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Rudolf Steiner Archive 

Calendar of the Soul

Northern Hemisphere
Week 18

Can I expand my soul
That it unites itself
With cosmic Word received as seed?
I sense that I must find the strength
To fashion worthily my soul
As fitting raiment for the spirit.

Southern Hemisphere
Week 44

In reaching for new sense attractions,
Soul-clarity would fill,
Mindful of spirit-birth attained,
The world's bewildering, sprouting growth
With the creative will of my own thinking.

—Translation by Ruth and Hans Pusch

See GA 40 for full calendar and German text.

From Jesus to Christ
GA 131

Lecture VIII

12 October 1911, Karlsruhe

Yesterday we indicated that it was now necessary to answer the question: What really happened to that Being whom we designate as Christ Jesus from the Baptism by John in Jordan to the Mystery of Golgotha? To answer this question as far as possible, we must recall briefly what we know from former lectures concerning the life of Jesus of Nazareth, who in his thirtieth year became the bearer of the Christ. The essential points are given in my recently published book, The Spiritual Guidance of Mankind.

We know that in Palestine, at the time which concerns us, not one but two Jesus-children were born, one of them from the Solomon line of the House of David. This is the Jesus child of whom the Matthew Gospel speaks. The peculiar contradiction between the beginnings of the Matthew and the Luke Gospels derives from the fact that the writer of the Matthew Gospel was concerned with one of the Jesus-children, the one born from the Solomon line. Then, at almost but not quite the same time, another Jesus-child was born, from the Nathan line of the House of David.

The important thing is to understand clearly what kind of beings these two children were. Occult investigation shows that the individuality who was in the Solomon Jesus-child was none other than Zarathustra. After Zarathustra's most important mission, of which we have spoken in connection with the ancient Persian civilisation, he had been incarnated again and again; lastly during the Babylonian-Chaldaic civilisation, and now as the Solomon Jesus-child. This Zarathustra individuality, with all the great and powerful inner forces which in the nature of things he had brought over from earlier incarnations, had to incarnate in a body descended from the Solomon side of the House of David; a body adapted for working up and further developing the great faculties of Zarathustra, in the way that human faculties, when they are already at a very high level, can be brought further on, in so far as they belong to the being who is going from incarnation to incarnation. We are concerned therefore with a human body which did not wait until later years to work on these faculties, but could do so in a youthful, child-like and yet powerful organism. Hence we see the Zarathustra-individuality growing up in such a way that the faculties of the child developed comparatively early. The child soon showed an extent of knowledge which would normally have been impossible at his age.

One fact, however, we must keep firmly in mind: the Solomon Jesus-child, although the incarnation of so lofty an individuality, was only a highly developed man. Hence he was encumbered — as even the most highly developed man must be — with certain liabilities to error and moral difficulties, though not exactly vices or sins. Then we know that in his twelfth year the individuality of Zarathustra, by an occult process known to everyone who has made himself conversant with such facts, forsook the body of the Solomon Jesus-child and went over into the body of the Nathan Jesus-child. Now the body of this Nathan Jesus-child — or, better, his three-fold bodily organisation physical body, etheric body, astral body — was formed in a quite special manner. In fact, this body was such that the child showed capacities exactly contrary to those of the Solomon Jesus-child. Whereas the latter was remarkable because of his great gifts in relation to things one can learn externally, it might almost be said that in this respect the Nathan Jesus-child was untalented. You will understand that saying this implies not the slightest deprecation. The Nathan Jesus-child was not in a position to familiarise himself with the products of human culture on earth. By contrast, the remarkable fact is that he could speak as soon as he was born. A faculty which belongs more to the physical body was thus present in him from his birth. But — according to a good tradition which can be occultly confirmed — the language he spoke could be understood by his Mother only. The child's most strongly marked characteristics were qualities of the heart. He had an immense capacity for love and a disposition capable of immense self-sacrifice. And the remarkable thing is that from the first days of his life his mere presence, or his touch, had beneficent effects — magnetic effects, one might perhaps call them nowadays. Thus all the qualities of heart were manifest in this child, enhanced to such a degree that they could have a beneficent magnetic influence on his environment.

