The Principle of Spiritual Economy
- The “original”
Zarathustra (or Zoroaster) Rudolf Steiner refers to in these
lectures is not the historical religious teacher and prophet
of ancient Persia whose dates are
ca. 628–551 B.C.,
but the prophet who, according to early Christian tradition
and according to Plutarch was born about
He gave the impulse for the founding of the second post-Atlantean
- The term maya in the Hindu Veda
means magic power, but in Mahayana Buddhism it denotes
illusion or non-reality; and this is how Steiner uses the
- Historical scholarship usually
considers Hermes as a mythical figure in ancient Egypt, but
Steiner thinks he was a living prophet who appeared about
when the sun moved into Taurus. According to
historical speculation the so-called Hermetic
books—metaphysical pronouncements about the community
of all beings and things—were authored by the Egyptian
god Thoth (the Thrice Great), whose name was often translated
into Greek as Hermes Trismegistus.
- The “Akasha Chronicle”
is an occult “script” containing the complete
story of the universe. Occultists of all ages have tried to
“read” it by freeing themselves from the
limitations of time and space. Rudolf Steiner had refined his
spiritual faculties to such a degree that he was able to read
the “Akasha Chronicle.” To understand his work,
it is necessary to assume that he did possess this capacity.
For a thorough description of the nature of the Akasha
Chronicle, see Rudolf Steiner, Cosmic Memory, pp. 38–41.
- Nicholas of Cusa (1401?–1464) was a
German humanist, scientist, and philosopher of the highest
rank who became Bishop of Brixon in 1450. His astounding
achievements in science included a theory that the Earth
revolves on its axis around the sun and that the stars are
- Polish-born Nicholas Copernicus (1473–1543)
was the founder of modern astronomy. His main
work on the orbits and revolutions of heavenly bodies,
completed in 1530, but not published until 1543 when he was
on his deathbed, expressed his views on the structure of the
- Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) was the
great Italian astronomer, mathematician, and physicist who
laid the foundations of modern experimental science. The time
of his death in the text (toward the end of the seventeenth
century) is an error in transcription.
- Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646–1716)
was the famous German philosopher, mathematician,
and statesman who invented calculus independent from Newton
and is widely regarded as the founder of symbolic logic. His
philosophical achievements include the Theodicy and
the famous Monadology.
- Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) was
the great English mathematician and physicist whose works
marked a turning point in modern experimental science. Few
people know that in the later years of his life Newton spent
much of his time in the study of theology and alchemy.
- Michail Vasilyevich Lomonosov (1712–65)
was perhaps the most outstanding scientist, scholar, and
writer of eighteenth-century Russia.
(c. 582–c. 507 B.C.)
was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher and mathematician of
whose personal life traditional science knows little. He
migrated from his native Samos to Gotona and established a
mystery center. The followers of Pythagoras believed, among
other things, in the transmigration of souls.
- Melchizedek was the king of
Salem and “Priest of the Most High God,” who
blessed Abraham after the defeat of Chedorlaomer
and who was later to typify the priesthood of the future Messiah
- St. Irenaeus (c. 125-c. 202) was
a Greek theologian, Bishop of Lyons in 177–78, and the first
Father of the Catholic Church to systematize Christian doctrine.
- Papias was a second-century
Christian theologian and Apostolic Father of the Church.
- St. Augustine (354–430) was the
Bishop of Hippo in what is now Algiers and one of the four
Latin fathers. His famous book The City of God is a
justification of Christianity against pagan critics, and his
Confessions is a classic of Christian mysticism.
- Heliand, the title of
the epic (c. 825) is an Old Saxon word for German
Heiland = the Savior. The poem had 5,983 lines and
was written in alliterative verse.
- The Italian St. Francis of Assisi (1182–1226)
was one of the greatest Christian saints
and founder of the Franciscan Order.
- Elisabeth of Thüringen (1207–1231),
the young widow of a German margrave who had
died on a crusade in 1227, chose a life of poverty, humility,
and charity and became the typical saint of the late Middle Ages.
- Scholasticism was the school of
thought in the Middle Ages in which theology and philosophy
were conjoined. The German term Scholastik normally
designates this medieval school of thought, whereas
Scholastizismus, the linguistic equivalent of the
English term, is used exclusively to denote sophistry and
- Meister (Johannes) Eckhart (c. 1260–1328),
a Dominican-trained German theologian and the
most profound of the German medieval mystics, was probably
the first writer of speculative prose in German.
- Johannes Tauler (1300–1361)
was a German Dominican mystic and a disciple of Meister Eckhart.
- The Hussites advocated communion
in both kinds, i.e., both wine and bread, for laity as well
as priests. Lutherans believed that a change takes place by
which the body and blood of Christ join with the bread and
wine. This principle of consubstantiation was rejected by the
Zwinglians who saw only symbolic significance in the
communion. Finally, the Calvinists believed that Christ was
spiritually, but not physically, present in the Sacrament.
