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Spiritual Soul Instructions and Observation of the World

Schmidt Number: S-0736

On-line since: 31st March, 2014

Course I - Lecture IV

IV
Theosophy and Christianity

GA 52

Berlin
January 4, 1904

Often one still confuses the Theosophical Society with the Buddhist world view. On occasion I ventured to remark in these monthly meetings that at the Theosophical Congress in Chicago in 1893 the Indian Brahman G. N. Chakravarti himself said that also for him theosophy has brought something absolutely new or at least a complete renewal of the world view. At that time he expressed that any spiritual world view, also of his people in India, has given way to materialism, and that it was the Theosophical Society which renewed the spiritual world view in India.

From that one can already conclude that we did not get theosophy from India, as well as one has to admit, on the other hand, if one follows the theosophical movement, as it has developed in last decades, that it has tried more and more to explain all other religious systems that it has tried more and more to bring the core of truth to light not only of the more oriental, but also of the western religions.

Today it is only my task to outline the way how true, real theosophy is to be found in the really understood Christianity, or rather, it is my task to characterise the standpoint of the Theosophical Society compared with Christianity.

The theosophical movement wants to be nothing else than a servant of Christianity. It wants to serve trying to extract the deepest core, the real being from the Christian denominations. Thereby it expects to take nothing away from anybody who is attached to Christianity whose heart is connected with Christianity. On the contrary, those who understand the theosophical movement know that just the Christian can receive a lot that many disputes, which have today taken place everywhere in the Christian confessions, must disappear if the true core, which can be, nevertheless, only a core, comes to the fore.

Of course, I cannot exhaust this big topic in great detail and comprehensiveness, and, hence, I ask you to make do with few lines which I am able to give. But it is time to give this just now what I am able to give.

Our present is not a time which likes to rise to the lively spirit. Indeed, there are ideals at which the human beings look up, and they speak a lot of ideals, but that they could realise the ideals that the spirit could be active and that it is the task to recognise it, the 19th and the beginning 20th centuries do not want to know. Our time thereby differs quite substantially from the time of the great spirits who developed Christianity originally following the founder of Christianity. Go back to the early times of Christianity, possibly to Clement of Alexandria, and you will find that at that time all scholarship, all knowledge was there only to understand one matter: to understand how the living word, the light of the world could become flesh. Our time does not like to rise to such heights of the spiritual view. As well as we have limited ourselves with regard to the scientific view to see the purely actual what the eyes see what the senses can perceive, also the confessions are really full of such materialistic views. Just the representatives of such materialistic views will believe to understand the confession best of all. They do not know how strongly unconsciously materialistic thoughts have taken place there. Let me only give a few examples.

The 19th century has tried to put up with Christianity in serious work. One went to work critically above all and tried to investigate the documents in strictly scientific way, to which extent historical-actual truth exists in them. Yes, “actual” truth, this is that which also religious scholars strive for today. To the letter one investigated in every way whether the one or the other evangelist says the pure, actual truth what could have really occurred what could have taken place before the eyes of the human beings once. It is the object of the so-called historical-critical theology to investigate this. We see how under these tasks the image of the God Who became flesh has taken on a materialistic colouring gradually. Let me state something that always preoccupies those who search for truth.

David Friedrich Strauss started during the thirties of the 19th century to historically investigate the actual core of the Gospels. After he had tried to make clear what such a core of historical truth is, he tried to outline a picture of Christianity independently. Now this picture which he outlined is really out of the spirit of his time, out of the spirit which could not believe that once something could have been realised in the world that outshines humankind by far, something that comes from the heights of spirit, something that is born out of the real spirit. What did David Friedrich Strauss find? He found that the real Son of God cannot present himself in a single personality. No, only the whole humankind, the human kind, the type can be the real representation of God on earth. The struggle of the whole humankind, symbolically understood, is the living God, but not a single individual. All the stories about the person Jesus Christ that formed in the times in which Christianity came into being are nothing else than myths which the imagination of the peoples created. — The Son of God evaporated to a divine ideal with David Friedrich Strauss as a result of his endeavours to show the Son of God as the struggle and striving of the whole humankind.

Now, look around in the Gospels, look in the Christian confessions — you never will find a certain word in them, and you will nowhere find a certain idea with Jesus: the idea of the ideal human being in the way as Strauss formed it. One does nowhere find the human type, thought in the abstract. This is characteristic that the 19th century has come to an image of Jesus from an idea which Jesus did never suggest nor express in his life.

