The Christ Impulse and the Development of the Ego-Consciousness
III. The Entrance of the Christ-Being into the Evolution of Humanity
Berlin, 2nd February, 1910
In each of the Gospels light is thrown on the great Mystery of Golgotha from one particular aspect. I have drawn your attention to the fact that the secret of Golgotha, the secret of Christ Jesus, is presented by the Gospel of St. Mark from the aspect of the great Cosmological connections, while that of St. Matthew shows how this secret was developed out of one special people, the ancient Hebrews. We have seen how that people had to develop little by little, from generation to generation, from the time of Abraham, so as to bring forth later, as their flower, the Human Being in whom could be contained the individuality of Zarathustra or Zoroaster. We have seen how all the qualities peculiar to the Hebrew people — qualities which had to become more and more intensified in the course of their descent from one generation to the next — were based entirely on the principle of physical inheritance. We were thus able to describe how the character of the mission of the old Hebrew people differed from that of others in that it had to inherit certain qualities, which could only be attained by physical inheritance, and which had gained in intensity from the oldest generations of the time of Abraham down to Jesus. The Gospel of St. Matthew contains many other secrets, as indeed do all the Gospels. Although in the course of this Winter we shall open up a few aspects and perspective glimpses into the Gospels, these can at the most only stimulate the understanding. For in order to understand the Gospels completely a never-ending spiritual work is necessary. Light shall be thrown to-day from one particular side on the Gospel of St. Matthew and it will be shown how the lessons to be drawn there from can be usefully applied by those who now form part of the anthroposophical spiritual stream.
If we look back at much of what we have learnt as the years went by, we shall see that the development of humanity, as described by Spiritual Science, passes through various crises; it reaches an important point, then continues for a while along a more level road, then comes another important point, and so on. We have often emphasised that one such important point in the development of humanity on earth was reached when the Christ-Impulse was given at the beginning of our era, according to the modern reckoning of time. When we look back beyond the Atlantean into the Lemurian age, we come to that point in time when the first rudiment of the human ego was implanted in the human being. To understand such an event, the words must be taken very accurately. For instance, we must make a clear distinction between the statement that in the Lemurian epoch ‘the first rudiments of the ego were implanted in the human being,’ and that other, that at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha began the period, the age, in which humanity became conscious of this ego. ‘There is a great difference between having the ego only in rudiment, as something working in man, and the knowledge that one possesses it. A sharp distinction must be made between these things, for otherwise it is impossible to understand the true laws of evolution.
We know that the implanting of the ego in man is part of the collective development of the earth. The earth passed through the Saturn, Sun and Moon ages, and then only did it become the structure it is to-day. On Saturn the germ of the physical body was laid, on the Sun that of the etheric body, on the Moon that of the astral body, and the germ of the ego was added on the earth; this germ was placed in the development of the earth in the Lemurian epoch. Now something else also took place in the Lemurian epoch, something that we have always called the ‘luciferic influence’. During that epoch man was endowed with the germ of the ego, which in the course of the subsequent earth-periods was destined to attain greater and greater perfection, and at the same time his astral body was ‘inoculated’ with the luciferic influence. The whole nature of man was altered by this influence, even to the forces and elements in his etheric and physical bodies. Thus in the Lemurian epoch man became an entirely different being from what he would have been if there had been no luciferic influence. We see him altering in two respects: we see him becoming an ego-being — and we see him becoming a being in whom the luciferic principle is hidden. Even if the luciferic principle had not set in, the ego-influence would still have entered man.
Now what took place in the human being as a result of the luciferic influence having made itself felt in the Lemurian epoch?
