The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Course for Priests of the Christian Community
GA 345

Lecture III

13 July 1923, Stuttgart

My dear friends!

For the kind of striving you are involved in, it is of primary importance to cultivate a true impulse for feeling yourselves within the spiritual world as well as striving towards the achievement of such an impulse, but taken from the viewpoint of your Movement, of which I intend speaking to you today. You see it really involves establishing a connection with a definite point to enable you to link to a spiritual impulse, if you want to be a sure, broad minded, active person, which you all want to be. It involves enlivening the appropriate impulses for this particular activity. From my observations in the spiritual world as such, it appears that the following will be helpful to you.

A connection can be established with the manifestation of the spirit of speech, the wielding of the speech genius. We must firstly be very clear, my dear friends, how far we are removed as a rule from the real spiritual, inner self-activation of grasping speech within ourselves. We basically are involved with speech but without its divine quality. We take up speech in such a manner that by the very act of applying it to ordinary life, we actually profane it. We allow ourselves as contemporary people to use speech by not venerating it in any way at all. We basically speak in sinfulness and this can awaken the awareness that our speaking sinfully enables us to acquire an attitude, I may say, to develop a relationship with speech towards obtaining a spiritual impulse. Examples to confirm this arise of course from all areas.

How many people today have obtained some guidance which empathises with any of the sounds in speech? This naturally means a large number of sounds are spoken conventionally and inhumanely, without comprehension, uttered as if without human input. Who feels at the moment the word “harden” is spoken, that in expressing the word the speaker's mood is permeated by something which hardens it like a mineral and simultaneously cools down his mood? Who feels, when the word “Word” is spoken that it is linked to life from ancient times, a past spiritual weaving which has been killed in the present time, the past crystallized in the present, and so on? We have absolutely no experience of the most important words any more. I would like to know how many people today have the experience with the word “thinking,” how many people have an experience with the word “feeling,” the word “willing.” This I'm only saying to you with reference to what I really want to entrust you with today.

You may of course name yourself in the most varied expressions of language. You can call yourself “I” as one does usually, or you can start to theorise about it and say to yourself you can be called a “human-being” (Mensch). 1Translator's note: “Mensch” has no English equivalent. Collins Dictionary considers mensch used in English as “a well-meaning person.” Reverso suggests ‘human,’ ‘person’ and ‘man.’ Google adds ‘individual’ to this list. The word ‘human’ is seen in contrast to ‘animal’ or ‘robot.’ To translate “Mensch” as ‘human-being’ is not quite correct, nor is ‘individuality’ — the latter indicating a person being different from others in some way. “Mensch” has a humane as well as individual character so the best solution is using the expression “human-being” in this translation. As “the Word” is under examination, a hyphen is an attempt at forming a single inseparable concept. Then you substitute the speech genius and determine your own being out of the being of the language. However today a person has the feeling when he does something like that, he is applying a word which he designates to himself. When a person of today says to himself he can be called a “human-being,” he thinks that under all circumstances he has in a comprehensive way with a word, he believes, described an idea.

Now, when the starting point is feeling, it is good: in the true sense of the word language is so little understood, making the description which a person as a human-being applies to himself actually something whose understanding must first be wrestled with, whose understanding must first be arrived at. Feeling should actually always be a starting point so that when I believe I can describe myself in some or other words, even in my mother tongue, they designate an infinite pride in me. When we permeate ourselves with the feeling that we believe we can manage a language, even our mother tongue, so far removed from the spirit that we can legitimately name ourselves with the word “human-being,” if we consider this belief as terribly proud then we start to draw courage for the preparatory feeling towards a specific spiritual impulse such as I am indicating today. We should much more often be able to say: ‘I am placed on the earth as a human-being through some or other divine circumstances unknown to me and this leads me to call myself a “human-being,” but the basis for this description lies high above my horizon. It is the will of God who prevails here, who has lead me out of the unconscious deep substrate, to describe me as “human-being.” I have as a human-being, as this human individuality standing on earth, actually not the right to characterize myself.’ Then the next step must be to say to oneself: Before I can become capable at all of understanding the entire preliminary stages in existence which leads to me saying “I” to myself, I must undergo three developmental steps — right up to the judgement which I may express as the following: I have no right to call myself “human-being,” I need to first go through three steps of development, I must push through three tests. When I have passed these three tests to satisfy my own judgement, will I have earned the right to say to myself: ‘You are a human-being.’