Also still others tackled this task bit by bit to verify the content of the Gospels critically. I cannot give you examples of the different phases; this would go too far. But during the last years a word was often said which shows how little sympathetic it is to our time to look up to God, to the spiritual being, which should have found fulfilment in a personality, in similar way as in the first Christian century when all scholarship, all wisdom, all knowledge was to be used to understand this unique phenomenon. A word was said there, and this word is: the simple man from Nazareth. One dropped the concept of God. One wants — this is, finally, the trend which is included in these words — one wants to accept this personality which stands at the beginning of Christianity only as a human being and wants to understand everything that one regards as dogma as imagination floating in the clouds. One wants to remove everything and consider the personality of Jesus only as a human being, who is of a higher rank, indeed, than the other human beings who is, however, a human being among human beings who is equal in certain respects to the other human beings. Thus also the theologians want to pull down the image of Christ to the field of the purely actual.

These are two extremes which I have demonstrated, on the one side, the concept of God evaporating the image of God, presented by David Friedrich Strauss, on the other side, the simple man from Nazareth, which contains nothing but a doctrine of general humanness. This is basically nothing else than what also those can accept who want to know nothing at all about a founder of Christianity.

We have also seen adherents of a general moral philosophy working out that Jesus basically had and taught the same moral philosophy as it is preached today by the “Society for Ethical Culture.” They believe to raise Jesus if they show that already before the 19th century people have born witness to that which we got from Kant’s speculation or from the Enlightenment. — However, in truth we deal with doctrines which were once the highest mystery, and the contents of this wisdom were only given to those who had risen to the heights of humanity.

Do we ask ourselves, are we still anyhow on the ground of the Gospels if we take the one or the other of these concepts of Christ? Today I cannot explain why I do not share the view of many of the learnt theologians that the fourth Gospel should be less significant than the three other ones. Somebody who checks the procedure clearly sees no reason why the St. John’s Gospel — which just raises us so much — was deposed, so to speak, because one strove for real facts.

One believes that the three Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke show more the human being, the simple man from Nazareth, while the John’s Gospel demands to recognise the Word that became flesh in Jesus. Here the unaware wish which lives in the souls was the father to the thought. If, however, the John’s Gospel is less entitled to authenticity, it is impossible to keep up Christianity. Then we cannot say anything about the Christian doctrine of the personality of Jesus than that he is the simple man from Nazareth. But nobody, neither I nor others who look into the old confessional writings can say anything different as those who spoke originally of Christ Jesus, really spoke of the God Who had become flesh, of the higher spirit of God which manifested itself in Jesus of Nazareth.

It is the task of theosophy to show how we have to understand “the Word became flesh” used by John above all. You do not really understand the other Gospels if you do not take St. John’s Gospel as basis. What the other evangelists tell is getting bright and clear, if you add the words of St. John’s Gospel as an interpretation, as an explanation.

I cannot describe in all details what leads to any statement I make today. But I can at least point to the central issue which is indecent to the materialistically minded theologian. Already the story of the birth belongs to it which says that Jesus should not be born like other human beings. David Friedrich Strauss also had this as an objection to the truth of the Gospels.

What did the higher birth mean? It becomes clear to us easily if we understand St. John’s Gospel correctly. The first sentences of this Gospel, the real message of the Word that became flesh are: “In the beginning the Word already was. The Word was in God’s presence, and what God was, the Word was. He was with God at the beginning, and through him all things came to be; without him no created thing came into being.” It is said that the Word was always there in other way that it finds fulfilment, however, in this externally visible personality. We hear then that through the same Word, or we say, through the spirit of God who lived in Jesus, the world itself came into being. “In him was life, and that life was the life of mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never mastered it. There appeared a man named John. He was sent from God, and came as a witness to testify the light, so that through him all might become believers. He was not himself the light; he came to bear witness to the light.” — What should come to Jesus Christ? But immediately we hear that it was already there. “He was in the world; but the world, though it owed its being to him, did not recognize him. It came to his own, and his own people would not accept him. But to all who did accept him, to those who put their trust in him, he gave the right to become children of God, born not of human stock, by the physical desire of a human father, but of God.”

