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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Festivals of the Seasons

4. The Festival of Easter II

11 April 1909, Cologne

One great advantage of such an important time-symbol as the festival of Easter is that it makes our hearts and souls well fitted to see more and more deeply into the riddle of the nature of man.

Let us once more consider the Oriental legend upon which we threw a little light in the last lecture and regarding which we already know that it contains something important for human life—the legend of Kashiapa, the enlightened pupil of Sakya-Muni, who possessed all the wisdom of the East and regarding whom it was justly said that all his followers could not preserve what he had drawn from Sakya-Muni’s fount of wisdom. The legend says that when Kashiapa was about to die he went to a cave in a mountain and died consciously, and that his body did not putrefy, but it could not be found by any human being until he was able to penetrate into such mysteries through Initiation. And it was prophesied that the vehicle of the ancient Wisdom would appear in a new form as Maitreya Buddha, who, when he has reached the zenith of his earthly existence will go to where the corpse is resting and will touch it with his right hand, and fire will come down from the universe and the undecayed body of Kashiapa will be drawn into the higher worlds. Thus the East is awaiting the appearance of Maitreya Buddha and his action on the body of Kashiapa.

Will it be so? Will he appear? Will Kashiapa’s body be withdrawn by the wonderful fire?

We shall be able to get an inkling of the profound wisdom contained in this as an Easter miracle when we inquire into the miraculous fire that is to take up Kashiapa’s remains.

In the last lecture we observed that Christ announced Himself to Moses in the thunder and fiery lightning of Sinai. For it was none other that said to him, ‘I AM THE I AM.’ He gave His blessing in a prophetic manner as a fiery flash of lightning upon Sinai. And then He appeared in the microcosm in Palestine: The God who announced Himself in the heavens appeared in a human body in the Event of Palestine in the fire that dwells in our blood, and through this Event—if we follow the consequences of what it was to the earth—we find the fire which takes up Kashiapa’s remains.

The progress of the world consists in everything material being spiritualised. The fire appeared materially to Moses in the burning thorn-bush and upon Sinai; through Christ this fire is spiritualised. And who sees the burning fire after the Christ-Event? It is the spiritual eye which is opened by the Christ- Impulse itself and which the Christ-impulse has awakened. Thus the fire worked spiritually. It was perceived again when Saul’s eyes had been enlightened, when he became clairvoyant and recognised in the heavenly fire the One who had accomplished the Mystery of Golgotha.

Thus both saw the Christ: Moses saw Him in the material fire; but the Christ spoke to the illuminated eye of Saul from the spiritualised fire. As matter is related to spirit, so in the course of the development of the world is the material fire of Sinai related to the fire that streamed towards Saul or Paul.

And what has come into evolution through all this? Let us consider the figures in humanity which were the expression for the Avatars, such as Vishnu, Krishna, etc., who had to appear in order that humanity might find the way back into the spiritual world. In ancient times humanity needed divine power for this. Through the Mystery of Golgotha the power has been given to man to find within himself the forces which raise him up. Christ descended deeper than all, for He used even this earthly body for this. Christ redeemed humanity with human powers; He placed these powers before our souls in the form in which they can be in their original power. What would have happened if Christ had not appeared? If the Enlightened Ones had been able to descend they would at length have found only human beings so steeped in matter that the spiritual powers would not have been able to bring man up again out of the impure matter. The Oriental sages looked out sadly into the future, for they knew that Maitreya Buddha would appear, but the Ancient Wisdom would then have no disciples. And if it had continued in this way, Maitreya Buddha would also have preached to deaf ears, and that which would have been on the earth would have caused Kashiapa’s body to decay, so that Maitreya Buddha would not have been able to carry up Kashiapa’s remains. They pondered sadly as to whether there would be anyone left who would understand Maitreya Buddha. Something had to sacrifice itself in a physical substance, not a God in human form, but a human being who bears God within him, in order that matter may be made into such a purified substance that for future incarnation the ancient wisdom can be intelligible. And it can be understood that the Event of Golgotha has acted in this way for humanity. How deeply has it penetrated into the nature of man and into human existence!