When such a circumstance is described from one aspect or another, I beg you not to consider that as all that can be said on the subject; for this may well be only one point of view, selected for the moment. In the course of years a great deal has been said as to what the luciferic influence brought about in the evolution of man; it is all part of the same, but we cannot repeat it all now. To-day we will select one point of view only, that describes one aspect; that is, that as a result of the luciferic influence man reached a certain point in evolution earlier than was intended, earlier than the wise guidance of the world had predestined for him. The luciferic influence caused him to descend more deeply into the three principles which came over from the former embodiments of the earth, (the astral body, etheric body and physical body) and he has become more entangled in them than would have been the case if no such influence had prevailed. Man, with his ego, would have remained nearer to the spiritual worlds, he would have continued for a longer time to feel himself, through his ego, a member of the spiritual world, if the luciferic influence had not caused that ego to descend more deeply into the three principles. We may say that as a result of the luciferic influence, man descended more deeply on to the earth in the Lemurian epoch. We can indicate the time when he would have descended thus far to the earth or into physical matter had there been no luciferic influence; it would have been in the middle of the Atlantean epoch. If no luciferic influence had come about man would have been obliged to wait till then for his descent to earth; but that influence caused him to descend earlier. It enabled him to become a free being, able to act in accordance with his own impulses. He would otherwise have remained entirely dependent upon the spiritual world until the middle of the Atlantis epoch; neither would he have been able before then to distinguish between good and evil, nor act from his own impulses. He could only have acted from psychic influences, that is to say, from forces implanted in his soul by Divine Spiritual Beings. The luciferic beings made it possible for him to begin at an earlier stage to decide between good and evil; not simply to allow himself to be guided by the laws of the divine-spiritual world Order, but to decide for himself, creating a kind of law and order for himself. This fact is expressed in a very profound way in the description of ‘the Fall’ which represents in a wonderful imaginative picture, what I have just stated. The Old Testament describes this by saying that Divine Spiritual Beings implanted into man a living soul. ‘Now if this living soul had merely remained as it was, man would have had to wait until later on, until the Divine Spiritual Beings had brought the living soul, or, in other words, the yet undeveloped ego, to the degree of maturity able to make distinctions. But now there came the luciferic influences, represented in the Bible as ‘the Serpent.’ Through these, man himself became able to distinguish between good and evil, instead of merely instinctively following the inpourings of Jehovah or the Elohim. From a being who till that time had been guided and led by Divine Spiritual Beings, man thus became a being able to decide for himself. The Bible clearly shows that self-decision was brought to man by the Serpent, or in other words, by the luciferic beings. We then hear the words ring forth, words spoken from the side of the gods: ‘Man has become as one of us!’ Or, if we wish to put this into plainer words: — ‘Man has acquired something through the luciferic influence which has till now been reserved only for the gods. It was given to the gods to decide between good and evil, the beings dependent upon them had no such decisions to make.’
As a result of the luciferic influence man now became a being capable of making distinctions; that is, he became a being who developed divine qualities within him prematurely. In this way and through this influence, something entered human nature which would otherwise have been withheld from his evolution till the middle of the Atlantean epoch. As you can well imagine, man would have been quite different if this descent into matter had not taken place till then; his soul would have been more mature for the descent. He would have descended into matter as a better, a riper, man. He would have brought quite different qualities into his physical, etheric and astral bodies and would have possessed a very different power of distinguishing between good and evil. Because man was already a being able to distinguish between good and evil from the Lemurian epoch to the middle of the Atlantean epoch, he made himself worse than he would otherwise have been; he entered a state of lesser perfection. He would otherwise have spent all the intervening time in a much more spiritual way; but as it was, he passed through it more materially. The effect of this was that if he had received in the middle of the Atlantean epoch what the gods had intended him to have, he would have fallen utterly and completely.
What was it that would have been given to man at the middle of the Atlantean epoch, if he had continued to be guided and directed till that time, instinctively, as it were, by Divine Spiritual Beings?
