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Lectures to the First Class, part 3

First Class Lessons: Lesson XX
(recapitulation)

Schmidt Number: S-5900

On-line since: 30th September, 2017

The First Goetheanum

The First Goetheanum

by Rudolf Steiner

Volume Three, Lesson One
(recapitulation)

From stenographic records, unrevised by the author

Editor's/Translator's note: By the time Rudolf Steiner had given the first nineteen First Class Lessons (Volumes One and Two), so many new members had joined, or wanted to join, that he felt it necessary to recapitulate the lessons already given rather than continue to advance. However, although the mantras (verses) used are the same as in Volume One, the descriptions are sufficiently different to justify a new volume. Furthermore, much new and valuable material is introduced, which is not in the previous volumes.

Translated by Frank Thomas Smith

Dornach, September 6, 1924

Capital M  

y dear friends,

As it turns out, many more friends have come to this Class Lesson — and probably will to the next lessons as well — who had not attended the previous ones. So, it would be impossible to simply continue in the same way as we have with the previous lessons. But it is also true that a repetition of these Class Lessons will not be a disadvantage for those members of this esoteric school who participated in the earlier lessons, because the content of this esoteric school is such that it works again and again on the soul. Therefore, for those who today are experiencing a repetition, it also constitutes a continuation.

But for all those who are here for the first time it means something else: it means an acquaintance with the beginning of the esoteric path.

And even those who are far advanced on the esoteric path see in it the advantages of their continued striving, in that again and again they return to the beginning. This return to the beginning is always also the endeavor to reach a more advanced stage. We should therefore consider this lesson of today in that sense. And so for the members of the School who are here for the first time, the meaning of the School must be explained beforehand.

As the impulse of the Christmas Conference with the spiritual laying of the foundation stone of the Anthroposophical Society took place in this hall, from now on an esoteric breath is to flow through the whole Anthroposophical Society — as I said yesterday — an esoteric breath that can already be noted in everything undertaken within the Anthroposophical Society since Christmas. The nucleus of this esoteric activity of the Anthroposophical Society must be the Esoteric School. This Esoteric School, coming from the entire character of anthroposophy, is to take the place of what has been previously attempted as the so-called Free School for Spiritual Science, which cannot exactly be described as having been successful.

It was at the time when I did not yet personally have the leadership of the Anthroposophical Society, and thus had to entrust those who wanted to try something, to let them try. In the future, this cannot continue. The intention of what was formed together with me as the Christmas impulse was that the Free School for Spiritual Science, with its various sections, would form an esoteric nucleus for all the esoteric work in the Anthroposophical Society.

An esoteric school, however, is not founded as an earthly entity. An esoteric school can only be one if it is the earthly reflection of what has been founded in the super-sensible worlds. And it has often been declared among anthroposophists that in the succession of the reigning hierarchy of Archangels, those who reign over human spiritual life, the Archangel Michael took over this guidance during the last third of the nineteenth century. And it was made known that this guidance has a very special significance for the spiritual life and evolution of humanity on earth.

It is the case that in human evolution life is guided successively by seven Archangels who together comprise the spiritual ruling substance of the planetary system, to which the sun, earth and moon also belong. The impulse of one of these Archangels lasts about three to four centuries. And when we consider the Archangel under whose impulse the spiritual life of the present stands, when we consider Michael, we have the Archangelos who possesses the spiritual force of the sun in everything he does and supports.

Previously, again lasting for three to four centuries — that is, from the last third of the nineteenth century back through three to four centuries — was the reign of the Archangelos Gabriel, who mostly bears the moon's forces in his impulses.

And going further back we come to the centuries in which a kind of revolution against spiritual activity and spiritual being in humanity took place during the middle ages, even by those who were the bearers of civilization — the reign of Samuel, who had his impulses in the Mars forces.

When we go even further back we come to the era in which a medicinally oriented alchemy deeply influenced spiritual life under the rule of the Archangelos Raphael, who bears the Mercury forces in his impulses.