Here you have the meaning of the Word that became flesh in a fairly right translation giving the gist and at the same time the meaning of the saying: “Christ is not born of human stock.” The “Word” was there always, and every single human being should bear Christ in his inside, in his primal beginning. In our heart we all have claim to Christ. But while this living Word, Christ, should have room in every single human being, the human beings have not perceived him. It is this just what is shown us in the Gospel that the word existed forever that the human being could accept it and did not accept it. It is said to us that single human beings accepted it. Always were there single human beings who waked up the living spirit, the living Christ, the living Word in themselves, and those who called themselves Christians did not come into being from the blood, from the desire of the flesh, from human will, but always from God.

This finally throws the right light on the St. Matthew’s Gospel. Now we understand why the birth of Christ is called “from God.” This refutes best of all what David Friedrich Strauss wants. Not the whole human genus was able to accept Christ in itself; although he was for the whole human genus and for the whole humankind. Now somebody should come who once showed the whole fullness of the infinite spirit in himself. This personality thereby got his unique significance for the first Christian teachers who understood what was there. They understood that it concerns neither an abstract, shadowy concept nor a single human being in its reality, but really the God-Man, a single personality in the fullness of truth.

That is why we can understand that all those who proclaimed Christ in the first times of the good news stuck not only to the teaching and to the actual person, but above all to the view of the God-Man that they were convinced that He whom they had seen was a lofty real God-Man. Not the teaching held the first Christians together, not that what Christ taught; it was not that through which the first Christians thought to be connected with each other. — Already only this contradicts those who wanted to replace Christianity with an abstract moral philosophy. However, then they are no longer Christians.

It was not a matter of indifference who brought this teaching to the world, but its founder had really become flesh in the world. Hence, in the beginning of Christianity one attached less value to proofs than to the living memory of the Lord. This is always emphasised. It is the personality, the God-imbued personality who holds the biggest communities together.

Therefore, the first Church Fathers say to us again and again that it is the merit of the historical event from which Christianity made its start. We have the information from Irenaeus that he himself still knew people who had for their part still known apostles who had seen the Lord face to face. He emphasises that the fourth pope, Pope Clement I, had still known many apostles who had also seen the Lord face to face. This is fact. And why does he emphasise this? The first teachers wanted to speak not only about the teaching, not only about logical proofs, but they wanted above all to speak about the fact that they themselves saw with their eyes that they perceived with their hands that which entered the world from above; that they were not there to prove something, but to bear witness to the living Word. However, this was not the personality who one could see with eyes, perceive with senses.

Not that personality who announces the first teaching of Christianity is that who could then be called the simple man from Nazareth. One single word of an indeed significant witness must speak for the fact that something higher forms the basis. One cannot emphasise this word of Paul enough: “If Christ was not raised, our faith and message is null and void.” Paul calls the risen Christ the basis of Christianity, not the Christ who walked in Galilee and Jerusalem. The faith would be null and void if Christ had not risen. The Christian is null and void if he cannot bear witness to the risen Christ.

What did they understand by the risen Christ? We can also learn this from Paul. He says it to us clearly on what the confession of resurrection is based. Everybody knows this; everybody knows that Paul is, so to speak, a posthumous apostle that he had the appearance of Christ to thank for his conversion to Him who did not stay long since on earth. Only the theosophist can truly recognise this appearance of a lofty spiritual being. Only he knows what an initiate, like Paul, means, if he speaks of the fact that the risen Christ appeared to him as a living being. Paul says to us even more, and we have to take this to heart. He says to us in I Corinthians 15: 3-8: “First and foremost, I handed on to you the tradition I had received: that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised to life on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas and afterwards to the Twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred of our brothers at once, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, and afterwards to all the apostles. Last of all he appeared to me too; it was like a sudden, abnormal birth.”

He equated his experience with that on which the higher faith of the other apostles was based. He equated it with the appearance of Christ that the apostles had generally received after He had died. We have to do it with a spiritual appearance which we have to imagine not in shadowy way, as shadowy ideal, but as reality, as the theosophist imagines the spirit; with an appearance of the spirit which is not physical, indeed, but real and more real than any external, sensory reality. If we keep this in mind, we realise that it cannot be different at all, as that one has to do it during the first Christian centuries with the Word that became flesh that the God-Man is not the simple man from Nazareth, but the higher spirit of God which fulfilled itself. If we look at this, we stand completely on the ground of theosophy. Perhaps, nobody is more to be called a theosophist in the true sense of the word than the preacher of the miracle of resurrection: the apostle Paul. No theosophist would deny that the apostle Paul is a lofty initiate, one of those who know what it concerns.