He would have then received that which, the luciferic influence having in the meanwhile intervened, was afterwards given to him through the Mystery of Golgotha. The Christ-Impulse would have been given to man at the middle of the Atlantean epoch. Now, however, on account of the luciferic influence, man had to wait as long a time for the Christ-Impulse as had elapsed between the intervention of the luciferic influence and the middle of the Atlantean epoch. There was the same span of time between the entrance of Lucifer and the middle of the Atlantean epoch, as between that time and. the arrival of the Christ-Impulse. Thus, through man's having acquired a likeness to the gods before he was meant to do so, we have to describe a delay of the Christ-Impulse. For before that could come man had to go through the Earth-Karma due to him on account of the evil that had entered the earth through the luciferic impulse. He had to wait, not only till that influence had rendered him able to distinguish between good and evil, but until, in the course of the earth's development, all the consequences of the luciferic influence had come. He had to wait for these, for then only could the Christ-Impulse descend to the earth. In accordance with the wise guidance of the earth, man was not intended to escape for ever from what was to come to him through the luciferic influence, but it would not have come upon him till the middle of the Atlantean epoch. It must have come in any case; but it would certainly not have come in the same form. Not only did man acquire from Lucifer the power of free decision in everything connected with spiritual things, but also the capacity of enthusiasm for what is good and noble, wise and great. As human beings, we are not only able coldly to distinguish between good and evil, but also to feel a warm glow for the noble, good and wise. That is because something was carried into our astral body, which, if it had only reached man in the middle of the Atlantean epoch, would have been taken into the ego, that ego which is capable of judgment. All the feeling, the idealism and enthusiasm for what is good, for high ideals, we owe to the circumstance that something entered our astral body before we had acquired the likeness to God in our ego, before the acceptance of the Christ had taken place therein. The essential point is that this likeness to God, the possibility of finding the good within ourselves, had to come to man. If the luciferic influence had not come, this impulse would have come in the middle of the Atlantean period, but as things are it came in the age in which Christ Jesus Himself worked.
Thus through the Christ-Impulse the consciousness came to man that in his ego he had something of Divine substance and of Divine nature. The thought that man can take in the Divine in his Ego-being and that this Divine part can be active therein and distinguish between good and evil, underlies all the deeper sayings of the New Testament. We may therefore say that with the reception into the inner nature of man of the Christ-Impulse, it was made possible for man to say: ‘I must be my own guide for the knowledge of my existence and the distinction between good and evil.’
Now if we look back to the pre-Christian time, we must say that when the impulse enabling man to distinguish between good and evil was not yet present, such distinction, and the judgment of man as to the good, the beautiful and the true, was necessarily meagre; it did not actually proceed from his inner being. He could not, before the Christ-Impulse, have distinguished in his inner being between good and evil. In the pre-Christian time the decision as to the really Good, Beautiful and True could only be accomplished through certain beings — such as the Bodhisattvas — reaching up as time went on with a part of their being into the divine-spiritual worlds; the distinction between good and evil was therefore not made from out of man's inner being, but in the divine worlds. Through their companionship with divine spiritual beings these Guides acquired it and it flowed from them into the souls of men, as though by suggestion. Had it not been for those guides, men could only have made feeble distinctions between good and evil in those days. If these guides had depended on their own hearts alone, they could not have done this either; but because they descended into those depths of the soul which were not yet accessible to man and entered in their ego-being into the kingdoms of heaven, they received the impulse needed by man to help him to decide between good and evil at the time of his need, that the good might nevertheless be implanted in the earth by way of preparation. Thus, before the time of Christ, man was a being still insufficiently prepared to acquire the likeness to God. On this account, since the Lemurian epoch, everything done by man was done less well than would otherwise have been the case. This applies above all to what regards himself. His astral, etheric and physical bodies, which but for the luciferic influence would have remained more spiritual, were, through that influence, less well formed, made more material. That was the reason of all the evil which developed in the life of man as time went on. In the course of a very long time have these evils developed.
