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Significant Facts Pertaining to the Spiritual Life of the Middle of the XIXth Century

Schmidt Number: S-3143

On-line since: 31st May, 2005

LECTURE I.

A Convulsive Element in Humanity in the Nineteenth Century

Dornach, 31st October 1915.

In recent lectures given here my endeavour has been to show how in the middle of the 19th century a flood of materialism burst into the evolutionary process of humanity, and how from different sides it was felt that a flood of materialism of this kind had never previously been known, and that furthermore there was a certain significance in the way it had arisen I also tried to bring home the fact that men must arm themselves if they are to continue along the path of evolution once laid down for humanity.

Particularly in the most recent lectures [“The Occult Movement in the 19th Century.” Course of 10 lectures.] I described the efforts that were made from different quarters concerned with the furtherance of cultural aims akin to those of spiritual science to inculcate an element which was deemed necessary in order to demonstrate to men that something entirely new must be added to the old. Naturally, a very great deal more could be said about this subject, and as time goes on, there will be opportunities for speaking of many aspects of it — for illustrations will have to be given of what was presented in the first place more in the form of narrative. Today, however, I want to show that towards the middle of the 19th century there were evidences in the external spiritual life, too, of a feeling that a crucial point had been reached. In the external spiritual life — that is to say, in the different philosophical movements, the literary movement and so on — there are evidences that a convulsive element interpolated itself into the course of evolution. As numbers of illustrations could be given, it is obviously only possible to select one or two.

I will take as our starting-point today, two examples from European literature. These examples will show that in the hearts and minds of some men there was a feeling that significant things were taking place in the invisible worlds.

One of these examples is Gutzkow's novel “The Mahaguru” — the great Guru. [“The Mahaguru” has not been translated into English.] The second — remarkably enough it was written at about the same time — is the extraordinarily interesting drama which ends with the cry: “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!” [See notes later in lecture on “The Undivine Comedy” (Krasinski).] So far as my knowledge of it goes, it seems to me to represent a crowning point in Polish literature of the 19th century.

It is remarkable that in the thirties of the 19th century, the young freethinker Gutzkow — then in his twenties — should have chosen this particular material in order to point to much that was astir at that time, linking it on to a personage who subsequently became the Dalai-Lama in Tibet — the “Mahaguru,” as he called him.

A few brief words will suffice to outline this picture of conditions apparently so remote from those prevailing in Europe, yet in reality infinitely pertinent to them, “The Mahaguru” was published in the thirties of the 19th century — at the dawn, therefore, of the age of materialism.

One of the principal characters in the novel is a man who makes models of gods. What is such a man in Tibet? He is one who models figures of gods out of all kinds of substances (as we today work with clay or plasticine); he makes models of gods according to the traditions strictly laid down in the Tibetan canon. The details of these figures must be absolutely correct: the proportions laid down for the facial structure, the size and position of the hands — all must be exact. The hero, or rather one of the heroes of the novel, has descended from an ancient stock, the members of which have always been engaged in the trade of making gods, and he is an expert in his craft. His fame is widespread and his figures of gods are bought all over Tibet. In modeling one of the chief gods, a very terrible thing happens to him. — We must of course try to put ourselves into the heart and mind of a Tibetan before the whole import of the word “terrible” in this connection will be clear to us. — To the heart of a devout Tibetan it is a terrible thing that befell this maker of gods. In the figure of one of the chief gods, the length between the nostrils and the upper lip was not correct, not in accordance with the canon. This was a terrible and significant matter. The man had departed from the ancient, time-honoured canon and had made the space between the nostrils and the upper lip a little larger than was prescribed.

In Tibet this is a dreadful sin — nearly or perhaps just as dreadful as when someone in the West today states to an audience of orthodox believers that the existence of the two Jesus boys was necessary in order that Christ might descend into Jesus — or when he speaks of a faculty of knowledge higher than the ordinary faculty, so that he must be accused of inducing his followers to engage in experiments with clairvoyance and the like. Such teachings are sheer fantasy — that is what is said today. But in the days described in this novel it was an equally outrageous sin that in a figure of one of the chief gods the nostrils should lie too far above the upper lip. The only thing that is different is the actual form of punishment. Today, the most that happens is that lectures crammed with inaccuracies are delivered and other “justifiable” measures adopted. But at that time in Tibet the maker of gods was obliged to appear before the supreme tribunal of the Inquisition — the dread Council of black Inquisitors. — That is how it would be designated in terms current in Europe today.