I have still to emphasise one matter, and this is that one not allowed to pull down this sublime appearance, which stands there as a unique one in the world, to the materialistic world view; the fact that the way of understanding the founder of Christianity is not found in the regions where only “simple men” where only ideals are, but that it must lead up to the lofty spirit of Christ. The first Christians did this; they wanted to go this way to understand the living Word.

Now you can say that you believe that everything has changed bit by bit, and this is well founded. Only because in the course of the centuries the factual sense has developed that the human being learnt above all to train the senses to arm them with instruments, he has progressed in the knowledge of the external world. But this enormous progress of international trade and communication, penetrating the starry heaven with the Copernican world view, penetrating the smallest living beings with the microscope, they all brought us, as any thing throws its shades, their negative sides too. They brought us particular ways of thinking, which stick to the real, to the sense-perceptible. Then it has happened that in the most natural way of the world this kind of thinking turning only to the purely sensory has become habit that it has also approached the highest religious truth and tried to understand the spirit and its contents as the naturalist tries to understand the external nature with his senses.

The materialistic naturalist can still imagine the ideals at most which contain abstractions. Then he speaks of truth, beauty, goodness which should be realised in the world more and more. He imagines shadowy ideas. He can still rise to “simplicity” in the human imagination, but to something even higher, to seizing real spirituality this scientific sense cannot progress with his way of thinking instilled for centuries. These habits of thinking have arrived at their top height. As everything that has formed unilaterally needs a supplement, the justified materialistic sense needs the spiritual deepening on the other side. It needs that knowledge which raises us to the heights of spirituality. Theosophy wants this raising to the spirit and its reality. Therefore, it wants to stick to that about which one does not speak in materialistic views, but which rises to the highest levels of human knowledge. From there is to be understood what it means that the Word became flesh, what it means to conceive the spirit out of the divine in the human body.

Christ could not always express frankly what he meant. You know the word: he spoke to the people in parables; however, if he was together with his disciples, he explained these parables to them. — Where did this intention of the founder of Christianity come from to speak two languages, so to speak? The simple comparison can say it to us. If you need any object, a table, you do not go to anybody but to somebody who knows how to make a table. If he has made it, you did not claim to have made the table yourself. You admit calmly to be a layman of making tables. However, people do not want to admit that one can also be a layman with regard to the highest matters that the simple reason, which is, so to speak, in the natural state, must climb the top heights first. The longing has arisen from that to pull down this highest truth to the level of the general human reason. But just as we know as laymen of making tables if a table is good how we have to use it, we know if we have heard the true whether it speaks to our hearts whether our heart can use it. But we must not claim to be able to produce the knowledge from our hearts, from our simple human minds. The differentiation which was forever made in old times between priests and laymen arose from this view. We deal with priest sages in ancient times and with the loftiest truth which was not proclaimed outdoors in the streets but in the mystery sites.

The highest truths were only explained to those who were sufficiently prepared. Those who were rich of spirit heard them because they are the deeper truths of the world, the human soul and God. One had to become an initiate, and then a Master, and then one got the concept, the immediate image of that which the highest wisdom contained. It was in such a way that wisdom had flowed into the mystery temples for centuries. Outdoors, however, there stood the crowd and got nothing to hear as that what the wisdom of the priests thought to be good for them. The gap had become bigger and bigger between the priesthood and the laymen. Initiates are those who knew the wisdom of the living God. One had to go up many steps, until one was led up to the altar at which one was informed what the wisest men had explored and revealed of the wisdom of the living God.

That was the custom for centuries. Then there came a time, and this is the time of the origin of Christianity when on the big scene of world history as a historical fact that took place before the eyes of the world, for all human beings which had only taken place before those who were rich of spirit, for those who were initiated into the mysteries. Only those who beheld the secrets of existence in the mystery temples could come in ancient times to real salvation, according to the view of the priest sages. However, in the founder of Christianity the higher compassion lived to go another way with the whole humankind and also to let become blessed those who did not behold there that is they could not penetrate into the mysteries, those who should be led only by the weak feeling, only by faith to this salvation.

