This Commentary was taken up over the Holy Nights at the Fellowship Community
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In the last year we have been very busy working with plants, gems, and the therapeutic method. As well, we were busy founding a Section group and a Class group, and have begun speaking about therapies. Slowly we are trying to suffuse more therapeutic activity and therapeutics with a deeper impulse. With this in mind, it seems very appropriate to take up the St. Luke Gospel for these Holy Nights as we look ahead to this coming year. During the last Holy Nights we took up the ten lights of the Fellowship Christmas tree. The ten lights were ten themes that we could work on as Section work within the Fellowship Community and, at the same time, work to support the Medical Section of the School of Michael.
Our method for taking up the Holy Nights was to study the ten lectures of the St. Luke cycle by Rudolf Steiner, consider the St. Luke Gospel itself, and choose plant themes for each night. The plants are found in the St. Luke Gospel itself. Each night two individuals presented, and I tried to add to this.
The first evening we took up the theme of incense in relation to imagination and the path of conscious initiation. Incense was made by those who were the pharmacists in ancient times. It was a special and sacred process. It belonged to the activities of the temple. Incense was lighted in front of the veil of the inmost Holy of Holies within the temple of the Hebrews—and the other temples of initiation as well. It played a significant role in the Hebrew ritual. The Gospel relates that Zacharias burned incense at the altar. We might imagine that the smell—the aroma—and the smoke formed an essential avenue that led to the Holy of Holies. Incense helped to cross the veil—to pierce through the veil. In those ancient times, it was always said that the veil could not be raised, although, after due preparation, it is within the Holy of Holies that the veil is then pierced. A step in this direction is the use of incense. The smoke, but particularly the smell, I would like to consider now.
The incense of the ancient Hebrews was made up of three plant substances, an animal substance, and salt. The salt notably points to the mineral kingdom. One plant was storax. The gum of this plant was used for the incense. It gives a particularly warm and sweet smell. The second plant was galbuman. This is a large fennel-like plant. It is airy, light, light-filled. It exudes a milky substance that gives off quite a pungent odor. The third plant was frankincense, which is a plant that grows in the desert. It can grow directly out of stone. It gives off quite a decidedly strong odor that tends to awaken the senses. These were the three substances from the plant kingdom. From the animal world, the door, the operculum, of the sea snail was used. It gives a fiercely sweet smell. We can imagine the frankincense stimulating human activity, human sense activity; from the snail we can imagine an activity of moving inward. The snail moves inward, creating a house as it moves, and then closes the door. The substance of the door is used. As frankincense awakens outwardly, we imagine the operculum awaking man inwardly. The frankincense gives off a secretion, which falls to the earth as a solid substance. The snail carries an activity into the earth itself. The depths of earthly existence need to be penetrated with the aid of incense. The salt of the earth completes the picture.
Notable to me is that all these substances are secretions, are substances given out of the being of either the mineral, the plant, or the animal. We can think that these substances came about through the working of astrality in all the kingdoms touched by these substances. As such, as the incense burns, it might well strike the human astrality active in the breathing-smelling process. Here we are referring to the aromatic events of smell, not the events in the smoke.
To speak about the smoke, we might look to the Kabiri of the Samothracian mysteries, who conjured spiritual beings into the smoke that arose out of the vessels in which the incense was burned. Efforts were made to draw forth delicate smoke structures—smoke forms. The forms became the garment of spiritual beings whose activities worked on the forms of the smoke. Spiritual beings can embody themselves in smoke, smoke-airy substances. My contemplation has been that this process helps to awaken the imaging faculties of the initiate—helps imaginative activity. On the other hand, the incense of the Hebrews may have stimulated the activity of smell that led to an associative thinking, an imageless thinking. This latter process goes along with the direction that was the destiny of the Hebrews. Their task was to awaken a thought activity that is devoid of images. Their task was to develop a thought activity that would lead to the capacity of abstract thinking. From this faculty, self-sustaining soul activity could evolve. The use of vapors by the Kabiri and of incense by the Hebrews were methods to stimulate and help develop the natural clairvoyant faculties of man at that time. We might consider this to be the case as well with the three kings and the shepherds. It is possible to contemplate that the kings, like those who used incense, were clairvoyant to the astrality of the heavens and how this astrality could guide man. The shepherds, like those initiated through smoke, were clairvoyant to earthly life and the life surrounding the earth. Men at that time tended to be initiated through a natural clairvoyance into one of two polarities, either that of the heavens or of the earth. We might further contemplate that these two tendencies were reflected in the mysteries of the North and the South—initiation into the cosmos or initiation into the inner being of man. Ecstasy and mysticism are the two major paths. Ecstasy leads outward, mysticism inward. In our description of the incense of the Hebrews and the smoke of the Kabiri, we may well find another aspect of these two types of initiation that evolved natural clairvoyance. In the situation at hand, with the use of this special incense, we might have a special circumstance that helps establish an initiation possibility that takes both types into consideration. A proper mixture of incense might further both possibilities. The kings and the shepherds may have become an outer expression of what was an inner aspect of the mysteries in regard to initiation—that is, either an initiation outward or one inward. The mysteries of the north and the south—ecstasy and mysticism—become king and shepherd processes to be transformed in the souls of the Hebrews to image and imageless soul activities. This enables a change so that another step in initiation can occur—that from east to west. In the circumstance at hand the kings come from the east, and from spiritual science we learn that the three kings embody forces that live in thinking, feeling and willing. The three streams also come out of the north, south, and east, as do the three kings, but they all journey west.
This line of inquiry considers that natural clairvoyance, trained in the mysteries, becomes shepherdly and kingly activity to then be transformed to image capacity (as with the Kabiri, for example) and imageless activity (as with the Hebrew) with the possibility of evolving new faculties. In the ritual incense process, we are considering that with all the kingdoms of nature involved old clairvoyance can give way to new possibilities. The human being can begin to internalize what was first given in the mysteries, then to the kings and shepherds, and finally to all mankind through the Christ, as the new incense lays a foundation. In the process, we move from the north-south mysteries to an evolution for all men from east to west. As the next step, we can contemplate how, out of the west, impulses would then return to the east; how, out of the element that is placed within the human soul, the human soul can become active out of itself. And from this comes an initiation, an initiation process out of the human soul-spirit itself, without the stimulus of the outer world and its substantiality.
If we look at the human being, we can consider smell as a further evolution of the older breathing-initiation path. The old inclination to use breathing and the breath as a basis for initiation passes over into the sense of smell (a sense), and then gradually over into pure cognitive experiences. The cognitive senses should become free of breathing, and then the lower senses as well. Considering the sense of smell, we see that it is a process that goes outward. It is a sense that directs us into the astral element of the world. It takes us outward so that we can approach the beingness of the outer world. This beingness is essential to evolution, which brings about changes in the living and in the physical makeup of existence. It is this emphasis on the fact that breathing, smelling, is going outward that becomes very much the emphasis of our considerations of the plant. We can contrast this with the inwardly directed path in regard to illness. Illness in man can be approached through smell, by going out to the those who are ill. The path inward, however, leads to our own illnesses. Taste is a sense that leads inward as well. If we go outward to find that which is a soul-like quality in nature, then we can search to find the same, that which is similar, in man’s illness.
We can consider that smell is a very essential sense for the therapeutician. It is necessary to be able to smell the inwardness of that which lies around us—the astrality that lies around us. In this way we can develop a sense for what is needed as we work to heal the human being and the environment. Emphasis on cleanliness and on order is essential to enabling the sense of smell to become operative for the sake of those around us who are ill and for the environment. Not only is our sight, in connection with the light, transformed in cleaning, but our sense of smell can begin to reach into the environment and then be able to make perceptions, light experiences, in relation to those who are ill.
It is a well-known fact that smell guides the human being very much. Rudolf Steiner has pointed out how the sense of smell has been used even to bring about revolutions, particularly in the case of the French Revolution. Here, we are trying to speak about the awakening of the sense of smell, which generally points inward as we stream out into the world, into nature and our fellow men. The sense of smell can lead us to insights into problems, so that we can try to give a helping hand to our environment and to those who are ill.
In our considerations of the relationships between the human senses and the gems, we have related the sense of smell to the mineral sard. All of our senses can be seen reflected in the gem process, which invests the earth with sense activity. The earth also needs senses. In the case of the human senses, it is particularly important—and particularly for the sense of smell—to look for the excretional activities that go on in the human being in order that smell can become active. I have spoken repeatedly of the fact that as we excrete and secrete we form the basis for sense activity. The casting off or secreting inward frees forces or ties up forces that are crucial for sense activity. Notable is the fact that the reproductory organs with their inner secretions, which are secreted into the blood as well as secreted out with the urine, are the excretory counterpart of the sense of smell. The secretion and excretion of hormonal substances results in the freeing and tying up of formative forces essential to the activity of smell. Excretion supports awakening in smell; secretion into the blood leads to the inwardness of smell. It is also for this reason that we then can use our sense of smell to relate to the secretions and excretions of man. The same thing can be said about the plant, where we also find secretions and excretions. In the oils, in the gases, in the odoriferous substances of the plants, we have a similar process as that which goes on in man. It is the cosmic-astral organization of the plant that is at work. This forms a counterpart of the activities in man. Thus it is possible to use odoriferous substances, as with the incense of the Hebrews and the smoke of the Kabiri, to awaken a kind of astrality in man—a very pure astrality. Odors and smoke can be created out of a warmth-burning process so that the soul can be directed and purified.
For the modern human being, we can see that this fiery incense process is something that he can carry out in his own soul. In concentration, contemplation and meditative activity, it is possible to melt and bring about an incense process within the human being. This enables man to come to the cosmic astral and to life in the surrounding world as well as in himself. Today this is possible through a self-engendered activity of initiation. In olden times, man was dependent on outer substance.
We might now consider the St. Luke Gospel and the birth of St. John as announced to Zacharias in the temple in the midst of incense. This points to a very essential scene, a very essential element for the life of the therapeutician. In olden times, clairvoyance was very much connected with a substance process. Today we try to find the same incense warming-vaporizing process ignited out of the self-engendered activity of the soul. This is a striving for initiation. The soul that is striving for initiation in relation to the healing of others has to enact in the soul what was a temple process in olden times. Smoke and incense, imagination and inspiration, have to come about, reversing the old sacramental processes.
We can further note that the outset of this Gospel is concerned with St. John and his relationship to the Christ. Notable is the fact that John was born to Zacharias and Elizabeth six months before the birth of the Nathan Jesus. This is remarkable in that, in the presence of Elizabeth, the Mary carrying the Nathan Jesus was able to experience the awakening of life within herself because of the presence of the being of John. John was able to incarnate because of the souls of Zacharias and Elizabeth, who were older, mature souls. This lays the basis for what is necessary to become an eyewitness of the Word. It was Luke, the physician, the friend of Paul, who could speak of himself as an eyewitness. Luke must have been initiated into the secrets of religious life that I have spoken of. He must have known the secret of how a being or a human being could be born with a mature astrality and ego working such as with John; how John as a human being was born in the presence of the etheric element of the Nathan Jesus, the pure etheric-ego element that worked into the Nathan Jesus. It worked into the Nathan Jesus for a period of twelve years. This gave the basis for a new working to the astral-ego of John. Luke needed to be concerned with how this mature astral could work into the youthful Nathan etheric ego. Luke needed to know how that which is carved out by Elijah-John—the whole prophetic Jewish element—can work in such a way as to serve as an awakening ego-like impulse in the Nathan Jesus. This sets the tone for our whole approach to the St. Luke Gospel. This working into the purest of ethers is how to evolve that which is good and pure. This working of the pure astral into the pure etheric can be transformed into healing, into the deed of healing. Thus a means by which the purified mature astral can imprint into the cosmic ether (cosmic etheric–Adam-Kadmon etheric) stands at the outset of this Gospel. This process is necessary for eye-witnessing—it is an initiation process that lies at the hand of the striving therapeutician. The therapeutician who goes the path of Luke, who becomes an eyewitness of the events at hand, impresses the purified astral into the cosmic ether. The ego-striving staff of the therapeutician takes hold of the coiling serpent-smoke to purify the soul. Only by this self-healing can the forces of the purest of ethers be used, morally, for healing—for peace and goodwill.
Let us take up the second lecture of the Luke Gospel and also the theme of converging spiritual streams. Here we can take up the Buddha and the bodhisattva stream. I would like to take up this theme, but first I will return to the sense of smell and then advance to initiation so that we come to the Bodhi Tree. I will try to take up this tree in its relation to initiation and to the converging streams. Through Rudolf Steiner we can look at the Gospel of Luke and be introduced to the stream that is connected with the Buddha; by looking at the Matthew Gospel we can consider the stream connected with Zarathustra. The former is the shepherd impulse—the latter is the kingly line.
When we start to concern ourselves with smell as would a therapeutician, we are directed outward. We meet the refined excretions of minerals, plants, and animals. The aromatic substances, the scents, the oils that we smell are all wafted into the environment. They are all secreted or excreted into the environment. Rudolf Steiner’s revelation is that phantoms of these substances are emitted with the excretions. We meet them in the sense of smell. That which is emitted through an astral activity is met by our own astrality, alive in smell. Astral meets astral.
These emissions, these oils, these scents—even from the mineral substances or simple inorganic compounds that produce smells in the minerals, as is the case with most stones and gems—are all accompanied by delicate forms as the emissions are borne into the air. This all takes place in the environment of the earth. If we consider the earth from a cosmic, a cosmological, point of view, we can picture that these emissions appear in the ether spheres of the cosmos. These ether spheres have been described by Rudolf Steiner as spheres circumscribed by the planets. The planets traverse a line on the circumference of a sphere, so that the entire enclosed sphere can be considered an ether sphere. The planets may be considered as the outer demarcations of progressive spheres. We can then picture the succession of spheres moving from Saturn to Jupiter to Mars, Sun, Venus, Moon, Mercury, and finally to Earth. We have a series of spheres, one within the other, each sphere interpenetrating the other as we come from the periphery to the center. It is a question then, how to take that which is in the center as an ether sphere back into the periphery. In the odoriferous substances with their phantoms, we have a starting point, moving from the center outward, to enter into these ether spheres.
If we continue the line of thought of the delicate emanations, the delicate phantoms and odoriferous substances emitted by minerals, plants, animals, and even human beings, that come to exist within the ethereal spheres, we can contemplate how with smell our astrality merges into these ether spheres. We can consider that with smell we reach out into the airy world, which is penetrated through and through by the ether spheres. These spheres reach the greatest heights, from which we receive the obvious light radiations as we look up in the night to the heavens at the stars and the planets. It is into these spheres that we move when we breathe out, and particularly when we smell.
The opposite gesture is taste. Here we move inward. In a way, we breathe inward when we taste. Here our astrality moves inward, touching that which is etheric within our own being—our own ether spheres, as it were. Through taste we move into the inner organization of man, while smell goes outward to the outer astral, merging with the etheric in the cosmos. On the breathing inward with taste, our taste moves inward into the domain of our organism where our soul, our astrality, merges inwardly in the sense of taste with our etheric makeup. This then sets the stage for a physiological approach to the two streams. The one that goes outward and the one that goes inward. We spoke about this already in terms of the shepherds and kings, but in our discussion at hand I want to take up another aspect of this outwardness and inwardness, which is determined by a transformation of smell and taste, and not by a soul living in the world or in the organism, as in the case of the shepherds and the kings.
Let’s for a moment reflect on the outer ether spheres into which the phantoms of the smell substances are cast from all the kingdoms. The refined substances and phantoms point to existence in the ethers. In these smell substances and phantoms there are activities of spiritual beings that are active as ego beings in relation to the various kingdoms. We can consider that in the ether spheres the Spirits of Motion are living and active in relationship to the animals and the emissions of animals; the Spirits of Wisdom are at work in the emissions of plants; and the Spirits of Will are active in relation to the emissions of the mineral substances. In the case of man, we can come into contact with the spiritual beings, the Spirits of Form, in relationship to the human individuality and the kingdom of man. These spiritual beings live in higher ether domains. They send their messengers to work into the minerals, plants and animals, so that we have to look then to the elemental beings in contact with these kingdoms. At the same time, we have to look for the quality of the individual astrality in the particular animals, minerals and plants. We have to look for the working of the zodiacal star world in animal existence. We have to look at a more lofty star world in the case of the plant kingdom, and even more in the case of the mineral, and finally to the loftiest in relation to the single individual. Thus we can look to the kingdoms in the outer ether spheres and the spiritual-hierarchical beings that work as the basis. But as we ascend from those kingdoms to that which is individual, we have to pass outward from the zodiacal circle into the outer astral star world that lies beyond the sphere of the zodiac. It is this that we try to meet in the single plant, the single animal or the single mineral. Thus to find the kingdoms, we look to the spiritual-hierarchical world; to find what is singular within the kingdoms, to find the individual, we must look into an even more lofty world. We must rise to the loftiest ether spheres, into the bosom of the Godhead, where individuation occurs as a spiritual process reflecting in the world of the elemental beings.
Now let’s again return to the emanations, and here I would suggest that the emanations, the excretions, the smell substances, all point to different provinces in the ether world. I would also suggest that the emanations of the animals point to the so-called astral world. The ether world that lies closest to the earth, the ether world where man first journeys when he dies, the ether world where animal souls are very active and busy, this is where the emissions of animals direct us. Think of the secretions of the musk deer used in our perfumes. Let us picture this etheric-astral activity coming from the sphere of the moon.