So the maker of gods was obliged to set out for Lhassa and present himself before the tribunal — police are not necessary in Tibet, for the people obey automatically; when they are told that they must appear before the tribunal of the black Inquisition, there is no need to fetch them. So the maker of gods set out with his brothers and his enchanting daughter, a great Tibetan beauty.

With her masterly knowledge of the Tibetan canon, this daughter had been helping him devotedly and efficiently for many years and was an altogether lovable character. The brothers of the man were obliged to accompany him because they were co-responsible for what he had done. The caravan party now set out for Lhassa where the sinner must appear before the black tribunal. When they had traveled some distance from their home on the way to Lhassa, they came upon a curious troop of men, also bound for Lhassa, weeping, dancing, whistling, beating all kinds of instruments, and led by a Shaman. He was an acquaintance, a youthful playmate of the daughter of the maker of gods, and he knew the members of the caravan party, at the head of which was the man on his way to judgment in Lhassa, weighed down by the sinfulness he had incurred with his falsely-made god. The Shaman impressed upon him the danger of his position, saying that it would be a good thing if the real Dalai-Lama were still on the throne, but possibly the new Dalai-Lama had already been found and would be ruling Tibet from Lhassa. If that were so, things might be even worse, for the Vice-Regent was able in certain circumstances to be merciful in the administration of justice — but if the new Dalai-Lama were installed there was no telling whether or not the supreme penalty would have to be paid. And when the canon had been violated as seriously as the maker of gods had violated it by placing the nostrils too high above the upper lip — naturally the penalty would be death.

So the sinner learns that the Dalai-Lama, the Mahaguru, may soon be found. What does this mean in Tibet? The Tibetans are convinced that the soul of the great Bodhisattva who rules over Tibet passes from one body to another. When a Dalai-Lama dies, a new Dalai-Lama must be sought for — on an entirely democratic basis, for the Tibetans are thoroughly democratic in their attitude. No rank is hereditary, nothing transmitted from father to son by way of the body is of any account. According to Tibetan ideas this principle is utterly inconsistent with the dignity of the Dalai-Lama. Therefore when a Dalai-Lama dies the priesthood must set about finding a new Dalai-Lama, and then every young boy must be inspected — for the great soul might have incarnated in the very poorest family. The whole country must be searched and every boy in every house and on the roads scrutinised; if one of them shows signs of what is considered by the priesthood to indicate the necessary intelligence, be has the prospect of being acclaimed as the Dalai-Lama. The conviction is that in the boy who shows the most signs, the great soul of the Bodhisattva has incarnated, and then he is the Dalai-Lama. In the interval, while the search continues for the incarnation of the god in human form, a Vice-Dalai-Lama must rule the country temporarily.

Gutzkow's story continues. — It is already being rumoured that the new Mahaguru or the new Dalai-Lama will eventually be crowned in Lhassa, brought there with all honours. — And here I must interpolate an episode narrated by Gutzkow; he interpolates it in a slightly different place in the story, but what we are trying to do is to get a picture of his “Mahaguru.”

The beautiful girl was journeying with her father, the sinner. According to the Tibetan Constitution, his brothers are also fathers because a kind of polyandry is customary there. When a man marries, his brothers also marry the same woman. So the brothers of a father are also fathers, although one is the actual chief. The caravan procession is beautifully described in the book: the fathers are in front, then the chief father (the sinner) and his beautiful daughter. While she was still a small child and was just beginning to help her father, she had a companion with whom she liked to play, who at that time had been very dear to her and whose memory she still cherished. The Shaman at the head of the shrieking, whistling band had also been one of her early playmates and he was the brother of the one who had been her dearly-loved companion. — I have had to interpolate this in order to make what comes later more intelligible. —

The whole caravan moves on towards Lhassa, and on arriving there it is learnt that the new Mahaguru, the new Dalai-Lama, has been installed with all the honours due to him. But first we are told how the great sinner who has made the nostrils too far above the upper lip in a figure of one of the chief Tibetan gods is led before the black tribunal.

During the terrible proceedings of the tribunal it is made clear that this is a sin whose only expiation is death. Meanwhile the sinner is thrown into prison together with his family, to await a further trial in which all the sins ever committed by him are to be enumerated. — It must be emphasised that until now he had committed no sin other than that of having made the distance between nostrils and upper lip barely a millimeter too long in one of his figures. But in Tibet that is a crime punishable by death.