We know also that active in the astral body of this child were the forces which had once been acquired by that Bodhisattva who became Gautama Buddha. We know indeed — and in this respect the oriental tradition is absolutely correct, for it can be confirmed by occult science — that the Bodhisattva, who on becoming Buddha five centuries before our era no longer needed to incarnate further on earth, worked from the spiritual world upon all those who devoted themselves to his teachings. It is characteristic of such an individuality, who rises to heights from which he need no longer incarnate in a body of flesh, that he can then take part in the affairs and destiny of our earth existence from out of the spiritual worlds. This can happen in the most manifold ways. In fact, the Bodhisattva who went through his last incarnation on the earth as Gautama Buddha has taken an essential part in the further evolution of humanity. Our human spiritual world stands continually in connection with all the rest of the spiritual world. The human being not only eats and drinks and so takes into himself the substance of the physical earth; he continually receives soul-spiritual nourishment from the spiritual world. In the most varied ways forces continually flow into physical earthly-existence from out of the spiritual world. Such an in-flow of the forces which Buddha had gained for himself came into the wider stream of humanity through the fact that the Buddha forces permeated the astral body of the Nathan Jesus-child. We know, too, from earlier lectures that the words we still have today as a Christmas message — ‘The Divine reveals itself from the heights, and on earth peace will spread in the hearts of men of good will!’ — originate in essence from the influence which flowed down into human evolution through the immersion of the Buddha powers in the astral body of the Nathan Jesus-child.

Thus we see the Buddha forces working further in the stream of earth-existence which took its start from the Events of Palestine. And it is interesting that precisely the researches made by western occultism in quite recent years have led to the recognition of a very important connection between European civilisation and the Buddha forces. For a long time these Buddha forces have been working from the spiritual worlds, particularly upon everything in Western civilisation which is unthinkable without the specific influence of Christianity. All those philosophical streams which have developed during recent centuries up to the nineteenth century, in so far as they are Western spiritual currents, are permeated by the Christ-Impulse, but the Buddha has always been working into them from out of the spiritual worlds. Hence the most important thing that European humanity can receive from Buddha today does not depend on the handing down of the teaching that Buddha gave to men about 500 years before the Christian era, but on what he has become since that time. For he has not remained at a standstill; he has progressed; and it is through this progress, as a spiritual being in the spiritual worlds, that he has in the highest sense been able to take part in the further evolution of Western civilisation. The outcome of our own occult investigation harmonises in a wonderful way with much that had been known previously, before this important influence could be investigated again. For we know that the same individuality who appeared as Gautama Buddha in the East had previously worked in the West, and that certain legends and traditions connected with the name of Buddha or Wotan have to do with this same individuality, just as Buddhism has with Gautama Buddha in the East; hence the same field of action in human evolution which had been prepared earlier by the same individuality has again been occupied in a certain sense. Thus are interlaced the ways taken by the spiritual currents within the evolution of humanity.

Today the most important thing for us is to establish that in the astral body of the Jesus-child described by Luke we have the Buddha forces at work. And when this Nathan Jesus-child was twelve years old, the Zarathustra individuality passed over into his three-fold being.

Why is it, then, that this Jesus-child had the remarkable qualities we have just characterised? It was because he was not a human individuality like every other, but in a certain respect quite different, and in order to understand him we must go back to the ancient Lemurian time in which, strictly speaking, the Earth-evolution of man took its start. We must clearly understand that everything before the Lemurian time was really only a repetition of the Saturn, Sun, and Moon periods. Only in the Lemurian time was the first germ-condition laid down in man as a potentiality, so that during the Earth-evolution he could receive the fourth member of his being, the Ego. We can say the extension of mankind over the Earth — a subject dealt with more precisely in the Outline of Occult Science — is to be traced to certain human ancestors in the Lemurian period, the period with which our present Earth took its start.

It is only after a certain point of time in this Lemurian period that we can speak correctly, in a modern sense, of the human race. Before this, those Egos who have since continued to incarnate were not present in men on Earth. They were not yet separate from the substance of that Hierarchy which had first brought the human Ego into being: the Hierarchy of the Spirits of Form. We can now picture to ourselves — occult research shows this — that part of the substance of the Spirits of Form entered into the incarnations of men for the building up of the human Ego. But when in due time man was given over to his physical incarnations on the Earth, something was held back. A certain Ego substance was not brought into the stream of physical incarnations. If we were to represent the stream of physical human incarnations, beginning with him whom the Bible calls ‘Adam’, the progenitor of the human race, we should have to draw a genealogical tree with wide-spreading branches. Instead, let us simply imagine that the substance poured down from the Spirits of Form now flows onward, but that something was held back: an Ego that was now protected from entering into physical incarnations. Instead, this Ego preserved the form, the substantiality, which man had had before proceeding to his first earthly incarnation. This Ego lived on collaterally with the rest of humanity, and at the time of which we are now speaking, when the Event of Palestine was to take place, it was still in the same condition, if we wish to speak according to the Bible, as was the Ego of Adam before his first embodiment in flesh.