In the case of plant emanations, excretions, they point more to the domain of the etheric world that has a closer relationship to the Sun—that is, to the spheres of Mercury and Venus. The spheres of Mercury, Venus, Sun, and Mars might be considered together. The emanations of plants tend to point to this domain, where there is an active working of the plant process, a living process. Mercury and Venus spheres carry us to the Sun, while Mars draws from the outer ether spheres for the sake of the plant.
Considering the smell substances of the mineral world, I would like to suggest that they point to the ether spheres where much more pure soul elements supervene. Here is where the purest of gem-crystal processes take place in the ether world. The activities configuring the mineral into refined conditions lie in the outer spheres—from Mars to Saturn.
We might then consider that the animal kingdom carries us through smell to the lower ether world, to the coarser ether elements. This is the coarse animal-astral world—our kamoloca world. Plant essences point to an ether world connected with the sun, and mineral essences direct us to an ether world that lies more in connection with the outer zodiacal planetary world. If we turn to man with his smell emanations, surface excretions, it seems to me that we should look more to the earth and what occurs on the earth, and to the sphere of the earth in relation to the states of matter and the etheric elements that give rise to the conditions of matter. Here, in man, the cosmos has to be drawn together.
With this we have established a whole ether world. The ether world begins with the states of matter. From the states of matter, we come to the ether forces that establish the states of matter. It is here that the realm of animal astrality exists. Next, we approach ether workings where plant astrality unfolds, and finally, we can move into the ether world where the astrality of the mineral holds sway. By considering the excretory processes of man, mineral, plant and animal, we point to the dominance of the astral. We point to the domain where the astral then molds and forms what is etheric, as with odoriferous substances, oils, and the production of physical phantoms. From this point of view we could then say that we have a whole ether cosmos that is being molded by the working of an astral principle, by astral life. Only in the case of material states does the etheric in its activity outstrip the astral.
In our present considerations, it seems to me that it is important to consider the working of the astral into the etheric as a predominant influence. We have to look at the astral-organism processes, which mold and determine what comes into being. On the one hand, we can consider the ether spheres where the astral is dominant. On the other hand, we can consider the astral at work in the kingdoms of the physical world where the etheric is dominant. With smell we can walk an astral path, as it were, into the ether ocean. The astral has to be structured for this. The astral of the physical kingdoms wafts substances and phantoms into the ether spheres, where our sense of smell “smells-out” (diagnoses) the workings of an astral organization.
With this background, we might then take up the issue of the Buddha and his initiation under the Bodhi Tree. We hear that Buddha was the son of a king, the king of Suddhodana. He was born into a protected, royal situation. He was given a body that would enable him to go through his last incarnation. Before this incarnation, he had lived repeatedly as a bodhisattva. The buddha of 600 BC had incarnated many times in various civilizations, including in the Northern mysteries. He took up his final incarnation when, as the son of a king, he became the Gautama Buddha. As noted, he was born into a family where he was protected. And then we are told of his gradual initiation process in which he is first confronted with the imaginative astral world of dancing girls and the like. He moves from there into the philosophical world of Yoga and Sankhya. Next he becomes an ascetic. And then he gives this up. Then he brings together all that he has been through—the astral world of dancing girls, the philosophical world of Yoga and Sankhya, his ascetic practices—and tries to give up the physical world entirely. He meets aging, illness, and death. He begins to renounce the world of desire, the physical world, the world of incarnation. His path is to work in a direction so that the astrality that is inherent in man in initiation can take up that which is astral and kamoloca-like, that which is philosophical and Yoga-Sankhya-like, and that which is then ascetic, of the loftiest spiritual domains, in such a way that the physical is totally subjected to the astral. The path then has to lead out of the aging process, out of the ethers of all life and illness. The astral has to be so purified that the soul-astral can live in lofty ether spheres where the impulses for incarnation do not have the upper hand. We might say that this is a path that leads man to so penetrate existence and to so work on his soul, his astral organization, that this soul can live outside of the need to incarnate—can live in nirvana. This soul can rise to the loftiest ether worlds without having to return to the physical world. Such an individual has to astralize the physical body to the greatest extent, he has to transform the etheric so that time is overcome. The physical is overcome. Birth and death are overcome. In birth and death, life is overcome, and finally suffering is overcome. Being able to eliminate desires from the soul—to purify the soul—so that the soul can then live in the loftiest pure soul world without birth, without life, but with wisdom. This is the path to nirvana. This is also a path into the loftiest ether worlds, which takes the human soul into the domain of the Godhead. One might say that such a soul can then stand as an eyewitness in relation to the Godhead. This is a purification of the soul that goes through life and transforms the physical so that existence can be of the loftiest in the spheres of ether existence—the physical is dropped away.
A possible view of such a process would be to see that a bodhisattva who becomes a buddha so transforms his soul that he is able to be grounded in the purest ether worlds, in the heights of the cosmos within the view of the Godhead. This is moving from the creative ethers to refining and creating new ether elements for sustaining pure soul life. This I would think could be considered to be the task of a bodhisattva, who then becomes a buddha. He rises into a new plane of existence by creating that existence and directing mankind to that existence. The eightfold path gives this direction out of the physical world and into the world of wisdom, into the domain of the holies of wisdom, where a human being can become an “eyewitness” of God. The path to do this is the path of rightness, the path of righteousness, the path of virtues. The eightfold path is necessary in order to come into this life domain.
It might be very appropriate then to place the initiation of Buddha in relation to a tree. To do this, we have to consider the tree as an over-astralized expression of the earth. In the trunk rising from the earth to the leafing, flowering, fruiting domain is the earth that has been raised and penetrated by cosmic astrality through and through. The tree with its trunk and branches is the earth that has been raised into the loftiest of ether domains, where further processes can occur, where etheric-astral processes can occur, in a refined astral-physical world. The same forces that build the trunk and the limbs, where leaves and other fruitious substances can come to expression, are very pure astral activities. The tree becomes the expression of a tremendous astrality, the purest astrality, which can raise earth to the heights of ether-unfolding, as in the bough of the tree. The tree can then support a lower astrality (by raising the earth); but in its finer creating of leaves, of catkins, nuts, oils, and the like, there is a more refined working. Here there is the working of the loftiest astrality. Raised from trunk and branch to leaves, etc., there is an etheric at work of the loftiest kind. Here works the etheric of the cosmos—the etheric that serves the activity of the human spirit. We can imagine the trunk and the branches of the tree as the earth that is raised into the ether sphere where a lower astrality is working. Even loftier astrality is working in the plant elements that live in the tree and further develop into the organs and entities that then produce oils, colors, scents, and so forth. That which raises the earth into the trunk and limbs enables the unfolding of life in the heights of the tree, at the same time bearing a relationship to the physical, but raising the physical away from the earth and toward the heights. This lifting of the life in the tree into cosmic ether heights seems to me to be the perfect expression of the path of Buddha, which goes from incarnation on the earth to penetrating the earth, and then carrying on into the greatest of heights away from the earth. When these forces that build the tree are taken up by the human being and worked through by the human being, then we have an initiation that is the eightfold path of Buddha. His four practices and his eightfold path enable the soul to ascend to the ether heights that are at work in the bough of the tree. The bough of the tree flourishes and fruits in the spiritual world. It does not come to total completion within the physical world. This, as I see it, is particularly evident in the seed formation of the tree. In the case of the Bodhi Tree, we have a tree that expresses this to the greatest degree. It is a tree with long life; it is a tree that is earthly, long-lived, gnarled, and it is dying into a kind of eternal life just by its very expression.
When we look at man, we can think of Rudolf Steiner’s indication that the Bodhi Tree points to the working of the human cerebellum. The forces that build the cerebellum, the forces that build this organ that is a mirror of all our movement, are similar to the force system that is expressed in the coming forth of the tree, and particularly when we still our movement and live in relationship to the forces that could be used in outer movement, but instead, outer movement is stilled, and the movement forces are used for soul-movement—soul activity. The limb movement forces are stilled in order to be used by an ascending purified soul that is on the way to the spirit. The temple of wisdom is reached by forestalling physical movement in order to take hold of the freed forces—and thereby ascend into the ether reaches of the cosmos. The active limbs and the quiet cerebellum, resting in the etheric waters of the skull under the crown of the cerebrum (posterior), can be seen imaginatively as the Gautama sitting quietly under the Bodhi Tree. The life and cosmic forces that structure the tree flow into the pure soul of the Gautama as enlightenment. Out of this enlightenment come the practices that can lead us to this region of wisdom in cosmic existence.
My understanding is that when a soul works in such purity, in such ether heights, then the soul becomes virginous. This is where new creation can occur. This is the province where a buddha rises to develop what is called the nirmanakaya, the loftiest spirit-ether bodies that he can construct. My understanding of this point is that the dharmakaya of a buddha is what is transformed of the physical for a kind of eternal life. The sambhogakaya is a transformation of the ether for existence in the lower ether spheres. The nirmanakaya is a transformation of the ether for life in the loftiest spiritual world. Here ether weaves as creative wisdom. Here ether weaves as a new creation out of the ethers that have been given from previous evolutions—from Adam Kadmon. This is an undefiled ether. The nirmanakaya then becomes the domain of pure etheric creative activity. It is the domain where spiritual beings are born into wisdom. Here is a living, active domain where new cosmic worlds are being born or can be born.
All of this is important. It points to the theme of this lecture, which is to come to terms with the nirmanakaya of Buddha. In the heavenly hosts, perceived by the hearts of the shepherds, the working of the nirmanakaya is seen in the beingness of the Nathan child. The Nathan being, the etheric-ego being comes out of the same province into which Buddha is working as an astral being, transforming lofty, pure etheric elements in order to bring forth the first teachings of love and compassion. In order for love and compassion to be enacted in the world, not just taught but given as deed, the etheric of this domain has to flow into the Nathan Jesus. It is not enlightenment, but now the most delicate ether-spirit-life must flow into the Nathan Jesus. For this to occur an etheric ego has to be constituted from this sphere. This etheric ego is the Ego of the Nathan Jesus. Into this etheric body of Jesus flow the impulses of the nirmanakaya, which serve to transform the etheric of the body of Jesus into spirit-life. In this way wisdom becomes life; compassion and love become being. At the outset, these two elements work into the Nathan Jesus: the etheric ego and the wisdom ether nirmanakaya of Buddha. When the lofty Sun-Spirit, the Christ, incarnates, then the ether of compassion and love is available for deeds.
With this, then, I would see the nirmanakaya of Buddha working strongly into the soul and etheric nature of the Nathan being. This makes it possible that some of the etheric nature of this child is withheld so that the wisdom of love and compassion can be bred directly into the etheric organization. We could also say that the nirmanakaya worked into the etheric nature of the child so that it is not completely engaged in physical existence. One might say that this working into the ether (the Nathan Ego and the nirmanakaya) gives the healing impulses to the Nathan Jesus. It also gives the wise but un-knowing components to this child. We might say that the first impulse in the life of this being is to take the child away from the earth. Those who would come into contact with this child would experience being lifted into the domain of love and compassion—into the domain of healing, of new life, of new birth—just by the very presence of this being. It is this quality that the simple shepherd’s heart could experience in the presence of the Nathan Jesus with the overshadowing nirmanakaya of Buddha.
It is this Nathan being that is being aided by the nirmanakaya. It is this Nathan being that is, on the one side, preparing a physical body that isn’t completely earthbound. On the other side, the etheric is free, and can have the mighty astrality of the Buddha imprinted into it in the form of love and compassion. I would like to suggest that love and compassion is a new ether. It is a very, very pure ether. It is an ether that exists in the “eye of the Godhead.” It is an ether that has to be created out of what was given as an etheric creation in Sun-evolution. It brings a new ether element, a new life element into the existence of man, evolution, and cosmic development.
The themes of this Holy Night are grain in relation to love and compassion, and Buddha and the Nathan Jesus.
It is notable that we have chosen the plant in relation to the Gospel of St. Luke. This is done knowingly, that the plant is an objective manifestation of the etheric world. It is just this world that we need to take hold of and attain a relationship with in order to be engaged with the domain of healing. St. Luke went on this path and gained the possibility of being an eyewitness to the events of the spiritual world. It appears that it was through the Apostle Paul that he was able to find his way. Paul had a Damascus experience. Events came to him. He was borne out of time. My impression is that this was necessary in order for the Christ event to come into the life of Luke, who had been initiated and had become familiar with the world of healing, the world of life; but this was through an old initiation in the Egyptian mysteries (the ancient bull mystery). The inwardness of the mystical path of the human being who wants to penetrate to the secrets of healing gains a new turn in Christian initiation, in the Christian mysteries. St. Luke was an initiate of ancient Egypt, and he comes into a new life trying to find the etheric not only within man, but in the outer world as well—in the world where the etheric is objectified in the plant. Therefore it is quite justified that we should try to follow this path. The reference to corn in the Bible is in Chapter 6 of the Luke Gospel. Corn can be seen as an example, or an archetype, of all grains. Grain takes us to the whole question of nourishment and launches us immediately into the impulse of agriculture, into the ancient culture that cultivated the earth to develop grain. This culture that we look to is the culture that originated in Persia, in Mesopotamia, out of the life and work of Zarathustra. We have attempted to take up the question of grain here in the community by trying to cultivate the Pfeiffer wheat. Through discussions with Dr. Steiner, Ehrenfried Pfeiffer took up the cause of grain, of wheat, which is a grain that when consumed can nourish man, can increase the wellness of man and give the sustenance needed for activity on the earth. For this, one needs wheat with a high protein content—protein that is not damaged by grinding and breadmaking. Pfeiffer began cultivating wheat in order to make healthy bread for healthy people to be able to do good things on this earth.
After considering the grain, we can juxtapose it with the tree. With the tree we have earth that has been astralized, raised up; and on this astralized earth we have the plant, which appears every year on the boughs of the tree as leaves, blossoms and fruit. This whole process has descended toward the earth in the case of the grain, which is placed immediately in relation to the earth. The tree raises earth to heaven. The grain brings heaven to earth. Here the mystery process then is not going the path of initiation via the tree, but the path of initiation via that which is of the earth and is given to man. This speaks to the great question of how substances are consumed and transformed into a nourishing activity. The aspect of life as it relates to the earth and to nourishment, as we know, was a great secret of the dark earth, of alchemy, of the Egyptian mysteries, and also that of Moses. We are here looking not to the etheric of the great heights of the cosmos or what is in the depths of the earth, but the etheric or life elements that have to be enlivened in man. We now search for what has to be taken in from the earth and worked through the earth so that when consumed by man through inner activity new life can come. Nourishing substances need an earthly element and at the same time a life that asks for life in the human organism. Earth and life are needed in the grain. We might picture the grain as a tree that has been reduced to the size of a single plant. What is of substance in the tree exists as potential dynamic process in the grain. In the grain we see a little stalk, a little leaf, and then the kernels or seeds that form the head of the wheat, the oats, the rye, the barley, the corn, the rice or the like. The earthly is carried directly into the seed, but with little substance. We might see the grains as an outcome of the mystery impulse of Atlantis that enables the earth to be raised into a substance that is penetrated through and through with life and light. Grain is of the earth, related to the earth. It is needed so that man can work as an earthly being on the earth. In this sense, the grain becomes a symbol of man being nourished by the earth, earth substance, raised and penetrated through and through by astrality so that when grain is consumed man’s inner organization is activated, his own astral organization is activated so that work can occur on earth. Here the consumption of the grain leads to inner activity that can flow into movement activities that are needed for our existence on the earth and needed to transform the earth.
This picture stands in stark contrast to initiation via the tree. Here we might speak about initiation via the grain, via the bread. The consuming of bread, the breaking of bread, symbolizes this initiation. This is an initiation that leads man from the cosmos to the earth. With the focus on the grain we can turn toward the initiation that leads in this direction. For this we will look at the initiation given by Zarathustra.
Zarathustra is a being who incarnated again and again to bring something of the light of the sun to the earth. He had to be sure that what is of the light of the sun did not ascend to the heights and withdraw from earthly evolution, but that what is of the light of the sun is brought to earth. Earth needs to be cultivated in such a way that the light can come into the earth itself. From Rudolf Steiner we hear how Zarathustra was able to give his etheric organization to Moses. Moses became the initiate of the etheric and of the earth. Zarathustra gave his astral to Hermes so that the astral could work on what is of the earth, so that it could be taken hold of and penetrated. We then need to look at the Persian initiation as carried into the Hebrew bloodline and into the Egyptian culture so that the earth could be taken up in the form of substance and in the types of government that direct human civilization as an earthly development. In both cases we can see that the grain serves as an image of these two impulses. We might imagine life and grain cultivated by the Egyptians for the sake of the earth. We might further imagine the making of bread in the Hebrew culture, leading to making and consuming bread in community. This secret of how the etheric works into the earth and man, and how the astral works into the earth and into man in nourishment, is what can be gained by contemplating the initiations of Moses and Hermes. These two impulses were begun by the mighty Zarathustra, who was then able to sacrifice his astral and etheric bodies so that civilization could take another step forward. We can note what a lofty being Zarathustra must be in order to be able to enact such deeds for the earth and mankind. If we now turn back to the question of the wheat, we might consider how the earth is penetrated by the etheric, and how the earth in turn enables earth substance to flow into the grain. Next we need to follow how that grain is brought to man so that man can act for the welfare of the physical earth. Here in the grain we have the secret of helping man to incarnate, to come to earth and direct his life on earth as a citizen of this earth.
