Evolution in the Aspect of Realities
23 October 1911, Dornach
Now that we are once more together after a long summer interval, we may say a few words as to what concerns theosophical life during such an interval — and in particular as to what it has brought to us, which is in no wise without significance to the life limited to Central Europe. You know that from the time we were last assembled here, before separating for the summer, preparations were begun for the gathering at Munich, which generally begins with a dramatic representation carried out in the spirit of our theosophical movement; and in the last few years we have been able to develop these dramatic representations. Some time ago we began by having one such dramatic representation before a course of lectures at Munich, last year two, and this year we have been able to make the experiment of having three. Naturally in many respects a risk is connected with this, but thanks to the self-sacrifice and willingness of those able to take part in this artistic endeavour, we have been able to make a beginning in this direction. For this should not be regarded as anything but a beginning — a beginning of something which will indeed find its continuance as an important impulse of theosophical life when none of us will any longer be able to be present in our physical bodies. But there must always be a beginning to such things, which extend far beyond the narrowest circle of our own personal activity, and above all it is necessary that those who take part in them, should be conscious of the fact that they are working at something new, so that they may have the necessary humility as also the necessary strength. We always connect these representations with a course of lectures, which not only bring together various members of own section but also many friends of our movement, who come to the Munich gathering from every possible country in Europe. Two things will be particularly striking this year to those who take the trouble to look into the matter both from without and from within. The first is the special manner in which we intend to carry theosophical life into Art. For indeed it lies very near to our hearts that theosophical life should be carried into all branches of life and external existence. It appears to us very important to carry out in Art the fact that Theosophy is not a merely abstract theory and teaching, but that it can be carried out into our immediate life, that it can, so to say, act practically. It is particularly remarkable in the Munich representations that Theosophy does not try to bring this about externally by all sorts of clever thoughts and arguments, but that from its own life fresh vigour can be drawn for the active life of Art. This can be observed by the inner devotion and growing comprehension shewn by those of our theosophists in Munich, who took part. It can also be observed in the fact that in the year 1909 we had one representation, that last year we had two, and that this year, in spite of great difficulty we were able to prepare three representations. If you go into the matter itself you will be able to perceive from such a work as The Soul's Probation that occult perception may very well be turned to account in artistic representation in the same way as the external observation of life. I might say a great deal if I were to speak about the inner core of this subject.
What particularly struck us in Munich was the ever increasing thronging to our gatherings, which made the lack of room greatly felt both for the artistic undertakings as well as for the theosophical lectures. In the lectures this lack of space was felt externally by the audience, through the very uncomfortable heat in the room. Now of course it would be quite easy to say, why not take a larger hall? But there is difficulty even in this. Theosophy requires, as you all know, a certain intimacy; and just as little as it would be possible to give the old Greek Dramas in a circus, so it is with Theosophy. (In certain districts this has certainly taken place, though nothing but a lack of all understanding for Art could make it acceptable in larger circles; on the other hand it is not to be wondered at when we know how little artistic our age is, though we must be astounded that such a thing should be thought possible). It might even be cultivated in an ancient Greek theatre, but not in an enormous circus-like hall. The Architectural Hall in Berlin appears to me the maximum size; and instead of passing from that to a still larger one I should prefer to repeat my lecture, rather than give it once only in a still larger room. These things are so related to the inner, more intimate nature of Theosophy that they may perhaps not be understood at the present day, but they will be when everything that Theosophy included passes out into the different departments of life.
