also has a physical body, etheric body and astral body, and we are all enveloped not only by air but also by the etheric body and astral body of the earth. The observer would see that up to the advent of Christ Jesus these bodies exhibited certain colours; they then changed and took on new colours and different movements, so important was this event to the earth and to the evolution of humanity! But we must not think that with the birth of Jesus, with the advent of Christ, this transformation took place suddenly: it was being prepared during hundreds of years, and the change is not yet complete; it will, in fact, be a long time before all the fruits have matured, the seed for which was sown through the advent of Christ. If we wish to understand this, we must once more bring to mind the whole of evolution. We must go back to the time when man first assumed his present shape; we know that this was in the Lemurian epoch. We are now living in the so-called fifth age of the fifth epoch of our earth. If we were to go back to the Graeco-Latin age we should find in that fourth age a wonderful art and a wonderful justice. Further back, in the third age, the Egyptian-Chaldean-Babylonian- Hebrew Age, the priestly wisdom flourished. In ancient Persia appeared the first germs of religion which the wise Zarathustra sowed in the second age of our fifth epoch. Still further we come to the time when the most ancient Indian culture flourished, not that which we know from the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita; further back than that there was a wonderful ancient culture in the first age of our fifth epoch which was guarded and guided by the ancient Rishis, who instructed and led even the Initiates! Immediately prior to that, old Atlantis had been engulfed by the great flood. In Atlantis, which is called the fourth epoch, there lived people who had neither laws nor commandments; they were not yet able to think logically, neither could they reckon nor count. However, at that time people possessed other psychic powers, for example, their memory was extraordinary, and they lived in what to us would appear a wonderful intercourse with nature. We only imagine this epoch aright when we know that at that time the physical conditions which surrounded humanity were quite different from what they are to-day. A remembrance of it has been preserved in the Sagas of Niflheim or Nebelheim. Heavy, dense volumes of mist filled the whole atmosphere of ancient Atlantis, and as all the beings lived in these masses of mist the spiritual conditions also were entirely different. If we go still further back we come to the third epoch, to ancient Lemuria. The humanity which developed in this epoch did not come to an end, like the Atlanteans, through a gigantic flood, but through a mighty upheaval by the forces of fire. This ancient Lemuria lay south of present Asia, north of Australia and east of Africa. The seer who with spiritual vision looks back to the first portion of this Lemurian epoch, finds human beings with quite a different form from present-day humanity. They did not yet possess the germ of the higher soul which dwells in present-day humanity; they only had the coverings of this soul. These coverings consisted of physical body, etheric body and astral body, and these coverings had a kind of indentation in which to receive the Ego or ‘I.’

The self-consciousness, that of which we say ‘I,’ this immortal kernel in the nature of man still rested in the bosom of the Deity. Below on the earth were those bodies which were ready to take in this germ; and if we could see them they would seem very grotesque and extremely ugly. Just as at the present time these human coverings are enveloped by the air, so at that time the beings were enveloped by a spiritual atmosphere, they lived and moved in it. They had a form, a covering (the diagram may make this more comprehensible), which was ready to take in the ‘I,’ the higher soul. But this was still in a spiritual stratum which surrounded and moved around man. We must clearly understand that the spirit can assume different forms and that, which at that time was your spirit, had not till then needed a body; that is just its development, that it took up its abode in man, that it needed the physical body for its further development. The several souls at that time were not yet separated, but might be compared to a glass of water which consists of a great number of drops of water; just as the several drops are united with one another in this glass of water, so were all the souls dissolved in this spiritual atmosphere and united with one another. And if I now place a great number of tiny sponges in this water and each one absorbs a drop of it, so that the water is then divided up among the sponges, in the same way must we conceive of the process of the ensouling of the human bodies. That, which previously was around, sank into the bodies and thus the common spiritual substance was individualised in the several human coverings. However, these human vehicles did not take in the soul entirely. I had to indicate to you the method of ensouling in this manner, but you must clearly understand that outside the body, in the environment, a great deal of this spiritual substance was left over. And the development from Lemurian times up to our own consisted in this spiritual part which remained outside mankind, drawing in more and more into the human bodies.