The bodhisattva Zarathustra, who incarnates again and again, can be seen as a spiritual being, a bodhisattva being, who stands in contrast to Buddha. Buddha had to develop the etheric so that man can be led out of existence and stand as an eyewitness in the light of the Godhead. Zarathustra had to be able to so work that as a bodhisattva being he could come to live not in the spheres of the higher ethers, but in the sphere of the earth ethers. He had to go through the development that enables him to remain, as it were, a being continually connected with the earth for the sake of the earth. He had to work so that man could come to live on earth. To highlight this, we can compare the initiation of Zarathustra to the eightfold path of Buddha and Buddha’s four virtues.
The stages of Persian initiation have been spoken about by Rudolf Steiner again and again. These stages were given by Zarathustra and go back to 6000 BC. These stages can be seen as the archetype of an initiation process that enables man to incarnate again and again: when he has finished an incarnation on the earth, he remains in relationship to, in connection with, the physical world. The ethers of the physical world have to be taken hold of. To evolve to that stage in which the last incarnation the bodhisattva remains in continuous connection with the earth means in Persian initiation to become a “God-man”—to become a Master. Zarathustra structured this initiation process of becoming a master. In order to do this, he needed to go through the sevenfold initiation stages. These stages have been enumerated again and again. The first stage is the stage of the Raven. The next one is that of undergoing Occult Tests. The third stage is to become a Warrior; the fourth is to become a Lion or Defender. The fifth is attaining the rank of a Folk-soul. The sixth stage is becoming a Sun-hero, and the seventh is becoming a Father. In the case of the seventh stage, it is necessary for an initiate to be able to work on the physical body so that what has been created out of the physical can in fact be sacrificed. Such an initiate becomes a God-Man. The deed of sacrificing the physical body is a mirror of the process of the original creation-sacrifice of the Thrones. This Father stage then enables the initiate to give over the physical body and remain as a soul-spirit being in the ether world, which stands next to the physical world. In this process, the initiate becomes a master—a God-man. This path is to master the physical to such an extent that the astral organization has penetrated through and through the human being into the physical. This sets the stage for the ego to penetrate into the whole of nature. The depths of the earth have to be penetrated to a similar degree as that which stands in polar opposition—to the highest ether spheres, where the nirmanakaya of Buddha exists. In order to accomplish this, the Zarathustra bodhisattva had to give over the astral and the etheric and, finally, the physical organization. The latter he did, as we learn from Rudolf Steiner, at the time of the Baptism. He was then able to make the final sacrifice, that of the physical organization, to the incarnating Christ being. The Christ could then take the new life in the physical body into the depths of the earth and into the heights of the cosmos.
This stands opposite to the path of Buddha. The path of Buddha is one that can be spoken about as the unfolding of the right, the moral, the good. This is a path of rightness, of just existence in relationship to the spiritual world. The eightfold path of Buddha is: first, right attitude; second, right conduct; third, right speech; fourth, right spirituality in relation to the spiritual world; fifth, homelessness; sixth, persevering; seventh, right thinking; and eighth, right meditation. If we review this path of just action, of just living, of purifying the soul in the domain of the right, of the good, we see that it is not leading to doing the good, but is leading to being good, directing oneself from where one is (attitude, conduct, speech, and so forth) into the domain of meditation. But this whole direction is leading away from life; it leads to the inner life and to the ethers where the purest soul can so elevate and transform the etheric that it can exist in harmony with the loftiest of ether spheres that rise away from the earth.
We might contrast this with the eightfold path given by Rudolf Steiner. The first step he names as rightness, right opinion. This leads over to right judgment. Then comes right word. In Rudolf Steiner’s eightfold path, the deed follows as the fourth virtue. Next come right standpoint, right habit, and right memory. This initiation process of a just existence, purification, standing on the earth, leads not out of the earth domain but to the earth domain. This path leads toward the earth, into memory, into the ether spheres that are related to what has been done on the earth. Here we are not talking about the human ego ascending into ether spheres or of entering into the depth of the soul and soul beingness that goes into the ether world via the path of mysticism. We are taking the path of thinking that leads out through the senses and into the world, without becoming lost. The soul-spirit has to be able to establish activities in which the etheric organization will remain in relationship to the earthly life. This latter direction does not eliminate the right thinking or the right meditation of Buddha, but it begins with this and then leads from thinking (self-sustained activity) into life that is connected with the earthly domain. The eightfold path of Rudolf Steiner supplements and brings what is of the Buddha impulse in deep inwardness into the soul; but it does so in order that the individual soul becomes self-sustaining and then can be led into the outer world, into the senses, deeds and memory of earthly life, where judgment can then be brought to what is lived through on earth.
In discussing the path of Buddha, we might look to that which comes from Buddha and overshadows man, still leading man out of life and into the sphere of the Christ impulse. This is the case with St. Francis. St. Francis undertook various trials and tribulations in his youth. Then he went on to have as his master and guide the being of the Christ Himself. Something of the whole Buddha-astral element also entered his soul, so that his direction became one of asceticism, which led to a withdrawn, mystical path. In the case of St. Francis, his master became the Christ with a decided Buddha-like quality. In this process, St. Francis sought his cleansing and purification in the imitation of Christ. The acts of Christ on earth were the example for his working through the Buddha impulse, which originally led him away from the earth, and directing it to the earth as he became the healer of lepers.
What is of value here is to see the contrast between the Buddha and Zarathustra. On the one hand we have an astral element that goes toward the loftiest ether worlds, which are connected with the Godhead. We can say that it is a kind of path inward to the heights. We can then also speak about an opposite path that is connected with the ethers that stand in relationship to the physical, which leads one into the depths. This is the path via the impulses of Zarathustra. The individuality of St. Francis shows a transition; there is at first an impulse or inwardness to withdraw from the earth, but then the being who sacrificed and incarnated for the sake of the world, the Christ, becomes the guide.
If we now look at Rudolf Steiner’s path, we are not looking to Christ as the initiator in the soul by imitating Christ. We, in fact, take the eightfold path metamorphosed by the Persian initiation, so that we can then make our way on the earth in the process of initiation. What Rudolf Steiner gives, I would like to suggest, is the Christ brought into the Buddha path. This leads the purified soul into ether heights. In these ether heights the soul becomes self-sustaining. This self-sustaining activity can penetrate the heights in the depth of the soul and lead this over into action, into the good. Moral life is stimulated—in fact, created. In this respect it is well to think on the metamorphosis of the Buddha path. It is metamorphosed into an Anthroposophical Ethic. This was given by Rudolf Steiner in his lectures The Spiritual Foundation of Morality. In these lectures, Rudolf Steiner tells about the evolution of man; how different initiations have brought forth different virtues. These virtues were spoken about in the Greek mysteries as the virtues of wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice. In the descriptions that Rudolf Steiner gives in these anthroposophical lectures, he describes how these virtues are metamorphosed through the impulse of the Christ, through the life of St. Francis, so that today that which is of wisdom, that which takes courage, that which cultivates temperance and can lead to justice, lives on the earth and becomes the basis of what may be called “practical wisdom.” The wisdom of the little thing, the wise life of man, is then described not as an ascending toward nirvana into the domain of the nirmanakaya, but it is to bring the self-sustaining activity of that domain to bear on the earth, and to see how on the earth in the smallest thing the wisdom of the greatest and loftiest can be discovered.
So we can contemplate a duality. We can consider the inward-izing of an outer path and the outward-izing of an inner path. This means the cultivation of an ever more purified astral organization. This leads to the domain of the loftiest of ethers, where the nirmanakaya of Buddha exists, and to the depths of the ethers, where the earth itself is penetrated through and through. In this way, we can express the etheric differences of Zarathustra and Buddha. This difference— duality—has to be united and brought into relationship with each other through the deed of the Mystery of Golgotha, through the Incarnation, which leads over to the Mystery of Golgotha, where the ether streams unite.
If we then take our contemplations about the tree and the initiation in the image of the tree into an initiation into the loftiest of ether heights, then we can make the contrast with the grain and the nourishment that comes from the earth so that man can come into the depths of ether existence of the physical world itself. These two extremes have to be united. These two streams have to be brought forth in unison so that man can exist as an independent spiritually morally creative individual on this earth. We might consider the tree and the grain, then, as outer physical expressions of etheric domains that need to be mastered on a path that molds the human astral body so that ether organs can be appropriately developed.
We can now contemplate indications given by Rudolf Steiner. He tells us that the Buddha path, as it were, can be found metamorphosed in his epistemological studies. He reveals how Goethe in his observation of the archetypal plant is living in his soul in the realm of the nirmanakaya of Buddha. He further relates that in his Philosophy of Spiritual Activity a self-sustaining spiritual activity is created. The nirmanakaya is brought into the active soul—the thinking-spiritually active soul. That is, through the cultivation of free spiritual activity, the human soul today, out of his own ego, not out of old initiation processes, comes into the loftiest of spheres, where, in fact, life and moral life begin to unite for intentions for the physical world. Ethical individualism can be cultivated.
Lecture four leads us back to Atlantis and the streams that come out of this, the fall of the human ego, and the redemption of the ego through the impulses of Manu. The ego, on the one side, needs to come onto the earth, and on the other, it needs to be able to rise into spiritual heights. Guidance is needed for this. This evening’s theme of the seed fits, as the ego has to establish itself out of the fruits of the earth, out of the fruits of the heights and the depths. This ego has to be guided through both domains so that fruit can arise with new seeds.
If we look at the seed, we can see that it is a part of the fruit. As the tree gives a basis for life in the astral and grain gives a basis for life in the physical, so the fruiting soul gives a basis for the seed of the ego. Just as we can see the grain rising from the earth for our nourishment and the tree arising from the earth into the heights to be a bearer of new life, so we can consider the seed, which can bear new life that grows within the fruit. We can find the impulse of the inmost being of the plant as arising within the sphere that has grown out of life and has become the fruit of that life. What needs to be followed then is the ego impulse that is developed through the fruits of mankind. The human astral has to “fruit” so that the ego as seed can be born on earth as a singular individual impulse.
With such contemplations, then, we can consider how the physical body, the etheric body, and the astral body of man need to be so cultivated that the ego can be born. However, the ego is not only an earthly bound being, but also a cosmic spiritually bound individual. Because of this, we have to find how to bring the higher potential members of man into relationship with the ego. Higher members are needed so that the ego can live in both worlds: the lower—the physical—as well as the higher. Only in this way can man as an earthly being become a true ego. It is because of this that we then speak of the lower ego and the higher ego. The lower ego being is membered into the astral-etheric-physical of the earth. Man’s higher ego is membered into the waking spiritual being, which is spirit-self, life-spirit, and spirit-man. In order for the spiritual members to evolve, the soul needs evolution, needs to be born. This leads to the emergence of the sentient, intellectual and consciousness souls.
From Rudolf Steiner’s indications, we have to go back to the Atlantean mysteries in order to see how the ego impulse is really gathered and directed. Earth-evolution was born out of Moon-evolution. Earth-evolution carried within it the impulses of spiritual beings who revolted against the spiritual world. The spiritual world, the Godhead, permitted this to occur, permitted an opponent to come into existence so that man could evolve out of the spiritual world and become an independent being. This makes it possible for man to again reunite with the spiritual world as an independent being. This is a way to wrestle eternity from oblivion and death. The key is the creative process that brings forth man so that man can be born onto the earth. This earth has fallen out of the Godhead by dint of the actions of revolting spiritual beings. This gives man his task. Man needs to come to live in both domains and bring something new to cosmic and earthly evolution.
During Earth-evolution something is brought over from Moon-evolution. A dual process begins during Earth-evolution with a descending evolution. Materiality falls out of the domain of the Godhead and into the province of retrograde spirits, first Lucifer and then Ahriman. As a result, that which is physical becomes more physical than it should. Through these events, the human life processes, the states of matter and the soul itself become too earth-bound. On the other hand, there is a withdrawal of a part of life from the Fall, which results in an ascending evolution into great spiritual heights. This leaves the great heights to go its own way, into eternity, and the descending evolution to sink into the depths. The ascending ether is the domain of Lucifer, who pulls man toward the heights, and the descending is the sphere of Ahriman, who wishes to chain man to the fallen earth. In the process, human souls withdraw more and more, with a tendency to follow eternity. This occurs with souls leaving the earth and going to the various planetary domains, as these planetary spheres were created after the exit of the sun from the earthly evolutions. What becomes crucial in the process is that the moon is withdrawn from the earth by powerful spiritual beings. We have heard again and again how the Jehovah-Elohim, the mighty Jehovah-Elohim, withdrew the moon from the earth so that the earth could be populated once more by man. This gave birth to the Atlantean culture—race.
Out of the various planetary spheres, men descended during the Atlantean period. Some of these descending souls came into the initiation centers. The centers were guided by lofty spiritual beings who worked over from the Moon-evolution and from the various planetary spheres. The mystery centers reflected impulses from the planetary world. There were angel-like men working into the earth. What I like to think is that these angel-like men were closely linked to archangelic beings who also worked on the earth and worked in earthly evolution. Thus Angels and Archangels worked for the human soul. The angel-like beings who work from the moon into earth, who work from the planetary spheres, are lofty angel beings who gather about a central moon impulse. The central moon impulse is the sun—thus the sun is reflected by the moon. These advanced angel beings are called pitris – the wise angel beings, the highly evolved beings of the moon. By this means, we can distinguish between the pitris and the bodhisattvas. The bodhisattvas are the highly evolved archangels of the Sun-evolution. The Christ is the petris of the Sun-evolution. These moon beings work into the initiation centers of Atlantis, but work in conjunction with the sun.
The human souls that come from the planetary worlds people the different areas of the world, thereby developing the earth out of the planetary spheres. These souls bring impulses to develop man, his different organs and organ systems. The most highly evolved of these incarnating souls, who differentiated the earth and the human organism, migrated to Atlantis to the various Atlantean mystery centers. From these Atlantean mystery centers the most highly evolved gathered in the Sun mystery of Atlantis. Out of this Sun mystery come impulses for man so that he can incarnate on the earth, and, on the other hand, become a cosmic being. The highest initiate of that Sun oracle, or the mystery center of Atlantis, is known as Manu. This is a being who worked with the etheric elements that came from the heavenly spheres so that man’s organism could fruit and seed to accept the human soul and the seed of the ego. Great Manu cultivated the etheric in such a way that it could at first work into the physical. This, I take it, is echoed in the story of Noah; Noah, who built the ark, who could build a physical body that could accept the seed of an independent ego. In this way man could become a physical earthly being and at the same time be led over into the fruit and seed of an independent ego. The structuring of the physical body out of the etheric: this is the building of the ark. From Rudolf Steiner, we learn that Manu gathered individual human beings from the Atlantean culture and led them into the East. Exceedingly notable is that he chose those who were able to begin to take up arithmetic. This work leads to the initiation of Melchizedek and flows over to Abraham. The initiations of Melchizedek and Abraham evolve the human organization so that out of the movement process, a soul activity of rest can be developed. In this, we see a slight mirroring of the Buddha initiation. The initiations of Melchizedek and Abraham give rise to the possibility to do arithmetic, to mathematize, while that of Buddha gives rise to the eightfold path. Manu needed to take souls with him that could begin an inward-izing activity such as is the case in arithmetic. Such souls could bring movement to rest in the form of arithmetic, but without withdrawing from the earth—as was the case of Buddha. This bringing about of the polarity between movement and rest, I take it, was very much the impulse initiated by Manu in the Atlantean race-culture. This was then picked up by the initiation of Melchizedek and Abraham to be placed with intensity within the etheric organization of the Hebrew stream. This faculty of arithmetic-mathematics is the possibility of becoming self-sustaining while on earth and while remaining in contact with the earth. This impulse keeps something early-Atlantean and child-like alive in the Hebrews—the specially chosen.
At the same time, the Manu being was able to gather the ether bodies of the greatest initiates of the various oracles so that he could have an archetype of the etheric organizations of the most developed souls—those who carried the memory process of the Atlantean initiations, of the planetary workings. These ether bodies were then given to the Seven Holy Rishis so that they had a replica of the etheric organization of the deepest initiates of the Atlantean time. They all could then have cosmic impulses working in their souls and particularly impulses that streamed over from the moon. These impulses could stream into their souls at the time of the Indian culture. It is the etheric organization of the Rishis that could carry the memories of the Atlantean initiations. These ether bodies could carry man back into the cosmic planetary world where the great spirit heights could be experienced. The etheric of Adam Kadmon, of man before the Fall, could be experienced. Buddha was born in contact with the stream of the Holy Rishis, which could carry man back through memory, through the etheric, into the cosmos. It was his task to find a way back to the unfallen ether—the Adam-Kadmon ether—which gives impulses for human evolution. Out of earthly experience, Buddha had the task to bring the knowledge of compassion and love into the domain of pure ether existence. This brings about new ether workings. He had to unfold the path to get there.
