[RSArchive Icon]
Rudolf Steiner Archive Section Name Rudolf Steiner Archive Home

The Mysteries of the East and of Christianity

Lecture 4

LECTURE 4

IN THE last lecture we spoke of the experiences of the human soul in relation to the Mystery-principles of ancient times, the Eastern and Egyptian Mysteries. In a certain sense this brought us to the last step in the stages of Initiation, for in the first lecture we described as characteristic of the nature of all Mysteries these four steps: Approach to the Boundary of Death; Becoming acquainted with the Life of the Elementary World; Beholding the Sun at Midnight; Standing before the Upper and the Lower Gods.

This Standing before the Upper and the Lower Gods comes about when the aspirant has to apprehend the forces which rule everything that belongs to the physical side of man, the part which remains behind in sleep as physical and etheric body — here we have to do with the Lower Gods in the widest sense of the word. We have to speak of the Upper Gods in relation to all the forces which are concerned with the innermost being of man; with that which passes through the various incarnations, the ego and the astral body.

In the preceding lectures I was able to describe the experiences of a modern man, acquainted with the nature of the Mysteries, when he looks back in the Akashic Record at the experiences undergone by human souls within the Mysteries of ancient times. We had to point to the tragic impression made on Egyptian souls when in the course of their Initiation they came face to face with the changes that had affected the Cosmic Power known as Isis in the Egyptian Mysteries. From the Osiris legend we learn that the spouse of Isis was overcome by the enemy and torn away from her. But we have also come to know the results in the higher worlds of this changed situation in the life of Isis. The soul which in later Egyptian times had raised itself into spiritual worlds became a participant in the fate of Osiris, the God who was dying to the higher worlds and descending into the earthly region. For that is how it was experienced.

Now it is extraordinarily difficult to speak in ideas and concepts concerning the further development of this “fate of Gods”. But since we have become accustomed to bring in pictures as a help in connection with the most intimate things of the higher worlds, where our ordinary speech, which has already become so secular, fails us, let us express in a readily understandable picture something that is to form, as it were, the leit-motif of the exposition to be given to-day.

Let us enter into the tragic mood of one about to be initiated during the Egyptian epoch. We transpose ourselves into this mood and find. that it originated from experiences that the aspirant could express only by saying to himself: “Formerly, when I entered the spiritual worlds, I found Osiris permeating cosmic space with the Creative Word and its meaning, which represent the ground-forces of all being and development. Now the Word has become mute and silent. The God who was called Osiris has forsaken these realms. He is preparing to penetrate into other regions; he has descended into the Earth-region in order to enter into the souls of men.”

The Being who had been known spiritually to human souls in earlier days first became manifest in physical life when Moses heard in the physical world the Voice that in earlier ages had been heard only in the spiritual worlds: “Ejeh asher Ejeh!” — “I AM THE I AM, Who was, and is, and will be”. And then this Being who, as the Creative Word, had gradually become lost to the experience of the candidate for Initiation, transferred His life into the Earth-region so that He could gradually come to life again in the souls of earthly men; and in this new life, rising to ever higher and higher glory, would consist the further development of the Earth, even to the end of the Earth-evolution.

Let us try to transport ourselves as vividly as we can into the frame of mind of one of these candidates, and realise how in the spiritual regions to which he could first attain he felt the Creative Word disappearing, sinking down into the Earth-region and becoming lost to spiritual sight. Let us follow the evolution of the Earth, and we shall see that for spiritual sight this Creative Word now goes forward somewhat as a stream which has been on the surface and then disappears for a certain time below the Earth's surface, in order to reappear later at another place. And so there reappeared That which the souls who were being initiated in the later Egyptian Mysteries had seen sinking tragically out of sight. It reappeared, and could be looked upon by those in later times who were permitted to participate in the Mysteries. And they had to bring into the picture what they could see arising again, but arising now in such a way that henceforward it belonged to Earth-evolution.