Now as regards our work in Munich, it is inevitable — if by means of all that may be done in a small hall anything of a theosophical nature can be attained — that our theosophical life should lead to our creating an inner chamber for ourselves. This led to the thought of constructing a large building in Munich which would really admit of our possessing a house of our own for the requirements of the lectures given there. The immediate future will prove what fortune awaits us in this respect. For it is certain, if we are ever in a position to carry out the idea of a building in Munich it must be done soon, otherwise the fairest fruits of our work will be lost — for the simple reason that the next few years will be the best time possible for carrying out our work in the desired manner, if only we have the proper room to do so. That this may have good results if we are able to construct a Hall for ourselves, we have seen, not only in small beginnings but in Stuttgart, where they have now constructed the first Central European Lodge and house. And those who were present at its opening were amply convinced of how important it is to possess an inner chamber consecrated in the theosophical sense, and how completely different it is to enter such a room when compared with any other — quite apart from the separate details to which I referred when I spoke about the significance of colour, of the limitations of space and so on, as regards the cultivation of occult knowledge in such a room. We have seen that the deepening for which we are striving in the domain of Theosophy has already found numerous ears, hearts and souls, and will apparently continue to find more and more. We have seen, and indeed we have been obliged to see over and over again, how easily in our day the longing may encroach to make the convictions and knowledge of the spiritual world too easy. I believe that when course after course of lectures is followed and the thought, the deepening of feeling and the expansion of knowledge in the separate domains of life — even of occult life — is more and more required, that a great number of those who have worked with us may have already discovered that precisely in that current of theosophical life we call our own, we do not make things too easy. When we consider the great store of lectures and books accumulated as time goes on, on our table here, — (sometimes quite appalling to me to see what has been brought together in the course of the year, — but with which anyone belonging to our movement must make himself intimately acquainted or at any rate must study a little) — when we consider this, we may truly say that we do not make it easy for anyone wishing to enter the spiritual world. And yet, as the years go by it is more and more evident that we are able to find our way to the ears, hearts and souls of people — so far as we have been able to approach them. Although through particular circumstances to which we need not now refer, the Congress of the European Section in Genoa did not take place, we on our part did not abandon our festival on this account. It might have been thought when the Congress at the last minute fell through — that we could not have held our festival, but it became immediately evident how necessary it was to spend this time elsewhere; so that the Lodge lectures were held at the time of the Genoese Congress in Lugano, Locarno, Milan, Neuchatel and in Berne, and we were able during this time to work on a ground upon which it might have been difficult to work in the time approaching. When I reflect for instance that in Neuchatel a Lodge was formed wanting to call itself by the name of a great spiritual individuality, after the name of Christian Rosenkreutz, and that this Lodge longed to hear intimate things about him, upon which I shall shortly lecture here; when I reflect that in order to speak about Christian Rosenkreutz at all, in order to understand this singular individuality, all the truths were necessary which we had collected in the course of the year, and that yet there was an inner need to hear something more intimate about this individuality; it must be said that we have succeeded in deepening ourselves in a theosophical sense, although it has not been made easy for those who work with us. Notwithstanding this, how easy it really is made for those who truly wish to attain this deepening. We may, without exaggeration say that we do make it easy for them.
Reflect, for example upon the fact, that I have again and again emphasised that in our theosophical movement we have to look upon the occult ideal as the basis of our whole theosophic life. There is in reality only one occult truth. There cannot in reality be an Eastern and Western occultism. That would be just as sensible as if we were to distinguish an Eastern and a Western system of mathematics; yet some one or other problem or question can, on account of human peculiarity, be better attended to by occult research in the East or in the West. Hence we must say that what relates to the great Figure that for some years we have designated as the Christ is the result of the occult research of the last century in the European esoteric schools, the European sanctuaries of occultism. Nothing that has been said in the course of years concerning the Individuality we call Jesus of Nazareth, or about the two Jesus children, or the entrance of Christ into the body of Jesus of Nazareth at the time marked by the Baptism of John in [the] Jordan, or of the Mystery of Golgotha, or what has recently been said in Carlsruhe about the Mystery of the Resurrection — could possibly have been announced to-day, were it not that the occult researches of the West had been fostered from the middle of the twelfth century down to the present day. And yet, we could not understand Christianity without possessing these truths. We cannot really understand Christianity, for instance, without understanding the resurrection, however great theologians we may be. Anyone speaking after the manner of the modern theologian cannot understand Christianity; for what could he make of the words of St. Paul, ‘If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain and your faith also is vain.’ In short where there is no understanding of the Resurrection, there can be no understanding of Christianity.
But on the other hand, we must also reflect that the external intellect, whether directed to Theosophy or to natural science, has the peculiarity of not being able to approach subjects such as the Resurrection. The modern thinker says: I must draw a line through the whole structure of my thought if I am really to believe in the Resurrection, and what is described in the Gospel of St. John; — the consciousness of many people lead them to say this. It is therefore necessary that occultism should give its conclusions on these facts in the West. It is precisely these facts relating to Christianity, to the Mystery of the West, which the Eastern school of occult thought, in so far as it can be known externally, does not possess. And why? The people in Asia — with the exception of regions in Asia Minor — are not interested in Christ, and never have been. They do not feel any need to ask about His Being, for hundreds and thousands of years they have done without it; so that in India and Thibet there are wonderful occult teachings — for instance, about Buddha or the Bodhisattvas — but no one was particularly interested in meditating about the Being of the Christ, or in making occult researches concerning, It. It is therefore impossible to require of the Oriental school of Theosophy any knowledge of the Christ.