Thus a new confession, good news had to sound according to the intentions of the founder of Christianity which speak in other words than the old priest sages had spoken; a message which is spoken out of the deepest wisdom and the immediate spiritual cognition which could find response in the most simple human heart at the same time. Hence, the founder of Christianity wanted to bring up disciples and apostles for him. They should be initiated into the mystery if there were stones that mean human hearts, to strike sparks out of them. Thus they had to experience the highest that is the victory of the Word. He spoke to the people in parables; but when he was alone with the disciples, he explained the parables to them.

Let me only give a few examples how Christ tried to enkindle the living Word how he wanted to knock life out of the single human hearts. We hear that Christ leads his disciples Peter, James and John up to the mountain and that he experiences a transfiguration there before the eyes of his disciples. We hear that Moses and Elijah were at both sides of Jesus.

The theosophist knows what the mystic term means: going up to the mountain. One has to know such expressions, know competently, exactly as one has to know the language, before one is able to study the spirit of a nation. What does it mean: leading up to the mountain? It means nothing else than to be led into the mystery temple where one can get through beholding, through mystic beholding the immediate conviction of the eternity of the human soul, of the reality of the spiritual existence.

These three disciples had to get an even higher knowledge than the other disciples by their Master. They had to get the conviction here on the mountain above all that Christ was really the living Word that had become flesh. Therefore, He appears in his spirituality, in that spirituality which is elated above space and time; in that spirituality for which “before” or “after” do not exist in which everything is present. Also the past is present. The past is essential there, when Elijah and Moses appeared beside the presence of Jesus. The disciples now believe in the spirit of God. But they say: nevertheless, it is written in the scriptures that Elijah comes and announces Christ before He comes.

Read the Gospel now. These are really the words which follow that which I have told. They are significant to the highest degree: “Elijah has already come, but they failed to recognize him, and did to him as they wanted.” — “Elijah has already come;” we keep these words in mind. Then you read further: “Then the disciples understood that he meant John the Baptist.” And before: “Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone of the vision until the Son of Man had been raised from the dead.” We are led into a mystery. Christ considered three disciples only worthy of experiencing this mystery. Which is this mystery? He informed that John is the reincarnated Elijah.

Reincarnation was taught within the mystery temples at all times. Christ has informed his close disciples about no other than this occult theosophical teaching. They should get to know this teaching of reincarnation. However, they should also get the living Word which must come from their mouths if it is invigorated and spiritualised by conviction, until something different would enter. They should have the immediate conviction that the spirit has risen. If they have this behind themselves, they should go out into the world and strike the sparks out of simple hearts which have been kindled in them. This was one of the initiations, this was one of the parables that Christ gave and explained to his confidants.

I give another example. The Communion is also nothing else than an initiation, an initiation into the deepest meaning of the entire Christian teaching. Somebody who understands the Communion in its true meaning understands the Christian teaching in its spirituality and in its truth only. It is risky to express this teaching which I want to report to you now, and I probably know that it can experience attacks from all sides because it is contradictory to the letter. The letter kills, the spirit brings back to life. Only laboriously one can ascend to the insight of the true meaning of the Communion. You do not hear about that in detail today, but allow me to suggest that which belongs to the deepest mysteries of Christianity, actually. Christ gathers his apostles to celebrate the installation of the bloodless sacrifice with them. We want to understand this.

To clear the way to us to understand this event, let us once come back to another fact which is little attention paid to and which should show us how we have to understand the Communion. We hear in the Gospel that Christ passed a blind-born man. And those who were around asked Him: “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” Christ answered: “It is not that he or his parents sinned, but he was born blind, so that God’s power might be displayed in curing him.” Or better: “so that God’s way of ruling the world becomes obvious.” The words “God’s way of ruling the world” justify that he is born blind. Because neither he sinned in this life nor his parents, the cause has to be looked for somewhere else. We cannot stop at the single personality and not at the parents and forefathers, but we have to regard the inside of the soul of the blind-born as something eternal, we have to be clear in our mind to look for the cause in the souls existing before, in those souls which have experienced the effect of a former life. What we call karma is suggested here, not expressed. We hear immediately why it is not expressed. Christ lived in a surrounding in which the doctrine prevailed that the sins of the fathers are avenged in the children and grandchildren. The sins of the fathers are expiated in children and grandchildren. This doctrine does not correspond to the view which Christ expressed towards the blind-born. If anybody sticks to the doctrine that it can only be the sin of the fathers that there is guilt and atonement only within the physical world, then he has to suffer for the deeds of his fathers.