- Giordano Bruno (1548–1600) was a
noted Italian philosopher and mystic who, although a member
of the Dominican Order in his youth, was in constant
opposition to religious orthodox schools. He was tried by the
Inquisition for heresy and burned to death.
- Ernst Haeckel (1834–1932) was a
renowned German zoologist and, like the English naturalist
Charles Robert Darwin (1809–1882), developed a theory of
evolution. Emil DuBois-Reymond (1818–1896) was a famous
physiologist in Berlin. Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–1895) was
an English biologist and writer.
- David Friedrich Strauss (1808–1874)
was a philosopher and theologian whose writings
mark a turning point in the critical study of the life of
Jesus. In his main work,
The Life of Jesus
(2 vols, 1835–36), Strauss applied the “myth theory”
to the life of Jesus and denied all supernatural elements in the
- (Old) Saturn, (Old) Sun, and (Old) Moon
are names for former evolutionary forms through which the
Earth has passed. The reader is referred to
Chapter 4 of Rudolf Steiner, An Outline of Occult Science
(Anthroposophic Press, 1972), for a thorough
discussion of this topic.
- The Vedas are the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. The Veda is
the literature of the Aryans who invaded NW India about
and pertains to the fire sacrifice central to their religious
- The Upanishads constitute the last section of the Hindu Veda
and are said to have been composed around
As the wellspring of Hindu
speculative and religious thought, they became the basis for
the later schools of Vedanta. “Vedanta” literally
means “The end of the Veda” and refers to how the
Upanishads are to be taught and interpreted.
- John Scotus Erigena (c. 810–c. 877)
was an Irish scholastic philosopher.
- St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
was the Italian theologian and philosopher whose philosophy
was declared the official philosophy of the Catholic Church.
He is generally regarded to have been the most prominent mind
- Christian Rosenkreutz is
generally regarded by most scholars as the pseudonym for the
German writer Johan Valentin Andrea (1586–1654). In his works
Fama fraternitatis (1614) and in Confessio rosae
crucis (1615), he traced the development of the
Rosicrucian Society to Arab and Oriental origins.
- The German noun forms
Atem and Atmung mean breath and breathing,
respectively, whereas the verb for “to breathe”
- The works of the Greek philosopher Aristotle
became the basis of medieval scholasticism and had a decisive
influence on Catholic theology.
- Dionysius the Aeropagite is said to have been the first Bishop
of Athens, Greece, in the first century
Tradition has made him a martyr and
tells of his conversion by Paul.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)
was Germany's greatest poet. Early in his
academic career, Steiner spent several years editing
Goethe's scientific writings, and during his lifetime
he did not tire of extolling Goethean perception and
thinking. The main seat of the Anthroposophic movement in
Dornach, Switzerland, is still called the
“Goetheanum.” Steiner gave several lecture cycles
on Goethe's great poem
These have been published as
Faust, der strebende Mensch,
Vol. I, and
Geisteswissenschaftliche Erläuterungen zu
Goethe's “Faust” Vol. II (Rudolf
Steiner Verlag: Dornach, 1974).
- Exodus 3:14.
- Bhagavad Gita
is a religious Hindu poem consisting of dialogues between
Prince Arjuna and Krishna, who reveals himself as the avatara
(incarnation) of Vishnu. The transcription of the quotation
from the “Gita” is probably a contraction of
several textual citations on pp. 452, 522, and 529, among
Bhagavad-gita AS IT IS.
Complete edition (Collier Books: New York, 1974).
II, lines 12104–12111:
What is destructible
Is but a parable;
What fails ineluctably,
Here it was seen,
Here it was action;
Lures to perfection.
(Translation by Walter Kaufmann)
These are the very last lines of Goethe's
indicating that the things of this material world are but
a symbolic expression of the spiritual world. Love, through
its embodiment in women, remains the guiding force for the
striving human being.
- Faust has been blinded by Care (Sorge), an
allegorical figure, and exclaims:
Deep night now seems to fall more deeply still,
Yet inside me there shines a brilliant light;
What I have thought, I hasten to fulfill:
The master's word alone has real might.
(Faust II, lines 11499–11502. Trsl. by Walter Kaufmann)
- Columban (545–615) was an Irish missionary.
- Gallus was a sixth-century Irish-Scotch missionary.
- Patrick (c. 384–c. 460) was an English missionary.
- Steiner is referring to the German courtly epic
by Wolfram von Eschenbach (about 1200/10). The Frenchman
Chretien de Troyes
was the author of the first great artistic treatment of the
theme; in his unfinished poem “Percivale” finds
the Grail and heals the king. Wolfram's story is drawn
from Chretien's model but is much more spiritualized in
its triadic structure: innocence, fall, salvation. The
Simpleton Parsifal is educated as a knight who knows proper
courtly behavioral codes, one of them being not to ask too
many questions. This attitude causes him to be expelled from
the Grail's Castle, and only after he has undergone a
second, Christian phase of education does he know how to
express his charity by asking the appropriate question of the
- Homer, Odyssey, Canto 489–491. These words are spoken
by the soul of Achilles after Ulysses had conjured it up from