early human beings on Earth

You must imagine that at that time man was continually in a half-sleeping, half-waking condition. Just as to-day when a sleeper is observed with spiritual eyes it is seen that only the physical body and etheric body He on the bed, while the astral body is outside and works upon the physical body (for the condition of sleep is produced through the astral body being outside), in the same way at that time one would have been able clairvoyantly to see these human beings always in this condition, but dreaming the most vivid dreams. When one human being approached another there arose in his soul a form of colour which signified sympathy or antipathy according as the other was a friend or a foe. Thus did the human being perceive the objects around him. But the more that which I have just described to you sank into man from the spiritual environment, the more did his consciousness become like the present-day consciousness and along with this went a physical fact. In the Bible there is the statement that ‘God breathed breath into man and he became a living soul’! In fact, at that time not only the breath was breathed into man as a physical movement of air, but there was also that which was contained in the air as Spirit. That which is within us as material air, the air which we can trace, is the physical body of a spirit surrounding the earth! When we breathe we inhale spirit.

It is quite true that that which sank into the coverings of man at that time when he breathed in the breath is the spirit, and the air is only the substance of this spirit! Really and truly we to-day inhale the body of this spirit; that which sank into man at that time is what is called the Holy Spirit! We must clearly understand that together with this kind of air-breathing, together with this in-sinking, there was something else which was interiorly connected with it, namely, the warm blood of man. Before this period of time had arrived there were no warm-blooded beings on the earth, these only originated later. Therefore at that time something else also took place: into the human body came a certain amount of warmth. The warmth which you now have within you was at that time in the environment of the physical ancestors of mankind. Imagine that the warmth which is in the blood of all mankind upon the earth was still at that time outside man, enveloping the earth. Warmth and spirit surrounded the globe,—it was enveloped in a mighty atmosphere of warmth. In this warmth was embodied a different spirituality, which was similar to the spirits who had reached their perfection on the Sun, when the Sun was still a planet. The spirituality embodied in warmth, equals in perfection the beings now inhabiting the sun. In fact, at that time, when this warmth-spirituality enveloped the earth, it was the vehicle of a common spiritual nature for all mankind, indeed it was none other than that of the Spirit of the Earth itself. For just as each man has a spirit, so to those who can see these things each planet is the expression of a spiritual being; and thus our earth is the body of a spirit, the Earth-Spirit, and the means by which this spirit penetrates into man is the warmth of the blood; through it the Spirit of the Earth penetrates into man himself. We must imagine that when the Lemurian development began, the spirit which belongs to the air sank into man, and also at the same time, as a higher spirit there began to sink into man, the spirit which is contained in the warmth of the blood, namely, the true Earth-Spirit.

The first spirit, which has its body in the air, makes it possible for man to develop the power of Speech; with the breathing process speech develops, the process of the utterance of the Ego begins, attaining its culmination in the Atlantean epoch. At the moment when God breathed breath into man the spirit began to speak out of the inner being of man, the soul began to utter its language,—from within man spoke Jehova Jahve—that is: ‘I Am. He Who is, He Who was, and He Who will be!’ This is the eternal kernel of being in every man, which is imperishable, and which will develop to all eternity as the permanent individuality. This was the first outpouring of the Deity into man; it is called the outpouring of the Holy Spirit or the outpouring of Jehova I According to the myths and sagas this god lives in the rushing wind; that which dwells in the air, that which is perceived as a sort of Storm-God or Wind-God is Jehova. It indicated that this Deity has His external body in the air. This Deity worked at the individualisation of mankind. He could not, however, accomplish this individualisation all at once, he had first to find a means to this end. At first mankind was divided into groups; a human being did not yet feel himself separated as an individual, he felt that he belonged to a tribe. The man of the present day, who has such a different consciousness, can scarcely form a right idea of this ‘feeling that one is part of a tribe.’ As a hand feels itself to be a part of our organism so did a human being feel himself to be a part of his tribe. The more the tribe expanded to a nation the more individual did the several human beings become.