Thus we gain a picture of how Manu led from Atlantis to post-Atlantis. He was a great leader, a Sun initiate. He preserved the etheric organization for culture, into which the Buddha could later incarnate. Indian culture could evolve the sevenfold etheric organization in order that, in addition to the sevenfoldness, the Buddha could bring new etheric-astral elements, so that compassion and love could be taken into the ether heights as wisdom. He unfolded a path so that his soul-fruits through independent, self-sustaining activity could be brought to the heights of cosmic existence—cosmic life.
Let us follow this line of thought further. Manu gave rise to a cultural center in the Far East, in the Gobi Desert. He then was able to bring the etheric from Atlantis in order that it could have its memory-inwardness as evolved in the Hindu culture. This memory-etheric was then transformed by the Buddha.
At the same time, Manu was able to develop an initiation process so that the physical makeup of man could be so developed that independent and individual activity could be activated, not in the etheric for the inception of moral life, but in the physical body, so that arithmetic-mathematics could be enacted. For the development of arithmetic, which grew out of the initiation of Manu-Abraham-Melchizedek, the Hebrew people had to stay behind so that the moral life could be brought from outside. It seems to me that the most intense and important aspect in the Hebrew culture is the development of the human etheric organization, not for memory but so that movement can be stilled and be taken into a self-sustaining activity in thinking and in arithmetic. Thus we have the polarity of self-sustaining activity in the etheric, which reaches to the moral (Buddha path), and the self-sustaining activity in the body, which develops in the stilled etheric while the physical limbs move (Abraham path). This latter etheric activity supports self-sustaining activity that remains in touch with the physical. The stream of the Rishis reaches up toward nirvana. The stream of the Hebrews leads toward the earth. It is into this stream, then, that Zarathustra worked most intensely, giving his etheric organization to Moses so that Moses could become a true initiate of the earth. Moses could penetrate the depths of the etheric construction of the physical earth; Buddha was led through initiation into the depths and breadths of the cosmic etheric. He was led to the spheres of activity of mighty spiritual beings, to moral domains, to the sphere of the Godhead.
This can give the picture of the cosmic process as Father and the earth process as Mother: the cosmic as formative-directive, the earth as receptive and life giving. The earth is fruit-womb that can receive the seed impulse of new birth. Through the plant the Father fructifies the Mother so that a new plant can grow to give rise to more fruit. Through the seed, the Father impulse in the form of a Son can enter the fruiting Mother earth. Something similar can be said of the impulses given to man by Manu. Etheric Father and Mother principles had to be evolved. On the one side, Manu gave the impulse to the etheric principle of the heights—to the Father. This was given to the Holy Rishis and transformed by Buddha into the sphere of the nirmanakaya. Buddha, building on the work of the Holy Rishis, so led the soul that it could be removed from the physical. The astral was removed to the greatest heights in the etheric so that buddhi or life-spirit could develop. On the other side came the Mother impulse so that the earth could receive new life. For this Manu gave the initiation seed for the Hebrews to bring new life to the earth—for Mother earth. This seed united with the impulse of Zarathustra so that spirit-man could be born in the physical. The fruits of evolution, given by Manu from the Atlantean time, can be seen as the fruit of the Indian culture out of which the seed of buddhi (life-spirit) arises. Out of the fruit of the Zarathustra-Moses initiation, the seed of spirit-man can arise. The seed of the latter fruit, which gives rise to spirit-man, is the deed of Zarathustra when he incarnates into the Nathan Jesus.
Let us follow this line of thought that there is a seed that is brought forth by Buddha from the fruit of the Holy Rishis. There is a seed brought forth by Zarathustra from the fruit of the Hebrews—out of Melchizedek-Abraham and the Hebrew people (Moses). We now have to contemplate how these two seeds can be brought together. What type of spiritual being can unite these two seeds. Something has to be born to bring together these two seeds. They have to be enlivened and united into a single plant. For the enlivening of the two seeds, we may look to the Nathan being—the Nathan-etheric ego. This being incarnated so that the seeds of Buddha and Zarathustra could be enlivened and grow together. Out of this could come a new union.
Let us look at this Nathan being. We know from Rudolf Steiner that a portion of the human etheric principle was withheld at the time of the Fall. A portion of the etheric, a portion of the sevenfold etheric of man, which had descended into mankind, was withdrawn and taken up into the highest spheres of cosmic existence. I would like to think of this ascending etheric as furnishing the basis for the Mother Lodge of existence. It is the ether sphere in which the pure astral, or the Sophia domain of astral life, can exist. This ether domain bears the potential of being sevenfolded just as the descending ether is sevenfolded by the planetary spheres. The descending or fallen ether is what enables the human ego to incarnate for the first time. The ascending ether (tone and life ether) becomes an ego principle, a temporary ego, in the Nathan Jesus for twelve years. This enabled a total rejuvenation, a totally new ego-life element for these two seeds growing in the Nathan Jesus (spirit-life) and Solomon Jesus (spirit-man). The new life was brought forth out of the cosmos by the Nathan being. It was the pure and undefiled etheric of pure cosmic evolution. This ether was tended during pralaya by lofty spiritual beings. My impression is that the bodhisattvas work in this pure ether world. The two bodhisattvas, Buddha and Zarathustra, work out of this sphere to bring forth the seed of life-spirit and spirit-man for mankind. This was done through the initiation paths of Buddha and Zarathustra. In the given situation, we can see the Buddha working out of the nirmanakaya into the Nathan Jesus, as working with the Nathan soul ego-ether being into the etheric organism of the Nathan Jesus. The Nathan being works with the Buddha nirmanakaya to evolve the seed of the life-spirit in the ether body of the Nathan Jesus. After the twelfth year, this Zarathustra being works into the physical of the Nathan Jesus to bring forth the germ of spirit-man, which was once worked on by the Thrones on Old Saturn. The life-spirit was created on Old Sun-evolution by the Kyriotetes. This became a seed in the organism of man through the work of the nirmanakaya of Buddha. The deeds of Buddha and Zarathustra become seeds. The Nathan ego could furnish the new life. It is in the domain of the nirmanakaya where we find this lofty ether world. These ethers were given by the Spirits of Wisdom, evolved in between cosmic evolutions, and then withdrawn with the exit of the sun by the deeds of the Christ-Elohim. The ethers not withdrawn have given rise to sub-earthly forces, soul life and states of material existence. The withdrawn ethers are held in the domain of the Mother Lodge to be worked on further by man. My impression is that in the Mother Lodge we find the activity of the Nathan being as an ether being. My further impression is that this is the domain in which we find the workings of the bodhisattvas that become buddhas. Here we find the working of the pure soul element that was incarnated in the youthful Mother being of the Nathan Jesus. This is the province where the soul becomes Sophia, where the soul becomes all wisdom, where it becomes wisdom itself. This is the domain of virginity, a domain of purity. Once a soul has entered this sphere, it becomes virginous, even if the soul has been a part of physical birth. What is brought to this domain by a pure soul, a purified soul, is rejuvenation, new life, for the nirmanakaya, which then shone onto the Nathan Jesus at birth. Impulses are taken from the earth to rejuvenate the nirmanakaya, while the etheric of that domain can rejuvenate the human ether body and earth. The earth can serve as new life for the purest of spiritual worlds, for the domain in which a virgin birth, virgin activity, occurs as Divine Sophia. In turn the lofty ether world can serve as new life for man and the earth.
What we are then depicting is that man has a physical, an etheric, and an astral body given by evolution. In addition, the ego can be born. But for real ego birth, higher members of man need to be born as spirit-self, life-spirit and spirit-man. The birth of the higher members requires work in the highest of ether spheres, where new life can be brought to the fallen human being with his lower bodily members. The work into this loftiest of ether spheres is a task of the bodhisattvas, as well as the purified soul of man. What we see is that in the greatest of pure ether heights new birth is occurring. This enables the birth of man’s ego being as a higher being. Not only are his sheaths being prepared, but also his soul life as an ego. This prepares man so that the ego can evolve and grow with new fruits. Man can become virginous, can become a being who lives in the world of wisdom as a totally pure being. However, this needs to be done out of life itself, out of the struggles and trials of life.
The subject is the fusion of Buddhism and Zarathustrianism. From the Bible the theme of the plant world is that of harvest. This is the fifth night and the fifth lecture in the St. Luke lecture cycle.
We began our themes with incense. We took up smell. We emphasized the importance of the astral as it moves out into the world. We then took up the tree as an expression of the cosmic astrality that raises the earth into the cosmic spheres. From there we moved on to the grain as the astral that penetrates into the plant that is of the earth so that something of the more immediate earth element is taken into the grain. We moved on then to the seed, where something of the earth is carried into the sphere of the astral. Flowers, fruits and seeds, then, make new life possible. We spoke of a new life principle that comes from the withheld etheric in the cosmos, which then can enter into the seed. The next step is the harvest. This is where an ego element enters in relation to the physical. The physical—the seed—has to carry a potential for new life. With added new life and an incarnation process, a specific incarnation process can occur into that which is physical and etheric. In the case of the harvest, we have to think of a plant that has fruited, that has come to a certain ripeness, that contains a potential for new life (a seed) and also a potential for the appearance in the sense world of the non-sensible, the spiritual-suprasensible that is the being of the plant.
To continue this line of thought, I would like to introduce considerations that have not yet been developed. In this lecture, Rudolf Steiner makes a decided distinction between two Jesuses. The Nathan Jesus is born in Nazareth and journeys to Bethlehem. It is following the murder of the innocents that this Jesus appears in Bethlehem. The other Jesus is born in Bethlehem, leaves Bethlehem for a journey into Egypt, and then returns to Nazareth after the slaughter of the Innocents. In this lecture, while discussing these two Jesuses, the two Jesus streams, Rudolf Steiner introduces the being of John. It seems to me that this is quite important. The being of John was conceived six months before the Nathan Jesus. The Nathan Jesus was conceived later. The John being served the Nathan pregnancy as an Ego stimulus. Mary could sense the awakening of her child in the presence of Elizabeth. Rudolf Steiner relates that the ego of the Nathan Jesus is of an etheric makeup. At first this is surprising. What can we think of this? We can consider the etheric to be able to act as an ego element so that, in fact, the ego can differentiate itself out of the etheric. This can be true of the etheric that was withheld in evolution at the time of the Fall and could then serve in the spiritual world for ego birth. With earthly birth, the physical at first determines the ego—slowly the ego grows to work back on the physical—seven years. In this lofty ether world the etheric is most likely determinative—at first. This etheric—Adam Kadmon—was taken out of evolution with the removal of the sun by the Christ-Elohim. This etheric forms an inward aspect of the outer planetary world. This etheric is a youthful etheric. This is an etheric that has never been touched or used by an incarnation. It is an etheric that contains the potential of all the variations that the ethers developed out of evolution, plus others. This is an etheric that can receive an ego birth into it in the same way that the etheric of the Fall was able to receive the ego at the time of the first incarnation, the incarnation of the Adam soul.
It is important to consider that the etheric that permitted the ego to incarnate into the Fall was an etheric that was a condensation, a densification from light ether to warmth ether. The ether that was withheld, the etheric that is evolved in the pralaya states of evolution—that is, tone ether and life ether—are ethers that are worked into by the spiritual hierarchies. They have the potential for receiving the ego, so that the ego then has a footing within this ether world. These ethers are the ones that serve as the temporary ego of the Nathan child. This is not a true ego impulse. It is for this reason that the John being with his highly evolved astral organization could then work in such away as to give the Nathan etheric ego something of the quality of egohood.
If we turn to John and follow him with Rudolf Steiner’s indications, we find him as Naboth, then Elijah, and then John. In John we see an initiate who worked his way stage by stage to being able to act as the group-soul of a people—the Hebrews. He was an Israelite. We can read in the Gospels directly that John is the reappearance of Elijah. This soul who can work as the group-soul of a people can now take a further step, if we follow the steps of a Persian initiation. John can become a Sun-hero. This is the stage of development at which John enters the scene of incarnation given in the Luke Gospel.
Now we might just look at the being of John in comparison with the beings of Zarathustra and Buddha. We have in these two streams of the Nathan child and the Solomon child the working of two bodhisattvas. The Zarathustra being reached a lofty initiatory stage (Sun-hero), I take it, as early as 6000 BC. He is to become an Earth-pitris (a Father), as on Moon, we find Moon-pitris and on Sun, Sun-pitris (Christ). He is to be able to remain with the earth as a Master. The Buddha goes through his numerous incarnations as a bodhisattva to become a buddha in 600 BC. He then leaves incarnation to exist in a very pure ether world, which supports the domain that is called nirvana. Zarathustra is a bodhisattva who is working outwardly into the world. The Gautama Buddha is a bodhisattva being who works into the inner nature of man, into man’s etheric body. Both can be seen as harboring mighty astral impulses. As I have suggested, we can consider Zarathustra as a being who so works that the spirit-man principle comes to birth. We can speak of the Buddha as a being who brings the life-spirit, or the buddhi principle, to birth.
If we now turn to John, I am inclined to follow him as a being who has repeatedly incarnated. He is a ripe soul. We are now not speaking of a bodhisattva, but are speaking of a human being who has gone the path of initiations. He has risen stage by stage. If we use the Persian stages as a background, we can think that John rose from the stages of raven, occultist, warrior, lion, to that of folk-spirit. The stage we meet him in the Luke Gospel is the one in which he is to become a Sun-hero. This is quite in contrast with the bodhisattva beings, who, in a way, bring the impulse from the heights of the spirit to transform the earth through culture not by dint of impulses that are brought with them from the domain of the bodhisattvas; rather, in the case of John we are dealing with a human being who also has developed a mighty astral organization, but out of the impulse of the ego, out of initiations. He is a ripe being from the Spirit Lodge. This, it seems to me to speaks to the development of that principle which we call the spirit-self. In this regard, John is the forerunner of the purification of the astral, not by dint of what is brought over from the cosmos and lived through from one incarnation after another; rather, John is a being who as an ego has reincarnated, gone through human initiations, and has risen to the point where, out of the ego, the astral can be transformed, so that it meets with the principle called the spirit-self. He is ready to cultivate the principle that was evolved by the Spirits of Movement or the Dynameis during Old Moon-evolution. This principle is that of the spirit-self. It is the task of a human ego to evolve this principle. Thus we meet in this setting the convergence of the streams of Buddha and Zarathustra. These are bodhisattva streams. Into this works the impulse of John, which is a human ego impulse. John should be identified as an ego being who so transforms the earth that what is of the earth is brought to the spiritual world, whereas the bodhisattva beings are those who bring spiritual impulses to the earth out of the domain of the cosmic Christ.
If we follow the development of the Jesuses as indicated by Rudolf Steiner, he tells us that the Nathan Jesus lived until he was twelve years old. Then the temporary etheric ego being forsook the body. This being, by having incarnated as an ego being, would be prepared to bring totally new impulses into the sphere and domain of the nirmanakayas, or we might say the Mother Lodge, (impulses connected with the unfolding from the astral and ether bodies.) The forsaken Nathan astral, etheric and physical sheaths are then stepped into by the Zarathustra ego. His sheaths—the astral, etheric and physical sheaths—pass away, and death follows shortly after the sheaths are deserted. There follows a union of the two Jesus’s families. The original mother of the Nathan Jesus dies shortly after the departure of the Nathan ego (bringing a re-enlivening of the nirmanakaya of Buddha). The Zarathustra- or Solomon-Jesus father then dies, so that the Solomon mother becomes the mother of the Zarathustra Jesus who is incarnated into the Nathan sheaths. The Joseph of the Nathan line remains as the father to the Nathan sheaths, into which the Solomon ego, or the Zarathustra ego, incarnates. For the next eighteen years, or three-times-six years, the Zarathustra ego lives in the sheaths provided by the Nathan ego and then steps aside at the time of the Baptism. In all of this it is important to see the being of John standing by the side of the Nathan ego and then the Solomon ego. This ego being of John forms a very essential impulse, so that the streams that are united in Buddhism and Zarathustrianism in the Nathan Jesus are fructified by the purifying astral of John. This leads the fruited sheaths to harvest—for the incarnating Christ being. It seems to me to be very important to contemplate that this John ego accompanies both Jesus impulses. He accompanies the impulses of the Nathan ego, which unfolds out of the etheric organization an etheric body that can work into the heights of the spiritual world. He also lives with the Zarathustra being, who unfolds the astral that can work into the physical world. He lives as an intense ego being in relationship to the new life impulse inherent in the Adam, Adam-Kadmon ego impulse. John has had to enclose, ensheath, the events of these two beings, as a human being, so that then the sheaths can serve as a vehicle for the Christ being. The Christ can receive the harvest that is the work of the two bodhisattvas (Buddha and Zarathustra) and a human ego being (John). I would suggest further contemplation of these three streams, that of the Buddha, of Zarathustra, and of John. I will try to portray their work mirrored in the plant world. To do such, it is necessary to refer to the indications that Rudolf Steiner gave to the (Goetheanum) workers. In a worker’s lecture (10/27/23), he indicated how three streams work into the tree—into the trunk and limb nature of the tree. In this lecture, he speaks of the earth sap that flows from the earth upward into the tree. He speaks of the life sap that works from the periphery into the tree, bringing life via the leaves. These two streams are reflected in the xylem moving upward and the phloem moving downward. He then identifies the third stream, streaming from the heights of the heavens and mediating the two other streams. This third stream is the stream of cambium. Cambium is a living process that differentiates itself to bring about a living-like substance. On the one hand, it can form the heartwood of the tree, on the other hand, the bark. It is always itself in life. It is a heavenly living substance that can gradually condense to form a crystalline structure in amber. It can also rise to great heights to help form the living individual principle within the tree and help form the refined elements in the tree that give rise to the blossom, fruit, and seed processes, and the essential oils. Through the cambium, these processes are impregnated by the specific plant family astral-ego impulses. The cambium bears something of a specific ego-like quality in its working—working into an intense astral process (activities of blossom, fruit and seed in the bough.)