How did That reappear which had become submerged in ancient Egypt? It reappeared in such a way that it became visible in the Holy Vessel which is spoken of as the “Holy Grail”, guarded by the Knights of the Holy Grail. In the rise of the Holy Grail can be found That which had sunk down in ancient Egypt, and in this arising of the Holy Grail there stands before us everything that went into the post-Christian renewal of the principle of the ancient Mysteries. Fundamentally speaking, the phrase the “Holy Grail”, with all that belongs to it, involves a reappearing of the essence of the Eastern Mysteries,

Everything that appears at a certain time in the evolution of humanity, in order to bring this evolution forward, must include a kind of repetition of what has gone before. In every later epoch the earlier experiences of humanity must appear again, but in a fresh form. We know that in the third post-Atlantean epoch the emphasis was on the Sentient Soul; in the fourth, the Graeco-Latin epoch, it was on the Intellectual Soul, and the development of the Consciousness Soul is the special task of our own epoch, the fifth. For the candidate for Initiation all these things are important, because in a given epoch the most important forces of Initiation must proceed from the soul-principle which is specially connected with that epoch. The Egyptian Initiation was connected with the Sentient Soul; the Graeco-Latin Initiation with the Intellectual Soul; and the Initiation of the fifth post-Atlantean culture-epoch must be connected with the Consciousness Soul. But in the dawn of this fifth epoch there must also be a repetition of what the Initiates once went through out of the forces of the Sentient Soul; and equally a repetition of what was gone through in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. Then something is added, something new which must come from the Consciousness Soul to provide supporting forces for the candidate. Hence the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, with its special emphasis on the arising of the new Initiation, must have centres where there can be recalled to human souls the secrets poured into human evolution through the Egyptian-Chaldaic soul, and the secrets poured. out in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, the Graeco-Latin time, during which the Mystery of Golgotha took place. And to that must be added a new element.

As in earlier ages, so also in this later age, that which was enacted in the depths of the Mysteries finds expression in the most varied legends, and these correspond more or less closely to secrets in which the human soul has participated. Hence it was necessary that the secrets of the Egyptian-Chaldaic period should appear as a kind of repetition before the souls of the fifth epoch. They were secrets related to the Cosmos, to the in-pouring of the forces of the Zodiac and of the Planets, but particularly to the secrets connected with the co-operation of the Sun and Moon, and to the shifting influences of the Sun and Moon as they pass through the signs of the Zodiac. (I am speaking of the apparent movements, because they sufficiently characterise the processes involved.) But there had to be a difference between the way in which these secrets had emerged in the third epoch and the way in which they were presented in the fifth epoch. Everything now had to work right into the Consciousness Soul, into that which makes for and constitutes human personality. This took place in a quite special way through the fact that those inspiring forces which were seen when in the third epoch souls were transported into spiritual regions of the Cosmos, and which simultaneously streamed out of cosmic space into the Earth — during the fifth epoch these forces inspired certain individuals. In the dawn of the fifth epoch, accordingly, there were persons who, not exactly through their training but through certain mysterious influences, became the instruments, the vehicles, of cosmic influences issuing from the Sun and Moon during their passage through the signs of the Zodiac. The secrets that could then be won for the human soul through these individuals were a repetition of what had once been experienced through the Sentient Soul. And the persons who expressed the transit of the cosmic forces through the signs of the Zodiac were those called “The Knights of King Arthur's Round Table”. Twelve in number, they had around them a band of other men, but they were the principal Knights. The others represented the starry host; into them flowed the inspirations which were more distantly distributed in cosmic space; and into the twelve Knights flowed the inspirations from the twelve directions of the Zodiac. The inspirations which came from the spiritual forces of the Sun and Moon were represented by King Arthur and his wife Guinevere. Thus in King Arthur's Round Table we have the humanised Cosmos. What we may call the pedagogical high school for the Sentient Soul of the West proceeded from King Arthur's Round Table. Hence we are told — and the legend here refers in pictures of external facts to inner mysteries which were taking place in the dawn of that epoch in the human soul — how the Knights of King Arthur's Round Table journeyed far and wide and slew monsters and giants. These external pictures point to the endeavours of human souls who were to make progress in refining and. purifying those forces of the astral body which expressed themselves for the seer in pictures of monsters, giants and the like. Everything that the Sentient Soul was to experience through the later Mysteries is bound up with the pictorial concepts of King Arthur's Round Table.