From the Lemurian epoch to the Mystery of Golgotha they developed in the physical, etheric and astral bodies. In the astral body a high degree of egotism was developed; in the etheric body the possibility of mistaken judgment and the possibility of lying. If man had remained under the influence of divine-spiritual beings, acting instinctively in accordance with their impulses, he would not to-day, when he desires knowledge of the world around him, be able to fall into error, nor could he be led into untruth. Thus did the tendency to lying and the danger of error find place in the development of man; and since the spiritual is always the origin of the physical, and because the luciferic influence and its consequences ate their way more and more deeply into the etheric body during incarnation after incarnation, the possibility of disease entered the physical body. Illness is the evil that entered the physical body through that development; but something of still greater significance has come. If man had not been subject to these influences, if he had not allowed them to work upon him, he would never have supposed that anything more than a change of life takes place when the physical body falls away from us; consciousness of death would not have come to him. If man had descended less deeply into matter and had kept hold of the threads uniting him with the divine-spiritual, he would have been aware that when the physical sheath is laid aside, a new form of existence begins; but he would never have looked upon that as a loss, as the end of an existence he had grown fond of. Everything in evolution would have taken on a different aspect.
Man descended more deeply into matter, he thus made himself more free and independent, but he also thereby made his own development more limited than it would have been.
Everything lacking in man will be made good by the Christ-Impulse; but one must not expect that to be done in a short time nor even in a comparatively short time. A very long time elapsed between the Lemurian epoch and the Mystery of Golgotha. Slowly and gradually, during incarnation after incarnation, came egotism, error and lying, disease and the realisation of death. Man is being led back into the spiritual world, so to speak, with the qualities he has acquired “from below.” The re-ascent will be a quicker progress than the descent; but it cannot be expected that in one or two incarnations man will be enabled, through what he can take in of the Christ-Impulse, to overcome selfishness and to heal his etheric body to such an extent that all danger of lying and error is at an end, still less can he be expected to be able to work healingly on his physical body. All this must go on slowly and gradually; but it is going on. Just as man has been led down into all those qualities by the luciferic impulse, so will he be led up out of them by the Christ-Impulse. Selfishness will be transmuted into selflessness, lying into truthfulness, the danger of error into absolute certainty and true judgment. Illness will become the foundation for more complete health; the illness we have overcome will be the germs of greater good-health; and when we have gradually learnt to understand death in such a way that the Death at Golgotha works as a prototype of death in our own soul, death will then have lost its sting. Man will then know why from time to time he must lay aside his physical covering, in order to rise higher and higher in the course of his embodiments. In particular, the Christ-Impulse brought with it the impulse to make good something connected with man's knowledge and observation, with his knowledge of the world.
We have said that man has become more entangled in matter, less perfect in his three bodies than he would have been if there had been no luciferic influence; this caused him to be possessed by an urge to sink more deeply into material existence, to soak himself more completely in mere matter. This refers more especially to his knowledge, but even that only came about slowly and gradually. Man did not, as soon as the luciferic influence made itself felt, immediately sink down so deeply as to close all the doors into the spiritual world behind him. He still remained, for a long time, in connection with the spiritual world from which he grew forth and with which he would have remained in connection with his whole being, if the luciferic influence had not come. He long remained a participator in it; for a long time he continued to feel that his finer, more spiritual instincts were guided by the threads from the divine-spiritual world. For a long time he still continued to feel that his impulse was not a merely human one, it was as though the Gods had been at work behind it. That was more particularly the case in more ancient times. Man was driven slowly into matter and he thus gradually lost the consciousness of the divine.