And when we go even further back, we are approaching more and more the Mystery of Golgotha, but have not yet reached it. We find there the reign of Zachariel, who bears the Jupiter forces in his impulses, and the reign of Anael — with whom we are getting very close to the Mystery of Golgotha — who bears the Venus forces in his impulses. Then we come to the time when the brilliance of the Mystery of Golgotha asserted itself against a profound spiritual darkness on earth — under the reign of Oriphiel, who bears the Saturn forces in his impulses.

Then we come back to the previous reign of Michael, that coincides with the great international, cosmopolitan impulses through Alexander the Great and Aristotle, which until that point was brought to humanity by means of the Greek mysteries and spirituality, and was then brought by Alexander over to Asia, to North Africa, so that what was the spiritual life of a small territory streamed out to the whole civilized world of those times. For it is always an attribute of a Michael era that what had previously blossomed in one place streams out to other localities in a cosmopolitan manner.

Thus, after having completed the cycle of successive Archangeloi epochs, we always return to the same Archangelos. We can go back further — again through the succession of Gabriel, Samuel, Raphael, Zachariel, Anael, Oriphiel — and would come again to Michael. And we would find that after the Michael era streams over us, an Oriphiel era follows.

So, my dear friends, we should be aware that the Michael impulse lives in the way characterized in everything which is spiritual activity and being in the present. But it is a more important Michael era than the previous ones. I would like to emphasize this.

When the Anthroposophical Society was placed at the service of the esoteric during the Christmas Conference, its esoteric nucleus, this Esoteric School, could only be founded by the spiritual power which is incumbent for its guidance at this time. Thus, we are in this Esoteric School as one which the spirit of the times himself, Michael, has founded; for it is the Michael-School of the present.

And only then, my dear friends, can you correctly understand what is being said here — when you are aware that nothing else is being said but what the Michael stream itself wishes to bring to humanity in the present time. All the words which will be spoken in this School are Michael words. Michael will is all that is willed in this School. You are all students of Michael in that you are present in the right way in this School. Only then, when you are aware of this, is it possible to be present in this School in the right way — with the correct disposition and attitude, feeling yourselves to be members not only of what enters the world as an earthly institution, but as a heavenly institution.

It is of course therefore a condition that every member of this School accept certain self-evident responsibilities. It is a property of the Christmas impulse of the Anthroposophical Society, that it has taken on the characteristic of complete openness. Therefore, nothing is demanded of members of the Anthroposophical Society other than what they themselves demand: that they receive through the Anthroposophical Society what flows within the anthroposophical spiritual movement. One does not take on further responsibilities when one becomes an anthroposophist. The responsibility for being a decent person is taken for granted.

It is otherwise when one seeks to enter this School. Then, based on the truly occult spirit of this School, the member assumes the responsibility of being a worthy representative of anthroposophy before the world with all his thinking, feeling and willing. One cannot otherwise be a member of this School.

That this is taken seriously, my dear friends, can be seen by that fact that since the short existence of this School in twenty instances temporary expulsions have already taken place. This strict measure will have to continue to be followed in the same way. One cannot play around with true esoteric matters; they must be realized with utmost earnestness. In this way, through this School the earnestness that is absolutely necessary for the anthroposophical movement to spiritually prosper can stream into it. That is what I wanted to say as an introduction.

*

If you — I'm speaking now to those of you who are here for the first time — if you receive the words spoken here as real messages from the spiritual world, as truly Michael-words, then you will be here in the right way, in the only way you should be here.

And so now we want to bring to our souls the words which resound to the human being when he objectively observes everything in the world that surrounds him — in the world above, in the middle and below. Let us look at the mute kingdom of minerals, at the sprouting plant kingdom, at the mobile animal kingdom, at the thinking kingdom of humanity on earth; let us direct our gaze to the mountains, to the seas, to the rivers, to the effervescent springs, to the shining sun, to the gleaming moon and the sparkling stars. If the human being keeps his heart open, if he can listen with the ears of soul, the admonishment resounds to him which is contained in the words which I shall now speak:

O man, know thyself!
So resounds the Cosmic-Word.
You hear it strong in soul,
You feel it firm in spirit.

Who speaks with such cosmic might?
Who speaks with such depth of heart?

Does it work through distant radiant space
Into your senses' sense of being?
Does it ring through weaving waves of time
Into your life's evolving stream?