In examining what occult science knows about this Ego — which naturally for modern man is something extremely foolish — we see that this Ego, which was, as it were, held back ‘in reserve’, was given into the care of the Holy Mysteries through Atlantean and post-Atlantean times. It was preserved in an important Mystery centre, as in a tabernacle, and because of this it had quite special characteristics; it was untouched by everything that a human Ego could have learnt on Earth. It was therefore untouched by any Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences; it was indeed something we can think of, in contrast to other human Egos, as an empty sphere, still completely virginal with regard to all earth experiences — a nothing, a negative, in this respect. Hence it seemed as though the Nathan-child, described in the Luke Gospel, really had no Ego; as though he consisted only of physical, etheric and astral body. And it is quite adequate if at first we say that an Ego, developed as Egos had developed in Atlantean and post-Atlantean times, was not there at all in the Luke Jesus-child.

We speak in the true sense of the words when we say that in the Matthew Jesus-child we have to do with a completely human being; whereas in the Nathan Jesus-child of the Luke Gospel we have to do with a physical, an etheric and an astral body which are interrelated in the harmonious unity that belonged to man when he emerged from the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions. Hence this Jesus-child, as the Akashic Record tells us, was untalented for all that human culture had developed. He could not receive it because he had never been among it. External abilities and adaptations to existence are the outcome of certain experiences in earlier incarnations. Anyone who had never shared in such experiences would show himself without talent for all that men have accomplished during the earth-evolution. If the Nathan Jesus-child had been born in our time, he would have been totally ungifted for learning to write, since in Adamic times writing was unknown. By contrast, the Luke Jesus-child revealed in a high degree the qualities he had brought with him — qualities that had not fallen into decadence through the Luciferic influence. Even more interesting is the remarkable language he spoke.

Here we must bring to mind something I mentioned in The Spiritual Guidance of Mankind: that the languages which are now spread over the earth took their rise comparatively late in evolution: they were preceded by what can truly be called a primal human language. It is the disuniting spirits of the Luciferic and Ahrimanic world who have made many languages out of the primal language. The primal language is lost, and can be spoken today by nobody with an Ego which in the course of earth-evolution has passed from incarnation to incarnation. This Jesus-child, who had not gone through human incarnations, acquired from the starting-point of human evolution the faculty of speaking, not this or that language, but a language of which we can rightly say that it was not comprehensible to those around him. But, because of the inner qualities of heart that lived in it, it was understood by his Mother's heart. This points to a phenomenon of immense significance in the case of the Luke Jesus-child.

We have seen that when this Luke Jesus-child was born, he was provided with everything that had not been influenced by the Lucifer-Ahrimanic forces. He did not possess an Ego that had been through a series of incarnations; therefore nothing had to be discarded when, in his twelfth year, the individuality of Zarathustra passed over from the Solomon Jesus-child into the Nathan Jesus-child. I have already said that the human element which had remained behind, and up to this time had developed in the Mysteries by the side of the rest of humanity, was born for the first time in the Palestine period as the Nathan Jesus-child. There was a transference from a Mystery centre in Western Asia, where this human kernel had been preserved, into the body of the Nathan Jesus-child. This child grew on, and in his twelfth year the individuality of Zarathustra passed into him. We know also that this passing over is intimated in the scene of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple. It was quite natural that the parents of the Nathan Jesus-child, who were accustomed to regard him in the light we have described, should find a remarkable change when they discovered him in the Temple after he had been lost. For that was the moment when Zarathustra passed over into this twelve-year-old child. From the twelfth to the thirtieth year, therefore, we have to do with the individuality of Zarathustra in the Luke Jesus-child.

Now in the Luke Gospel we have a remarkable expression which indicates something that can be made clear only by occult investigation. You know that in the Luke Gospel, after the description of the scene with the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple, there is a passage: ‘And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man’. (Luke II:52). In truth this passage stands as follows when we restore the text of the Gospels from the Akashic record: The twelve-year-old child increased in everything wherein an astral body can increase, i.e., in wisdom; in everything wherein an etheric body can increase, i.e. in all the qualities of kindliness, goodness, etc; and in everything wherein a physical body can increase, i.e., in all that pours itself into external beauty of form. In this passage, therefore, a special indication is given that the Jesus-child, not having gone from incarnation to incarnation, had up to his twelfth year remained untouched, and could not be touched in his individuality, by the Luciferic and Ahrimanic forces. The Luke Gospel intimates this again by tracing the sequence of generations back through Adam to God, thus indicating that the substance in question was uninfluenced by all that had taken place in human evolution.