Six hundred years before the Event of Golgotha we see certain occurrences in the human soul and again six hundred years after. One can scarcely present to the human soul a greater or more important time than that sublime period when Buddha was gradually enlightened. He appeared in a royal palace—not in a stable, among poor shepherds. It should be noticed, however, that he went forth from the palace and observed life in its various forms. He perceived that ‘birth is sorrow.’ He searched further with his soul and found a sick man: thus can man become when he is carried to the earthly world by the thirst for existence: disease is sorrow. He found an old man who had gradually lost the use of his limbs: age is sorrow. He saw a corpse: death stood before him with all that it blots out. To be separated from what one loves is sorrow. To be united with what one does not love is sorrow. Not to have what one desires is sorrow.

The teaching regarding sorrow rang out with sublimity and innumerable people learned that they ought to long for release from this earthly existence, because only deliverance from the thirst for existence can lead to the spiritual.

And now let us allow our vision to sweep over a period of 1,200 years, 600 b.c. to 600 a.d. Notice, one thing in the age of Buddha, viz., the corpse and what Buddha felt and taught when he saw this—and then 600 years after the Event of Golgotha I Innumerable souls then turned towards a wooden cross upon which hung a corpse; but from this corpse proceeds the impulse through which life conquers death. It is the opposite pole of what Buddha perceived when he saw a corpse. It is the certainty that existence is not sorrow. Six hundred years after the Event of Golgotha the body of Christ Jesus on the cross was the token of the knowledge of life, the resurrection of life, the victory over death. Although in 600 b.c. the entry into the physical world was sorrow for man, how do the great truths of life now present themselves before the soul? Is birth sorrow? Those who understand the Event of Golgotha, who feel that they are connected with it, gladly enter upon this earth which Christ has entered; and through the union with Christ comes the knowledge that birth is the door to the finding of the Redeemer who also clothed Himself with physical matter. Is disease sorrow? No! Even though humanity cannot yet understand what the spiritual life is which streams in with Christ, and that the one who lets himself be filled with the Christ-Impulse can overcome all disease by the powers he develops within him; for disease is an opportunity to overcome a hindrance, and this man can do through the strength of the Christ-power developed within him. One has to deal with the burden of old age in the same manner. And death is not sorrow, because through the Event of Golgotha death has been overcome. Can separation be sorrow? No! The souls that permeate themselves with the Christ-power know that love can form ties that cannot be severed, and there is nothing in the life between birth and death and between death and re-birth to which we cannot find the way through the Christ-Impulse; Christ brings us together with that which we love. In the same way, being united with what we do not love cannot be sorrow, because the Christ-Impulse teaches us to love all and when we find the way that leads to this, it can no longer be sorrow, for there is nothing else that we do not embrace in love. This is the case also with desire, for desire is so purified by the Christ-Impulse that one only desires what ought to come to one. If it is withheld, then it is for purification and the Christ-power gives one the strength to feel it as a purification. Therefore again it is no longer sorrow.

There is no greater impulse to anew becoming, and also to further development than the Event of Golgotha, which continues to work on and will positively have mighty consequences to the humanity of the future. Christ is the greatest Avatar and when such a Being descends, as the Christ in Jesus of Nazareth, something most profoundly important comes into evolution. We sow a grain of wheat in the earth; it germinates: the stalk and ears of wheat grow and the many, many grains are facsimiles of the one grain of wheat we sowed in the earth. It is exactly the same in the spiritual world, for ‘all things transitory are but symbols’ (as below, so above). When the Event of Golgotha had taken place, something happened to the etheric body and the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth: through the power of Christ they became multiplied and in the spiritual world there have been since that time many, many reproductions of this astral body and this etheric body, and these worked on. When a spiritual individuality descended, it clothed itself with an etheric body and an astral body; and when an individual’s karma allowed it, an image of the etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth was woven into him. This was the case, for example, with St. Augustine in the early centuries of our era; into his etheric body was woven a reproduction of the etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth, but his astral body and ‘I’ were his own.

Thus that which had enveloped the God-Man of Palestine was transferred to other human beings who were then to carry the impulse further in humanity. As Augustine had his own ‘I’ and his own astral body, he was subject to all the doubts and waverings that he had such difficulty in overcoming; this came from these still imperfect parts of his being. When he struggled through, he came upon the forces of the image of Jesus of Nazareth in his etheric body and was thereby able to give out truths as a great mystic for some time—and there were many such. Hence the great archetypal ideas were able to flash out in them. These originated from the interwoven copy of the sacred etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth in certain people of the sixth, seventh and eighth centuries a.d. In addition to the contents of the teaching of Christ they received interwoven into them an image of the etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth; therefore they knew from inner enlightenment that Christ lives. It was the same with Paul when he saw. Was it possible for him to have been converted before then through what could be told regarding the Event of Palestine? No one had been able to make a Paul out of Saul and yet the most important impulse went out through him who at that time became a believer through an occult event. Those who wish to have a Christianity without spiritual enlightenment have a curious idea of it!