We might now compare these three streams of spiritual impulse that we have spoken of in this lecture with the three streams in the trunk of the tree. We might liken the Zarathustrian impulse to the earth-sap stream; the Buddha impulse to the life-sap stream; and the St. John ego-like impulse to the cambium stream that is working within the formation of the tree. We can consider that the three streams are involved with the flow of fluids, with the airy element, and warmth. Something of the mineral is involved as well, but the fluidic is quite apparent. We are speaking of the respiratory-circulatory system in the tree. We can imagine that this system is placed into the earth, which is then raised in the form of the trunk. These three streams working in the tree make it possible that leaf, bud, catkin, seed, fruit, and the refined oil processes of the plant can come into existence.
We can image that the tree stands before us in nature and can be seen as a raised earth into which a circulatory-breathing system is articulated. These three streams work together so that the spiritual beingness of the plant can again and again incarnate in order to bring forth a new manifestation of that spirituality. In like manner, we might consider the three beings that we have been speaking about—Zarathustra, Buddha, and John—as working in a similar fashion to mold those principles that are necessary for the incarnation of the Christ.
Another step might still be taken when we take up other indications given by Rudolf Steiner. He points out that the earth-sap process in the tree corresponds to the arterial system in the human organization. The life-sap process in the tree corresponds to the venous system and the cambium corresponds to the lymph system. All three of these systems correspond in man to the system, the blood system, that serves as the physical basis of our ego—as active agent. The circulatory-blood system in our physical body serves as a basis for the ego, which works itself out in action and activity. These three are fluid systems, though they are contained by the vascular structures of our arterial, venous and lymph systems. They flow one into the other. They differentiate the organism into an enclosed fluid system and a non-enclosed (interstitial) fluid system. The circulatory process is distinct from all the other fluids in the organism, in which all the other organs and other tissues are embedded. It is just the circulatory system that we can consider the vehicle of ego activity, that can rise from a passive given state to that of an active, striving, unfolding human ego.
We can then consider that a harvest occurs when the three streams work together, so that from the physical something is created that can serve as a vessel for receiving a spiritual ego impulse. This occurred with the working together of Zarathustra, Buddha and John, so that a cosmic spiritual impulse, an Ego impulse of the loftiest domain, could appear in the physical world. This is a harvest by the Incarnating Being. It is a harvest of the fruits, of life, that has been given by the three described individualities.
On this sixth night, we take up the theme that has to do with healing and spiritual streams, as well as herbs. Herbs are often spoken about in the Bible. If we want to take up spiritual streams and the healing element, I think it is best if we first speak about the etheric and its differentiation. If we take up the various streams, we have to develop a bit further what we began on the fifth night in relationship to John, Buddha, and Zarathustra. Perhaps we can begin with the three as indicated, Zarathustra, Buddha and John.
Turning first to Zarathustra, we find this being at work in the Solomon Jesus. We have noted that it is the task of the person in initiation to sacrifice that which is created in the physical. When that has been attained, then Fatherhood has been reached in the initiation process. It was actually Zarathustra as an ego being who, in his incarnation as a Solomon Jesus, was able to sacrifice his physical organization to an incarnating spirit. Such an ego is not directed to develop the components of the etheric body that will enable a person to waft into the etheric heights of cosmic existence, but to develop the etheric so that it penetrates more and more toward the earthly spheres. The impulse of this ether streaming is to work with the ethers that evolve toward earth unfoldment and toward the Fall. This ether unfoldment is the evolution of light ether to warmth ether. We have often noted that light ether was given on Sun. During the pralaya periods between Sun and Moon, tone ether evolved and then between Moon and Earth, life ether evolved. Next, from numerous indications of Rudolf Steiner, the light ether “devolved” or condensed during Earth-evolution, during the Lemurian period. Light ether became warmth ether. This densification enabled the incarnation of the ego into earthly existence. This “devolution” enabled the incarnation of the ego into the “fallen world.” The other ethers that are connected with this fallen world are the lower metamorphoses of light, tone, and life ethers. These ethers are manifested in gravity (life ether), magnetism (tone ether), and electricity (light ether). The metamorphosis of warmth ether into the sphere of the earth is something we have yet to identify. Rudolf Steiner did not do so. My impression is that this has to do with the transformation of warmth ether into information. We are constructing a whole existence out of this. All of our informational systems then would become a manifestation of the metamorphosis of warmth ether into information.
There are further earth formations that point to the fallen ethers. The four states of matter—that is the solid, the liquid, the airy, the warmth conditions—all point to the immediacy of the earth. If we turn to the solid of the earth, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, and the thermosphere, we can then find the working of the four ethers also into the earth and its immediate environment.
Thus the sub-nature ethers, the state-of-matter ethers, and the environmental-atmospheric ethers all point to the etheric elements that have to be worked through by such an ego as the Solomon, the Zarathustra being. While these ethers are being worked through, it is the physical that is being molded in the process, so that finally something of an enspirited physical can arise. The enspirited physical is something of a resurrected form or a spirit-man element that comes into being. The task of enspiriting the physical body is not carried completely through by the Zarathustra ego in the Solomon Jesus but is worked at by this ego, carried further when Zarathustra goes into the Nathan line, and is completed when this organization is given over to the Christ being. In conclusion then, we see that the ego of Zarathustra worked into the physical world, into the physical organization; and to do so it was necessary that he worked deeply into the ethers of the physical world, as they become the basis for the activity of the human ego. Let us now turn to the Nathan being. We turn to an Ego being who is temporarily constituted, derived, from the great vastness of the ether cosmos. Here we have the unadulterated ether from evolution that then so constitutes itself as to act as an ego element in the Nathan Jesus. The principle that we see at work in this etheric ego is the nirmanakaya of Buddha. We have not only the working of this lofty ether element into the Nathan Jesus, but we also have the inwardness of the soul that leads not to deeds in the outer world, but to deeds in the inner world. The nirmanakaya makes it possible that an inwardness can evolve, so that something of a person and then of an individuality can emerge within the life of the organism. This inwardness is led over from the person to the individual. It becomes the person and then individual who can take up the activity of an inner schooling, an inner path. This was given by the Buddha in his eightfold path and his four virtues. This enables human schooling to begin. It is a path and a schooling that takes man out of earthly existence into the inwardness of the soul and can school the soul so that compassion and love can evolve, can become a matter of self-training and learning. This is an intense impulse in the evolution of man toward freedom. Man is then given direction not by law and by the gods, but slowly out of what he has gained for himself as a matter of self-acquisition. Here the conquest is not an outer one but an inner one, and the conquest is of the soul. This path inward into the being of the soul in man takes one into different ethers than the path out into the physical world. There, ethers have to be transformed for the sake of soul life. Here, warmth, light, tone, and life ethers have to be transformed so that they become the ether basis for thinking, feeling, and willing. In the inter-workings of warmth and light ethers, and their transformation, we can find a basis for willing. In the interplay of light and tone ethers, a foundation for feeling can evolve. In the play between tone and life ethers, thinking can unfold. (See the Pastoral Medicine Course.) Here the ethers are penetrated by or dominated by the astral leading to ego creativity. In the case of the ethers that work into the outer world, we have to speak of an etheric dominance. The ethers that are transformed by the astral for the sake of the soul enable the emerging soul, in the body, to unite with the cosmic ether worlds. Wings of the soul are developed out of these ethers for ether heights. These ether heights are connected with the inwardness of the sun—with the soul aspect of the sun. Here the sun does not stream to the earth for the life and growth of plants, but carries soul-ether life and light. This enables the human being to arise and become a sun being. Here the ethers underlying thinking, feeling, and willing can be further transformed for the spirit—for higher cognitive faculties. I contemplate this as light ether that becomes intellect ether, tone ether that becomes number ether, and life ether that becomes word ether. The ethers that serve as a basis of thinking, feeling, and willing can be spoken of as the ethers of salt, mercury, and sulphur. A higher evolution of ethers is intellect ether, number ether, and word ether. By following this path, it can be seen that we are slowly working our way through the ether world, pointing to ethers and ether evolutions. This course of consideration can be important to those who are interested in therapeutics and healing. It is the etheric that is important in healing. It is the astral that is important in moral life and illness. It is the physical that is important in the nourishing and maintenance of the human organization.
Let us turn now to John the Baptist. He was a reincarnation of Elijah. Elijah, as a prophet, served as a group-soul for the Hebrews. At this point he is at the Persian initiatory stage of folk-spirit. He does not direct himself to the outer world. He does not direct himself totally to the inner world, but directs himself to the group-soul element that works both inwardly and outwardly. The folk-soul impulse creates an inwardization (eg., language) while working outwardly (eg., relating a peoples to geography). There is both an inward and outward working at the stage of group-soul activity. There is not just a tying into the past—uniting with the past as with the Buddha, the Rishis, or the Hebrews. The Buddha has to turn the etheric, which directs to the past. John has to lay a basis for the future. John does so by not only directing the individual—the person—but directing a whole group of people to work for a common mankind. This is a new creation. The need for John was to cultivate a whole people in which it would be possible to evolve a foundation for the incarnation of a divine being on earth. In the ancient mysteries, there was a bloodline to be cultivated. A memory-ether was needed for this. Initiation led the soul back to the beginning—to Abraham. What was needed next was to cultivate the possibility of an emergent personality and individuality who could then, out of freedom, self-sustained recognition, unite for the incarnation of lofty spiritual beings. John then can be seen as a being who works as an ego in the Nathan being, working into the etheric inwardness of cosmic heights. At the same time, John has to be seen as working into the folk bloodline of the Hebrews, cleansing and purifying this so that a totally individual and at the same time a totally cosmic impulse can work into a bloodline. To make way for the new, to wander in the land of wilderness, to become a soul totally unto itself, in a way, bespeaks the Buddha element. To walk a path for purification, also speaks to an inward path, as with the Buddha. However, the taking up of the bloodline that unites people in an outward way through generations is something that gradually leads to the past, and now this has to be penetrated and transformed for the future. In order to do so, it is necessary to deal with the ethers that have to do with the physical, the ethers that have to do with the living, the ethers that have to do with the soul. It is necessary to master the ethers of that which is physical, that which is living, and that which is soul, in order that a totally new impulse can live into these ethers. These ethers lead back not only to Abraham, but back to Adam. This, then, is the activity of John. He is a lofty human being who has gone through many incarnations. He begins his incarnation as John, as a folk-spirit. He has to become a Sun-hero where the mastery of ether spheres of existence is required. The ethers of the physical life and the soul have to be penetrated. He, John, is following the path of both Buddha and Zarathustra. He lives in relation to both Jesuses. In this life as the Baptist, I can see him as living out the initiation stage of Sun-hero, if we use the Persian initiation as a background. He will then work toward the stage of becoming Father, which means to be able to sacrifice the physical body. This, I take it, in fact was accomplished and is expressed in the image that he was beheaded. Thus as the Baptist, he rose from the stage of folk-spirit to that of Sun-hero. In being beheaded, he became a Father. Through this, he could become a creative human being out of the depths of cosmic existence. When he returns as the Evangelist, at the Lazarus event, he works in the Mother Lodge as a creative spirit. Thus he could become the son of the Mother of Jesus. Though John as a being was preserved in the domain of the Father-Spirit Lodge, in the life in which he is beheaded and then called back at the Lazarus event he is able to work while on earth into the sphere of the Mother Lodge. Thus comes the great wisdom of the Gospel of St. John as it pertains to the wisdom for all man. This takes the ether streams all the way back to Adam. It is here that we find souls at work in this pure ether lodge, or the Mother Lodge, where it possible for souls to be born as higher beings. There one brings the Father impulse into the Mother principle so that ego birth, true higher ego birth can occur. This is the impulse that John, as an ego being, has to bring. The Nathan Mother being also works into this sphere, as does the Buddha in working into the nirmanakaya. These are the totally pure souls who can live within the Virgin Mother Lodge and work for the birth of man’s higher ego within the spirit members. If we want again to turn to the ether world, I would like to try to interpret the meaning of the various sheaths of the Buddha in the light of what I have just addressed. The darmakaya can be seen as having to do with the human etheric remains that carry the ethers of the elements into the future. The sambukaya points to the ethers of the soul so that the soul can live consciously in the soul world. The nirmanakaya evolves in the ethers that underlie the archetypes of existence and permit the gradual unfolding of the higher ethers connected with the pure-soul spiritual life. These three bodies give consciousness so that such a being as Buddha need not return into incarnation. These bodies of the Buddha are the etheric bodies of the human soul-spirit that is working its way and gradually evolving the life and tone ethers that were removed with the sun exit. Slowly, a sevenfold ether unfolding has to take place through the activity of man’s higher ego coming to birth. These ethers develop within the “Eye of God.”
What we have just described is the evolution of the ethers. It is as if we were constructing a mighty tree anchored to the earth and raised to the heights of the cosmos. In this tree, we have the streams of the earth sap, the life sap and the cambium. Man’s higher sheaths, spirit-self, life-spirit and spirit-man, are reflected in these streams. The higher principles, the higher membering of man are evolving in these streams. These same three streams we find working into the two Jesuses. In the three streams within a tree world, we can contemplate the ether workings of these three beings. It is important to consider that the ether makeup of a human being is determined by the plant world from which the etheric is taken. The etheric is brought together for the sake of a human life. What assembles this is the human astral organization and the ego. In our contemplations here we need to consider how a singular Ego-being could enter the world, and for this a very special tree of life had to be prepared. That is to say, the whole ether world had to be prepared —this means our trees, our plants. If we take our image of the tree with the three streams, or the three ether streams, or the three individualities we have spoken of, that is, Zarathustra, Buddha and John, we can note that then an ego impulse, an ego being, can incarnate into this process. This brings about not only a fruition but a harvest of that which is of the Tree of Life. This then can be given over for the new life, for the next incarnation. This we can contemplate in the event of the Baptism. Here in the Baptism we can contemplate that within the fruits of the deeds of these three individuals, the seed is engendered to new life by the cosmic ether world. This seed can be taken up by the being of the Christ at the time of the incarnation.
The next steps we need to take are to follow the life of this incarnation and the seed that was taken up from the fruit of the lives of these three individualities. These three streams are penetrated by the Christ. The life that follows—the plant that emerges from the incarnation—does not have the dimension of a tree. Rather this life is expressed in a very diminutive form, but it rises directly from the life of the earth itself. This can be seen in the emergence of the herb. The herb is not a plant entity that grows on an earth that has been raised by astral heights, as in the case of a tree and the bough. The herb is a being, an etheric being, that grows directly out of the earth itself, mingling and being united with all the sub-earthly forces, all the elemental forces of the earth. Into this the plant, the seed of the fruit of the tree, of tree life, is taken into earthly existence. The herb then represents that which was evolving in the lofty ether worlds through the purest of astral weaving in the earth. The lofty astral-ether weaving has been brought back to the earth by the deed of the Christ. The lofty streams of the tree enables the Christ to bring the seed of the fruit of the Tree of Life back to earth. What grows is the herb and the individual free spirit of man. This mighty ego impulse is brought by the Christ. In this way, the herb becomes an expression of the lofty, purified astral weaving in the ether heights that is brought back to the earth. It is planted into the earth and revivifies the earth. This is begun by the deed of the Christ, who lives after the Baptism for a period of three years. The herb then becomes the expression of all that has evolved in the tree and astral ether heights that is brought back to the earth through the tree streams merging in the Nathan Jesus. What flows to the earth from the Crucifixion is like the herb that rises from the earth. The heights are no longer found only in the cosmos, but gradually are brought to the depths of the earth as well. From the earth grows new life in the form of the herb. And so it is that this Gospel, which has to do so much with the etheric, should speak of the many herbs. The herbs are a language for this Gospel—a language of the etheric, which has not deserted our earth.
|Liquid||States of matter|
|Hydrosphere||Cosmic states of matter||Possibly the remains|
|Atmosphere||of man’s etheric organization|
|Cosmic Ethers||4.||Warmth Ether|
|Light Ether||Cosmic earthly soul activity –||thinking, feeling and willing|
|5.||Sulphur||Thinking to Imaging|
|Mercury||Cosmic Soul Life||Feeling to Inspiring|
|Salt||Willing to Intuiting|
|6.||Ether of physical||Cosmic Intellect – ether|
|Ether of Life||Archetype ethers||Cosmic Number – ether|
|Ether of Soul||Cosmic Word – ether|
|7.||Ether of Creativity||Human ether||Individual creative activity|
|8.||Ether of the Divine||A) Ether of Adam Cadmon
B) Ether of Nathan Ego
C) Ether of the “Mother Lodge”
D) Ether of Sophia
E) Ether of Eye Witnessing
F) Ether of Higher Ego Birth
G) Ether of Wedding with higher members
The theme of this evening is the mustard seed and the Creative Word that has become Flesh. In this lecture Rudolf Steiner points to the role of time in the evolution of the human being and how this was altered in the life of the Jesuses.