Those spiritual movements and world-conceptions of humanity which had knowledge of these things, have also hinted at this. They said: There was once upon a time an age in which man was driven some way into material existence by the luciferic influence — though not so far as to prevent the divine influence from still having a powerful effect upon him. In the early ages of man's development this was known as the ‘Golden Age.’ This is no fanciful conception: ‘Golden Age’ is simply the expression used by those men of olden times who still had an inkling that there had been something like a primeval age of humanity, such as has just been described. This Golden Age, known to Eastern philosophy as Krita-Yuga, lasted, comparatively speaking, much longer than the Ages we still have to describe. After the Golden Age came the so-called ‘Silver Age.’ Man was pushed further down into the physical world; but the process went on slowly and gradually. Even then the doors of the spiritual world were not yet completely closed. Man still had intense moments in which, in a dreamy sort of clairvoyance, he saw the Gods at work behind his instincts. Man could no longer be called a companion of the Gods in this Silver Age, but he could still perceive them standing behind him. Eastern philosophy calls this age, Treta-Yuga. Then came an Age which extends into our own Post-Atlantean period; its last stragglers extended into historical times when there still were people gifted with the old dream-like, twilight consciousness. The consciousness of a spiritual world from which man had come forth, still existed; though only as a kind of memory remaining over from former incarnations. It was just as when we now remember our own childhood, our youth, and our present age. In childhood we had direct experience of our childish happenings; in like manner man still experienced in Treta Yuga in a direct way, the impulse of a divine-spiritual world. In the Age following on that, known as the ‘Bronze Age,’ what man had was more like a memory. It might be compared with the way a grown man contemplates his childhood; for we say: ‘I experienced my childhood; it was not a dream!’ That was like the state of things in the Third Age. Men then knew: ‘In earlier ages we had experience of communion with the Gods; that is now nothing but a memory!’ I have explained at some length how in the Old-Indian period of civilisation the memory of the Atlantean epoch worked retrospectively, thus enabling the holy Rishis to reveal their great divine teachings. This Bronze Age is known in Eastern philosophy as Dvapara-Yuga. That is followed by an Age in which all memory of the divine-spiritual world is lost, when man, with his knowledge and perception, is entirely given up to the physical world. That age began about the year 3101 B.C. In Eastern philosophy it is known as Kali-Yuga, ‘the dark age’; because man had then lost all connection with the spiritual world and become completely one with the physical world. I wish expressly to note that I am now using these expressions for smaller divisions of time, but they can also be applied to larger spans. We are now speaking of the divisions of time corresponding to the smaller ages, and we make Kali-Yuga begin, as does Indian philosophy, with the year 3101 before our era. The Age was then being prepared in which men were taught only to see that which conceals the divine-spiritual world as by a veil, by a covering; when they only perceived the external physical. At the beginning of Kali-Yuga there were still many who could either see or recollect the divine-spiritual world, but for normal humanity the time set in when they could only see the physical world of nature.
That was the descent of man to Kali-Yuga. It was the time of deepest descent. Into that had to come the impulse for re-ascent. That is why this impulse, the Christ-Impulse, had to come during the Kali-Yuga, in the “dark” age.
This Christ-Impulse was prepared for by the religion of Jahve or Jehovah; for this religion taught man how little reliance could be placed on his former decisions. During the time which extended from the old Lemurian epoch to the Revelation on Mount Sinai, we have that age in which man was given the power to choose good or evil, while at the same time he became liable to err in judging between them, and became more and more likely to bring on earth that which is known as ‘Sin.’ Sin then ate its way into the life of the earth. Man became ‘like to the Gods,’ but in return for this he acquired qualities which were in nowise ripe for the likeness to God. What had to happen then? First of all man had to be shown what the Godhead expected from him if he was to become a self-conscious ego. This was shown to him by the announcement made on Mount Sinai in the ‘Ten Commandments.’ The people then heard proclaimed through Moses: ‘The good and evil thou hast already developed are not sufficient. I will show thee how these Commandments should sound if thou hadst not descended, and in return for thy defective qualities, received the power of judging between good and evil.’ The Decalogue, the law, given to man on Sinai, was given to man as he had then become; so that out of the spiritual worlds man heard sounding forth that which was right, in contrast to what he had insufficiently developed. The Ten Commandments stand forth as a law of iron, as a torch, showing man what he had not become. He had to submit himself to that law, with all he had become. Man could not at first have submitted to the Ten Commandments, because he had become lacking in decision, lacking in self-guidance. Therefore, they had to be given to him by one who was inspired, — by Moses — that is to say, they were given him from above by Divine administration. They were, however, given in such a way that they were intended for the ego. They told man how an ego must act, if it is to attain the goal of humanity.