Again, reproductions of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth propagated themselves in inner enlightenment in other human beings. They could experience Christ, for they bore within them something which came from the historical Christ. Later, in the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, people who through karma were ready for it had interwoven into them images of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth. Such, for example, were Francis of Assisi, Elizabeth of Thüringen, and others. Many, many were called through the continuous activity of Christ to carry it to posterity.

But something else was preserved for later times, viz., the copy of the I or Ego of Jesus of Nazareth. His I or Ego indeed disappeared from the three bodies when the Christ entered into them, but, through Christ, a still higher image remained and still exists to-day. It can be found in human beings who have made themselves ready for this and thereby at the same time for the splendour of the Christ-power and the Christ-Impulse which it bears within it. The physical expression for this is the blood. It is a great mystery. But there have always been those who knew this, who throughout the centuries since the Event of Golgotha have had to take care that humanity gradually matured to receive images of Jesus of Nazareth in the same way that images can be received in the etheric body and astral body. To this end a Mystery had to be founded, so that this ‘I’ could be preserved in secret. A brotherhood was formed, the Brotherhood of the Holy Grail, which guarded this Mystery. This society has always existed, and in it it is said that its Founder took the cup which Christ Jesus used at the Holy Supper and in this cup he caught the blood of the Redeemer which flowed from the cross and collected it in the Holy Grail; that is, he preserved the cup with the Mystery of the image of the ‘I’ or Ego of Christ Jesus in this holy place, in the Brotherhood which consists of the Brothers of the Holy Grail.

To-day the time has come in which, if the hearts of men are opened by a spiritual life, they can rise to the understanding of this great mystery, when looking upon that sacred cup, souls become mature enough to know the mystery of the Christ-Ego, or I that can develop in each human being. In order to receive the Christ ‘Ego,’ or ‘I’ in contemplation upon the Holy Grail one needs to understand that which has here happened as a fact and to take it as a fact. And when mankind has been prepared more and more, the Christ-Ego will develop in them more and more; they will understand in how far the Christ- Ego is the great ideal for humanity. And when humanity has understood this, it will begin to perceive that the certainty of life proceeds from the death upon the Cross of Golgotha. The Christians of the future will understand Christ differently—Christ Who underwent death. They will understand Him as the triumphant Risen One of the Apocalypse, as the Uplifted One Who raises all mankind with Him to the right hand of the Father.

Thus the symbol of Easter points us to the perspective of the whole future of the earth and it shows us that the whole of Christendom will one day from being a Saul become a Paul.

Christ made Himself known to Moses in the material fire on Sinai; He will appear to us in a spiritualised fire. He is with us all the days, even to the end of the world, and He will appear in the spiritual fire to those who have cleared their vision through the Event of Golgotha. They will see Him. Formerly they saw Him differently, but in future they will see the true form of Christ in a spiritual fire. Through Christ having worked down so deeply, even into the physical bony structure or skeleton, He has so purified this physical matter that it will never become what the Enlightened Ones of the East supposed it would, when they thought that the Enlightened One of the future would not find human beings on the earth who would understand Him. Christ was led to Golgotha in order that the fire should not become dross, but that it should be spiritualised. Human beings will understand the fire when they themselves are spiritualised; and thus Maitreya Buddha will find understanding, and humanity will understand the primeval Cosmic Wisdom.

Whither will Kashiapa’s remains be taken and through what will they be rescued? We are told that Maitreya Buddha will touch him with his right hand and he will be withdrawn in a fire.

In Paul’s fire we have to see the spiritualised fire in which will be hidden the body of Kashiapa. In this fire will be hidden all the greatness of the future. We shall see it stream into that which man will become through the Mystery of Golgotha.

A Redeemer meets us in the symbol of the Easter bells; they give us to understand how man ascends or swings himself up to spiritual heights through the Mystery of Easter.

Faust became blind, yet clear light shone within, so that he could work upwards into the worlds where man’s more noble principles will be saved, in the purified spirituality which has flowed into humanity from the Event of Golgotha.