What the Intellectual Soul was to experience in this later time has in turn found legendary form in the saga of the Holy Grail. Everything that had to be recapitulated from the epoch in which the Mystery of Golgotha took place was concentrated in the influences that streamed forth from the secrets of the Holy Grail. And these influences could work on the Intellectual Soul in persons who had gained understanding of the Holy Grail and wished to understand their own epoch. In the present day also the human soul must be open to these influences if it is to be initiated, if it is to have understanding for the spiritual nature of our times. The Holy Grail is surrounded by many, many mysteries. Today, naturally, we can give only a sketchy outline of these mysteries; but it may provide a starting-point for more detailed studies which may one day be undertaken regarding these mysteries of the Holy Grail. In the Holy Grail, if understood in its true nature, there was embraced everything which characterised the secrets of the human soul in later times.

Let us take an Initiate of later times when, having freed his ego and astral body from his physical and etheric bodies and come forth from them, he looked down at them from outside, and let us picture what he saw in them. He saw something which could be very disturbing, if he had not learnt to understand it thoroughly. And he still sees it today. The physical and etheric bodies have woven into them something which flows through them like streams or strands running in various directions. As the nerve fibres run through the physical body, so is there woven into the physical body something finer than the nerves, of which occult sight reports: That is dead — so dead that there really is something like a piece of dead substance in the human body. It is now condemned to be dead throughout the time between birth and death, but during the Eastern period of human evolution it was still living. Yes, one has the experience that in human bodies there is something dead which once was alive. And one sets out to discover what it really is. “Dead” is to be understood here in a relative sense; the dead part is indeed stimulated by its environment, but there are tendencies and currents in the human body which, in comparison with the life that animates it, have always a disposition toward death. We investigate how this has come about, and we find that the origin of it is as follows.

Once in ancient times men's souls possessed a certain faculty of clairvoyance, and in the latter part of the Egyptian-Chaldaic civilisation this clairvoyance still existed to such a degree that a man, when gazing into the starry heavens, saw not merely the physical stars but also the spiritual beings united with them. And so, when in the intermediate state between waking and sleeping the human soul looked out into the universe and saw something spiritual, the impression received was different from the impressions made upon the human soul to-day, when people study science in the modern way or are living mostly in the ordinary consciousness of the times. But all the souls living and embodied to-day were also incarnated in the Egyptian-Chaldaic epoch. All the souls present here to-day once looked out from their bodies into starry space, took part in the spiritual life of the universe and received its impressions. This sank into our souls and became an intrinsic part of them. All the souls of to-day once looked out into the universe and received spiritual impressions in the same way as they now receive impressions of colours and sounds. It is all there still, in the depth of our souls, and the souls created their bodies in accordance with it. But our souls have lost remembrance of it! For modern consciousness it is no longer present in the souls of men. And that which corresponds to the old up-building forces which the souls used to receive, cannot now build upon the body, with the result that the corresponding part of the physical and etheric bodies remains lifeless. If nothing else were to happen, if men went on living merely with those sciences which are concerned with the outer physical world, then men would deteriorate more and more, because their souls have forgotten those former impressions of the spiritual world which go with the vivifying and building up of the physical and etheric bodies.

That is what the candidate for Initiation sees to-day. And he can say to himself: Souls are thirsting to vitalise something in the physical and etheric bodies which they have to abandon as lifeless because the impressions they once absorbed do not penetrate into modern consciousness. This is the disturbing impression received to-day by the candidate for Initiation.