Rudolf Steiner gives in outline form in this lecture how the physical body evolves from ages 1-7, the ether body from 7-14, the astral body from 14-21. The souls states evolve between 21-42: the sentient soul between 21-28, the intellectual soul between 28-35, and the consciousness soul between 35-42. Then he points out that in the Nathan Jesus the first 14 years are compressed into 12 years, the sentient soul evolves at 19, the intellectual at 26 and the consciousness soul at 33. The point is that everything developed faster in the Nathan Jesus than in a normal person. Some thought can be given to this. I would like to evolve some thoughts from our previous considerations concerning the evolution of the ethers and the time process in the life of man. In the last considerations, I spoke about seven different types of ethers, and I would like to enlarge this to eight. (See the outline at the end of the sixth evening.)
Before going into a further elaboration of the etheric makeup of the human being, we might just consider how important it is that this be done. Not only is the etheric element important in healing, but also it is important to consider in relationship to sequences in the stages of life. Great problems face us today when we try to understand life—to understand what flows from birth to death. We are very inclined to stay stuck in early life. The later phases of life remain very enigmatic. While supporting longevity, we have little understanding for living such great spans of life. We feel proud about our statistics of long life, but do not comprehend it. Generally we just make a statement—we live a long life; but what this life really is, is getting more and more difficult to fathom. For this reason it is so important to gain an insight into the etheric makeup of the human being. A good deal that is spoken of the etheric makeup of the human being tends to be spatially conceived. The etheric that belongs to the different organs, the different tissues, etc. is a spatial entity—is represented spatially. There is and can be spatial expression to the etheric. However, the etheric also runs through the course of life, and is actually the time and rhythmic process of our organism. Therefore it is important to understand the etheric in time and to gain an archetype for these time processes. This is why I have always felt it so important to bring the beginning and end of life together, so that life can be seen as a continuous process from birth to death. The next step is to see it from death to birth, but first we have to see it from the phase of entering life to the phase of exiting life. Perhaps I could lay out a schematic representation. Rudolf Steiner has often done this. It is as follows. He has indicated that from 1-7 the physical body unfolds, 7-14 the etheric body, 14-21 the astral body; the soul elements unfold between 21-42, that is, sentient, intellectual and consciousness souls. Between 42-49, the spirit-self can emerge. Between 49-56, life-spirit; and between 56-63, spiritman emerges. These periods have been related to the planets and to the ether spheres. The intimation then is that if man evolves in these life periods, he in fact, evolves in life processes that belong to the cosmos. This relates him to the cosmic, to the planetary cosmic worlds. Man is thereby related to the ether cosmic world, of which we have been speaking.
As known by some, I have spent many years trying to get hold of this process. I spent 20 years working with different age groups in different types of academic training and educational programs, as well as working in “life.” Between the ages of 18-38, I fairly assiduously pursued this question of life, that is, how the ages of man work and evidence themselves. I found it to be very difficult. I did not pursue it in academic terms, but in a conscious effort to work with different age groups. Some know that this concern awoke in the latter part of my teens and impressed me a great deal. On the one side was my great interest in young children, the developing young child, on the other, was my interest in the older human being with whom I had a fair amount of contact as well. It is only now that I can begin to look back on some of these experiences and more consciously think about what Rudolf Steiner has spoken of as the periods of life. I begin to see these periods as a kind of archetype for the healing of the developing human being. I see this as a very major need in the healing of individuals and in the healing of mankind—a major healing is needed in order that one can gain a much more adequate sense for “life.”
Now let me try to relate the ether descriptions that I have given to these periods. The earth ether, which has to do with the earth itself and the sub-earthly forces, I would describe as something that the human being meets when stepping into the world and building the physical body in the first seven years of life. In the second seven years of life, the elements of the earth, that is the solid, watery, airy, warmth processes, become more and more important—element ether. Between 14-21, the world of the elements, the cosmic states of matter, play into life—environment ether becomes very important. It is perhaps not uninteresting that Rudolf Steiner gave the indication that the high school curriculum should be built on the working of the four elements, that is, the states of matter, in which the warmth, light, tone and life ethers are at work. Between the ages of 21 and 42, the soul ethers, that is the mercury-, sulfur-, and salt-ether processes unfold. This is the beginning of entering into the purer ether world of the cosmos—mostly soul states (see #4 in the outline). The next step is into the physical, life, and soul ethers. These are ethers of the archetypes, which means ethers that are formative in the domain of the physical, are directive in the domain of life, and are soul-supporting in the domain of the human soul. These are the ethers that I have suggested are intellectual, number, and word ethers. If one goes on to ages 49-56, we can speak of the individual creative ether, that is, the inner fire of the human being. This is a new warmth creative ether. I would like to call it the fire ether of the ego. The final ether sphere, I would call the ever-refined ethers of the purest of astral life in which higher ego birth can occur. These are the ethers that are evolved in the process of creating a spirit-self, life-spirit and spirit-man. These are the ethers that have to be evolved. I would like to suggest that they are the ethers of the Mother Lodge of existence. They are also the ethers in which cosmic memory can evolve. It is ego cosmic memory, not the earth memory of the human organism, that is evolved. Here the ego finds a new footing in cosmic existence. Here the individual can join the spiritual-hierarchical world as a divine being. Here man can begin to fulfill his rightful destiny, which was foreseen before the Fall.
Now if we turn to the lecture again, we do not see the span of 63 years. The lecture indicates that the first 35 years are in this case compressed into 33; the time sequences are speeded up. There is something entering that makes life go faster. I see this not as an impulse out of the past, but an impulse of the future. Let us add the indicated 33 years in the lecture to the usual 35. We then have a total of 68 years—nearly seven score. We can overlay the 33 onto the 35 to come to the 33 of the Christ-incarnation to bring the future into the whole of life. As already stated, we can keep 35 and add the 33, so that the 35 years remains the usual sequence and the 33 becomes a sequence, a rhythm for later life—for cosmo-spiritual life. This leads to the possibility of an impulse entering life that begins to alter the age sequences, tending to enable the events to go a little faster, and yet not get out of hand. This enables the future to enter in—but the timing is rhythmically constructed so that the future does not rush in with total chaos. My suspicion is that the rushing in of time from the future is being increasingly seen today in the form of the dementias. In his organism and soul, man cannot take up cosmo-spiritual life—but it is working nonetheless. The result is dementia (becoming unto a child, without conscious participation).
As we know, Rudolf Steiner has given many indications about the first 14 years of life, less so for the seven years that follow; and he has given only a few indications for the other periods of life, except to always speak about the process of initiation. I would like to suggest that this points in exactly the direction that we are going. It enables an interdigitation of the archetypal sequence for all man into our being. At the same time, initiation enables a slight acceleration in life (intensification) out of the future. The forces at work are the new ether forces that come to work in us—the same ether forces that were active as Ego-ether forces in the Nathan Jesus. This lays the basis for the Christ impulse, which enters man when man treads the conscious path of initiation.
It is possible that we can evolve from 1-7, 7-14, 14-21 in a fairly regular way, although we know that this is hardly the case. There can be a slight acceleration from 21-35-42; and then, I might in fact suggest, that the next 20-some years would be enacted out of the impulses brought from the outer spheres of the ether cosmos to man. What we might consider here is that from the past, from the working of world evolution, life enables us to live a sequence of events for about 30 years. Rudolf Steiner has indicated this in the Pastoral Medicine Course (1924) and in the lecture cycle Ancient Myths and the New Isis Mystery (1918). We need to bring the next 33 years of this sequence out of the future. I would like to suggest that the evolution out of the past, the first 30 years, needs to meet the evolution out of the future 33 years, so that man is evolving for about 63-some years. This evolution is not just one out of the past, nor just out of the future, but is one that in part is a given and in part can be taken up more consciously. The future can meet the past consciously. The past wants to go faster and faster as a result of the sovereignty of our astral organization—our karma and the weakening of the older etheric forces from evolution. The past needs to meet the future so that the future can enter slowly, and life can have a reasonableness in its course. In this way, it is possible to see that the normal conditions that are shrunk from 35 to 33 in the case of the Jesuses point to this working of the future, and can help to establish a new archetypal rhythm. This rhythm can begin early in life (the reason for baptism), but can be taken up consciously on an initiation path as the age of 30 draws near. The first 30 years can provide some degree of direction, and the following 33 years can become the basis for a conscious initiation process. Something of a life rhythm can be established for a period of 63 years. Thereafter, or after 70, as indicated by Rudolf Steiner, we can exist only by the grace of the gods. With this perspective, we can see some possible rhythm in life, some rhythm in the course of a life. We can see that something evolves out of life that is like a tree on the one hand, full of the astrality that wants to rush into the future. Or, we can see a life that wants to become like an herb, that is very physical, that wants to stay with the past or enter only into the present. Or, we can see the plant, such as the mustard. It is green through and through. It develops a beautiful flower and a seed that has the fire and impulse of an ego being of the spirit of the element in the field. In looking over a field with the mustard plant growing, we see the green of the earth; it is often an intense green with a fairly thick foliage, though the plant can be very delicate and quite watery. The leaf is substantial. The flower is an intense yellow, life-filled, and points to the sun and the cosmos. The seed, with its inner fire-pepperiness, reminds us of the fire of the spirit. All of this seems to be contained within the field, within the sphere of the earth where there is a field of mustard. The earth becomes something living, and yet at the same time evolving with the principle of fire. The mustard is of a plant, not only an herb, of the earth. It is a plant of the earth, not a tree of the earth. The earth greens, yellows and becomes fiery. This is what we might think of the impulse of the Christ, received as a being into the seed of the earth, the herb of the earth. We can think of how the Ego being of the Christ works into all the ether elements, brings the loftiest of ether elements directly into the earth so that substance can grow out of the earth; and then how the plant, like the mustard, can, in fact, raise the earth into the living, giving birth to a seed of fire.
A specific way of articulating this would then be to say that the Christ comes first to penetrate the human soul with an ego element, so that the sentient soul can arise. We might consider that in the first of the three years, Christ enables the sentient soul to arise. In the second of the three years, the Christ comes to bring the spirit into the soul, so that the soul becomes intellectual soul. In the final of the last three years of his earthly existence, the Christ can bring the impulse of the spirit to the body, so that the consciousness soul can evolve. Piece by piece the Christ brings the impulses to evolve the soul in a rhythmical way. Cosmic impulses are brought to the soul. In this way, man can bridge the life into which he is born and the possible life in the cosmos. These cosmic impulses lie in the ether world that is evolving as we have been discussing. The ethers of the archetypes are brought over. We can say this gives birth to spirit-man. The ethers of the creative process can be brought—this has to do with life-spirit. And finally, the newly created ethers of the soul domain—we can call them the ethers of cosmic memory, of cosmic ether existence of the pure soul or spirit-self—can be brought by the Christ. The Christ brings with him those ether elements that have to be interdigitated into the physical in order to evolve spirit-man, into the etheric to evolve life-spirit, and into the astral to evolve spirit-self. At the same time, these ether forces have to work into the soul to give a virgin configuration to the soul—that is, purified sentient, intellectual, and consciousness souls.
That which incarnated into the Nathan Jesus sheaths with the ego of Zarathustra, who then later sacrifices these sheaths to make room for the Christ being, makes it possible for the Christ to bring those cosmic ether principles in relationship to the human physical organization. This is like the mustard plant of the earth. The seed of the individual—the fiery ego—must evolve as a creative being out of the plant existence. It is the fire ether of the creative ego that the Christ brings out of the cosmos and into the sheaths of man. The human ego can be born and evolve as an individual being within the physical world, as well as a cosmic being within the larger celestial spheres. It is then quite appropriate that the mustard plant with the fiery seed is spoken of. Here is expressed the potential of the birth of the fire spirit being of the individual. The individual is born into the physical world, while having contact with the ether sphere of the fiery-creative individual spirit. The heights of the ether world are brought to man. The mighty Tree of Life raised by Buddha, Zarathustra and John is brought to man in the form of this lively mustard plant with a fiery seed. This is the deed of the Christ for man’s soul.
|Bodily Ethers||7-14||Element ethers|
|Soul Ethers||28-35||Salt ether|
|Spirit Ethers||49-56||Individual Fire ethers *|
|56-63||Divine Spirit ethers|
Themes for the night are healings and oil. In order to deal with the healings, we have to take up illnesses and then make some further steps in relation to plant life in order to get to oil. Perhaps we could start with the plant and progress to the illnesses and then to healing.
So far we have discussed the tree as evidence of an earth that has been astralized. We can consider grain as earth that has been somewhat astralized. There is a significant earth element in the grain in order that it can serve as nutrition, as stimulus for life and activity. We have spoken about the seed, which evolves so that new life can come forth. In order that the seed can evolve, we have generally to consider fruiting, the fruit. The fruit and the seed often have to be taken together. Once the fruit is with the seed, then harvest can occur, so that new beingness can approach the earth. In man, harvest becomes man’s working of the beingness of the plant, so that man’s sheaths develop for an incarnating spirit. This has been the line that we have followed to see how the sheaths were prepared for the Christ. We have tried to follow this preparation in the life processes in the tree. We have then gone on to try to find a new impulse in the fruit. In the harvest process, we also drew near the earth to find a relationship to the earth in the herb. In the fruit, the seed and harvest, a new impulse can be brought to earth. The earth is penetrated by the new life (as with the herb). This new life is brought by the Christ being, by a mighty spiritual being who comes to imbue man and then the earth with new life, with new soul, and with new spirit. Our considerations have led us through the growing, fruiting, harvesting process in the human being, that is, in the Nathan Jesus. Buddha, Zarathustra, and John have worked in the Nathan Jesus to create a fruit and seed germ for the Christ being to harvest. We have likened this seed to a mustard seed that becomes imbued with the sulphur-fire element of the incarnating Christ. Our view has been that in the impulse of the mustard seed, the fire of the spirit must so work that the life of man, the whole life from birth to death, becomes penetrated by a certain order. This enables the human ego to work into the etheric. The etheric can then serve the ego so that the ego can, in working through the etheric, bring about a healing that is then connected with illness, as for example in dementia. Within the plant world, the plant process by which the fire-sulphur element enters the seed so that a kind of fire element can enter into the etheric, into the ether process, is the oil process. This is how the etheric oils and fats, and even the odoriferous substances, are produced in the plants. This fire-sulphur process is at work in the cambial process, which flows to the heights of cosmos in the etheric oils and descends into the earth as resins. Odoriferous etheric oils and the amber of resins stand as polarities in this fiery sulphur working. The oil process, which remains within the plant, stands in the middle.
Let us turn to the tree and consider the tree as it evolves out of the earth—it has life and a certain soul-like astral element. That which is of the earth—the trunk and the branches—then has three streams implanted into it that become the bearer of the plant itself. This plant of the tree is in the leaf process—the first process. The life of the plant brings forth the leaf on the trunk and branches of the tree.
Another (the second) stage of the tree-plant is the formation of the catkin or the fruit seed within the tree. This is not so much an etheric, as an astral expression of activity within the realm of the tree. The bringing forth from leaf to fruit, with the potential for the seed, lies in an astral working. The astral working can be seen in the crown of the tree, the round fruits, and the round to oval-elongated seeds. The catkin is a skeletalized fruit-seed. Much of the substance is cast away. This fruit and seed activity is a secondary plant-life process that is anchored into the astralized-etherized earth of the tree.
The third activity within the domain of the tree is where the seed becomes encased within a physical, hard shell. Here the fruit is shrunken to a shell. There the seed becomes something substantial, even nourishing, something quite physical. In the nut, we can speak of something that is quite physical within the realm of the tree. Therefore, in the leafing, we can see an etheric principle that lives on the earth, on an astralized-etherized earth that is raised to cosmic heights. In the catkin or fruiting process, we can see the astral principle. Life is filled with a directive principle so that a nutritional element can evolve, as in the case of a fruit. And then, in the further evolution of the nut or the shelled seed, we have the expression of something physical where an element of the earth that has been etherically raised into astral heights.
The fourth process we can consider within the tree is the oil-forming process. We can think of how, out of the processes of the leaf, the catkin, and the nut—out of the physical-etheric-astral processes—the oil process can evolve. This oil process is occurring within the realm of the astral heights of the cosmos. The astral heights are mirrored in the tree. This oil-forming process can be likened to an impulse of the ego. This process in the tree comes from the loftiest of creative heights of the ether cosmos. It is well known that oil can be found within the leaves of trees, also within the fruits, and within the nut. Oil can be found in all the elements of the tree—including the trunk. This oil process (also called essential oil) can be viewed as an ego-warmth impulse at work from out of the cosmos into the tree. It draws earth substance into the heights of the cosmos.
We tried to articulate how the initiates in their activities have worked with the cosmic ethers. We related this to the tree. We then followed this activity into the vascular-respiratory system of the tree. We have contemplated again and again the xylem, phloem and cambium as related to the earth sap, life sap and cambium. These streams are activities that occur within an earth structure penetrated through and through by the ether, astral and ego working from the cosmos—they work in the trunk and limbs of the tree—and then into the further unfolding of leaf, fruit, nut and oil.