With pomp and splendour the new Dalai-Lama has been installed in office. We are told of many Tibetan customs, also of what goes on around the Court at Lhassa. Exact and lengthy descriptions are given in the book. In this setting, with the honourable rank of a Chinese Envoy at the Court, was a man who also had a charming young sister and who had reached a certain degree among the mandarins of China. He was a mandarin of the 6th degree but was hoping soon to be raised to a higher rank. Actually the ideal to which he aspired was the Order of the Peacock's Feather. But while this Chinese Envoy is dreaming his dreams, the most daring of which is to be made a member of the high Order of the Peacock's Feather, the new Dalai-Lama has been installed in his glory. The new Dalai-Lama knows that he has made the sun, the moon, the stars, the lightning and the clouds, the plants and the stones, and he explains to those who now come to pay their respects to him how he created it all, that he is the creator of everything that is visible in the wide universe and also of what is invisible — that he is therefore the primal creator of the visible world and of the invisible worlds connected with it.

Now in Tibet — as elsewhere — there are two parties. But these two parties are still closely bound up with the spiritual evolution of mankind in very ancient times. The two parties, whose priests belong to different sects, are usually designated by their headgear: the Yellow Caps and the Red Tassels. These two parties are in perpetual conflict with one another. In our language — for in Tibet these things are closely connected with the spiritual — we should say; the Yellow Caps are connected with the Luciferic element, the Red Tassels more with the Ahrimanic. These traits come to expression not only in their doctrines but also in their deeds: the Luciferic element is predominant in the doctrines and deeds of the Yellow Caps, the Ahrimanic element in those of the Red Tassels. In consequence of this — to explain why would lead us too far afield — the Red Tassels are bent upon ensuring that the Dalai-Lama at Lhassa shall be regarded as the lawful god who has created the plants, the animals and men; it is in their interest that the new Dalai-Lama shall be found and that the whole country shall believe him to be the lawful god — whereas the Yellow Caps are always indignant when the new Dalai-Lama is found and sits on the throne. For in Tibet, as well as the Dalai-Lama there is a Teshu-Lama, whose followers are found more among the northern Tibetans and the Mongol tribes. The Teshu-Lama strives his whole life long to overthrow the Dalai-Lama and usurp the throne. The Yellow Caps, then, support the Teshu-Lama and try to put him on the throne.

The man who aspires to the Order of the Peacock's Feather is now faced with the fact that a new Dalai-Lama is there. China, his country, holds a kind of mandate over Tibet. The Teshu-Lama is out to contest the throne, so there is opportunity here for intrigue. The man now begins to intrigue by arranging a kind of warlike caravan column to go to the Teshu-Lama and reinforce his power. But in reality his aim is not that the Teshu-Lama shall come to the throne but that the Chinese regiment shall be able to tighten the reins. In the confusion caused by this action, the beautiful daughter of the sinner is able to escape from the prison, and something unheard of happens: in the garden where only the god, the Dalai-Lama, may walk, she comes across him — and lo! the Dalai-Lama was her childhood's playmate who one day had suddenly disappeared and in the intervening time had been trained to become the Dalai-Lama. He is now the Dalai-Lama and encounters this girl, the daughter of the sinner. A deeply-interesting dialogue now ensues. — You can well imagine the situation that may arise when the girl, who had loved her playmate very intensely, encounters this playmate who is convinced that he has created the sun, the moon and the stars, and she is not altogether disinclined to believe in her god. But the priests discovered the shameful thing that had happened and threw the girl back into prison. The Dalai-Lama, however, sitting on his soft silken cushions, surrounded by all his other appurtenances, continues to meditate on how he directs the lightning and the clouds, how he has created and sustains the other phenomena of the visible world. —

