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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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The Christian Mystery
GA 97

XIII. The Promised Spirit of Truth

8 March 1907, Cologne

The truths of religious documents come from the depths of wisdom. Many people will say, however: ‘You give us something complicated; we want the gospel to be simple and naive. Great truths should not be complicated.’ In a way they are right, but not only simple but also wisdom-filled thinking must be able to find the most sublime truths. The point of view from which we consider these things cannot be high enough. In future we must let go more and more of the desire for ease and enter into the most profound insights with great seriousness.

Today we want to gain understanding of the promised spirit of truth. These words concern a secret initiation.

‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments,’ the Christ said. ‘Love’ here refers to the trust that exists between teacher and pupils in an esoteric relationship. The most profound secrets of the soul are passed from one individual to another, in a most intimate way. The words of the Bible we want to consider today are:

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled! You believe in god, you also believe in me. There are many rooms in my father's house ...’

‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask this father and he will give you another counsellor to be with you in all eternity—the spirit of truth whom the world has not the power to receive; for it does not see him and does not recognize him. You, however, recognize him; for he remains with you and shall be in you.’

‘He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me. And someone who loves me shall be loved by my father, and I shall love him and make myself apparent to him. Judas, not Iscariot, said to him: Lord, what has happened, that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world? Jesus answered and said to him: Someone who loves me will keep my word; and my father shall love him, and we shall go to him and make our abode with him.’108Bible quotes from John 14: 1-2, 15-17, 21-23.

‘Father’—that is the inmost power of soul. It is to be revealed to the close disciples. Judas asked: ‘What has happened, that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?’ Judas thus said openly that something was to be revealed to the close disciples.

Jesus said: ‘We shall make our abode with the father.’ This was the most important part of the pouring out of the spirit that began with the words: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled!’ The Christ was going to prepare the abode for his close disciples: In my father's house there are many dwelling places.’

Let us gain insight into these words. The degree of conscious awareness which man has gained will never be lost again. One has to get out of the habit of any other idea. ‘Giving oneself up to the cosmic mind’ often means people wallowing in this, believing this to be redemption. There is no such cosmic mind and there never will be. The ability to say ‘I’ is now achieved by man. The the more he says ‘I’ and works out of the I to purify his three lower bodies—the astral body, ether body and physical body—the more strongly will he develop his I and develop into the future. A human being can thus become consciously selfless, because he wills it. The time will come when all human beings will have reached the summit of I-development. And yet they can selflessly take up the spirit of the community. We are sitting in this room together, and the common spirit in it is like a point from which everything radiates out together. But this common spirit may also radiate freely from every individual heart and move through this room. Let us remember how the godhead is reflected in the world. It has made the sacrifice and poured all its life into its mirror image. Let us now imagine that we, too, can pour our life into countless mirror images, so that each individual mirror image would say: I and my origin are one. That is how all human beings once came forth from the keeping of the godhead like mirror images of the godhead. They finally become empty ‘I’s, with astral body, ether body and physical body transformed, and they enter into the world of the spirit and utter the deepest secret of their being: ‘I and my father are one!’109John 10: 30. The animal-humans of Lemurian times could never become spiritual by themselves, but only by taking up the divine droplets. At the end of their evolution, cleansed and purified, they will be able to say: ‘I and my father are one.’

We are gazing back into far distant times. There was still a great deal of volcanic activity on earth in Lemurian times. The creatures that lived then were very different. That was the time when man first received the element he was to develop as soul. Going back even further we see soul nature above and bodily nature below still as one nature. The two were united in god's keeping. Then the physical stream down below was left to itself and developed into the animal-man ofLemurian times. The upper developed in soul and spirit. The body had to be prepared first down below, so that it might receive the soul coming from above.

The spirit that prevailed in the common origin of both souls and bodies is the father spirit; that is the father.

The spirit that prevailed down below in the physical realm, whilst the spiritual went its separate ways up above, is the son spirit; that is the son.

And the spirit that prevailed up above in the soul sphere until it was able to descend into the physical realm, that is the holy spirit.

In Lemurian times, when the soul first incarnated, there was a pouring out of the spirit: ‘And god breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.’110Genesis 2: 7. That was the first outpouring of the spirit, an unconscious outpouring. Man was to live in a dream for a long time yet. It was only in the second half of the Atlantean period that he gained the ability to calculate, to think logically, and to observe the world outside correctly in its relationships. In the first half of the Atlantean period, a human being would see another human being as a coloured cloud. The cloud would be reddish brown if the other individual was not sympathetic, was an enemy. A violet reddish cloud indicated a sympathetic individual, a friend. Other things would also be perceived like this. If a golden yellow cloud rose like a kind of misty form between the astral and the physical, this indicated that a useful metal was to be found here. A dull, bluish red cloud with strange lines to delimit it, of the kind which only a mineral can have, indicated a useless metal. Human beings gradually separated out more and more; limiting their feelings by having a skin, and external, physical sensory perception developed. In earliest Atlantean times, human beings had perceptions like those a fish or a snail has today—not a turtle or a crocodile. The new sensory perception developed when man began to breathe with a lung. The production of blood and inner I-activity were also connected with this.