This we should actually feel toward every spoken word: an extraordinary noble humility towards the point of origin for the development of spiritual impulses. We need to say to ourselves: Just like we as human-beings stand on earth today in our 5th Post-Atlantean period, we may, if we are honest people, start by falling quiet, name nothing and then start to conquer the three steps which will give us the right to rename things out of ourselves. Through this can we first get a feeling for how extraordinary a meaningful cosmic experience it had been, as indicated in scripture, that in the presence of God Adam was permitted to name animals and things, which only God's proximity could enable. We come through such experiences which need indeed to be concrete personal experiences, to the necessary depths of the scripture, so that it, through its inner power which we can give it, reach the necessary nuances and coloration and out of every word in each verse let it ring out, to which we can't merely say: ‘We don't have the right to name things’ — but we could say: ‘Through God the right has been given to us, to name things out of ourselves.’

These things must firstly be experienced through the depths of our soul in a priestly way to really encounter the world. Outer gestures do not make a priest, because the priest expresses what comes out of the deepest depths within. When we designate the words “human-being” as such to ourselves, we should only be able to do so when we have gone through these three stages:

The being to whom I want to ascribe the word “human-being”
has depths which I must first need to fathom;

The being to whom I want to ascribe the word “human-being”
has heights to which I need to rise first;

The being to whom I want to ascribe the word “human-being”
has widths which I first have to look at and grasp.

These three sentences contain something meaningful: being a human-being. By deepening these sentences through meditation, they can take you a long way.

In truth it is so: by the human-being placing himself in earthly existence he places himself outside spiritual heights. Solely through the fact that our earth existence is a cooperative task towards human development, cosmically validated, do we contribute a part of our totality as earthlings. Earth shapes us while we walk on it between birth and death, as earthlings, and everything which is shaped out of the earth come out of the depths which cooperates in everything, even in the most minute parts of the smallest organs in us. Just imagine the earth as a being in space has endless secrets within it which work creatively. How your eyes, your ears are formed, how every singular, how every smallest member of your body is formed and fashioned, for all this the creative forces lie within the earth. If we succeed in gradually grasping what the earth's expression of its inner being is in its countenance, with thinking, feeling and willing as an unveiling of her inner secrets, so we meditatively, gradually come to search for an answer to the question: How do I fathom the depths of the being of man?

When we succeed in placing ourselves into our bodies as the multitudinous ways of crystallised earth, which dissolves the crystallisation again, atomised to a powder, when we succeed in observing this development, pulverising and re-crystallising which in the course of time was characterised for the sensitive human-being, for example with Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva; if we succeed in experiencing this entire process which will be for us a kind of bed of the Godhead, by us being embedded in it, so that the bedding within this Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva process becomes something like a cosmic sleep for us during our earth existence, if we experience this crystallisation and dissolving as something which weaves through us with a cosmic urge for sleep, so that we could say: the human-being is so profound, so deeply fashioned in earthly existence that the depths of consciousness doesn't endure but with the entire created earth as a physical body it expires into a cosmic sleep — then we gradually approach the feeling of what it means: what it is for the human-being to be connected to the depths of the earth. If we can finally say to ourselves: the earth forms us out of its depths, permeates us out of its depths with earthly sleep, while out of the depths of earthly sleep the archetypal divine works fully consciously, then we experience something of this earthly depths within the human-being. If we could say something like: the harder the earth appears to us, diamond hard, the harder in its parts, just so more true, so powerfully speaks from this diamond hard heart the condition of sleep of the spiritual world, the light filled spirituality which works in the earth as awakened, active divinity.

Thus we need to go through our meditation in an ever more deepening feeling way and transfer the earthly foundation and say:

‘Oh man, before you can name yourself, before you can establish your depths, you need to ever more deepen yourself into the foundations of the earth.’ When we observe plants sprouting out of the earth, we may acquire a more lofty feeling of piety, a feeling of reverence, that in every plant morsel we can behold something of ourselves, something like a revelation of what is happening below in the earth. We must really clearly understand the exchange of activities taking place between the earth's depths and the breadths of the heavens. See how the blossoming roses grow out of the earth, look at the particular way the rosebud pinches its petals so tightly together as to complement the ground of the earth, counter positioned to the central point of the earth as a mighty rose of light, permeated with divine thought gestures which need to wait until the rose unfolds its bud upwards. Every sleeping rosebud you empathise with the waiting, creating, living light rose in the earthly depths. So it is with all plants. Look at the green cover of plants over the earth and experience that which sprouts out of the earth as green, in the depths of the earth, as quite light-filled but permeated with deep violet, which appears in the world, weaving through it with life. Then you have something which I have said to you: ‘I may only call myself a human-being, when I have explored myself in the earth's depths.’