So this Jesus-child lived on, increasing in all that was possible for a three-fold organism not touched by the contamination which has affected the three-fold bodies of other men. And this enabled the individuality of Zarathustra, from the twelfth to the thirtieth year of life, to pour into this three-fold human being all that could come from the heights to which he himself had previously attained. Hence we form a correct idea of Jesus of Nazareth, up to the thirtieth year of his life, when we think of him as a lofty human individuality, for whose coming into existence the greatest possible preparations had been made.

But we must now be clear about one thing if we want to understand how the fruits of a development we go through in our bodies are of benefit to the individuality. Our bodies enable our individuality to absorb the fruits of our life for its future evolution. When in death we forsake our bodies, we do not usually leave in them what we have achieved and gained for ourselves as individuals. Later on we shall see under what special conditions something may remain in the bodies; but it is not the rule that the individuality should leave behind in his bodies whatever he has won for himself. When Zarathustra forsook the threefold bodily being of Jesus of Nazareth in the thirtieth year, he left behind the three bodies, physical, etheric, and astral. But all that he had been able to gain through these instruments went into the individuality of Zarathustra and lived on further with him, to his benefit. Something however, was gained by the three-fold bodily organism of Jesus of Nazareth. His human nature, still free, as it always had been, from Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences, was conjoined for a period with the individuality who had unequalled insight into the spirituality of the cosmos.

Think what this Zarathustra had experienced! While he was founding the ancient Persian civilisation and looking up to the great Sun Spirit, he was even then gazing out into the cosmic realms of the spiritual. Through successive incarnations his development went on. When the innermost part of human nature, together with the most intensive powers of sympathy and love, had become manifest through the unsullied human substance which had been preserved until the birth of the Nathan Jesus, and when the astral body had permeated itself with the forces of Gautama Buddha, there was present in this child what we may call the most intimate inwardness of man. And then into this bodily nature there entered the individuality who above all others had seen most clearly and deeply into the spirituality of the Macrocosm. By this means the bodily instrument, the entire organism, of the Nathan Jesus was so transformed that it could be the vehicle capable of receiving into itself the Christ-extract of the Macrocosm. If this bodily nature had not been permeated by the Zarathustra-individuality up to the thirtieth year, the eyes would not have been able to endure the substance of the Christ from the thirtieth year up to the Mystery of Golgotha; the hands would not have been capable of being permeated with the substance of the Christ in the thirtieth year. To be able to receive the Christ, this bodily nature had to be prepared, expanded, through the individuality of Zarathustra. Thus in Jesus of Nazareth, as he was at the moment when Zarathustra took leave of him and the Christ-Individuality entered into him, we have to do neither with an adept, nor with anything like a higher human being. For an adept is an adept because he has a highly developed individuality, and it was just this that had passed out of the threefold bodily nature of Jesus of Nazareth. We have simply the bodily nature so prepared through the indwelling of Zarathustra that it could take into itself the Christ-Individuality. But now, through the union of the Christ-Individuality with this bodily nature, by necessity the following consequence came about.

During these three years, from the Baptism by John in Jordan onwards to the Mystery of Golgotha, the development of the physical body, the etheric body, and the astral body was quite different from the bodily development of other human beings. Since the Nathan Jesus had received no influence from the Luciferic and Ahrimanic powers, the possibility was given that, from the Baptism in Jordan onwards — now that there was in Jesus of Nazareth no human Ego, but solely the Christ Individuality — everything which is normally at work in a human organism was not developed.

We said yesterday that the human Phantom, the primal form which draws into itself the material elements that fill out the physical body and are laid aside at death, had degenerated in the course of time up to the Mystery of Golgotha. At the beginning of human evolution it was intended that the Phantom should remain untouched by the material elements that man takes for his nutrition from the animal, plant, and mineral kingdoms. But it did not remain untouched. For the Luciferic influence brought about a close connection between the Phantom and the forces which man absorbs through his earthly evolution; a connection particularly with the ashy constituents. The result was that the Phantom, while continuing to accompany man during his further evolution, was strongly drawn to these ashy constituents, and instead of adhering to the etheric body, it attached itself to these products of disintegration. But where the Luciferic influences had been kept away, as they were from the Nathan Jesus, no force of attraction arose between the Phantom and the material elements that had been taken into the bodily organism. Throughout the three years from the Baptism up to the Mystery of Golgotha, the Phantom remained untouched by these elements.