It's you yourself who,
In feeling space, in experiencing time,

Create the Word, feeling foreign
In the soulless void of space
Because you lose the force of thought
In time's destructive flow.

And when we let the meaning and the spirit of these words work in us, then we feel the desire to go into the springs from which our true humanity flows. To really understand these words means to crave the path that leads to those waters from which the human soul flows — to seek the source of human life.

In seeking, my dear sisters and brothers, you will be rewarded to the extent it lies in your karma. But the first step will be to understand the inner meaning of the esoteric path. This esoteric path will be described in Michael-words here in this School. It will be described in such a way that everyone can follow it, but not that everyone must follow it, rather that it be understood; for such understanding is in itself the first step. Therefore, what Michael has to say to present-day humanity will flow in mantric words. These mantric words will at the same time be words for meditation.

Again, it will depend on karma how these words for meditation work for each individual. And the first thing is to understand that from the spoken words about human self-knowledge the desire arises to direct one's attention to the sources of human existence: O man, know thyself! Yes, this desire must awaken. We must seek: Where are the sources of what lives in the human soul, what our humanity actually is?

At first, we must observe the surroundings that have been given us. We must look around at all the little things we have been given, at all the great things we have been given. We observe the mute stone, the worm in the earth, we look at all that grows and exists and lives around us in the kingdoms of nature. We look up to the powerfully glittering stars. We listen to the turbulent thunder.

It is not by being ascetic that we can solve the riddle of our own humanity; it is not by despising the earthworm, the stars glittering in space, not by despising them as outer sensible phenomena and instead seeking an abstractly chaotic path; but when we develop a feeling for the transcendence of what shines down on us from the stars, for all that enters through the senses and becomes our perception: beauty, truth, purity, transcendence, magnificence and majesty. When you can stand there as an observer of all that surrounds you — of the plants, of the stones, of the animals, of the stars, of the clouds, of the seas, of the springs, of the mountains — and can absorb their majesty and greatness and truth and beauty and radiance, then can you first say with complete intensity: Yes, great and powerful and majestic and glorious are the worms that crawl under the earth, the stars that glitter above in heaven's space. But your being, O man, is not among them. You are not in what your senses reveal to you.

And then we direct our questioning gaze, laden with riddles, to the far distance. From here on, the esoteric path will be described in imaginations. We direct our gaze to the distance. Something like a path is shown, a path that leads to a black, night-cloaked wall that reveals itself as the beginning of deepest darkness. And we stand there, surrounded by the majesty of sensory perception, marveling at the greatness and majesty and radiance of sensory perception, but not finding our own being in it, with our gaze directed to the limits of sensory perception. But black, night-cloaked darkness begins there. But something in our heart tells us: Not here, where the sun reflects its light from all that grows and moves and lives, but there, where black, night-cloaked darkness is staring at us, are the sources of our own humanity. From out of there the answer must come to the question: O man, know thyself!

Then we go, hesitating, towards the black darkness and become aware that the first being who confronts us stands where the black, night-cloaked darkness begins. Like a previously unseen cloud formation taking shape, it becomes human-like, not weighted by gravity, but human-like nevertheless. With earnest, very earnest gaze, it meets our questioning gaze. It is the Guardian of the Threshold. For between the sun-radiating surroundings of humanity and that night-cloaked darkness there is an abyss, a deep, yawning abyss. The Guardian of the Threshold stands before us on this side of the abyss. We call him this for the following reason.

Oh, every night while sleeping the human being with his I and with his astral body is in that world that with imaginative gaze now appears as black, night-cloaked darkness; but he doesn't realize it — his soul-senses have not opened. He doesn't realize that he lives and acts among spiritual beings and spiritual facts between falling asleep and awakening; were he to consciously experience without further preparation what there is to experience there: he would be crushed! The Guardian of the Threshold protects us — therefore he is the Guardian of the Threshold — protects us against crossing the abyss unprepared. We must follow his admonitions if we wish to tread the esoteric path. He encloses the human being in darkness every night. He guards the threshold so that the human being does not, when falling asleep, enter into the spiritual-occult world unprepared.