In the lecture on The Ten Commandments of Moses (16th November, 1908) this is traced out in detail. Therein is first shown the right attitude of the ego to the spiritual worlds; this is contained in the first three Commandments. The next ones refer to man's conduct towards his fellow-men in act and deed, and the last Commandments refer to the control of his feelings and sensations. The Ten Commandments give instructions for the education of the ego. This was the preparation by means of which the ego was to learn in its most inward being how to give itself the impulse after having descended into Kali-Yuga, into the age of darkness. At first man was to be given the Law from above. The Law of one's own ego could however, only become what it was to be, when that ego takes into itself the great Prototype of Golgotha, saying: ‘If I take into my soul such thinking as was thought by the Being Who offered Himself in sacrifice on Golgotha, — if I take into myself such feelings as were felt by the Being Who offered Himself as sacrifice on Golgotha, — if I take into myself such willing as was willed by the Being Who offered Himself in sacrifice on Golgotha, then will my being come to a decision within itself to develop increasingly a likeness to God, it will then no longer have to follow the Outer Law, the Ten Commandments, but an inner impulse, its own Law.’
Thus Moses first put before mankind the Law, but Christ gave them the Prototype and the strength which the soul ought to take in, whereby to develop itself. Hence all the spiritual impulses were to be taken into the innermost of the soul, even into the ego itself; they were all to be deepened into inwardness through Christ Jesus. That could only take place if men thought as follows, and Christ Jesus radiated it forth as an impulse: —
Man has descended into the dark age, into Kali-Yuga. Before that dark age men saw into the spiritual world with a dim twilight consciousness. They were then able, not merely to make use of the instruments of the physical body, but when they observed the physical world through their eyes, ears and so on, they perceived the spiritual surrounding all things, flowers, plants, stones, etc. As regards this observation of the spiritual, men were rich in those days. In the older times the spirit was bestowed on them; whereas, in the dark age, as regards the spirit they were reduced to beggary; for the spirit was no longer bestowed upon them. They had become poor in spirit. Kali-Yuga came upon them more and more, that time when men had to say to themselves: In the old days things were different, the spirit was then bestowed on men; they were able to look up into a spiritual world, they were then rich in spirit; the kingdoms of heaven were then accessible to them. Now men are pressed down into the physical world. The gates of the spiritual world are closed to human senses, and no view of the kingdoms of heaven is open to the physical body. But Christ was able to say: ‘Lay hold of the ego, where it must now be apprehended! Then will the Kingdoms of Heaven draw near to you. They will arise within your own ego. Though the spiritual light may be concealed from your eyes behind the external light which is perceptible to the senses, though spiritual sound may be concealed from your ears behind physical sound; yet, when Christ Himself shall raise you, ye shall find the Kingdoms of Heaven within you! ‘Unhappy were those who had become poor in the dark age, who had become beggars as regard the spirit. They can now become blessed, the impulse having been given through which Christ is able, from the spiritual world, from the Kingdoms of Heaven, to penetrate into the very ego or ‘ I ’ of man. Therefore, with respect to man's poverty of spirit, the highest Christian proclamation is this: ‘From henceforward, blessed are they who are beggars in spirit, who no longer receive the spirit bestowed upon them according to the old conception. Henceforth, they can be blessed if they take in the Christ-Impulse; for, through the developing of their ego, the Kingdoms of Heaven will be within them.’