Thus there is something in man that is withdrawn from the sovereignty of the soul. I beg that you will take these words with all earnestness; for a characteristic of modern man is that something in his nature is withdrawn from the rule of the soul, something that is dead in contrast with the life of the organism that surrounds it. And by working upon this dead part, the Luciferic and Ahrimanic forces exercise on man a very great influence in a quite special way. While on the one hand men can acquire more and more freedom, the Luciferic and Ahrimanic forces insinuate themselves precisely into that part of the organism which has been withdrawn from the sovereignty of the soul. That is why so many people in modern times feel (and quite rightly say they feel) as if there were two souls dwelling within their breast, and as if one wanted to tear itself away from the other. Much of what modern man finds so baffling in his inner experience lies in what has just been said. The Holy Grail was and is nothing else than that which can so nurture the living portion of the soul that it can become master of the dead part. Montsalvat, the sanctuary of the Holy Grail, is the school in which one has to learn, for the sake of the living part of the human soul, something that there was naturally no need to learn in the Eastern and Egyptian Mysteries. One needs to learn what has to be poured into the still living part of the soul in order to become master of the part of the physical body that has died, and the part of the soul that has become unconscious. Hence, in these secrets of the Grail, the Middle Ages saw something related to a repetition of the Graeco-Latin period in the Intellectual or Mind-soul, for in the Intellectual Soul are rooted mostly those parts of the soul which are now forgotten and dead. Thus the secrets of the Grail referred to the permeation of the Intellectual or Mind-soul with new wisdom.

When the Initiate of the Middle Ages wanted to present in picture form what he had to learn in order to permeate with the new wisdom the part of his soul that had remained living, he spoke of the Castle of the Holy Grail and of the new wisdom — which is in fact the “Grail” — that flows out from it. And when he wanted to indicate that which is hostile to this new wisdom, he pointed to another domain, the domain wherein dwelt all the beings and. forces which had made it their task to gain access to the part of the body that had become dead, and to the part of the human soul that had become unconscious. This domain, into which were justly transferred (“justly” is here used in an occult sense) all the successors of the evil spiritual beings of earlier times who had preserved the worst forces of oriental magic (not the best forces, which also had remained) — the domain which was the most vicious and hostile to the Grail was Castle Merveil, the gathering-place of all the forces which attack man in this part of his body and soul and have undergone a karmic fate such as has been indicated. Spiritual wisdom can be carried anywhere to-day, because we have reached a transition stage leading towards the Sixth Epoch and these things are no longer tied to particular localities, but in the Middle Ages it had to be sought in certain definite places, as I have shown in my book, The Spiritual Guidance of Man and of Mankind. Hence when in earlier times it was said that one had to travel to a particular neighbourhood in order to receive a certain teaching, this was not meant in any figurative sense. In our own time it must be said that wisdom has less of a local character; for we are living in a time of transition from life in space and time into more spiritual forms of time.

Whereas it has been said that the Castle of the Grail is situated in the West of Europe, the stronghold of hostility to the Grail must be located in another place, a place where, on account of certain spiritual forces there, a person can have just as great and powerful and good an impression as he can have also of its opposite, through other forces which have remained there to this present time like an Akashic after effect from those opponents of the Grail of whom we have been speaking. For at that place one can speak of the very worst forces, and they are still perceptible in their after-effects. At one time evil arts were practised in that place, arts which penetrated right into physical life and thence launched their assaults on the part of the human soul that had become unconscious and on the portion of the human organism that had become dead.

All this is closely connected with a figure who glimmers across from the Middle Ages as a legendary being, but is well known to anyone acquainted with the nature of the Mysteries: a personality who was quite real in the middle of the Middle Ages, Klingsor, the Duke of Terra de Labur, a district we have to look for in what is now Southern Calabria. From there were carried out the incursions of the enemy of the Grail, especially over to Sicily. Even as to-day, if we tread Sicilian soil and have occult sight, we are aware of the Akashic after-effects of the great Empedocles still present in the atmosphere, so we can still perceive there the evil after-effects of Klingsor, who allied himself from his Duchy of Terra de Labur, across the Straits of Messina, with those enemies of the Grail who occupied the fastness known in occultism and in legend as Calot bobot.

