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Adept-School of the Past

The Mysteries of the Spirit, the Son and the Father

Lecture by
Dr. Rudolf Steiner
Dusseldorf, March 7, 1907
GA 97

This lecture was given at Dusseldorf in March of 1907, and is included in Volume 97 of the Bibliographic Survey, 1961. It is lecture 14 of 37 from the lecture series: The Christian Mystery, published in German as, Die Christliche Mysterium. Die Wahrheitsprache der Evangelien. Luzifer und Christus. Alte Esoterik und Rosenkreuzertum. Erkenntnisse und Lebensfruechte der Geisteswissenschaft. Also known as, The Schools for Adepts in the Past, the Mysteries of the Spirit, the Son, and the Father, it has been translated from notes unrevised by the lecturer, by an unknown translator.

This lecture has been authorized for the Western hemisphere, and published here by kind permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.

Copyright © 1941
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10th of August, 1941. No. 31/32 9th year.


Lecture by Dr. RUDOLF STEINER,
delivered on the 7th of March, 1907.

From stenographic notes unrevised by the lecturer.

The spiritual-scientific movement has arisen in our time not because of the arbitrary act of this or of that individual, of this or of that society, but because it is connected with the whole evolution of humanity and, as such, it should be considered as one of the most important of cultural impulses. If we would penetrate into the mission of the spiritual-scientific movement, we must transfer ourselves into the past and future of mankind.

Just as the individual human beings have evolved, from the moment when they first descended as individual souls from the bosom of the Godhead, so mankind as a whole has also evolved. Consider the differences, the changes and the development which may be observed upon the surface of the earth in the course of thousands of years! Consider how entirely things have changed during that time! Generally speaking, this is difficult to realise and to grasp quite clearly.

We should first explain that what we are accustomed to name “mankind” is only the product of the so-called fifth root-race. This was preceded by another human race, the fourth root-race, which lived on a continent that should be thought of as lying between present-day Europe and America. This continent was Atlantis. Here our ancestors had quite a different form and an entirely different civilisation. The ancient Atlantean did not possess a developed intellect and mind, but he was equipped with fine somnambulistic-clairvoyant forces. Logical power, a combining intellect, science and art, such as they exist now, did not exist in ancient Atlantis, for man's faculties of thought and feeling were quite different. At that time, he could not have combined thoughts, nor could he have reckoned, counted, or read; as men do now; yet certain somnambulistic-clairvoyant spiritual forces lived in him. He could understand the language of Nature and could hear God speak to him in the murmuring waves; he could understand the rolling thunder, the rustling forest, the delicate aromas of the flowers; he could understand this language of Nature and was in the whole of Nature. At that time, no law or jurisprudence were needed to come to an understanding with one's neighbour; the Atlantean just went out and listened to the sounds of the trees and of the wind and these told him what he had to do.

Folk-lore, which never contains anything haphazard or thought-out, has preserved the memory of ancient Atlantis in a beautiful way, when it speaks of “Nibelheim”, for instance, in the Nibelung Poem. In a delightful way it speaks of the Rhine and all these rivers as waters which have remained behind from the mists of ancient Atlantis. And the wisdom of Atlantis is referred to in the treasure which lies buried below their waves, On this continent, which was situated between America and Europe, we must seek the seminary of the ancient adepts, Those who were suited to be the pupils of the great individualities whom we call the Masters of Wisdom and of the Harmony-Feelings, were trained in these schools.

The seminary which flourished during the fourth Atlantean sub-race, this first school of adepts, would now be in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. There, the pupils were taught in quite a different way from now. At that time, a powerful, influence could pass from man to man, through the force which still lay in the spoken word.

Simple folks of to-day still possess a fine feeling for the inner, spiritual and occult power of words. But it is impossible to compare the present power of words with that of the past. For in the past, this was something tremendous, and the word alone awakened forces in the soul of the pupil. A mantram of to-day has no longer the force of earlier times, when words were not so permeated by thoughts, as is the case to-day. The influence which went out from these words awakened the soul-forces of the pupil; one might call this a human initiation through the powerful effect of the language of Nature. ... A clear language was also spoken there by the smoke from substances such as incense, etc.

There was then a far more direct connection between the souls of teacher and pupil. The written signs in the Adept-School of ancient Atlantis were imitations of the phenomena of Nature, written by the hand in the air, these signs had their effect and also influenced the spirit of the population, arousing forces in the soul.

Thus every race has its task in the evolution of humanity. The task of our race, the fifth root-race, consists in adding Manas to the four members of the human being. That is to say, the understanding must be awakened through concepts and ideas. Every race has its own task: the Atlantean race had the task of developing the Ego. Our race, the fifth root-race, or the post-Atlantean era, must develop Manas, the Spirit-Self.