A residual effect of the I on the blood can still be seen today if we go pale with fear or red with shame. This still shows direct I-activity. It is something that has remained from a time when the I had a powerful influence on the blood. Today the inner power of the I only shows itself in gestures, in going red or turning pale. Today people can gesticulate with their hands in their enthusiasm; then the blood was able to create organs out of the body under the I-impulse. The fingers developed in this way, for example. By the end of the Atlantean period, the human beings of that time were beginning to be similar to the human beings of today.

Blood bonds were stronger in the past than they are now. The bond between blood relatives was much stronger. An example would be the following. Two modern authors have given an excellent picture of the rural population, but in different ways. Anzengruber's111Anzengruber, Ludwig (1839–1889), Austrian playwright and novelist. Rudolf Steiner wrote an obituary on him, published in Steiner R. Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Literatur, 1884–1902. (GA 32) S. 16 ff.. figures are clear-cut, almost as if cut in stone. Rosegger112Rosegger, Peter (1843–1918), Austrian poet and novelist takes many individual outward traits and combines them in a whole. He would make notes as he observed people and use these in his writing. Rosegger was wondering how Anzengruber was able to write about country people, seeing that he had never lived among them and observed them. Anzengruber told him the very reason that he was able to present the people so well was that he did not know them. All his forebears had been farming people, and so the ways of fanners were in his blood. He wrote about farmers his forebears had known, and he did so out of the blood.113 ‘Went for a walk with Anzengruber on another occasion ... We talked about writing and the subjects one had for writing. I said he must have lived in Upper Bavaria himself or at least had a great deal to do with the fanning people there. His figures were very reminiscent of this type of people. He put his pince-nez on his sharply curved nose and said: “Upper Bavaria? No, I have never really met those country people. At least not enough to know them.” Realizing that this surprised me: “I don't need that. Just need to see one of them from a distance, hear a few everyday words, observe perhaps one of his gestures—and I know that fellow inside out!”—“Strange!”—“My dear fellow,” he said, “you know it yourself. All outer occasions and situations are just the midwives. The writer must give birth himself. Farmers—ha! I'm a city man myself! But if as you say, I write better about country people than about city people, this is probably in the blood. Or in some bone or other, like inherited gout. My forefathers on my father's side were farmers in Upper Austria. And well, such things are still lurking about.”’ Gesammelte Werke von Peter Rosegger, Leipzig 1914–1916, 36. Band, Gute Kameraden—Persönliche Erinnerungen an berühmte und eigenartige Zeitgenossen, Seite 145 f

In earlier times, humanity consisted of many small groups. Reading Tacitus' Germania.114Tacitus, Cornelius (c. 55–166), greatest Roman historian. The second part of his work De origine et situ Germanorum, chapters 28-46, gives descriptions of the individual Germanic tribes. one finds numerous small tribes listed who were related by blood and to whom the blood relationship meant something special. In the days of the Old Testament patriarchs, marriage was always within the tribe, with the same blood in everyone's veins. The memory of the descendants would then go right back to the times of their ancestors. The descendant would remember his ancestors the way we remember our own childhood. 900 years after Adam his descendants still remembered the events of his life. This explains why people are said to have lived to such great ages in the Bible.115E.g. Genesis, Chapter 5. For as far back as a person could then remember, the I that went through generations would be called ‘Adam’ for example. A common I lived in the tribe, and it lived in the blood. Because of this the shedding of blood called for blood revenge. And the whole tribe would revenge itself for the blood of a single member by means of blood revenge.

Close marriage gradually changed and finally became distant marriage. The tribes became international. The principle of pure humanity gained the upper hand.

The son principle was active in the physical realm, in the love among relations that was based on blood. But the soul became progressively more individual, so that the blood was moving in wider and wider groups, getting further away from the tribal community.