In the middle of the Middle Ages, Calot bobot in Sicily was the seat of the goddess called Iblis, the daughter of Eblis; and among all evil unions which have taken place within the Earth's evolution between beings in whose souls there were occult forces, the one known to occultists as the worst of all was between Klingsor and Iblis, the daughter of Eblis. Iblis, by her very name, is characterised as being related to Eblis, and in Mohammedan tradition Eblis is the figure we call Lucifer. Iblis is a kind of feminine aspect of Eblis, the Mohammedan Lucifer, and with her the evil magician Klingsor united his own evil arts, through which in the Middle Ages he worked against the Grail. These things must needs find expression in pictures, but in pictures that correspond to realities; they cannot be expressed in abstract ideas. And the whole of the hostility to the Grail was enacted in that fastness of Iblis, “Calot bobot”, whither the remarkable Queen Sibylla had fled with her son William, in 1194, under the rulership of the Emperor Henry VI.

Everything that was undertaken by a power hostile to the Grail, and whereby also Amfortas was wounded, is finally to be traced back to the alliance which Klingsor had contracted with the stronghold of Iblis, Calot bobot; and all the misery and suffering which we see embodied in the Grail legend through Amfortas is an expression of that pact. For this reason the soul must still be strongly armed even to-day when it comes into the neighbourhood of those places from which can emanate all hostile influences related to the Mysteries of the Grail and the advancing evolution of humanity.

Viewed thus, we have on the one hand the Kingdom of the Grail, and on the other the evil Kingdom, Chastel Merveille, with all that came from the pact between Klingsor and Iblis playing into it. And here we can see, expressed in a wonderfully dramatic form, all that the most independent and innermost of the soul-organs, the Intellectual or Mind-soul, has had to endure in face of attacks from without. In the fourth post-Atlantean period this soul-principle was not yet as inward as it had to become in the fifth. It withdrew itself more from the life in the external world that had prevailed in Greek and Roman times, back into the inner part of man, and became freer, more independent. But on that account (for reasons already given) it was much more open to attack by all the powers than it had been in the Graeco-Latin epoch. The whole of the change which had taken place in the Intellectual or Mind-soul is portrayed haltingly, in a legendary way, and yet it stands so dramatically before us in the antithesis between “Montsalvat” and “Chastel Merveille”. We feel an echo of all the sufferings and all the conquests of the Intellectual Soul in the stories connected with the Holy Grail. All that had to be changed in the human soul in more recent times is revealed to him who has come to know the nature of the Mysteries. In this connection we need only take a concrete case.

We often find that persons who have not gone far enough into the matter will ask how a man such as Goethe can on the one hand bear within him certain secrets of the human soul, and on the other hand be so often torn by passion, as he is found to be by those who read his life-story in a rather superficial way. In fact, there was in Goethe something that can be called, in a crude sense, a double nature. To a superficial view the two sides can hardly be brought into harmony. On the one hand there is the great, high-minded soul who could bring forth certain portions of the second part of Faust, and gave expression to many deep secrets of human nature in the Fairy-Story of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily; and one would like to forget everything one knows from biographies of Goethe and pay homage only to the soul who was capable of such achievements. On the other side, there appears in Goethe, tormenting him and often causing him pangs of conscience, his other nature, “human, all-too-human”, in many respects. In earlier times the two natures of man were not so widely separate in their development; they could not diverge in this way. A person with a biography comparable with Goethe's could not rise to such heights as are revealed in certain passages of the second part of Faust or in the Fairy-Story of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily, and at the same time be so divided in his soul. That was not possible in earlier times. It has become possible only in later days, because there now exists in human nature something we have already spoken of — the part of the soul that has become unconscious, and the part of the organism that has died. The part that has remained alive can be so elevated and purified that the impulse which leads on to the Fairy-Story of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily; can be nurtured there, while the other part may remain exposed to the attacks of the outer world. And because the forces described are able to make their abode there, circumstances may arise in which there is very little agreement with the higher ego of the person. It should be understood that the soul living in Goethe had once belonged to an Egyptian Initiate, and had then lived in Greece as a sculptor and a disciple of philosophy; then, between this Greek incarnation and the one as Goethe, there comes an incarnation (probably only one) which I have not yet been able to find. If we keep this in mind, we can see how a soul who in former incarnations could rule the entire man can be led downwards, and then has to relinquish a part of the total human nature, which then lies open to the influence of evil forces.