Now we can reverse this process and suggest that it is not the astral element that draws the earth into the heights, into the ether periphery of the cosmos. Something of that periphery is brought to the earth, so that we have earth and plant life that is evolving much more immediately out of the mineral earth realm of existence. We have contemplated that the being of the Christ brings new life and activities out of the heights and cosmic periphery into the depths of the earth. Out of these depths can come forth plant-ether expressions that speak not so much to the lofty evolution of the heights, but bring the heights into the depths of the earth for new life.
As we have tread along this path of consideration, we have looked to the herb and the mustard as the earthly plant expressions that have a counterpart in the tree. I think it is possible to go further. Let us look for earth plants that could be a counterpart to the tree processes just discussed. Let us turn to the leaf that grows on the tree. Let us try to see its counterpart in the vegetable as it grows directly out of the earth. Vegetables are very much leaf plants though there can be transitions to the root and to the fruit. For our purpose here, we will consider the vegetable as the mineral-earth-ether leaf, while we consider the leaf in the tree to be the astral-earth-ether leaf. We can then turn to that process in the tree that gives rise to the nut, to the intensification of the seed process that is encapsulated in sheaths or in a concentrated sheath; we can look to the grain that evolves out of the earth. The grain is an expression of a high degree of astralization, into which the physical has been carried. Think of the grain seed in the husk. If we wish to find the catkin process in relation to the earth—that which fruits and seeds is in a way, full of life, but in a very concentrated form—we might then consider the herb. Thus, we can take plant processes that live on a tree and transpose them onto earth; we have brought the cosmic ether heights into relationship to the earth. Near the earth, we find the vegetable (compare with the leaf), the grain (compare with the nut), and the herb (compare with the catkin).
As we know, not only in the tree do we find the evolution of oils, a further development of cambium into the warmth-ether process, but we find the same thing true of the oils in the herbaceous plants. It is well known that many of the herbs emit oils, such as chamomile. It is also well known that herbs enable milk-oil substances to flow in the herb and into the earth, as for instance with the dandelion. In this latter process, we find a similar ego-like oil-warmth process at work in the earth from the plant. The opposite is the freely dispersed oils of the herbs. In the latter case, we are dealing with an oil-ego impulse that is striving toward the periphery. In the case of the plants directly embedded in the earth, we find the ego-oil-warmth-sulfur process penetrating directly into the earth itself. In both cases the plant is embedded in the earth. So too can we look at the plant that is embedded in the tree. We can find that there are oil processes that run throughout the configuration of the tree and into the earth. A tree can disperse oils into the atmosphere as well as into the earth. Oil can soar into the heights or be placed into the earth itself.
If we want to anticipate the next theme to be considered, we will have to speak of the olive tree. In this tree the potential for the dissipation of the oil is turned back into the tree. The tree then nourishes the whole earth with the oil that is not dispersed. The oil is kept within the configuration of the earth and the tree.
Now let us turn to the illnesses that are spoken of in this lecture. There are three. There is the illness of the possessed. Next is the illness of the “issuing of blood.” And then, we come to the illness of the dying child. Let us begin with the illness of the “possessed.” I understand this as a condition where the etheric organization is somewhat outside the configuration of the human head. The ego and the astral of the individual does not master this etheric organization. Into this etheric enter spiritual beings and elemental beings that then work in the human ether body and then into the physical body to bring about illness. This means that one has a kind of psychological process that is not under the mastery of the individuality, under the mastery of the soul. Today I believe possession is encompassed by two major forms of illness—the sociopathies and the psychopathies. In olden times, the etheric head did not conform to the physical head. Today this occurs in illness conditions. In the psychopathies, we have soul processes that are not controlled. There is a hypertrophy of mentation-intellectual activity. There may be hypertrophy of the feeling or emotive activity of the soul. There can also be a hypertrophy of impulsive will activity. When the will becomes hypertrophic and there is much activity in the way of impulsive, destructive, animalic or manipulative behavior, we can speak of sociopathies. These latter are behavioral disorders. The former soul disturbances can also result in cognitive disturbances. The terms psychopathy–sociopathy can be related to moral life. They can be linked to an etheric organization that has not been directed by the ego or astral organization of the individual human being. In the case at hand, in the Christ healing the possessed, this indicates to me that the ego being of the Christ can serve to dispel what is in the astral-ether makeup of the sick. A disordered etheric leads to bizarre behavior or unusual psychological events. Today the etheric can be abnormally freed through injury. The etheric can also be freed through spiritual exercises, and this is the direction of mankind’s evolution into the future. The condition of our soul—that which lives in our astral body—becomes very important in properly tending the freed etheric. The use of this freed etheric in seances and somnambulistic states has been spoken about by Rudolf Steiner.
In the illness of the “issuing of blood” we are told that a woman has been bleeding for twelve years and the bleeding won’t cease. This we might consider to be an expression of an overactive etheric organization in the lower portion of the human body. The result is a condition where exudations, the life activities in the human organization, are not controlled. Though the soul may be affected, it is a physical process that is most evident. Here it is not so much the region of the head, but the other organic systems that begin to be imbued with life so that there is overactivity in the secretions and the eliminations. There are disturbances in the fluids. There is a tendency for an inflammatory process to occur if the astral reacts to this. There can be a swelling if the ego reacts to it, or the swelling can become inflamed. This hypertrophy of the etheric, within the lower organism, without being properly contained, leads to the “issuing.” This is an example of a hypertrophied etheric. Today we would have to speak of this as an inflammatory process with exudations and swellings, as well as a state of bleeding. If the inflammatory process goes so far that the soul is touched and disturbed, then hysteric-like psychological states occur.
The third form of illness is one that so diminishes life and so takes hold of life, that only “death” can supervene. In the case at hand, the child has in super-abundance what the woman with the issue of blood lacks—the activity of the astral body. This type of activity, where the astral dominates the etheric is prototypal in sense activity. This activity should not work intensely into all the life processes and the whole organism. What results from this astral hypertrophic activity is a taking hold of life in such a way that there is a replication of the sense of cosmic life in the organism itself. What we are describing here is actually physical deformations in organs. We are talking about a forming-deforming-hardening process. We are also speaking to a tremendous proliferation and multiplication of cellular cosmic forms within the organism as in the case of carcinomas, of cancers. Here it isn’t the etheric that is overactive. It is not that the astral is helpless. Here it is that the astral has such an intense direction that it dominates all that which is living. The astral (which the woman with the issuing lacks) leads to deformations with the construction of cosmic forms (cells are cosmic forms), proliferating cells, and a gradual taking away of all life from the body, so that death supervenes. Here we have a twelve year old child who is at the abyss of death and requires healing—death appears without any expression of organ deformity or cellular over-activity. Now let us return to the plant world to see if we can find a counterpart of these three processes. I would like to suggest that where we have astral predominances, where we have the earth that has been raised into the astral heights of the cosmos, producing oils that are dispersed into the cosmos, there we have the counterpart of the human being who is possessed. If we next turn toward the plants that are on the earth and consider that there is an intense and strong astral working directly into the living earth, into its forms, so that in a way life is taken for the proliferating life of the plant, here we have the herb process. We can find a counterpart in the deformative, cancerous and death processes. The plant activities that are growing near the earth, as forms developing on and around the surface of the earth, as proliferating life with a small physical form and an intense dispersion process, this I liken to the child’s illness. I can envisage the working of the astral into the life processes and into the physical. A further step in this direction in the plant world is with the growth of fungi, algae, and lichens, particularly in the north. Here the earth itself becomes life-cellular. Here there is such a luxuriant proliferation of life that, if looked on as a totality, the earth as a whole might be seen as a cancer process. Soul life is not compatible with this over-activity (true of the earth also).
If we turn to the tree, in which all that is of the earthly is raised into life but is molded into dispersing forms like a kind of inflammatory swelling, we then have the picture of the issuing of the blood. If we think of the trees—not so much in the northern climates but more in the tropics—if we think of all this proliferating life that is raised into the heights and tree ether process, it seems to me that we can consider this an over-proliferation of the etheric. Here is an overactive ether element that is producing watery, swelling, inflammatory life processes that tend to go their own way. The whole of life in the warmth of the tropics is cast into the environment. The atmosphere is swollen with growth and inflamed with life. In the case of the individual with the inflammatory process, we can consider the regions of the tropics and the proliferating rain forests as carrying on a process similar to the issuing of blood. Algae, fungi and lichens abound in the tropics as well. Even the waters of the tropics are penetrated by animal-plant-like activity, which is found in the corals. In the north, the astral takes hold of the etheric—in the south, the etheric directs the astral.
From this we can consider that healing is a balancing out of all these etheric processes in relation to the astral. It is the ego (higher) that can do this. However, the one who is ill comes with the impulse and need for the illness. This can be given to the individual in the form of a remedy, a plant substance. Then the higher ego, which carries the healing cosmic-etheric and astral forces, can work to heal the body. It is necessary to understand the plant world in the light of man’s need for the experiences of illness, so that the illness can be experienced through the remedy. This frees the soul and spirit from a one-sided working. The soul of man needs the one-sided inclination of a given plant to fulfill a karmic need. With proper insight into the soul and the plant world, this need can be fulfilled. At the same time the higher being of man can participate in the healing forces that have been brought from the cosmos to the individual, the plant world and the earth. It is the Christ deed that has brought the cosmic healing forces into man, the plant and the earth. The balancing processes of the ethers and the astral in relation to the ego can be considered with the Christ working. The Christ tends to balance out all the ethers that are necessary for proper ego activity. The same can be said of the astral. The Christ balances the different ether elements of the plant world as well as the astral of this rather pure world. This is needed in the healing of illness, while permitting the human being to encounter those life and illness experiences needed for the fulfillment of karma.
The theme this evening is that of the transformation of wisdom to that of love—from teaching to deed. The theme taken from the Bible is that of the olive tree.
We have developed an approach to the plant as we have gained views from the Gospel. We started out with an approach via the senses, via smell, using incense to lead us out into the world. We tried to see how the plant helps clarify activities in the world that are carried on by man in his soul, spirit, and in his organism. We have evolved a view of the tree that tells of its essential being, which is of earth raised by the cosmos. On this, the plant can incarnate. This raised earth contains three streams, and these three steams we have juxtaposed with the activities of three initiates. We have spoken about the fact that the Buddha was initiated in the aura of a tree. The forces that live in the initiation of Buddha point to the processes that belong to a tree, that is, an astral development that can raise the soul into great ether heights while the body remains still. We have, further, developed the picture of the inner activity of the tree so that we looked at its vascular-flowing breathing system. There we have stepped from the Buddha initiation to another initiation, where life is filled with work and activity. This other initiation is that of Zarathustra. The being of the Zarathustra incarnates into the Nathan being, into whom the Buddha also works via the nirmanakaya. We have considered the working of the being of Zarathustra into the Nathan being as a process whereby the Buddha and Zarathustra streams unite. A third stream of initiation, that of St. John, unites the Nathan Jesus by over-shadowing this evolving being and then enacting the Baptismal Act for the sake of the Christ. These three streams we have pictured as the evolving of the ordinary bodily makeup of the human being into a higher form. We have been contemplating how Zarathustra, Buddha and St. John worked so that the ordinary physical body is transformed into spirit-man, the etheric body into life-spirit, and the astral body into spirit-self. These three beings worked together in such way that there could be a basis for the incarnation of the Christ. He was able then to bring the mighty cosmic principles to work into the higher membering that had been evolved by the three initiates. At the same time these higher members remained in connection with the ordinary membering of the human being. This I see as a deed of the Christ.
We have looked at the grain as the impulse of the earth that fosters the further life of the bodily condition of man. The grain is that which is plant life, which is raised out of the earth so that it works into the nourishing and ordinary activities of the sheaths of the human being, that is, the physical, etheric and astral. When the tree nature that we have been speaking of is coupled with the grain element, we then have a union of the ordinary bodily sheaths with evolving higher members. Needed is to evolve seed and tree processes so that in the fruiting-digestive activity of the ordinary bodily sheaths, the higher sheaths, are addressed as well. The digestive function of the tree-seed enabled the presence of the incarnating Christ, who then penetrated all of man’s members, and went on to penetrate the earth. It is this being who harvests the fruit and uses the seed in harvest for further evolution. The Christ being uses the impulses as worked through by St. John, Buddha and Zarathustra so that the higher members of man, the higher sheaths, can be brought into relationship with the ordinary sheaths; and at the same time, a basis for totally new life can be evolved, so that a seed gains new life in which the Christ Being can work to create a new plant—new life processes. This working of the Christ has to give rise to a plant, then a seed for the entire earth, to which the ordinary sheaths of man belong.
We have used the herb as the plant picture of the Christ being, who not only incarnated into the higher sheaths, as evidenced in the working of the tree and grain, but also worked in the life and body of the whole human organism toward the earth—like the herb. From there the earthly could be penetrated. The herb is a plant of the earth. It is an etheric being that rests directly on the earth and carries the impulse of life in relationship to the mineral earth makeup. The herb becomes the seed of the tree that leads the Christ through the higher members into the lower and prepares for the penetration of the earth (the descent into hell).
We made a further step with the mustard seed. We took up how the fire sulfur being of the seed, of the mustard, is what then penetrates the life of the earth. What is living on the earth, as well as the mineral, is then penetrated by a fire-sulfur element of the spirit. It is also the working of the Christ that brings this principle into man and then into the earth itself.
On this path we have worked our way to see this cosmic being incarnating into a human organization that was evolved by three mighty initiates. This cosmic being brought totally new life into human nature, then slowly infused this life into the mineral earth to produce a new living earth, and finally ensouled the earth. To look at the ensouling of the earth, let us turn to the oil process again, the oil process in the plant. We have already considered the oils that are dispersed into the atmosphere, oils that are concentrated in the plants (eg. the seeds); and we glanced at the oil process that results in the earth becoming the benefactor of this process. In this way, we might consider how the earth is not only brought new life in the mineral and new life in the living, but also new life in its soul. An ego impulse can be seen inserting itself through the oils into all the spheres that are related to the earth. Oils that form in the plant can be wafted into the atmosphere or, via the plant, enter the earth. We might connect this with the deed, with the cosmic-to-earth working of the Christ. After death, after the descent into the earth, the Christ ascends. We see the entering of the Christ being into the human being at the time of the Baptism. The Christ works for three years in the human organism. Then, at the time of the Crucifixion, the Mystery of Golgotha occurs, the Christ principle enters the earth—and later ascends. Our direction in contemplation has led us to see how a balancing in life needs to occur in the human etheric. There is the need to balance the old etheric, that is, the etheric that is assembled by the incarnating soul. This etheric is gathered by the incarnating soul and can bring various ether workings as determined by the astral body. It then needs to be balanced with the etheric that comes toward man out of the future, out of the impulses of the astral, which takes the future and brings it toward the human being. It is the being of the Christ that balances these two major ethers in human life. It is also the Christ who has to work for the balancing and to bring new life to the earth. The earth needs to find a new relationship with the cosmos.
In this way, we can approach the olive tree filled with oil substance. The olive tree is a plant that grows in the Mediterranean region—in a warm, dry climate. It can live hundreds of years, which is unusual for a plant being. This plant gives evidence of being very ancient—just by the fact of its gnarled, deformed trunk. It continually gives life, new impulses. This is evidenced in the leaf, the fruit and the seed. It is an “evergreen.” In addition, the olive tree develops a great deal of oil. The oil process penetrates every part of its being—trunk, leaf, seed and fruit. This tree does not waft its oil into the far reaches of the cosmos, but rather enables the oil to flow into the earth itself. (Of course, some oil enters the atmosphere.) The oil process is turned back into the tree and given over to the earth, so that the earth, through and through, is penetrated by the soul-spiritual process that occurs in the oil formation process of this plant. We can contrast this with other plant oils that are given off by plants, that are wafted into the distances—such as the herbs, the flowers, and the like. In the case of the olive, everything is well contained. A lofty ego-warmth process is at work in the olive. This ego-working is given to the earth. This enables us to see the olive tree as a being that works from the greatest heights, with the oil-forming process at its center. The tree brings impulses from the most distance ethereal spheres. The oil that is produced is concentrated into every fiber of its makeup, and it is further given over into the earth. This can serve as a mighty image of the deed of Christ.
We considered how the Gautama Buddha in his initiation via the tree enacted activities that carried him into the cosmos, to the greatest ether heights of the cosmos. We can now consider how the Christ comes from these mighty heights and brings deeds from this spirit realm—quite similar to the olive tree, which gathers forces from cosmic distances. As his blood flowed from the cross into the earth at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, so the oil of the olive flows too. The process by which the Buddha is initiated via the tree into the heights of the cosmos enables us to consider the path of wisdom. This is a path of wisdom that can lead to the knowledge of compassion and love. It is the Christ being who takes that wisdom and brings the deeds of compassion and love so that they pour forth into mankind and the entire earth—like the working of the olive tree. We can contemplate how the Christ, over millennia, descends from the heights of the cosmos. He is baptized into the lower human sheaths, which contain the germs of higher sheaths to be developed by the Christ. This Christ being is initiated into the sheath nature to begin to bring about the activities that, on the one hand, give the possibility of knowledge of wisdom, and, on the other hand, also bring the possibility that wisdom can flow into acts of compassion and into acts of love. For the wisdom of love and compassion to become deed, the entire human organization must be altered. That which exists at the greatest heights has to be brought down into the human sheaths so that finally every entity and fiber of the human makeup can be penetrated by this “mighty impulse.” If we think of the olive tree and its bony form, penetrated through and through with oil, we have an image of the incarnation and the earthly sufferings of the Christ. As a further step, as we can follow the oil of the olive into the earth, so we can do the same with the events at Golgotha. Here we have an event that in its deepest makeup is a mystery. The mystery is portrayed as a being who is crucified on a cross. In this circumstance, blood flows from the wounds of the hands and feet. Finally a wound is made in the chest so that the blood and fluid can flow from the left side. With this flow of fluid and blood, we have the overflowing gesture of love as a direct physical expression. That which lives in the lymph and venous system, in the arterial system of man, flows over and impregnates the entire earth. The olive tree does something similar, carrying its soul and spirit along.