When the Theosophical movement first arose, H. P. Blavatsky, as we all know, accomplished an enormous amount for it. How did she do this? Was it by forming the three fundamental rules of our Society which are still on our card of membership to-day? Certainly not by saying that there must be a Society to cultivate universal love! For there are many such, and every normally thinking person will look upon the cultivation of universal love as something which must be extended. H. P. Blavatsky accomplished so great a work because through her a great number of occult truths have penetrated into the world, and any one who studies Isis Unveiled, or The Secret Doctrine will say that, notwithstanding everything that may be said against these works they contain an immense number of truths. — Truths of which, till now, no one in spiritual life had any conception, — except those who had undergone initiation. We must admit that Madame Blavatsky had an illogical, disorderly mind, and invented things, putting them beside the communications of the Masters where they should not be, (to go into this now would lead us too far) we know she had an impetuous nature and often said what she should not, for it is not right in occultism to speak in so impetuous a manner. Still though we may say that it would be a good thing to take Isis Unveiled and put it into systematic and logical order, or to take five-sixths out of The Secret Doctrine and revise the remaining sixth part in an orderly manner, yet in Theosophical life we must follow the positive and admit that something powerful was brought into occult life through her.
But how does the matter really stand? It is that H. P. Blavatsky, at the time she wrote Isis Unveiled, received a kind of Rosicrucian inspiration? There are great Rosicrucian truths in Isis Unveiled, which even included the errors of Rosicrucianism; the significant thing is that it really is all Rosicrucian. I say deliberately the errors of Rosicrucianism, for ancient Rosicrucianism had not the possibility of an insight into the truths of reincarnation and karma, did not possess these truths in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. These were only revealed later to the West. Madame Blavatsky did not give an extensive teaching of reincarnation and karma in Isis Unveiled, indeed she took over all the faults of Rosicrucianism. Then it came about by reason of things of which we have not time to speak to-day, Madame Blavatsky fell away from the influences coming from Rosicrucianism, and fell under those of Eastern Theosophy. From this proceeded The Secret Doctrine, which contains great truths concerning everything not Christian, — but in respect to what is Christian, is the greatest nonsense. With respect to all the religions and conceptions of the world with the exception of Judaism and Christianity, — The Secret Doctrine is very useful. But nothing relating to Judaism and Christianity can be made any use of at all, because Madame Blavatsky entered a domain in which these truths were not cultivated. The whole course taken later by the theosophical movement is connected with this. It became inadequate for the understanding of Christianity. Allow me to make clear to you by an important example, in what way it is inadequate.
The highest individuality in Eastern occultism with the exception of the highest Initiates who even in Orientalism do not speak differently from ourselves — is that of the Bodhisattva. Such a Bodhisattva was that individuality who, five hundred years before our era, ascended to the next dignity, which is also understood in Orientalism; we refer to that Bodhisattva who was the son of King Suddhodana, and who in his twenty-ninth year became Buddha. Becoming a Buddha, as everyone acquainted with Buddhism understands includes the fact that the being in question, the being who has become Buddha, no longer descends into physical life, can never appear again on earth. The Bodhisattva became Buddha; he no longer returns to earth in an ordinary body, in accordance with the laws of reincarnation. But he has a successor. At the moment the Bodhisattva received illumination and rose to Buddhahood, he nominated a successor to become Bodhisattva. This next Bodhisattva will now appear as man, a man towering above his fellows, until he himself ascends to the dignity of a Buddha. Now every disciple of Orientalism regards it as a truth that precisely five thousand years after the illumination of Gautama Buddha under the Bodhi tree, the next Bodhisattva will rise to the dignity of Buddha, and will appear as Maitreya Buddha. That is, three thousand years after our time; so that until then a Bodhisattva will live in the manifold incarnations yet to come, he will descend again and again to the earth, but will only ascend to the dignity of a Buddha three thousand years after our time — and will then be a great teacher on earth. That is the highest individuality to which the Eastern occult teaching leads. And because Madame Blavatsky was in a sense caught by the Eastern school of thought, her understanding of such things was limited by Eastern conceptions. At the same time it was necessary to give to Europeans a mode of understanding Christianity, but it was not possible really to understand Christianity by means of Eastern conceptions. These only lead up to the Bodhisattva and the Buddha individualities, with the consequence that even the old clairvoyants could only see so far as the individuality of a Bodhisattva. One of these was however, present in an individuality who lived 105 years before our era, in Jesus ben Pandira, who occupied a curious relation to the Essenes, who had disciples — and among others him who prepared the Matthew-Gospel. Such a Bodhisattva-Individuality, a follower of Gautama Buddha, was incarnated in Jesus ben Pandira. Eastern Theosophy speaks of this Bodhisattva-Individuality. And to the clairvoyant vision of the East it would appear as though 105 years after Jesus ben Pandira nothing particular happened in the world. — H. P. Blavatsky, for instance, directed her vision to the point of time in which Jesus ben Pandira lived: she saw that in him a great Bodhisattva-Individuality was incarnated; but because her occult vision was limited by her entanglement in Eastern Theosophy, she could not perceive that 105 years later the Christ was there. In short, she only knew of Christ what was said of Him in the West, and from this she formed the idea that Christ had never lived at all, that it was all a delusion, but that 105 years before our era there lived a Jesus ben Pandira who was stoned and hanged upon a tree, and who therefore was not crucified. This Jesus she now described as if he had been Jesus of Nazareth. This is however, a complete confusion of one with another. And concerning the true Jesus of Nazareth nothing at all was said, but that he who was born 105 years before was substituted for the Christ, and because it was wished to give him a European name he was spoken of as Christ.