Let us pass on to the etheric body, which is the builder of the physical body. What has entered that? Illness only expresses itself in the physical body. The trouble itself is first in the etheric body; that then expresses itself in a subsequent incarnation as illness in the physical body. ‘Now, however, something has entered the world,’ so Christ Jesus had to say, ‘whereby an impulse may arise within gradually to clear away the auction from the etheric body. Blessed may those now be who have an affliction attached to their etheric bodies if they take up the Christ-Impulse; for they have something within them which lifts them above the suffering and teaches them to find inner comfort, the inner paraclete, the inner comforter!’
Now what had the astral body become through the luciferic influence? It had become less perfect than before. It had been given the possibility which we have described as a good quality: of being able to be aglow for what is great and good, to feel enthusiasm for the sublime treasures of the true, the beautiful and the good. On the other hand it has to purchase this at the price of feeling sympathy or antipathy for the treasures of the earth. But a man who takes up the Christ-Impulse learns to control the astral body, which stirs his physical body to opposition to the treasures of the earth, he learns to bring it under the power of the spirit; and in so doing he becomes happy or blessed. ‘Blessed will he be who makes his astral body indifferent to the things of earth; which will thereby fall to his share. For when he is all afire for the things of earth, feeling both emotion and sympathy or antipathy for them, he casts away that which they might become to him; but when the astral body is brought under the power of the spiritual and he grows indifferent to the things of earth, the Kingdom of Earth is added as a reward.’
Let us now ascend to that which works as sentient soul within the astral body. Herein we still possess in a dim sort of way, a ruling ego, an ego which has not yet wholly emerged and hence is still developing the most egotistical passions. As long as the ego is still really within the sentient soul, it develops the most selfish egoism. The wish that others should have the same as we have is lacking. Egoism dims the sense of justice, for the ego wants everything for itself. But if the ego transmutes itself in imitation of the Christ-Impulse, it will hunger and thirst after justice for all the beings around us. ‘Blessed will be those who hunger and thirst after the feeling of justice in their sentient-soul; for they shall be satisfied. ‘They will be able to bring about conditions all over the world corresponding to the proper new spirit of justice in the depths of the soul.
Let us further ascend to the intellectual or mind soul. This principle brings about to a still greater extent the consideration of one man for another, not merely as a feeling of justice such as is produced by the sentient soul, but as compassion, a true compassion for the sorrows of others and a sharing in their joy. One who takes in the Christ-Impulse grows to feel what others feel, not only what he feels himself; he immerses himself in the ego of others and in so doing feels bliss in his intellectual or mind soul. Blessed is he who develops fellow-feeling; for only by feeling himself within the soul of others, does he stimulate them to feel themselves in him. He will receive the sympathy of others when he himself radiates fellow-feeling for them. ‘Blessed are those who feel with others, for others shall feel with them.’
You will now see how, having gone a little further in our study of these connections, we are able to understand in a different way from the very depths of the nature and being of man, those words in St. Matthew's Gospel, generally known as the Sermon on the Mount. Each sentence of the Sermon on the Mount relates to one of the nine principles of man. In the next lectures we will go further into this. The Sermon on the Mount must become transparent to our spiritual eyes as that deed of Christ Jesus by means of which he turned what was contained in the Old Law of Moses into something quite inward, an inner impulse enabling man's ego to become active, as it must become in all the nine principles of man for if the ego takes up the Christ-Impulse, it affects all these.
Thus we see the profound truth of what I have already indicated here once before: that in Kali-Yuga Christ made the ego of man capable of discovering something in the physical world which can lead man up into the spiritual world, into the Kingdoms of Heaven. Christ has made the ego of man a participator in the spiritual world. On ancient Saturn the physical body was taken straight out of the spiritual world. It was still within that world, because the physical body was at that time much more spiritual and was not aware that it could separate from the spiritual worlds. The etheric body was added on the Sun and the astral body on the Moon, but only on the earth was it made possible — through the development of the ego — to set oneself free from the divine-spiritual. In consequence of this, as the ego must be led back again, God had to descend to the physical plane, and on that plane show man how to find the way back to the Kingdoms of Heaven.