What we know as the process of becoming more individualised is connected with the blood. When this outpouring of the spirit took place in the Lemurian epoch, it was not one common spirit which sank into the human bodies. There were many separate individualities in the spiritual environment of the earth. Jehova was one Deity among many! It is because many such Race-Spirits sank down, that mankind split up into peoples; the more they sank down the more were the greater races formed. But a complete union of humanity into one single brotherhood was impossible in this way! Brotherhood is only possible when in addition to this ensouling which acts in many races, the common Earth- Spirit which dwells in warmth gradually streams into mankind! When one speaks of Jehova one has really to speak of many Jehovas, many Holy Spirits; but when we speak of the spirit dwelling in warmth we are then speaking only of one. In this one spirit we have the Logos itself, the Christos, the Spirit of the Earth, the unifying spirit of humanity on the earth!

If we reflect that everything contained in what pertains to Manas exists in multitude, and that everything contained in Buddhi acts as unity, we have here the contrast between the two, and we understand it in this way: That through the outpouring of spirit through Manas humanity had to be prepared for the outpouring of the uniting Spirit of Buddhi, until Christos Himself came Who gathers all together into an unity!

At the time when Christos appeared there was a common covering which surrounded the whole earth. In it we have all that exists as Christos Spirit, as the unifying principle. And just as in Lemuria the Spirit was out-poured, so also the Christos Spirit was poured forth slowly into humanity and is still being out-poured, that Spirit Who has His Body in the warmth of the blood. When He is completely poured forth, there will be in the whole of humanity the consciousness that it is a single brotherhood. Each one will feel himself drawn to the others as a brother; all that separated will have given way, and humanity will be gathered into one great community.

In the earth-planet and in all the beings connected with it we have what is called the body of the Christos Spirit. Therefore, we have to take quite literally the statement, ‘He who eats My bread treads upon Me with his feet!’ (John 13, 18, Lutheran version). For whose bread does man eat? What does he tread upon with his feet? He eats the bread of the body, and treads with his feet upon the body, which is described as the body of the Christos Spirit, that into which the Christos Spirit has come!

If we had been able from another planet to observe our earth a few centuries before Christ, and then on through further centuries, we should have been able to follow with the eyes of the spirit how that which previously formed the spiritual atmosphere gradually began to pour into the several human beings, and how the whole atmosphere of our earth has thereby changed. This is the Christos Spirit, Who from that time has poured Himself in, and that is the cosmic significance of Christ Jesus!

Preparations for this were made thousands of years before Christ. Anyone able to follow the evolution of the earth would see that the transformation began in the circle of the so-called founders of religion. In Egypt Hermes Trismegistus, Hermes the Thrice-Great, guided humanity in the transformation of the narrow tribal-principle; Zoroaster, Moses, Pythagoras, Plato, all worked at this transformation also. Only when we understand all this do we learn to understand the spirit of Christianity more and more.

The outpouring of the Spirit was able to bring it about that the love of human beings towards one another was connected with the blood: people loved one another more as members of a tribe, their love was conditioned by the blood which they had in common; but the spirits who came into mankind as Race-Spirits, who brought about this love which was connected with the blood, acted at the same time in such a way that they separated and individualised the human beings more and more; men thereby became more and more egoistic and selfish. But then, on the other hand, there poured down the spirit of Christianity, the spirit of the unifying Christos. Only when these two streams work fully in man can he, entirely of himself, and filled with the Christos Spirit, find his way to others in love.

Now we must clearly understand that with the human blood was connected that which produced the feeling which expressed the blood-love. This later developed into selfishness; the blood took on the character of egoism, selfishness. This blood which had become egoistic had to be overcome. The surplus egoism in human blood was sacrificed on the Cross. If it had not flowed then, selfishness would have become greater and greater, egoism would have had the upper hand more and more. Human blood was sacrificed in order to cleanse humanity from egoism, and this cleansing of the blood from the egoistic ‘I’ is the Mystery of Golgotha!