The further course of the story brings us once again to the black tribunal. There is a terrible scene because the sinner, who to begin with had nothing on his conscience except the fact of having made the nostrils and upper lip of the god about a millimeter too far apart, now appears as an arch-criminal. He had gone mad in prison and had made out of some kind of substance — similar to what we should now call plasticine — most curious figures of gods. Just imagine it — A Tibetan tribunal confronted with a whole number of false figures of gods made by the culprit in prison! A howl of anger arises, no matter how he tries to vindicate himself; the judges sit around and the long galleries are full of people. The judges are monks who lay down the correct measurements of each feature in the case of every single god, how much larger the stomach of a god may be than that of an ordinary man, and so on; all the sins thus committed by the man with the figures made in prison are enumerated one by one. It is a dreadful affair and the fanatical judges pour their wrath on the sinner. He and his party are again thrown into prison, together with his daughter whose particular charm consists in the fact that because her feet are not too minute they differ from the excessively small feet customary in the Far East — in other respects, too, she is a lovely creature. But the followers of the aspirant to the Order of the Peacock's Feather cause a commotion in Lhassa and in the confusion a fire breaks out, burning the very house where the girl is imprisoned. She appears at the top of the house amid the smoke and flames at the moment when the Dalai-Lama is passing by with his brother, the Shaman, who, knowing all that has happened, has helped him to escape. At the crucial moment the human heart of the god, the Dalai-Lama, is moved. Instead of sending thunder and lightning to help, he throws himself into the flames, rescues the girl and brings her to the ground. He flees with her to a lonely, mountainous region together with his brother — and the Teshu-Lama, supported by the Yellow Caps, is enthroned in his place. So the beautiful girl goes off with the Mahaguru and his brother, the Shaman, and the Mahaguru is now married to her. After a year the Shaman dies. The good Dalai-Lama lives to an advanced age and for many long years is his wife's only husband. He actually outlives her, becomes a solitary old man and has long ceased to imagine that he rules over the lightning and the thunder, that he has created the mountains, forests and rivers, that sun, moon and stars circle in their courses according to his will. In his last years he becomes a Yogi, striving to acquire the wisdom that will lead his soul into the spiritual worlds. He stands on one leg, the other coiled around it like a serpent, one hand held behind him, the other raised upwards; he stands there with only his lips moving. The poor from the valley bring him food, but he never changes his posture. — The description of this final scene is most remarkable. We are told how the man who had been made the Dalai-Lama does indeed, in old age, find his god; how his soul dissolves into the elements which he was trying to understand and of which for a certain period in his life he had believed himself to be the creator.

The novel is a very remarkable product of the thirties of the 19th century, a work in which a comparatively young man describes with profound insight, customs prevailing in the strange country of Tibet. These customs are relics, surviving in the fifth Post-Atlantean epoch, of many things that existed in quite different forms in the Atlantean age, that is to say, the fourth main period of earth-evolution. The outward significance lies in the fact of such a novel having been written when it was; it shows that a human soul felt the need to portray something that in truth can be understood only by those who have at least some inkling of the evolutionary course of mankind, in its spiritual aspect too. One man in Europe at all events divines that in this strange country, in many Tibetan customs seeming to us so grotesque, there is preserved more faithfully than anywhere else — in caricature, of course — what was present in a quite different form in the Atlantean world. That is the outward significance, added to the fact that this novel was written at the time it was, and that attention is directed to a country which affords most telling evidence of how in the so-called Yellow Caps and Red Tassels there still live the Luciferic and Ahrimanic forces with which the men of Atlantis, especially in the fourth Atlantean epoch, were well acquainted and with which they worked. — But something else as well is inwardly significant in this novel, “The Mahaguru.”

Inwardly significant is what is presented to us in the scene of the proceedings at the black Inquisition-tribunal. The sinner makes a remarkable speech in self-defence. As we know, he had made a great number of gods during his imprisonment; but he made them when be was in a state of madness. There is a fine description of how the first symptoms of madness already became apparent on the way to Lhassa, how the condition became more and more acute and finally broke out in the form referred to. In a state of complete madness he had made all kinds of figures which violated the canon in the most atrocious way. We learn a great deal about the Tibetan canon from Gutzkow's powerful description; but we also learn something quite remarkable. — We are told that this great sinner, as the offspring of his forbears, has become a maker of gods — as is invariably the custom in Tibet. The figures he made had always been correct in every detail: the proportions and positions of the limbs, the length between nostrils and upper lip, and the like. Never once had it happened that the measurement between nostrils and upper lip had been one iota too long — but it did happen once, and he must expect death as the penalty. But now, as a madman — that is to say, in the condition where his soul is already to some extent outside his body — he uses his body in such a way as to produce utterly heterodox figures of gods. And now, he who knows nothing about Art except what is laid down by the canon for the making of gods, makes a long speech in his own defence, a speech in which, in his madness, he talks about principles of art. For one who understands these things it is a most moving scene. As long as the connection between the man's four bodies was intact, only the negligible mistake in the measurement between nostrils and upper lip could occur. But now, after the astral body and etheric body have loosened from the physical body, the man becomes an artist, producing grotesque, but for all that, artistic figures. The Inquisition does not understand this and believes that he had allied himself with evil in order to destroy the works of the gods. — The description of the moving scene at the tribunal reminds us of many things I have said about the aberrations of the human soul towards the one abyss or the other. In the soul of the young Gutzkow, too, the thought arose that there may come a time when men will no longer be able to find their equilibrium. — And now he places such men in the setting of a Tibetan religious community, because these problems can be brought home more vividly by presenting sharply contrasting situations, and because the novelist is able to show how art suddenly comes upon the scene. Art bursts forth from a human soul who has gone astray in the abyss, a human soul who has drawn near to Lucifer in order to save himself from the Ahrimanic claws of the Red Tassels, who are there as the unlawful judges. A profound law is indicated here — the law of man's connection with the spiritual world and its abysses: the world of Lucifer and the world of Ahriman.