A most important event was brought about through the Christ-Impulse. Now just ask yourselves this question: Did all those living at the time when Christ Jesus worked on earth know that such an important event was taking place? Just reflect that Tacitus — the great historian, mentions the Christians as an almost unknown sect. A hundred years after Christ he only mentions the Christians as a sect living in a side-street in Rome, whose teacher was a certain Jesus; they are simply mentioned as living there. For a long time after the Christ-Event many people in Rome believed Jesus was a contemporary of theirs, as though he had only just appeared. In short, important events can take place in the evolution of man, without contemporaries noticing that anything has happened. The most important things may come about and pass unobserved if people do not cultivate the understanding for them. They would then miss the experience, and as far as that was concerned they would be barren and dried up. ‘Change your hearts! The Kingdoms of Heaven have approached!’ That was the proclamation of John the Baptist and of Christ Jesus Himself. They hinted to those who had ears to hear that something most important was occurring. That nothing is known in the world of an important happening is no proof that it is not taking place. Those whose business it is to-day to point out the signs of the times, are aware of what is taking place to-day. They must point to an occurrence which, though not one of the most cogent, is yet important. True it is that just in our own time something of infinite significance is developing. Just as John pointed to Christ, and Christ Himself pointed to the approach of the Kingdoms of Heaven, to the ego; so must we to-day point to another important event.
Christ descended once to the earth in a body of flesh; He spent the first years of our era on earth, in the flesh. In accordance with the wise guidance of our world-evolution it is not ordained that men should again see Christ in the flesh, as a physically incarnated man; nor is it necessary that they should. For Christ will not return in the flesh. Why? Because what we call the dark age — the Kali-Yuga — was completed at the end of the nineteenth century, and because with the twentieth century began a new age, in which men must prepare to develop new capacities, those faculties which were lost in the dark age. Slowly and gradually these are being prepared. These faculties will develop so far that single individuals will be here who will possess them as natural tendencies. These faculties will be seen in a certain number of persons, particularly between the years of 1930 and 1940, and by means of these a number of people will enter into new relation with the Christ.
This indicates an important point in human development. Spiritual Science is here to open the understanding of men to these new faculties which will be developed in the world of men. Anthroposophy has not come into the world because a few people are in sympathy with it and would like to make it further known; it has come because it is wanted if people wish to understand what will take place in the first half of this century. For it is only by means of that which Spiritual Science can give mankind that it will become capable of understanding this. When people become capable of perceiving in the spirit that which will then occur, they will also be incapable of confusing that event with their mistaken representations. For as materialism spreads further, it will extend even to the spiritual conception of the world where it will have a particularly evil influence. In that realm it might tend to prevent men from understanding what should be spiritually comprehended. What should really be grasped in the spirit they will seek in the world of matter. Because we are to enter into a new relation to Christ in the course of the first half of our century, it must over and over again be emphasised during the next decades and until the event occurs, that false Messiahs, false Christs will arise who will knock at the doors of those who are only able to be materialists in the realms of Spiritual Science, and can only imagine a new relation to Christ if they see Him before them in the flesh. A number of false Messiahs will turn this to their own use, saying: ‘Christ has reappeared in the flesh!’
Anthroposophical wisdom has the duty of preparing the relation which can be attained during the first half of our century by purely human capacities. The responsibility of the Anthroposophical effort becomes ever greater and greater, for it has to prepare for a coming event which will only be understood if Anthroposophy makes its way into the souls of men and thus becomes fruitful for the further development of humanity. The alternative is that men will neglect to accept and make use of the instrument of Spiritual Science, through which this Event can be understood; in that case it will pass humanity by uncomprehended. For if men so entirely reject Spiritual Science that nothing of it should remain, they would not know that this event is there or would interpret it wrongly. The fruit of this event would then be lost to the future of humanity, and man would thus be thrust down into dreadful misery.
I have thus hinted at a new relation to the Christ which is germinating in the souls of men and which they will be able to evolve in a comparatively near future.