He who sees only the material process, he who only sees the Man bleeding upon the Cross can never understand this deeply mystic event! We only understand the Mystery of Golgotha when we know that on the Cross flowed the blood which humanity had to lose in order to be set free from the bonds of egoistic selfishness. He who cannot understand this spiritually can never understand Christianity, nor can he understand the so-called redemption. We only understand the evolution of humanity when we comprehend the central position occupied in it by the Mystery of Golgotha, which expresses the highest spiritual development of humanity.

In ancient times before the Christos-principle entered into human evolution we have the Mystery of the Spirit; later, when Christos Jesus came in, the Mystery of the Son was revealed; in the future there will be the Mystery of the Father. This last is announced in the Apocalypse where the future Mysteries of the Father are described.

We shall now describe the Mysteries of the Spirit. They were founded in the ancient seminaries of the Adepts in a place lying between America and Europe, in ancient Atlantis. These ancient Atlantean Adept-Schools have been continued up to our day. The Mysteries in Post-Atlantean countries were a continuation of these ancient Turanian Adept-Schools. We find these Mysteries everywhere, in ancient India, in Persia, Chaldea, Egypt and Greece. One who was sufficiently prepared and who had withstood the necessary tests was admitted to the training and could be initiated. He had received the teachings of the Wisdom, he had purified himself from impulses and desires, he had accustomed himself to a regulated thought-life, he loved all humanity; he had become homeless, for he could love all men equally—not only those to whom he belonged through the ties of blood. All this was done in these Schools. What was gained in them and is still gained to-day is a stage of development in advance of the normal.

The pupil who had advanced so far that he no longer felt himself as the son of a tribe or a family, who had reached this last phase so that he loved all humanity, and had thus become the Son of Man, passed on to initiation, to the secret of the Pyramids. He was then put into a sleep which lasted for three days. In this sleep the Initiator was able to withdraw the spirit of the pupil, just as your spirit is withdrawn from your body in sleep; this process, however, was conscious in the case of the pupil. The Initiator was thus able to lead over into life what the pupil had previously learned. He had learned that there is an astral and a devachanic world, he had acquired ideas and feelings, and because he passed out of his physical body with these ideas and feelings, which are anchored in the astral body and etheric body, the Initiator was able to present all this before him in actuality; the pupil went through the astral and devachanic worlds, he experienced what he had previously learned, he thus became one who knows. Those worlds were no longer hidden from him; be brought back the remembrance of them. When he then reawakened in his physical body there came a cry which wrung itself from the soul when it returned from the spiritual worlds, when the ‘I’ had become a citizen of the higher worlds, when it had sojourned among spirits. When the pupil had experienced the secrets of the spiritual worlds, when he had returned into this life and become a missionary, a messenger of the spirit—all this on awaking burst forth exultantly in the words, ‘Eh, Eh, lama azobothami!’ that is, ‘My God, my God, how hast thou glorified me 1’ This was what one heard from each one who was initiated in this way: ‘My God, my God, how hast thou glorified me!’

If you had tested such a person you would have found that initiation was a pre-announcement of what is contained in Christos Jesus; that in the etheric body of such an Initiate Buddhi had awakened; in him Christ had inwardly awakened, but He had not come as far as to the physical body. As etheric men these Initiates had become immortal, in their etheric body they had experienced immortality.

Then came a great advance. It came with the advent of Christos to the earth,—with the One Who died upon the Cross. He experienced everything down even to the physical body: in the physical body everything had become life within Him which the Initiate in the Mysteries underwent in his etheric body. One could now see this with physical eyes.

The Initiates could feel bliss because they inwardly experienced how fife must conquer death. After this time one needed this no longer; through Golgotha there had descended to the physical plane that which formerly was experienced in the Mysteries.