That is what is mysterious and so hard to understand in a nature such as Goethe's; but by the same token it brings to light many hidden aspects of the human soul in modern times. Everything brought about by the duality of human nature lays hold, in the first place, of the Intellectual Soul, and the Intellectual Soul divides into those “two souls”, whereof one can sink fairly deeply into matter and the other can rise into the spiritual.

Thus in the “Knights of King Arthur's Round Table” we are presented with a repetition of all that the candidate for Initiation had in a certain sense to experience through the Sentient Soul. In all that was grouped around the Holy Grail we are shown what can be experienced in modern times by the Intellectual Soul. Everything that a man must now go through, so that he may make one part of his double nature strong enough to penetrate into the mysteries of the spiritual worlds in modern times, must be enacted in the Consciousness Soul. This is the new thing that has to be added. And that which has to be enacted in the Consciousness Soul is crystallised in the figure of Parsifal. All the legends connected with King Arthur and the Round Table represent the repetition of the experiences of earlier ages in the Sentient Soul; all the legends and narratives which are directly connected with the Holy Grail, apart from Parsifal, represent what the Intellectual Soul had to go through; and all that finds expression in the figure of Parsifal, this ideal of the later Initiation in so far as this later Initiation is dependent on the Consciousness Soul, represents the forces which must especially be made our own through the Consciousness Soul. So the interaction of the three soul-principles in modern man is presented in a threefold legendary form. And just as we can discern deep secrets of the human soul in old legends, so can we now also sense in them deep secrets of the Mysteries of the modern age.

It is false to suggest that the nature of Initiation has not changed since olden times, as though a present-day Western man had to go through the same stages as did a person belonging either to the ancient or to the more modern East. Things are so that a characteristic belonging to an earlier epoch will persist into a later time for certain peoples. A much more important point is that the whole nature of modern Initiation has a more inward character, makes greater demands on the innermost part of the human soul; but in a certain sense it cannot directly approach the external part of human nature. Much more than in the old Initiation, therefore, the external must be cleansed and purified through the strengthening of the inner, so that this inner part becomes lord over the outer. Asceticism and external training belong more to the character of the old Initiation; a direct evolution of the soul itself, so that it develops strong forces in its inner being, belongs more to the nature of the newer Initiation. And because external circumstances are such that only in the course of time will the lifeless elements of human nature be overcome — the elements which can so greatly disturb the Initiate of today — we must say that in our time and on into the far future there will still be many natures similar to that of Goethe, persons who with one part of their being rise up into the heights, while with the other part they are connected with the “human, all-too-human”. Persons who in earlier incarnations showed no sign of these peculiarities, but on the contrary displayed a certain harmony between the outer and the inner, may enter fresh incarnations in which a deep disharmony can show itself between the external and the inner organisation. Those who know the secrets of human incarnations will not feel confused in face of this disharmony. For in proportion as these things increase, the human faculty of judgment grows also, so that the old principle of authority comes to an end. Hence there will be an ever more insistent call to test the fruits of the Mysteries. It would be more convenient to pay heed only to the external characteristics of those who have to teach, for then one would not need to ask whether the facts concerning them — what they have to say and teach and do in a spiritual sense — are in line with human understanding and impartial logic. The duality of human nature is not in the very least to he defended; on the contrary, we must insist in the strictest sense on the rule of the soul over externals, but it must still be said that the facts which have been indicated are absolutely true for modern evolution. For the after-effects of Klingsor and Iblis are still always present, even though in another form.