So the feeling must be reached towards becoming worthy through such meditative penetration, through the conquering of this first step, for the word “human-being” to be used for people. When one takes what the profane person takes as obvious, as a level hovering high above and think one can only reach this level by climbing up to it; through humbling yourself three times more than an ordinary person, becoming three times more humble than an ordinary person believes himself to be, then one is only starting to sense oneself gradually approaching the calling of a priest.

When one has gradually in such a way led oneself to reach the first step, then one takes on the second step which lets us look into the infinite widths of the worlds and one says to oneself at the present moment: Oh, how trivial this world has become, where humanity has only developed trivial images of the wide world. Yes truly, wiser than the wisest student was Stifter's grandmother who was asked about the evening red glow and answered it was the mantle of God's mother, which is hung out in the heaven to be aired. This naive, picturesque imagination is in contrast to scientific knowledge much wiser, much wiser than the most learned astronomy.

This one must be able to absorb: To actually see the shining stars in wide space, stars with essentially the eyes of divine spiritual beings who glance down at us, children of the earth, while their spiritual hands reach out to us, while our spiritual hands reach up to their spiritual hands because we were with them before we came down to an earthly existence. The gods look after us out of space, out of the heights above worlds, in order to explore how we feel towards their predisposition while our spiritual hands reached their spiritual hands. When we are able to possibly develop many imaginations of the heights and become more and more empathic, how the being of humanity originate out of the heights, towards which it needs to climb up once again, then we will be able to come one step closer to earn the right to, as people, call ourselves ‘human beings.’

The word ‘human-being’ must first be dipped into the depths of the earth, as I have indicated, so that its absorption during this immersion becomes part of our minds and enable us to say: We understand this. Now this word ‘human-being’ need to rise up with the mists into the heights and give us the feeling that it will come again in the falling rain, when the word “human-being” will carry within itself the possibility of learning to understand it. We really must initially be clear about everything which works between the depths of the earth and the heavenly heights. In a lively way we must follow the haze rising from woods and mountains. We must not believe that the haze is rising from an area which belongs to the earth. We must develop every kind of modesty towards those people who see in a drop the dragon rising in a thermometer or a barometer, to facilitate measurements. The tendency is to immerse everything in earthly images only. We must reach a point where we can say: ‘How foolish to believe thunder develops out of the friction between clouds; clouds consist of water as every child knows, all moisture is completely kept away from a glass rod if electricity is to be created.’ — Naturally this foolishness comes to the fore when a person tries to experience something in the heights of heaven which he experiences on earth for he has descended down from the heavenly heights and now he needs to feel related to it again before he can truly call himself a human-being. We must clearly understand that while the fog rises out of the mountains and forests, where water is somewhat different than it is on earth, in regions where water itself becomes spiritualised, it is ‘de-watered’ and goes through spiritual processes so that it can materialise once again until it descends again as rain out of spiritual spheres. We must know that if we rise up into such regions then we need to be familiar with these regions of our origination, out of which we descended from in a previous existence. We need to know that lightening is something which rules and weaves in spiritual regions and take the imagination of ancient times, where lightening was the arrow of the Gods, as an imagination far more wise than we can ever make today.

In total stillness we must be able to develop such meditative imaginations in the depths of our minds, enabling us to be the leaders turning a completely de-spiritualised world culture towards the Spirit. When we turn towards the hard earth, we must also turn towards the gentle, flowing water, combining with one another in the depths, right into the most concentrated minute matter, which expands in the heights and must atomise, then coalesce to become rain again in their descent to earth. We must discover all the secrets of water, everything relating to water and draw it all together in our minds. We must meditate over it, we must ask ourselves: ‘How does the sun's warmth come out of the world expanse during summer and into the earth to enable plants to bear fruit which turn ripe? How does this warmth of the sun sink into the earth to enable the farmer to entrust his seeds in the earth's warmth during winter?’ At the end of winter it is this warmth which expands again into the vastness of existence. This warmth, found in all areas of existence, working in all cosmic undertakings, is a communion of the opposites between the heavenly heights and the earthly depths. As human-beings we originate from both. We must fathom the earth's depths before we can enter into the world's expanse.