I must now describe one thing to you before we can understand the Mystery of the Son. In the Gospel we find a description of the last Easter-supper. This was not an ordinary meal. Christos Jesus was surrounded by twelve human figures. He sat among them as if at table. And as what did they appear, these twelve human figures? Each one who as an Initiate had gone through the experiences of the higher worlds, had experienced the same. By these twelve Apostles are to be understood twelve of the Initiate’s own embodiments, twelve of his own fives through which he himself had passed. And these twelve fives were nothing else than that which he bore within himself as the parts of his body. In an occult sense the body is divided into twelve parts, and this is also meant to be nothing else than the representation of twelve incarnations. Each incarnation signifies an ascent; a human being is gradually purified in this ascent through his incarnations. Thus a human being is surrounded by the forms through which he himself has passed. They surround him as on the occasion of a meal; he himself, the human being, is the host. This is a picture which comes before the soul of each one in the Mystery of the Spirit. The one who comes last is the Son of Man; this is the man who through the series of his incarnations is so purified from egoistic love that he no longer feels himself as the son of a family, tribe or nation, but as the son of all humanity. This is the thirteenth among the twelve, who represents the highest perfection, he who loves all; this is the Initiate, he himself. That which was experienced by each one who was initiated into the higher world was repeated by Christos Jesus on the physical plane in this Easter meal.

Let us now trace this repetition. It is enveloped as if by a veil. Just as everything esoteric is given externally, exoterically, hidden as with a veil, so also was this Easter meal which Christos Jesus gave. This is not an ordinary meal; that which the Initiates of the Spirit had formerly experienced so often on the higher plane was to be repeated on the physical plane as an external, physical gathering.

In St. Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 22, v. 8-20, we read: ‘His disciples asked Him: Where wilt Thou that we prepare the Pascal Lamb? He sent His disciples, saying: Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water, follow him. And where he goes in, say to the householder, the Master saith unto thee, where is the guest-chamber where I may eat the Pascal Lamb with My disciples? And he will show you a large room furnished with cushions and ready, there make ready for us.’ (Also Mark 14, v. 12-25.)

During the Easter meal He explains once more that He is the Spirit of the Earth, that the bread is His Body and the wine His Blood. As the Spirit of the Earth He may say of all the fluids which course through the earth, ‘This is my Blood,’ and with regard to all the materials which make up the body of the earth he may say, ‘This is My Body.’

Then comes the scene where Jesus develops the Mystery of the Spirit into the Mystery of the Son, in order to lead it up to the Mystery of the Father.

If you bear in mind the fact of the embodiment of twelve of his own incarnations as the figures which represent around him twelve of his own parts,— if you bring this to mind correctly and then with delicacy and inward tactfulness of soul try to comprehend a passage which contains what is deepest in Christianity, then in it you will be able to see the transition from the Mystery of the Spirit to the Mystery of the Son.

Remember once more what had to happen before the Mystery of the Son could come. That blood which is important to egoism on the earth had to be lost. Times will come when men will become more and more egoistic, and precisely for this reason had the superfluous egoistic blood to be sacrificed, in order that humanity might be united into one great brotherhood.

That which had been produced by humanity as such was spiritualised and ennobled by Christianity, although the egoistic element grew greater and greater through humanity becoming more and more independent. If we survey what since then has surrounded the globe; for example, if we consider all the means of external intercourse, all that reason has devised, all that the egoistic intellect has produced—all these things are only subsidiary means for the gratification of egoism. People were less egoistic when they produced fire by knocking two stones together and when they satisfied their needs in the simplest manner! The only counterbalance to this egoism was Christianity.

Just as the Son of Man sees the twelve figures around Him as the expression of his own incarnations, so will one who sees into the future recognise in these figures what humanity has still to pass through before it attains the conditions of completeness. He who passes through the Mystery of the Son sees into the future, and indeed to the end of the earth’s evolution when the earth passes over from the astral condition it will then have attained, into the Jupiter condition, the new planetary condition. Then as the fruit of its development it will imprint into the Jupiter condition the perfect love which will have been divested of all egoism, which will be entirely refined, purified, and spiritualised.