A special feature of our time is that these attacks from Klingsor and Iblis, as they gradually lay hold of people, are insinuating themselves into intellectual life, particularly the intellectual life that bears on education, with its popularisation of modern science. Consider what people have been learning for quite a long time now and what they think it right to instill into children; consider what is accepted as the basis of modern education — all this should not be judged in accordance with the views of someone who, believing he is very clever, says he understands these things and knows they are entirely correct. No, all this should be judged in accordance with how it influences and fructifies the soul, and in terms of the impressions it produces on the soul. And when a person becomes cleverer and cleverer, in the sense in which it is fashionable to call people clever to-day, he develops in his soul certain forces which in this incarnation may make him very well able to dominate the conversation in circles wedded to materialistic or monistic ideas; but then certain vital forces necessary for the human organism are worn away. And when such a person has taken into himself only these typical dregs of modern education, in his next incarnation he will lack the forces that are required for properly building up the human organism. The “cleverer” a person is by the standards of the time we are now facing and the closer his intellectual attunement to it, the more of an imbecile will he be in a later incarnation. For those categories and, concepts which relate only to the sense-perceptible outer world and to the ideas which hold it together — these concepts set up in the soul a configuration which may be ever so fine intellectually but lacks the force to work intensively on the brain and to make use of it, And to be unable while in the physical body to make use of the brain is to be an imbecile.

If it were true, as the materialists maintain, that the brain does the thinking, then one could certainly give them some comfort. But this is as false as the assertion that the “speech-centre” has formed itself. It has acquired its form through human beings having learnt to speak, and so the speech-centre is the result of speech. Similarly, all cerebral activity, even in the historical past, is the result of thinking — not the other way about. The brain is plastically modeled through thinking. If only such thoughts are developed as are customary to-day, if the thoughts are not permeated by the wisdom of the spirit, then the souls occupied with thinking only about material things will find in later incarnations that they are unable to use their brains properly; their brain-forces will be too weak to lay hold of things. A soul which to-day is occupied merely with calculating debit and credit, let us say, or with the usages of commercial and industrial life, or absorbs only the ideas of materialistic science, is filling itself with thought-pictures which in later incarnations gradually darken the consciousness, because the brain would be an unformed mass — as to-day in cases of softening of the brain — and so no longer capable of being taken hold of by the forces of thinking. Hence for anyone who looks into these deeper forces of human evolution, everything that can live in the soul must be permeated by a spiritual comprehension of the world.

So in this modern time the nature of man may still be twofold. The forces belonging in particular to the Consciousness Soul must be infused with inner spiritual knowledge. Man must overcome the two regions through which Parsifal went; he must overcome “apathy and doubt” in his own soul. For if he were to carry apathy and doubt with him over to a later incarnation, he would not make a success of it. Man must come to have knowledge of the spiritual worlds. Only through the fact that life widens out in the human soul, the life called Saelde by Wolfram von Eschenbach, the very life that pours out spiritual knowledge over the Consciousness Soul — only by this means can human soul-development advance fruitfully from the fifth epoch onwards into the sixth.

These are among the fruits of the newer Mysteries; they are the important and significant results which must be drawn from these Mysteries, which are an after-effect of the Grail Mystery. But, unlike all ancient Mystery-wisdom, they can be understood by the generality of people. For gradually the unconscious and dead forces of the soul and of the organism must be overcome through a strong permeation of the Consciousness Soul with spiritual knowledge; that is, with a knowledge that has been understood and grasped spiritually, not a knowledge built up on authority.