Before continuing this particular line of thought, I want to say something about the Polish drama by Zigmunt Krasinski, which ends with the words: “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean?” A translation of parts of it, under the title “La Comedie Infernale,” was given by Mickiewicz in his lectures in Paris in the year 1842. [An English translation, of the drama, with the title “The Undivine Comedy,” and Mickiewicz's analysis, was published in 1875. A later translation with a preface by G. K. Chesterton was published in 1924. (George Harrap & Co., London.)] I must emphasise that I am not in a position to form a judgment of the drama from the purely artistic point of view because I know only the idea and intention underlying it. The fine impressions of this drama given by Adam Mickiewicz in his lectures enables me to speak about its basic idea and intention, but I can say nothing about it as a work of art. This reservation must be kept in mind. It is possible, however, to speak about the drama in this way, for Mickiewicz analysed its underlying idea and intention. The passages in French are so excellent that by studying what Mickiewicz says one is immediately impressed by its grandeur and significance. This conviction is still further strengthened when one reads Mickiewicz's rendering of the beautiful preface on the spirit of poetry. This is obviously a drama that has sprung from the very depths of the human soul. It presents the secrets of the life of soul in a wonderful way.

The chief character is a Polish Count; speaking to him and bending towards him from left and right are good angels and bad angels, the former intent upon leading mankind to the good side of evolution, the latter to the bad side. The relevant scenes are translated into French and show with what wonderful simplicity the Polish poet was trying to depict the relations of the beings belonging to the Hierarchy of the Angeloi to the hero of the drama, the old Count. We then learn of the Count's family life which has suffered on account of his personal characteristics. He lives entirely in the Past as it plays into his personal life, in the past history and evolution of the human race; surrounded by pictures of his parents and forbears, he also lives in the past of his Polish ancestral stock. He pays very little heed to the Present and so can find no real link with his wife. But in what has come to him through heredity, in what has been implanted in him through the blood refined through many generations, there is also in him an unusual spirituality, a sense for the realities of those worlds which hover above the earthly world. The result is that he can find no inner link with his wife. He lives entirely in the spirit, and the manner of his life is such that he is regarded by those around him as a god-gifted prophet. His wife has just borne him a son. We then come to the scene of the child's baptism, but the Count himself is not there. He can find no bond with anything earthly. This baptism and the circumstances associated with it send the child's mother insane. The Count had gone away, and when he returns to the house after the baptism, he learns that his wife has been taken to a madhouse.

Strangely enough we are again confronted with a case where the members of a man's constitution have loosened. We are told of the words that had been uttered by the wife before she went mad. Before the baptism the idea came to the mother that misfortune would surround the child because her own talents and human qualities had not made her equal to living, like her husband, in the spiritual world, and that she was incapable of bearing a child who would be able to live with sufficient intensity in the spiritual worlds to win the father's love. And with all the strength of her soul she longs to penetrate into the spiritual worlds in order to bring down for her son what is to be found in yonder worlds. Her wish is to bring from the spiritual worlds everything that would imbue the child with spirituality. This drives her insane and she is put into a madhouse — or asylum, as we should say nowadays.

The old Count searches for and finds her there, and she speaks deeply moving words to him. First of all, she declares that she wants to bring out of the spiritual worlds for the child those qualities that will enable the father to love him — and then she speaks wonderful words to this effect: I can traverse all worlds; my wings carry me upwards into all the worlds; I would fain gather up everything that is there and instill it into my child; I would fain gather all that lives in the light of the spirit and in the heavenly spheres in order to make my child a poet. — One passage in particular is deeply indicative of the poet's intuitive conception of the spiritual world. It is where he lets the old Count say, on hearing that his wife has become insane: Where is her soul now? Amid the howling screams of maniacs! Darkness has enshrouded this bright spirit who was full of reverence for the great universe ... She has sent her thoughts into the wilderness, searching for me!