But the achievements of Atlantis did not die, when Atlantis was submerged, for the essence of everything that existed in the Atlantean School of Adepts was rescued by a small group of men. Under the guidance of the Manu, this small group journeyed into a region now known as the Desert of Gobi. And this small number of men then prepared copies of the former culture and teachings, but in a more intellectual form; the earlier spiritual forces were transformed into thoughts and signs. The various streams of culture then journeyed out from this centre like rays, or beams. First came the pre-Vedic Indian culture, which transformed for the first time the in-streaming wisdom into thoughts.

The second culture which went out from this ancient School of Adepts was the old Persian culture; the third one, the Chaldean-Babylonian culture with its wonderful star-wisdom, its lofty sacerdotal wisdom. The fourth culture to flourish was the Graeco-Latin one, with its personal colouring, and finally the fifth culture, which is our present one. The sixth and seventh lie in the future.

I have now characterised our task in the evolution of humanity: What once existed in the form of cosmic wisdom, must be transformed into thoughts and brought down to the physical plane.

When the old Atlantean listened, between the tones sounding round him, he could hear the NAME of what he recognised as divine: “TAO”, In the Egyptian Mysteries this sound was transformed into thoughts, script and signs — the Tao-sign, the Tao-books. Everything in the form of knowledge, writing and thought first came into the world during the post-Atlantean age. Before that time, nothing could have been written down, for the understanding for it would not have been there.

Now we are living in the middle of the Manas-development. It is the task of our race to develop intellectual culture, and at the same time to develop egoism in its extremest form. Though it sounds grotesque, we may say that never before was there so much intellectual power in the world, and yet so little capacity of inner vision as at the present time. Thought is at the greatest distance from the inner essence of things; it is far away from inner spiritual vision.

When the Atlantean priest wrote a sign in the air, its chief effect was on the pupil's inner soul-experience.

The personal element came more to the fore during the fourth, the Graeco-Latin epoch. In Greece, the personal element developed in art, and in Rome we find it in the structure of the government, etc. In our time, we experience egoism, the dry personal, intellectual element. But our task to-day is to grasp the occult truths in Manas, in the purest element of thought. The comprehension of the spiritual in this finest distillation of the brain is the true mission of our age. To render thought so forceful that it acquires something of an occult power is the task which has been given us. This task must be fulfilled, so that we may be able to take our place in the future.

Mighty flames of fire destroyed ancient Lemuria, and mighty floods ancient Atlantis. Our civilisation will also perish, through the war of all against all. This is what we must face. Our fifth root-race will perish, because egoism will reach its highest pitch. But at the same time, a small group of men will develop the power of Budhi, of the Life-Spirit, through the force of thought, in order to carry over Budhi into the new civilisation. Everything that is productive in the striving human being will grow stronger and stronger, until his personality reaches the summit of freedom. At present, every individual must discover in himself a kind of guiding spirit in the soul's inner depths: — This is Budhi, the power of the Life spirit. Were we to approach the future by taking up the cultural impulses as in earlier epochs, we should face the disintegration of humanity.

What do we see now at the present time?

Everyone wants to be his own master: Egoism, selfishness have been pushed to the extreme. A time will come when no other authority will be recognised except one which men recognise freely, whose power is based upon free confidence. The Mysteries which were founded upon the power of the spirit, are called the MYSTERIES OF THE SPIRIT; the Mysteries of the future, which will have trust as their foundation, are called the MYSTERIES OF THE FATHER. These will mark the end of our civilisation. The new impulse of the power of confidence must come, otherwise we approach human disintegration, a universal cult of the Ego and of egoism.

In the times of the Mysteries of the Spirit, which were founded upon the rightful power, authority and might of the Spirit, there were certain wise men who possessed wisdom, and only the soul who passed through difficult probations could be initiated by them. In future, we approach the Mysteries of the Father, and we must strive more and more that each single human being should attain wisdom.

Will this counter-act egoism and the threatening disintegration? Yes! For only when we reach the highest wisdom, in which there are no differences, no personal opinion and no personal standpoint, but ONE VIEW only, will men agree. If they were to remain as they are at present, following their different standpoints, they would become more and more disunited. The highest wisdom always produces a unanimous view among all men. Real wisdom is ONE, and it unites men again, whilst leaving them as free as possible, without any coercive authority. Just as the members of the great WHITE Brotherhood are always in harmony with one another and with humanity, so all men will one day be one, through this wisdom. Only this wisdom can establish the true idea of brotherhood. Spiritual science therefore has only one task: to bring this idea to men, by developing now the Spirit-Self and later on the Life-Spirit. The great goal of the spiritual-scientific movement is to make it possible for man to attain freedom and true wisdom; its mission is to let this truth and wisdom flow into men.