We however, must adjudge that that school of thought is simply incapable of seeing what the Christ-Being is. The moment we draw attention to such a point as this we are naturally in an unpleasant position; that cannot be denied. And why so? What I must say is that everyone who is acquainted with one or other of the sciences knows that there are points which can be disputed while others are indisputable; regarding these latter, if a man holds a contrary opinion we are compelled to say that he has not grasped the point in question. But if we say, ‘you do not understand this,’ we may be considered extremely arrogant! This is the unpleasant position in which we find ourselves when we cannot agree with those who speak of Jesus ben Pandira as the ‘Christ.’ They are simply not advanced enough to understand it. It is unpleasant to be obliged to say this, but it is true. Therefore we cannot blame them when they speak of the Being Whom they too acknowledge, as though He could again and again appear in the flesh. For they have no conception of that Being Who, as the Christ Being, could only appear once in the flesh! — Now take Esoteric Christianity by Mrs. Besant, and read it with more care than is usual in theosophical circles. You will find an individuality described there who lived 105 years before our era; the only mistake is that he is described as the Christ. Suppose any person, — the authoress of this book for instance, — were now to say that in the twentieth century the being she described in Esoteric Christianity appeared in human fleshly form. Nothing more could be said against this — from our standpoint — than would be said to anyone in India who ventured to say that the Buddha was about to reincarnate. He would be told that he was an uneducated European in the following terms: ‘We all know that Buddha can never appear again in the flesh; you understand nothing of Buddhism.’ We Europeans must have recourse to this too when anyone says that Christ will be incarnated a second time. We must reply, ‘You do not understand, for the true knowledge of the Christ-Being shows us that He is a Being Who could only appear once in a fleshly body!’ Let us say that the understanding of these facts belongs to a different level. Then there can be no misunderstanding.
I ask, to what can we reduce that which separates us from any Eastern theosophical school? Do we deny that a man lived 105 years before our era, who was stoned for blasphemy and hanged upon a tree? No, we do not deny this. Do we deny that in this being a great Individuality was concealed? We do not. Neither do we deny that this being may reincarnate in the twentieth century. We admit that. Is there actually any point at all concerning which we must deny what the other school asserts? Only this: that we must say — ’You do not know the Being Whom we all Christ: you call another by His Name, and we must reserve the right to correct this.’ Otherwise it is only a question of nomenclature. People are incorrect when they assert that what we place at the starting point of our era never existed; for there we place our two Jesus children, the Baptism of John in [the] Jordan, and the Mystery of Golgotha! Of this they say nothing! We really must be allowed the right to know something about that of which they are ignorant! Otherwise the decree would go forth: ‘no one must know what we do not know: everything we do not know is false.’ In this respect we take the stand of denying nothing; and if anything be denied, it is by the other side.
In this way all misunderstandings which otherwise arise can very easily be avoided. Here we take the position that in our view there is no room for misunderstanding, and none exists. Only we must have the right to bring to bear on our theosophical life occult researches which immeasurably deepen the problems of the West but which simply do not exist in the East because nothing is known of such. So we see that in one important point, if goodwill is present, it is not in the least necessary that there should be any disharmony in the theosophical movement. But for this, goodwill is certainly necessary — goodwill not dependent on the denial of any truth that may have been recognised as correct, for that would not be goodwill — but denial of the truth. But in so far as we are logical, goodwill must exist. For what is the cause of differences of opinion? Is it the consideration of a subject from different standpoints or perhaps from different heights? If that be the case the opponent would be unable to give a logical reason for his opinion. And then comes the question of understanding the subject and showing forbearance.