By increasingly entering into such meditations we come to a kind of feeling, a mindfulness, towards the second step, which gives us the right to apply the word ‘human-being’ to ourselves. We must achieve an awareness that all languages can only be provisional, until through the third step we have reached that union with the linguistic genius who actually speaks unconsciously within us while we, when we have made ourselves the tool of God's Word, only then need to have the right to apply the word ‘human-being’ to ourselves.

As a third step we must try and observe the world's expanse. This we can perceive when the rising and the setting sun becomes a reality in our minds. Similarly with the rising and sinking stars when we learn to understand the great journey of the sun chariot going through the world, then we are really able to recognise what the variations are between East and West, what is different from Southeast compared to Northwest and so on. This we can observe when we are able to say to ourselves: You as human-being may take five steps and so change your position on the earth's surface. For you to be able to do so, like the animal as well, is as a result of forces which draw from East to West in width and breadth, also working on you. You are also shaped out of the earth's depths. While the heights of heaven throw light on you from above and forms and enlivens you, you are all given the ability to be formed into beings able to walk on the earth's surface. The world's expanse you should sense and you can sense this by placing yourself in some distant landscape and experience the air as becoming something increasingly more real. In your immediate surroundings the air appears transparent to you, you don't see it; when you look at a mountain you can paint the air with it because it appears as dew on the surface; when you look at the air in the distance then you see the blue sky. Drenched with it you experience the beings of light as a feeling which becomes real because the experience is bound to actions of will. Thus you rise to the third step in your meditation which leads you to earn the right to name yourself a ‘human-being.’

When you deepen this step in the secret of breathing, you start to understand what the air and the widths of the world are; what is working in the heights and depths and in the horizon and you admit: what permeates your breathing lives in the wide world — it is how the wide world experiences you — and it is this that you must sense in your breath. Further, you must sense in your breathing that an act of will is the basis of penetrating your entire being with the powerful impulses of breathing. You get an inkling of how the depths of the earth give material cohesion to your entire body which you transform according to thoughts given to you from the wide world. So they work together in the whole person:

Depths of earth in your Physical
World widths in your Astral
Heavenly heights in your Etheric

Thus you can feel entire cosmic dimensions in yourself. You can sense when you enter with your feeling into the diamond hard earth how you are a sleeping being. You can feel, when you raise your gaze to the heavenly heights, you are snatched from sleep and become a dreaming being. Yet you can also feel how you are a being who is awake in the width of the world. Gradually you learn to recognise the comic human in the earthly human-being.

In this way you learn to recognise how the human-being is actually formed by God out of the entire cosmos, placed by God on earth. Thus you sense the threefold positioning in the cosmos. This is how you learn to feel how the Father God works out of the earth, whose lively activity must preferably be looked for in the past because what has remained is the firm ground on which we stand, the fixed forms repeated in the world, all that has remained appears to us in fixed images. By meditating with our mind sunk into the earthly depths we hear the words of the Father God sounding up to us. Out of the heavenly heights we hear how the presence of God speaks to us but the words are more profound and more complicated that human speech. God has descended from the heavens down to earth and had to go through the Mystery of Golgotha to allow heavenly speech to penetrate our words. The actual communion of the earthly with the heavenly we can depict in the rising water vapour, in the rain which falls down again, in the rising and again descending warmth of the world. When we allow that to work in us it will permeate us with spirit and we will sense the presence of Christ in those who we feel are under the influence of the heavenly heights. When we penetrate into our breath as coming out of the widths of space and we humbly link our feeling to what happens at every instant, when we in our physicality, ruled by the forces of earthly depths, feel formed and shaped under the leadership of Christ Jesus out of the heavenly heights then we come to really experience, and are permeated by, the activity of the Holy Ghost as the fulfilment of the Trinity and thus out of this our meditation could be:

The Father God has given me the strength which lies in my material existence, as solidified Spirit.