Even such things as have been said in these lectures — if a person takes into account all that modern knowledge and education are able to give — can, when they are heard, be thoroughly understood and grasped; though they can be discovered only by one who gets to know the Mysteries through occult sight. And they should be most thoroughly grasped. Now it may perhaps be true of many a modern man who is striving to attain to higher worlds that in the shape of his outer life something will still be visible of the “human, all-too-human”, or of his efforts to raise himself out of it. Yes, it may well be that the “fool's motley” is still discernible through the raiment of the spiritual, as with Parsifal. But that is not the point. What matters is that there should be present in the soul the impulse toward spiritual knowledge, spiritual understanding — that impulse which is inextinguishable in Parsifal and brings him at last, in spite of everything, to the stronghold of the Holy Grail. In the whole picture drawn of Parsifal, if rightly understood, we can find all the different methods of training the Consciousness Soul which are necessary to evoke from it the right effects, so that the person can gain control of the forces which whirl in confusion and strive against one another in the Intellectual or Mind-Soul. The more present-day man looks into himself and tries to exercise honest self-knowledge, the more will he find how conflict is raging in his soul; it is a conflict within the Intellectual or Mind-Soul. For self-knowledge is a harder thing than many people suppose, and it will indeed become more and more difficult. Someone tries to acquire self-knowledge, but even if he is able to discipline himself in many respects and to build up his character, he will very often notice at critical moments how in his innermost depths the most deeply hidden passions and forces are raging, and how they tear apart the domain of the Intellectual Soul. And how is it with a modern man who devotes himself seriously to knowledge and the pursuit of knowledge? The difficulties of the inner life may perhaps never dawn on people who believe that real knowledge is to be found in external scientific work and its fruits. But anyone who takes the search for knowledge seriously and from worthy motives will be in a different situation once he looks with real insight into his inner being. He seeks in this or that field of knowledge, seeks and seeks, and seeks also in life to come to terms with the diverse aspects of human living. After searching for a while, he thinks he knows something; but then he searches further. And the more he searches with the means normally available to-day, the more does he feel himself torn into pieces, the more does he feel drawn into doubt. And. a person who, having acquired a present-day education, confesses to himself that in spite of all this education he really knows nothing, is often just the person who strives most earnestly and worthily for spiritual knowledge.

In truth there can be no one with any depth of soul to-day who does not experience this gnawing doubt. And it is something he ought to be familiar with. For only then will he immerse himself in that spiritual knowledge which is right for the Consciousness Soul and must pour itself out into the Intellectual Soul in order to be master there. Hence we must try to penetrate with rational understanding into what is brought to the Consciousness Soul from out of occult knowledge. By that means we shall draw into our inner being such a self as will be a real lord and master there; and then, when we come to know the nature of the modern Mysteries, we shall stand confronting ourselves.

Anyone who approaches the Mysteries to-day must. feel that he is confronting himself in such a way that he will strive after the virtues of Parsifal, while knowing that — because of the modern conditions already described and because he is a man of modern times — he is in fact someone else also, the wounded Amfortas. A man of our time carries within him this double nature — aspiring Parsifal, wounded Amfortas. That is what his self-knowledge must lead him to feel. Then from this recognition will flow the forces which out of duality must make a unity, and so should bring man a little further on in the course of world-evolution. In our Intellectual Soul, in the depths of our inner life, there must be a meeting between Amfortas, wounded in body and soul, and Parsifal, whose task is to cultivate the Consciousness Soul. And it is entirely true to say that in order to gain freedom for himself, a man must go through the “wounding” of Amfortas and become acquainted with the Amfortas within himself, so that he may also come to know Parsifal. Just as it was right for Egyptian times that one should rise up into the spiritual worlds in order to know Isis, so is it right for our times to start with the spirituality, the spiritual nature, of this world, and through it to rise into the higher spiritual worlds. A wish to deny the Amfortas-nature is not a true characteristic of our time. It is because modern man is so fond of surrounding himself with Maya that he wants to deny Amfortas. For how delightful it sounds when we hear it said: “Humanity is always advancing!” Yes, but this “advance” follows a very tortuous path. And in order to develop the forces of Parsifal in human nature, the Amfortas-nature in man must be recognised.

So in this cycle of lectures, using legends from which I have tried to call forth pictures of deep soul-processes, I have sought above all to lead your deeper premonitions, at least in some degree, towards the nature of the modern Mysteries. Perhaps one day we shall have opportunity to speak in still clearer words, if that can be, of what the nature of the modern Mysteries discloses concerning the dual nature which man bears within himself: concerning Amfortas and Parsifal.

 



The Rudolf Steiner Archive is maintained by:
The e.Librarian: elibrarian@elib.com
[Spacing]