In occult terms we can say: The human Phantom, according to its intended development through the Saturn, Sun, and Moon periods, should not have been attracted to the ashy constituents but only to the dissolving salt constituents, so that it would have taken the path of volatilisation in so far as the salt constituents dissolved. In an occult sense one can say that it would have dissolved and passed over, not into the earth but into the volatile constituents. The remarkable fact is that with the Baptism in Jordan and the entry of the Christ Individuality into the body of the Nathan Jesus, all connection of the Phantom with the ashy constituents was wiped out; only the connection with the salt constituents remained.

This is alluded to in the passage where Christ Jesus wishes to explain to his first-chosen disciples: ‘Through the way in which you feel yourselves united with the Christ Being, a certain possibility for the future evolution of humanity will come about. It will be possible for the one body risen from the grave — the spiritual body — to pass over into men’. That is what Christ wished to say when he used the phrase, ‘You are the salt of the earth’. All these words we find in the Gospels, reminding us of the terminology and craft language of the later alchemists, the later occultism, have the deepest imaginable significance. And in fact this significance was well known to the mediaeval and later alchemists — not to the charlatans mentioned in the history books — and not one of them spoke of these connections without feeling in his heart a connection with Christ.

Thus it followed that when Christ Jesus was crucified, when his body was nailed to the Cross — you will notice that here I use the exact words of the Gospel, for they are con-firmed by true occult research — when this body of Jesus of Nazareth was fastened to the Cross, the Phantom was perfectly intact; it existed in a spiritual bodily form, visible only to super-sensible sight, and was much more loosely connected with the body's material content of earth-elements than has ever happened with any other human being. In every other human being a connection of the Phantom with these elements has occurred, and it is this that holds them together. In the case of Christ Jesus it was quite different. The ordinary law of inertia sees to it that certain material portions of a human body hold together after death in the form man has given them, until after some time they crumble away, so that hardly anything of them is visible. So it was with the material portions of the body of Christ Jesus. When the body was taken down from the Cross, the parts were still coherent, but they had no connection with the Phantom; the Phantom was completely free of them. When the body became permeated with certain substances, which in this case worked quite differently from the way in which they affect any other body that is embalmed, it came to pass that after the burial the material parts quickly volatilised and passed over into the elements. Hence the disciples who looked into the grave found the linen cloths in which the body had been wrapped, but the Phantom, on which the evolution of the Ego depends, had risen from the grave. It is not surprising that Mary of Magdala, who had known only the earlier Phantom when it was permeated by earthly elements, did not recognise the same form in the Phantom, now freed from terrestrial gravity, when she saw it clairvoyantly. It seemed to her different.

Moreover we must clearly understand that it was only through the power of the companionship of the disciples with the Christ that all the disciples, and all those persons of whom the same is told, could see the Risen One, for He appeared to them in the spiritual body, the body of which Paul says that it increases as a grain of seed and passes over into all people. Paul himself is convinced that it was not a body permeated by the earthly elements which had appeared to the other apostles, but that the same which had appeared to him had also appeared to them, as he says in the following passage:

For I have delivered unto you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that He was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (I Corinthians XV:3–8.)

But what was it that convinced Paul? In a certain sense Paul was an Initiate before the Event of Damascus. His Initiation had combined the ancient Hebrew principle and the Greek principle. He knew that an Initiate became, in his etheric body, independent of the physical body, and could appear in the purest form of his etheric body to those who were capable of seeing it. If Paul had had the vision of a pure etheric body, independent of a physical body, he would have spoken differently. He would have said that he had seen someone who had been initiated and would be living on further in the course of earth-evolution, independently of the physical body. He would not have found this particularly surprising. What Paul experienced on the road to Damascus could not have been that. He had experienced something which he knew could be experienced only when the Scriptures were fulfilled; when a perfect human Phantom, a human body risen from the grave in a super-sensible form, would appear in the spiritual atmosphere of the earth. And that is what he saw! That is what appeared to him on the road to Damascus and left him with the conviction: ‘He was there — He is risen! For what is there could come only from Him: it is the Phantom which can be seen by all human individualities who seek to relate themselves to the Christ.’ This is what convinced him that Christ was already there; that he would not come first in the future, but was actually present there in a physical body, and that this physical body had rescued the primal form of the human physical body for the salvation of all men.

That this deed could be accomplished only through the greatest unfolding of divine love, and in what sense it was an act of love, and then in what sense the word ‘salvation’ is to be understood in the further evolution of humanity — this will be our subject tomorrow.

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