The Son God is always the heavenly which lives in me, which works and weaves like a watery cosmic existence, which is a symbol, an image of it. I sense Christ-God in all my weaving and living, in all which has made me from a child to an adult, in all which grows in me daily and needs to perish again, enabling me to be an earthling through my becoming.

I feel the Spirit God carry into the future that which Christ Jesus has become in us, in the past.

You see, when you meditate like this on the content born out of a word, a word previously only used provisionally, then you have earned the right to call a person a ‘human-being.’ We must begin by developing reverence towards the genius of speech because through such a meditation real reverence is cultivated. Our starting point must not be to refer to the outer impression of the human form only but as a human-being created by God, as a thought from God, as a God-filled human-being, when we speak.

When we prepare ourselves as we have through our meditation on a word such as ‘human-being,’ then the impulse is born for these three steps to be applied to some other words and for the human speech on earth to be implemented in this way. The genius of speech will teach us how we can become living tools for the Word of God when we allow the congregation to experience this Word of God. The Word of God is always there, and what we are doing, is but a moment's experience of the continuous spiritual cosmic weaving Word of God. In the very first beginnings the word existed, in ancient beginnings it was already divine. When we are however not in the position to sense the holiness in the words ‘human-being’ for the people, then our approach is not right, we do not have dignity to also express the first words of the St John's Gospel in the correct way. The priest today has not yet come so far as to be able to say these words in this way.

In our time the primary importance for priests, if they continue in their calling, is to further such things. What has actually been left over from the ancient words revealed from the holy heights above the earth? What has remained from the words such as “Deus,” “Christus,” “Spiritum”? Earthly sounds they now are, hardened by dogma. The truth within words need to be awakened in us, the truth of these words must live in us. We may not neglect anything which will still make it possible for the old, hardened and therefore dogmatic words to become alive again within us. We may no longer turn and twist in the way it was done with God's words in past times in which the Catholic Church extracted the Mystery of the Mass.

In the Old Mysteries priests were far more humble than those of today, when they are like I have just described them. The priest of old said to himself he couldn't be a priest if he was just as he was. As a result, before he was allowed to speak, those things were performed in which the last remainder of incense was still held. As a result of the sensing, which has come to its right in our Consecration of Man ritual, there is indicated that in the Mysteries of old, outer substances were used to shift the consciousness of the priests. This resulted in them feeling shifted out of their bodies and enchanted by the genius of speech, taking them to the higher Genius so that the priest of old, out of his body, experienced the Being of God. No priest was of the opinion that he could move his tongue when he expressed the Word of God; he knew he had to first go out of himself and allow his tongue to be moved from outside. We can no longer do this today and nor should we try. We should through inner spiritual means, with internalized feeling and will work towards the understanding of the foregoing, when we can call ourselves ‘human-beings.’

Just consider, my dear friends, what the Act of Consecration will become under your handling when you start from today taking these things I've spoken about into your priest meditations. These things can also just gradually be taken in by us. Mankind has distanced itself from the divine and must find its way back again. We have absorbed the Act of Consecration into the Christian Movement for Religious Renewal like religious artists. Today we have come to the point where what can only be accepted like a religious art must be taken up in such a way that we are in the position to make it into a lively organism, in order for the Act of Consecration to become really alive and in this way be experienced within the Christian Community as ever new at each fulfilment of the ritual, just like the physical body experiences something new each time it takes in nourishment.

My dear friends, take this into your souls: the Act of Consecration is to become alive. Through this you will earn the right to place yourselves in the earth's becoming and through the Act of Consecration be present within the earth's becoming. Then may you express the following truth: If this Act of Consecration is not performed then the earth will waste away and remain without nourishment. It would be just as if no plants would grow. Plants grow in the physical world; the Act of Consecration of Man must grow in the spiritual realm. If it was not enacted there on this higher level it would be the same as if on the lower level of the physical earth no plants would grow. A human-being only has the right to say this when he or she succeeds in continuously enlivening the Act of Consecration so that this self-expressed word ‘human-being’ has been achieved in the correct manner and being and weaving, within the earthly existence, through achieving the three steps of inner soul development.

Only then, my dear friends, when you have experienced it in this sensitive way can you really place yourself in the right way in our present time. According to your need to gather again after a certain time, I may say this to you, because it belongs to the entire development of the Christian Community. Thus you have taken something full of life into yourselves which can work in an enlivening way in yourselves. I wish that today's words are taken in all seriousness, in the right way.