This, which must be established so far as we are concerned, is what I had to notice to-day, when for the first time we meet again. I referred to it as a proof of how easy it is to see perfectly clearly into our movement if desired. On this account we may say that we need oppose no one. We can quietly wait till they oppose us. We can calmly go on working, and we should not have mentioned these subjects to-day at all, if our friends had not been confused by hearing it said that theosophists are much at variance among themselves. As soon as things are enquired into we may perhaps come upon a very awkward situation, and be obliged to say, that the other side is not acquainted with certain things. Thus perhaps we may be accused of pride, and sometimes we must take that upon ourselves if we are conscious that we can really be both humble and modest. This made it necessary last year to show in occult work, such for instance, as my book The Spiritual Guidance of Man and of Mankind, the progress that has taken place since the thirteenth century. Such results as have been produced since that time can hardly be observed in any other movement than our own. Hence we may say that we have for once imposed upon our occult movement the difficult task of examining into the most advanced occult conclusions. And we may look upon it as a good result of our summer work that at the founding of the Branch at Neuchatel, the need arose to learn to know more intimately the great teacher of Christianity, Christian Rosencreutz, in his various incarnations and his own peculiar nature.
I myself brought forward what has been said to-day so that each of you may know the real facts of the case and may know what to reply if someone on the opponents’ side should say, ‘Here it is said that that Christ will incarnate again in the twentieth century — and there it is said that He will only appear as a Spiritual Being. These two are conflicting ideas!’ No, we must not allow it to be said that these are two different ideas; we must emphasise, even on the opposite side that the being spoken of there lived 105 years before our era and was stoned. But when for instance, in the last book by Mrs. Besant, The Changing World in which all these things are mixed up and no attention is paid to the fact that the Name of Christ was only usurped, when a complete contradiction is found in her own books Esoteric Christianity and The Changing World these are really things that we must point out, so that no one should believe that in the new book by Mrs. Besant Christ is in question. Otherwise she would have to say that she will draw a thick line through Esoteric Christianity and that its contents are no longer correct. For if they were correct a being is spoken of who lived 105 years before our era — and not at the beginning of our era, as we say of Christ Jesus.
The characteristic of our movement is that we carry the result of our occult researches on to the most modern times. Hence in a certain respect there is a sort of detraction — although an unconscious one, when we are called Rosicrucians not by ourselves but by outsiders. When we are thus spoken of it reminds us of a nice little story of something that took place in the market of a town in Central Germany. One man said that he knew that another was a sluggard. ‘What?’ said somebody, ‘He a sluggard? I am certain that he is a chemist, not a sluggard I’ The same logic that says that if a man is a chemist he cannot be a sluggard, would lead us to say the movement in which we work is not ‘theosophical’ but ‘Rosicrucian.’ Why do we cultivate Rosicrucian principles? Because there have been Rosicrucian Occult Sanctuaries, and because we must accept the Rosicrucian results cultivated there into our theosophical current, just as we have spoken without prejudice about Brahmanism, Orientalism, ancient and modern Christianity. I do not think that in many other theosophical branches the subjects discussed have included, for instance, the Mexican Divinities, Quetzalcoatl and Tezkatlipoka, as has been done here. And so in addition to all the other subjects we have also included the Rosicrucian occult results. That is quite natural unless we refuse to admit what is occult. And if we have some good symbols derived from Rosicrucianism, it is because such things are the best to work on the minds and hearts of modern men. And we are precisely modern theosophists because we do not refuse to admit the results of modern research. Has anyone beard me commence any lectures, ‘My dear Rosicrucian friends?’ It is precisely because we stand upon the common ground of Theosophy that such things occur. For this reason it is an unconscious detraction when our movement is given the name of Rosicrucian as a designation. We must make allowance for these things.
This winter it will be our task to enter more deeply into the teachings and truths we have already received. And so I should like in particular, in order to prepare the ground presently to speak here upon Christian Rosenkreutz, to speak on the threefold principles of man and their true basis, in so far as man is able to take up the intellectual, the aesthetic and the moral impulse. We must seek very deeply in the occult subsoil for these things, and the teaching we have received about Saturn, Sun and Moon evolution will precisely enable us to consider man more deeply, as an intellectual, aesthetic and moral being.