This shows us that Christ raises his adherents to a quite new concept of guilt and atonement, to a concept which had nothing to do with that which takes place in the physical world, to a concept which cannot be valid in the sense-perceptible reality. Christ wanted to overcome the old concept of sin, the concept which fixes to physical heredity and physical facts. Was it not such a concept of guilt which keeps to the physical-actual which formed the basis of the old offerings? Did they not go, the sinners, to the altar and did offer their expiatory sacrifices, was it not a merely physical event to take off the sins? The old sacrifices were physical facts. But in the physical reality, Christ taught, one cannot look for guilt and atonement. Therefore, even the highest; the spirit of God, the living Word, can become enslaved by the physical reality up to death by which Christ became enslaved without being guilty. Any external offering cannot align with the concept of guilt and atonement. The Lamb of God was the most innocent; it is able to do the sacrificial death.

With it should be testified on the scene of history to the whole world that guilt and atonement do not have their embodiment in the physical reality, cannot exist in the physical reality, but has to be looked for in a higher region, in the region of spiritual life. If the culprit only made himself liable to prosecution in the physical life if the culprit only needed to make sacrifices, the innocent lamb on the cross would not have to die. Christ took the sacrifice of the cross on Himself; so that the human beings are released from the belief that guilt and atonement are found in the sense-perceptible reality that it should be a result of the externally inherited sin. That is why He really died for the faith of all human beings to bear witness to the fact that the consciousness of guilt and atonement is not to be searched for in the physical consciousness. Therefore, everybody should remember this: even the sacrifice on the cross does not matter, but if the human being rises above guilt and atonement to search for the cause and effect of his actions in the spiritual region, and then only he has reached truth. Therefore, the last sacrifice, the bloodless offering is also the proof of the impossibility of the external sacrifice at the same time, so that the bloodless offering is established, so that the human being has to seek for guilt and atonement — the consciousness of the connection of his actions — in spiritual realm. This one should remember. Therefore, the sacrificial death should not be considered as that on which it depends, but the bloodless spiritual sacrifice, the Communion, should replace the bloody sacrifice. The Communion is the symbol that guilt and atonement of human actions live in the spiritual realm. However, this is the theosophical teaching of karma that everything that the human being has caused anyhow in his actions has its effects according to purely spiritual laws that karma has nothing to do with physical heredity. An external symbol of that is the bloodless offering, the Communion.

But it is not expressed in words in the Christian confession that the Communion is the symbol of karma. Christianity just had another task. I have already indicated it. Karma and reincarnation, the concatenation of destiny in the spiritual realm and reincarnation of the human soul were deep esoteric truths which were taught inside of the esoteric temples. Christ, like all great teachers, taught his adherents in the inside of the temple. Then, however, they should go out into the world, after the strength and the fire of God had been kindled in them, so that also those who could not behold could believe and become blessed.

Therefore, he called his disciples together, immediately in the beginning, to say to them that they are not only teachers in the spiritual realm, but that they should be something else. This is the deeper sense of the first words of the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdoms of Heaven are theirs.” If it is correctly translated one can understand how it is possible to come to knowledge out of living beholding. Now, however, the poor in spirit should find the ways to the spirit, to the kingdoms of Heaven because of their simple hearts.

The apostles should not talk about the highest knowledge outdoors; they should dress this knowledge in simple words. But they themselves should be perfect. Therefore, we see those who should be bearers of the Word of God teaching a truthful theosophy, spreading a truthful theosophical teaching. Take and understand the words of Paul, understand the words of Dionysius the Areopagite and then Scotus Eriugena who taught in his book De divisione naturae (On the Division of Nature) the sevenfold nature of the human being like all theosophists, then you know that their interpretation of Christianity was identical with that of theosophy. Theosophy wants to bring to light again nothing else than what the Christian teachers taught in the first centuries. It wants to serve the Christian message; it wants to explain it in spirit and truth. This is the task of theosophy toward Christianity. Theosophy is there not to overcome Christianity but to recognise it in its truth.