The father then goes to the child who had been born physically blind but who has become clairvoyant. The child speaks of his mother. Some time after this scene, remarkable words are uttered by the Count. In the meantime the mother has died. The child had told his father that his soul could always soar, as if on wings, to where the mother now dwelt — the mother he had not known. While the child is describing how he looks into the spiritual world, he relates something which he himself could not have heard but which the father had heard from the wife when she was already insane, as her last wish. The Count speaks remarkable words — remarkable for those who understand these things in the light of spiritual science. He asks: Is it then possible that one who has passed through death retains for a time the last ideas he had before death?

So we see how mother and child go to pieces physically, and are transported in a certain abnormal, atavistic way into the spiritual world. Around the Count whose spirit lives entirely in the Past, they go to pieces physically and are transported atavistically into the spiritual worlds.

We cannot fail to perceive an inner connection between this atavistic transport into the spiritual world of those around the old Polish Count and of the Tibetan maker of gods in the novel “The Mahaguru” who, after he becomes insane and has gone to pieces physically, describes principles of art and produces an entirely new world of gods. The Polish drama, perhaps even more clearly than the novel, makes us aware of the cry which goes forth from humanity: What will befall if the souls of men cannot receive teachings concerning the spiritual worlds in the right and pure form? What will become of humanity in the future? Must human beings go to pieces physically if they are to enter the spiritual worlds? —

Earnest souls were inwardly compelled to put these grave questions to destiny. And as we read the preface to “The Undivine Comedy” we feel that these questions stood in all their urgency before the soul of the Polish poet. There is perhaps no finer, no more poignant description of this tragic situation than is given in the preface to this drama.

Confronting the Count who has seen his family go to pieces around him, is a forceful personage who will have nothing to do with the Past; inwardly he is a Tartar-Mongolian character, outwardly a personality who has imbibed the socialistic doctrines of Fourier, Saint Simon and others, who will stop at nothing in order to destroy all existing conditions and to establish a new social order for mankind, who says; The world of the Past in which the Count lives must be exterminated root and branch from the earth. — A despot is presented to us, a despot who is bent upon universal destruction, who will not tolerate things as they are. A battle begins between the bearer of the Past and the bearer of the Present, a vehement battle, brilliantly described. The scenes that have been translated into French amply justify this praise.

There is also a dialogue between the despot and the old Count; a dialogue that could take place only between men in whose souls two world-destinies confront each other. A battle wages in which the old Count appears with the clairvoyant child. The child and the old Count perish and the despot is the victor. The whole of the Count's faction is exterminated. The old order is overcome, the despot has gained the mastery; the Present has triumphed over the Past.

The description of the field of battle is magnificent. And then still another scene is presented. After the battle the despot stands with a friend, looking upwards towards a high rock gleaming with the golden light of the sun that is setting behind it. — And suddenly he has a vision. The friend sees nothing unusual, he sees only the rock gleaming in the setting sun. But the despot who has burdened his soul so heavily, with whom the impression remains of the old Count whose life has been so full of experiences — the despot stands there — and sees over this mountain pinnacle the figure of Christ Jesus. —

From this moment onwards he knows: Neither the old Count, the representative of the Past, who lives in the spirit in an atavistic way and has been able only to save the Past that is breaking up around him, nor he himself who lives in the immediate Present, has won the real victory. He knows that a battle will ensue but that neither of the two will be victorious — neither the Past which can lead only to atavistic life in the spiritual world, nor the Present, of which he, the despot, is the representative. The Present, basing itself upon doctrines such as those of Fourier and Saint-Simon, mocks at angels and teachings about God. Christ Jesus Who now appears to him shows him: Victory lies neither on the one side nor the other, but in that which is above them both. — And the One — Christ Jesus — whom the despot now beholds over the pinnacle gleaming golden in the rays of the setting sun, draws from him the cry: “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!” — Thereupon he falls down dead. This is the tragic consequence brought about through what is higher than the two streams which are presented in such magnificent contrast in this drama. As is clear from the single scenes, we have in this wonderful product of Polish literature a magnificent expression of Polish Messianism. We see how with the coming of the modern age it behoves men to ask weighty, far-reaching questions concerning the destiny of the human race.




Last Modified: 17-May-2018
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