All the ancient systems of government were based on the principle of blood relationship. The ten commandments of the Jews are tribal laws. Something connected with the Jewish people was not yet connected with the whole of mankind. Then the son spirit came to earth in the Christ and his blood flowed. Blood which until then had only created close bonds was poured out. This brought it about that all close bonds flowed out into a brotherhood for all humanity. The narrowly limited feeling of self where it was not yet possible to say: ‘Anyone who does not leave father and mother, wife, children, brother and sister and also his personal life cannot be my disciple’—such self-seeking had to run out from the redeemer's wounds. The capacity for love was gained as the blood of the Christ flowed, overcoming blood-brotherhood, tribe and nation. If we had been able to collect drops of blood by the cross, we would in all truth and reality have had the substance that thus transforms human beings. The goal is for human beings to find their relationship to all human beings, with love not only between brother and sister, but between human being and human being. The physical blood that flowed from the wounds of the Christ is the embodiment of the redeemer principle. This blood is a significant redemption symbol.

Humanity is to find the spirit again, fully and wholly. They had it once, but only dimly so, in a nebulous way. Later it assumed the form in which human beings see the world today. But they only see this world, only one side of things. With this view, man is cut off from the life of the spirit as if by a veil. He now needs to be taken beyond individual conscious awareness, which has made him an I, and gain awareness of the whole world again. This is why the blood of Christ was scattered—from narrow tribe to the wide world. The cross made it possible to achieve this. From the cross, the blood flowed into the whole of humanity. At the same time, however, the cross made the I grow more and more narrow and individual. All this has come to us through Christianity.

But when people are thus left to their own resources, with no tribe to give them context and with self-awareness enhanced, egotism must also increase. Christ Jesus foresaw this. He saw the coming of materialism, and made Christianity a bulwark against it.

In antiquity, everything rested on blood-brotherhood. This is clear from ancestor worship. Many legends were based on the figure of an ancestral hero such as Theseus116King ofThebes, hero who killed the Minotaur. or Cadmus.117A Phoenician prince who killed a dragon and sowed its teeth. An army grew from them who fought one another until only five survived. Cadmus founded the city of Thebes with them. The principle governed both laws and commandments. Then, however, external institutions began to determine the life of the community. This only developed with the spread of Christianity, however. What do people see in the international idea today? A principle that is more powerful than the power of the state. The great powers that rule the world today are international. They are called money, transport, industry, and so on. Nothing to do with the blood-brotherhood of old any more. The other side of the coin is materialism. Egotistical thinking lives in a machine. How different were the ways in which ancient Greeks saw their god Zeus, remembering that the father principle lay at the base of all. Where do we find anything divine in public life today? Machines, railways and so on all serve egotistical aims. This will come to play a special role in the future. In the war of all against all it will go to extremes.

The Christ did create the bond that will unite all humanity, but something else has to come together with this act of redemption. Inner responses from person to person live in people who feel drawn to the Christ. His deed is the great bond that can unite the spirit again with the physical. Today people still control the physical world to serve their egotism. One day they must use it to serve the spirit. The spirit must unite with the son so that the two, united, become one with the father.

The Christ said: ‘No one comes to the father except through me.’118John 14: 6. Each should say: ‘I am as the branch on the vine.’119John 15: 5 (variant). Then the Christ overcomes the egotism in human organisms. The father spirit, the spirit of common origin, must enter into our individual selves, and then the I works on the father principle. Every I then builds its own house, and yet they are all united in the Christ principle. ‘There are many rooms in my father's house’,108Bible quotes from John 14: 1-2, 15-17, 21-23. said the Christ. These are the dwellings which human I-natures build for themselves. The Christ must, however, prepare the place, the dwelling place. And for this it is necessary for the spirit to come that unites human beings—the spirit of truth.

It is the purpose of theosophy to teach human beings the things they have in common; it is to bring the higher wisdom, the spirit of truth. People differ in their opinions for as long as they do not yet have the highest knowledge. The gnostics called mysticism ‘mathesis’, for in mathematics none can say he differs from someone else in his opinions. Two scientists can never disagree over a mathematical axiom. There it is not a matter of human wishes. For the great wisdom we must first rid ourselves of our wishes. Only those who seek to study the spirit of truth, wholly free from personal wishes, will be ripe to receive it. The highest knowledge unites human beings, there is no opinion or notion. The spirit of truth must shine upon people. Then they may indeed be dispersed through different dwelling places, but the spirit of truth will unite them. The common spirit must govern the truth held by individual I-natures if the house which the I builds for itself is to fit in with the spiritual principle. The Christ promised his disciples the spirit of truth at Pentecost. Then the disciples spoke in different tongues, then all nations learned to understand one another. Egotism may indeed wax more and more, but every human I will have the spirit of community if it partakes in the spirit of truth. Those who wish to achieve this must live in the spirit of John's gospel. That is true theosophy. Just as all plants turn to the sun as they grow, wherever they may be, so all I-natures will turn to the sun of the spirit, the spiritual light of truth.