You need nothing else than to understand Christianity in its truth, then you have theosophy in its full size. You do not need to turn to another religion. You can keep on being Christians and need to do nothing else than what real Christian teachers did: ascending to exhaust the spiritual depths of Christianity. Then also those theologians are disproved who believe that theosophy is a Buddhist doctrine, but also the belief is disproved that one should not recognise the deep teachings of Christianity ascending to the heights but pulling down to the depths. Theosophy can only lead to better and better understanding of the mystery of incarnation to understand the word which, in spite of all rationalistic denials, is in the Bible. Who sinks in the Bible cannot bear witness to rationalism, to David Friedrich Strauss and those parroting him. He can bear witness solely to the word which Goethe said who saw deeper into these matters than some other. He says: nevertheless, the Bible remains the book of books, the world book which — understood correctly — must become the Christian aid to education of humankind in the hand not of the wise guys but of the wise human beings.

Theosophy is a servant of the Word in this regard, and it wants to produce the spirit that is willing to ascend to the founder of Christianity; to produce that spirit which does not have only human, but cosmic significance, that spirit which had understanding not only for the simple human heart, which moves in the everyday, but such a deep understanding just for the human heart because He beheld into the depths of the world secrets. There is no better word to show this, as a word which is not, indeed, in our Gospels, but has come down in another way. Jesus with his disciples passed a dead dog which had already started to rot. The disciples turned away. But Jesus looked at the animal with pleasure and admired his nice teeth.

This parable may be paradoxical; however, it leads us to the deeper understanding of the being of Christ. It is a testimony that the human being feels the word living in himself if he passes no thing of the world without understanding if he knows how to become engrossed and to sink in everything that is there and cannot pass anything apparently disgusting, without tolerance without practicing understanding. This understanding allows us to look into the smallest and raises us to the highest, to which nothing is hidden which passes nothing which allows everything to come close in perfect tolerance. It carries the conviction in its heart that really everything is “flesh of our flesh, blood of our blood” in any form. Somebody who fought his way to this understanding only knows and understands what it means: the living spirit of God was realised in one single human being, the living spirit of God Who created the universe.

This is the sense which the theosophist wants to animate again. That sense which, by the way, had not completely become extinct during the past centuries, that sense which does not look for the criterion of the highest from the average mind, from a subordinated point of view but above all it tries to raise itself and to develop the highest knowledge because it is convinced: if it has purified itself, has spiritualised itself, the spirit bows down to it. “If Christ is born a thousand times in Bethlehem and not in you, you are still lost forever.” The great mystic Angelus Silesius said this. He also knew what a teaching means, if it becomes the highest knowledge if it becomes life. Jesus said to Nicodemus: somebody who is born again who is born from above speaks that which he says no longer only from human experience, he expresses it “from above.” — He speaks words like Angelus Silesius has spoken them at the end of the Cherubinic Wanderer: “If you want to read more, go and become yourself the word and the being.”

This is the demand which somebody makes who speaks out of the spirit. You should not listen to him, not to his words only, but let evoke in yourself what speaks out of him.

To such a word, to such good news Jesus chose those who said there: that which was there from the beginning, the eternal world law, what we have seen with own eyes, what we have felt with hands of the word of life we preach this to you. — It was He Who was a single human being, and lived in the word of the disciples at the same time.

But he still said one matter of which theosophists must be aware above all that He not only was there in the time in which He taught and lived, but the important word came down us: “I will be with you always, to the end of time.” Theosophy knows that He is with us that He can stamp our words today as well as at that time, that He can inspire our words that He can also lead us today like at that time that our words express that which He is Himself. However, theosophy wants to prevent one thing. It wants to prevent that one must say: He has come, He is there, but they have not recognised Him. The human beings wanted to do with Him as they wished. — No, the theosophist wants to go to his own sources. Theosophy should raise the human beings spiritually to spirituality, so that they recognise that He is there, so that they know where they have to find Him, and that they hear the living Word from Him who said there:

“I will be with you always, to the end of time.”


Notes

G. N. Chakravarti (1861–1936)

Clement of Alexandria (150–~215), Church Father

Irenaeus (~140–202), Greek Church Father

Scotus Eriugena (~815–~877), Irish theologian and philosopher

Angelus Silesius (1624–1677), German mystic and religious poet, c f. CW 7 Mystics after Modernism (Anthroposophic Press, 2000, 120ff.)

If Christ is born . . .: Cherubinic Wanderer (Cherubinic Pilgrim), vol. I, no. 61



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