The main event of this mystery is that the body is laid into a grave, and then the earth consumes this body. The earthly configuration of this body is not disturbed—no bone is broken. (In old Eastern mysteries, there were bone crushers). In its totality, the body is laid into the grave and then consumed by the earth in a cataclysmic earthquake. In this way, the very bony form of this being, like the bony form of the olive tree, is in stark relationship with the earth itself. The earth is raised into a bony form in the olive tree. The earth receives the bony form of the non-broken skeletal system of the Christ Jesus being in the act of the earthquake consumption. The earth becomes a body—but a living, ensouled body—and the earth is raised for a new future—for new cosmic events. This event of the blood and liquid overflowing at death, and the giving of the entire form of this spiritual being to the earth, can be considered a deed of love and compassion for the earth and all mankind. The olive stands in wonderful outer manifestation as an image of this activity. It is not without interest to think of the garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mount of Olives. It is the place where olives were pressed. It is the place where not only the olive grows and where the oil flows into the earth via the tree, but in Gethsemane, in the olive-pressing yard, there is a superabundance of that process. Here the gesture of overflowing compassion and love for the earth and for man is expressed in the very process of the oil of the olive that is being pressed, flowing into the earth in greater abundance than anywhere else. The great wisdom, the knowledge of love and compassion, that can be infused into the soul out of the great heights by the Buddha, become enactments and deeds by the Christ. Thus, overflowing deeds of love and compassion are well expressed in the being of the olive tree. The three streams that are included in the tree nature, the three streams that are included in the being of Jesus, are then poured forth by the Christ into the aura of the earth itself.
This all occurs just at a time when the human etheric organization has come to have the same configuration as that of the human head. Prior to this time, the etheric of the head was a bit larger than the physical head. In the future, the same circumstance will occur again, the etheric will expand beyond the physical. However, it was just at the time of the correspondence of the etheric and physical head that there was this immense infusion of new life into the being of man. A tremendous infusion of mighty, lofty spiritual impulses are articulated into the human makeup just at this time in world history. As this deed is enacted, the next step is made to pour life into the earth as well. From there, the Christ being ascended to further the working of the cosmos surrounding the earth. As man’s etheric head once more expands, as man can slowly liberate the etheric head from the physical head, he will come to live into the macrocosm that is ensouled by the Christ, the earth, and the cosmos surrounding the earth.
This last lecture by Rudolf Steiner is connected with the process of the Virgin Birth and the Kingdom of the Heaven. We will connect this with the theme of the spices. At every step we have tried to relate events in the Gospel of St. Luke and the lecture by Rudolf Steiner to something that we can come into contact with in nature, with the kingdom of the plant. Important in this last lecture is the connection of the events discussed with reincarnation, karma, new forms of initiation, and becoming virginous of soul. As we have done before, we will again reiterate the path or the process that we have followed in the world of the plant, so that we can take a next step with the spice. Our approach tries to lay a basis for perceiving in the material world an image of spiritual events. We began our considerations with the sense of smell, that sense in which the astral is so alive and active. It leads into the outer world. The tree, in a way, is also an expression of the astral. Here the astral raises the earth and life to the heights. We contrasted this with the astral in the grain, which raises the earth into a plant where nourishing substance comes forth. As we progressed to the seed, we could see that this carries the earth impulse into the fruit, which is also an expression of the astral in the plant world. The plant in its unfolding comes to a stage where it can be used for another being, either plant or animal or man. And so we spoke of the harvest. Here the plant itself is raised into a loftier domain, so that the physical and the astral of the plant become a stimulus and can be used for creative purposes—for ego-astral activity. We then turned to the intense astral at work in relation to the earth’s bringing forth plants so that the herb appears. The herb raises the earth directly into the plant domain. The herb is characteristically a plant being that takes direct hold of the earth and penetrates the earth. When we next looked at the mustard plant (a Cruciferae), we considered how the living (the etheric) penetrates the earth, and how the cosmic sulfury processes reach directly into the earthly seed. Ego fire penetrates the plant as the seed develops. Continuing, we took up the oil process as an ego-warmth activity. Oil processes occur in the outer reaches of the tree. Oil processes occur within the plants that are anchored in the earth—are earth plants. We spoke of the oil process and the fat processes that are active in nuts and in the oils that come from the coniferous trees. We considered the oils of the herbs, and this then led over to the oil of the olive tree. The whole oil (fat) process can be taken as a signature of the working of the ego. Oil is an expression of a metabolic process in which the ego element is at work. This process is at work in the plants that are near the earth. Oily substances are also created in the heights of the trees. In some plants, the oils are dispersed into the environment, are wafted into the cosmos. In the case of the olive tree, its oil is contained, and some is given to the earth. We thereby came to consider how the olive tree receives cosmic impulses, which work in the tree and then with the oil flowing over into the earth. We can use this as a picture of the incarnation of the Christ being in the lower and higher sheaths of man. Like the oil of the olive tree, the sheaths of man were given to the earth by the Christ in the Mystery of Golgotha. We followed the Christ being from the great heights of the cosmos, bringing elements and impulses from the lofty ether spheres to meet the fruits and seeds given by the work of Buddha, Zarathustra and John. From these fruits, the Christ could receive the seeds to which he could bring new life for the human organism. From the deeds undergone in this organism, new seeds and life could flow to the earth at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha.
With this background, we can take up the spice. Let us focus on myrrh as the spice. This is a plant that grows in desert climes. It produces a continual secretion of oil that congeals and falls to the earth. The oil, in contact with air, crystallizes. Amber, from pines, is a somewhat similar substance. Amber comes from the oil-formative resin process in the cambium of the pine. It descends into the earth to become crystalline. In myrrh, the sap rises to be secreted and crystallized above the earth in the air. It is this crystallized sap that is used in anointing after it has been made into an ointment or oil. The crystallized oil is rubbed over the surface of the human organism. We can imagine that it gives a form—a delicate plant phantom form to the anointed.
This plant directs us to a kind of fire process, a kind of sulfury fire process that works with the plant directly on the earth—on that which is deserted, is dead. The plant brings forth a gummy substance, a resinous substance that is the result of the warmth process. The fire substance crystallizes as it exudes from the leaves, branches and trunk of the plant, and then falls to the earth. The earth receives the crystallized substance from the phantom-exudative activity of the plant.
With this view, we might consider using a sulfury fire substance on the surface of the human body to draw onto the surface that which is in the depths, so that, in a way, it can be exhaled into the environment, but in the form of a plant phantom. Just as incense enables us to move out into the cosmos in the act of smell, so spice as a last rite, an anointing process, enables the last real out-breathing process; man exhales his being into the cosmos, laying the basis for a kind of phantom form to be taken along. This is similar to the plant giving off its aromatic excretions, and at the same time delicate phantom forms. Just as our skin is continually secreting and excreting in a kind of dying process—as an excretory process that is always tending to the final excretion (which is death itself)—so the furthering of this process, the helping of it, can come from the resin of the myrrh. We can consider the use of a fire-sulfur product from this plant, which wants to give itself over to the heat, but with form. The dryness and the flame element of the desert—the dry and the heat—meet the crystallized form and fire substance of the plant.
In this activity, when the fire-sulfur resin process used in anointing is mixed with oil or fat, there is an ego process and also an earthly-cosmic process. The resin of myrrh crystallizes in contact with earthly air. Man is covered—anointed—with the earth and penetrated by fire and brought into form from the distances of the starry-astral heavens. As man lays aside his coarse organism, there should arise a delicate fire phantom derived from the forces of the pure crystallizing heavens.
With this background, then, we can consider two forms of initiation processes. One is described by the Sign of Jonah. This type of initiation is when a human being is put into a cataleptic sleep. The initiator then, to a certain extent, loosens the etheric organism, so that what occurs within the astral body of the neophyte, in the heights of the cosmos, in the spirituality of the cosmos, can be imprinted later into the etheric body that has been slightly freed. Once the cataleptic trance has been brought to a close, the awakened neophyte can regain his astral experiences from his ether body. This is an old form of initiation. It is a form that developed because the etheric organization of the human being became ever more and more deeply embedded into the physical body. The only way to enable the astral body to dominate the ether body was to loosen the ether body from the physical body so that astral experiences could be imprinted into the ether. The ether body that descended out of the cosmos, which slowly congealed and finally took on the form of the human organism, is the etheric organization that has gone through the Fall. This is an etheric organization that works deeply within the human organization. In the course of evolution, it can become the vehicle for enlightenment in initiation by being slightly lifted free of the physical body. The cataleptic trance served the purpose of this loosening and became the basis for enlightenment in the initiation known as the Sign of Jonah.
In ancient times, the etheric organization dominated the astral organization. Special trainings in the ancient mysteries could structure, purify and strengthen the astral. But as the etheric shrank into the physical (the head), it became unavailable for enlightenment except under the conditions of a death-sleep. The outer depiction of this has been the raising of the dead or the awakening from death. This is not an ordinary death, but is a death for the sake of the spirit. It is a death that is enacted for the spiritual world or for the Godhead. It is the death process of initiation or the process of going through the door of death, going to the spiritual world, taking something from the realm of the earth, from the fallen, sinful earth and returning this to the spiritual world for the sake of the spiritual world. The loosened etheric is redeemed.
The other initiation that is described is neither like the Raising of Lazarus nor the Sign of Jonah. This form of initiation takes into consideration the non-fallen etheric, the pure etheric, the Adam-Kadmon etheric, the Nathan etheric. This etheric works to develop the embryonic membranes and is active when man learns to walk, speak and think. It is an etheric that works into man’s senses, life processes and soul to continually heal. This etheric is one that is derived from the lofty ether spheres that were created by the Christ with the exit of the sun. It is this etheric that is brought to man by the Christ in order to penetrate the human being through and through. Through the human being, this etheric can enter into the earth and then become a new impulse in the cosmos. It is this initiation that worked first by way of the embryonic construction of man and then in man’s relationship with the world. By the initiation into this ether, man can enter into the depth of the earth and rise to the ether heights of the cosmos. The depths of nature are penetrated particularly in the plant kingdom. Here we can speak of this as wisdom-ether, as pure-ether, as a kind of Sophia pure-ether or an unfallen ether. When man enters this ether province, his soul becomes a virginous being. His soul is so purified that it is born as a son in the domain of the Mother Lodge. The soul becomes the son of the Holy Virgin Mary. I am here using this ether sphere as it is worked through for the evolving of man, the spiritual world and the earth, as the Mother Lodge. This ether sphere I have depicted as the divine of the ether realms in my outline.
The pure ether forces that work in man during the embryonic period desert him. They live in the surroundings of man and can be gained by man in his quest for wisdom, in his quest to enter the temple of wisdom as a purified soul. Man has to become a pure virgin being in his soul in the quest for wisdom. It is this quest for becoming pure of soul, becoming virginous, that lived in the Mother of the Nathan Jesus. It is her taking this pure astral into the etheric astral, worked through by the Buddha, that enlivens this Buddha-etheric sheath, or the nirmanakaya of Buddha. This virginous soul of the Nathan Mother, in fact, even when she conceived, remained essentially untouched by the conceptive process, the birth process. This virginous soul appears as an archetype—as a sister soul like the soul that accompanied Adam at the first birth. This virginous soul becomes the archetype, the sister soul, for those who seek the path of knowledge to the temple of wisdom. This is a sister soul for those who seek in the outer world for conscious cognitive activity—for the activity in knowing. When grasped as pure wisdom, it is a living, creative world. It is a world that man can enter via his senses on a path of knowledge. I take it that this can be pictured as an initiation where the female approaches the male. Sheba approaching Solomon can be a picture taken from the Legend of the Temple.
We can think that this initiation points back to this great secret of the relationship between the man and the woman—as cosmic being and as a twofold aspect of the human ego. This initiation, which goes outward through the senses (man), the soul (woman) being touched by the world, I take it, is initiation via the path of the Temple Legend. This takes up the secret of Cain and Able and is spoken of as the initiation of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. This is an initiation not dealing with the old ethers, the fallen ethers that have been taken into man at the Fall, but it is an initiation into the ether that is the germ for the future; is still germinal and still lives in the cosmic processes around man, working into man in the form of nutrition, healing and initiation. These, Rudolf Steiner has spoken of as etheric processes. They invest themselves in the human sheaths in the embryonic period and then are released back into the cosmos, but they work back into man in specific activity and in specific ways. These ethers, enable man an initiation into the unfallen ether. This is a firm seed for a future form of initiation.
In this lecture, we were told that the Youth of Nain, this young man in his relation to the Christ, is a sign that points to this newer form of initiation. It points to man uniting with the Nathan ego – etheric principle in the cosmos, and is a necessary counterpart of the initiation process that unfolds where the fallen ether is taken hold of in the cataleptic process of the older initiation process. It is the path via the senses into the world that can lead man to this very pure ether Jesus being. This is the being that brings the impulse of healing. Yeshu means rescuer in Hebrew. This is the being that leads into the outer world, into nature, and particularly into the plant kingdom. There is a deep inwardness at the same time. It is the uniting with this world that, I take it, is the signature of using spice as the last ceremonial enactment to help the individual into this cosmic ether world.
What is important is that the being of the Christ unites these two forms of initiation. The Christ, on the one hand, enters and penetrates the domain of the Mother Lodge, enters that Lodge as a Son from the Being of the Father. Whoever enters that domain is born as virgin soul into the spirit and can develop the principle of the Divine Sophia. The soul becomes the maternal, sister or holy being in this etheric. The male is the ego that is born there. This is a virgin birth. This is a birth in the domain of the Godhead itself. This initiation is the one that is connected with the healer, with the initiation of the Youth of Nain, with the direction of the initiation of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. It is an initiation that we can say enables man to say that he is born of God.
To be born of man, means a process stands in polarity to what has just been discussed. In the latter, man is born as ego into the etheric, which is loosened from the human organism. This etheric has gone through the Fall and then is raised out of the fallen. This is to be born of man. This is a process of becoming Man. This is a birth process from man. The human being is then born as the Son of Man. This is the twice born that is spoken of in the Gospels.
This also throws some light on the relationship between Mary and John. This is the Mary who lives on and who lives with the incarnated Zarathustra Ego, becomes invested with a pure virginous process through the Mystery of Golgotha. The sense impression, cosmic process of the events of Golgotha, so take this Mary into the lofty ether domains, where the original Mary was held. The Zarathustra Mary became virginous. The being of John, who stands also at the site of the Mystery of Golgotha, viewing this event, also penetrates by this into the cosmic ether, into the province of the Mother Lodge. There he also becomes of Virgin Birth and becomes the son of the Virgin Mary. Here we see that the relationship between the two finds a whole new grounding. Once souls find entry into this ether domain, this domain of the unfallen Adam, then new forms of birth, sistership, marriage and motherhood unfold. These relationships are not out of the fallen ether, but relationships out of the spirit in this world of Sophia-wisdom. They grow out of the Virgin Birth, out of the domain of the Mother Lodge where the soul becomes, as it were, purified, becomes a Virgin Sophia being. This then permits the ego to be born as son of that process. Needed is a brother and sister soul element, so that one carries an impulse for the other (impulse from the Fall—the separation of the senses), so that the ego may then have its fulfillment by the presence of the other. This, then, I would say is the Virgin Birth in the Kingdom of Heaven. As I see it, this domain of the pure unfallen ether is very much the whole basis for the St. Luke Gospel. That is why we have articulated the various ethers that are connected with the earth, that are connected with the environs of the earth, with man’s soul and then with man’s creativeness. This is not the initiation process of the old Jonah impulse, of the old cataleptic impulses, which frees fallen ethers from the physical. In this Gospel we are introduced to an initiation with an ether that works much more into the senses, that works into the nourishing process, that works into the healing processes, and that then always tries to bring the new into what has fallen and wants to redeem the fallen. These two initiations are brought into new relationship in the Christian Initiation. The old that has fallen is not deserted, but is penetrated by a new germ, a new impulse. That which is undefiled and pure is so enlivened and brings such new forces to the event of the Fall that a redemption can continually take place. We might say that taking what has fallen and investing it with new life is a gesture of compassion. That which enables the incorporation of what is not fallen is a gesture of love. In this way, love and compassion become deed. The Christ deed becomes a living deed of uniting the fallen ether with the unfallen ether. It enables the bringing of new life to what is fallen, and it brings light that is needed for eternity. What seems to me so important is just this unfallen ether. It is important for the healer. It can be seen as the artist working in nature. My understanding is that it was this that Goethe grasped. He himself began a life in this undefiled ether.