The modern movement of spiritual science began with the most elementary teachings. Many important things have been revealed in the years which have passed since the founding of this movement, and much that is even more important will be revealed. The work of the spiritual-scientific movement, is therefore to allow a gradual flowing out of wisdom of the great white brotherhood that had its origin in Atlantis. Such work has always been prepared for through long periods of time. The whole activity of the great founders of religions was a preparation for the ONE great event, for the appearance of Christ-Jesus.

Spiritual science seeks to be the testamentary executor of Christianity. And so it will be. When the Mysteries of the Father have been fulfilled, that is, when the development of Budhi is accomplished in every individual human being, then each one will discover within himself his own deepest being — ATMAN, the Spirit-Man.

The coming of Christ-Jesus was prepared for by the sequence of the founders of religions, by Zarathustra, Hermes, Moses, Orpheus, Pythagoras. All their teachings pursue the same aim: To let wisdom flow into humanity, but in every case, in the form most suited to each people respectively. The essentially new element is not found in what Christ said; the new element in the appearance and teaching of Christ-Jesus is the force that lay in Him to awaken into LIFE all that, formerly was only teaching.

Christianity has brought men the power to be united in free-willed recognition of the authority of Christ-Jesus, whilst maintaining the greatest possible individualisation, so that they are able to join together in brotherly union through faith in Him, in His manifestation and in His divinity.

Between the Mysteries of the SPIRIT and those of the FATHER, stand the MYSTERIES OF THE SON. Their seminary was the School of St. Paul, who had appointed Dionysios as its leader. This school flourished under him, for Dionysios taught these Mysteries in a very special way, whereas St. Paul propagated the teaching exoterically.

Let us now seek an explanation from another side, so as to understand the meaning of the words: The MYSTERIES OF THE FATHER will come. In the old Atlantean schools for adepts the teachers were not men, but beings higher than man, They had completed their development upon earlier planets, and these beings, who had come down to the earth from other planetary developments, instructed a group of chosen men in the MYSTERIES OF THE SPIRIT. In the MYSTERIES OF THE SON, Christ Himself appeared as a teacher in the most solemn celebrations and was therefore also a teacher who was not a man, but God. But in the MYSTERIES OF THE FATHER, those who will become teachers will be men, These men, who develop more quickly than the others, will be the true Masters of Wisdom and of Harmony; they are called “The Fathers”, in the Mysteries of the Father, the guidance of mankind passes from beings who have descended from other worlds into the hands of men themselves. This is significant.

It is the task of spiritual science to prepare men to form a centre for this end, to prepare them for a universal wisdom, for an authority built only on trust and confidence, and to develop an understanding for this, to begin with, in a small nucleus of humanity.

The development of the materialistic civilisation reached its climax in the nineteenth century, and that is why the impulse of spiritual science entered the world at that time. Through spiritual science, something was called into life — and now exists — which counter-acts materialism: It is the counter-movement in the direction of spirituality. Spiritual science is nothing new, and even the spiritual-scientific movement is not new; it is only the continuation of what has already existed.

Materialism and egoism bring disintegration to humanity, for the individual human being only regards his own interests. Wisdom must therefore reunite the human beings who have thus become separated. Wisdom brings them together in fullest freedom and exercises no coercion whatever. This is the task of the spiritual-scientific movement in our time.

We must realise that wisdom must be acquired quite concretely. We all know the example of the stove which was given the task of heating a room. If we explain this to the stove in words as moving as possible, and entreat it to warm the root, it will not obey us unless we heat it; only then will it be able to fulfil its task. Similarly, all talk of brotherhood and of brotherly love is useless; only through KNOWLEDGE we draw nigh to the goal. Individual human beings, and mankind as a whole, can only reach the path of wisdom and of brotherhood through knowledge.

We have now followed this path by considering three kinds of Mysteries. Spiritual science must be able to awaken an understanding for such things in a small nucleus of humanity, so that when the sixth race appears this understanding can be awakened in all men. This is the task which spiritual science must fulfil.

A small part of the fifth root-race will forestall the course of evolution, it will spiritualise Manas and unfold the Spirit-Self. The majority, however, will reach the summit of selfishness. Only this nucleus of humanity, that develops the Spirit-Self, will become the seed of the sixth root-race, and the most advanced of these, the Masters, as we call them, who have grown out of mankind, will then be the leaders of humanity. The movement for spiritual knowledge strives towards this goal.

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