Hence Christos Jesus could say, ‘You who now sit around Me represent the various parts of My bodies, various degrees of perfection, and when I look into the future these are the twelve stations which must be surmounted in order to lead to the Father, to perfection.’ All that pertains to sensuality, all impulses and passions, instincts and passionate desires must be overcome. This is shown symbolically by what happens to the twelve. The age which follows is represented by Judas Iscariot! The lowest sensuality is here connected with the greatest egoism. It is Judas Iscariot who betrays Christianity! There will come a time when that which took place upon Golgotha will take place over the whole earth. It will seem as if egoism would put Christos and Buddhi to death. That will be the time of Antichrist. It is the law that everything that took place around the Cross will have to take place also on the physical plane. Then in a still later period of development everything that is base in man will fall away from him, and even now there is being prepared what he will become later. He will then no longer create from the impulse of lower passion. Just as at the present time he produces the word which can embody the highest that is in his soul, so he will in the future work creatively by the word; just as through sexuality he has become egoistic, so by the falling away of the same he will again become selfless. The blood of man will be transformed so that in the future he may create from pure, selfless feeling. There will be a human race which will create by the Word. The sexual organ will be transferred to the heart, lungs and larynx, and here we have one of the two evolutions which follows after Christianity.

The age when egoism rules is represented by Judas Iscariot. He who considers the events of the world impartially sees how sexuality in man is in the position to betray and kill everything spiritual. Man will become more alive when his higher part, the Word, is creative and when his heart is his spiritual creative organ. This is a picture which is to be compared with a passage in St. John’s Gospel from which we may see what will be the consequence when Christianity shall have made all mankind selfless and brotherly.

That which makes mankind egoistic you see embodied in Judas Iscariot; and the ultimate goal to which humanity will develop in the distant future, the twelfth station, is the Figure of Christ Himself.

The transformation comes about through the creative power pressing upwards from the lap to the heart. Now read the passage concerning the disciple of Jesus whom He loved most, and of whom it is said that he lies on Jesus’ breast. This is the passage which tells how the lowest power of production, the creative power of man, moves upwards from the lap to the heart, which is connected with the lungs and larynx. This passage tells that John is initiated into the Mystery of the Son by Christ Jesus. After the pupil has experienced this, he will have transformed his lower productive power into the higher and he will come through the Son to the Father.

And what may he then say? He may say what all Initiates say, ‘My God, My God, how hast Thou glorified Thy Son.’

Read in St. John’s Gospel: ‘Then Jesus said, Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.’ Then the Easter meal, which took place on the physical plane, was finished.

Those who have gone through this by the side of Christos Jesus, will, when they pass out of earthly evolution and rise to a higher development, gather around Christos, and He will then once more be able to utter in the midst of this gathering the words which He uttered at that time on the Cross.

This passage has been wrongly translated as it passed through the Greek. It ought to read, ‘My God, My God, how very much hast Thou glorified me!’ (That is, spiritualised me).

This passage reveals to us the struggling loose from matter: The Mystery of the Son. It shows us that at that time the seer’s inner vision of the Redeemer of the world saw to the end of the earth’s evolution.

The great goal of humanity consists in overcoming all difference and in founding the great love of humanity. This goal will not be gained in any other way than by people learning to penetrate more and more into the spiritual worlds. But they will then not be dissolved in the Deity, as they were before they descended into the several human beings, they will be individualised—like the water in the tiny sponges. Humanity proceeded from the Divine Being and developed the various egos, and it will ultimately, completely individualised, but at the same time united into a brotherhood, form an unity which will give birth to a new star: the new star which in the Apocalypse is called The New Jerusalem. And then the Sphere-Harmony will echo the words, ‘My God, My God, how hast Thou glorified Me!’

These words were uttered on Golgotha, and they will be repeated when humanity has risen to the highest stage, when it has progressed from Son to Father. Far, very far does the spiritual vision extend when it seeks to comprehend this Mystery of Golgotha!

The great festivals of the year are important times at which we ought to halt, lift ourselves above ordinary everyday affairs and cast our eyes over the great path of human evolution; they are occasions when we ought to survey not only centuries but thousands of years, and when at the same time we ought to look back consciously at the stations through which humanity has passed in the course of its evolution.