Now he stands there — if we have sufficiently internalized our hearts and delved deeply into our souls — there he is, admonishing us as to how everything is beautiful in our surroundings, but that in this beauty we cannot find our own being and that we must seek beyond the yawning abyss of existence in the realms of night-cloaked, black darkness; that we must wait until it becomes dark here in the sunlit radiant realm of sensory light and it becomes light for us there, where now there is still only darkness.

That is what the Guardian of the Threshold reveals to our souls. We are still at a certain distance from him. We look at him, and perceive his admonishing words still from a distance, which resound so:

Where on earthly ground, color on color
Life is manifest in creation;
Where from earthly matter, form on form,
The lifeless is given shape;
Where sentient Beings, strong in will
Warm themselves in joy of existence;
Where you, O man, your bodily being
Is shaped from earth and air and light.

There your true being enters
Deep, night-cloaked, cold darkness;
You ask in the dark sweeping expanse
No longer, who you are and were and will be.
For your own being the day grows dimly
To the soul's night, to spirit-darkness;
And you turn with angst of soul
Toward the light that from darkness streams.

That is the Guardian of the Threshold's first admonishment, the earnest admonishment that tells us that our surroundings are beautiful and grand and sublime, radiant with light, sun-filled; but that this radiant, sun-filled world is for the human being the true darkness; that we must seek there, in the darkness, that darkness becomes light, so that humanity, illuminated from out of the darkness, can approach us, so that the riddle of humanity may be solved from out the darkness. The Guardian of the Threshold continues:

And from out of the darkness comes light,
— you in image-shape revealed —
Your likeness manifesting you,
Yet also a parable of you,
Earnest spirit-words in cosmic ether
Heard by your heart, imparting strength,

The Spirit-Messenger, who alone
Can light for you the way;
Before him the fields of sense widen,
Behind him yawn the abyss-depths.

And before his dark spirit-fields,
Hard by the yawning abyss of being,
Resounds his anciently potent creative words:
Behold, I am the only gate to knowledge.

[The mantra is written on the blackboard, with the last line underlined.]

The Guardian speaks:

Where on earthly ground, color on color
Life is manifest in creation;
Where from earthly matter, form on form,
The lifeless is given shape;
Where sentient Beings, strong in will
Warm themselves in joy of existence;
Where you, O man, your bodily being
Is shaped from earth and air and light.

There your true being enters
Deep, night-cloaked, cold darkness;
You ask in the dark sweeping expanse
No longer, who you are and were and will be.
For your own being the day grows dimly
To the soul's night, to spirit-darkness;
And you turn with angst of soul
Toward the light that from darkness streams.

And from out of the darkness comes light,

(The continuation of this phrase follows after a few lines. What comes now is an intermediate clause.)

you in image-shape revealed,
Your likeness manifesting you,
Yet also a parable of you,
Earnest spirit-words in cosmic ether
Heard by your heart, imparting strength

(The intermediate clause has ended; the phrase “And from the darkness comes light” continues.)

The Spirit-Messenger,
(the Guardian of the Threshold) who alone
Can light for you the way;
Before him the fields of sense widen,
Behind him yawn the abyss-depths.

And before his dark spirit-fields,
Hard by the yawning abyss of being,
Resounds his anciently potent creative words:
Behold, I am the only gate to knowledge.

For it is the Guardian himself who, once he has imparted to us this first admonition: to feel light as darkness, darkness as light, indicates the feelings and sensations which can come anciently potent from our souls. He speaks them aloud, does the Guardian, as his gaze becomes even more earnest, as he stretches out his arm and hand to us, he speaks further with these words:

From the distant beings in space
Who experience existence in light,

(We feel ourselves impelled to take a few steps closer to the Guardian.)

From the stages of the course of time,
Which finds expression in creating,
From the depths of heart-felt feeling
Where in the Self the world is fathomed:

They resound in the speech of the soul,
They gleam in the spirit-thoughts,
From divine curative powers,
In the cosmic formative forces
The undulating existential words:
O you man, know thyself!

It is different if we first hear these words from sensory beings, and if we correctly understand the words which resound: “O man, know thyself!”, or if they now resound before the terrible abyss of existence from the mouth of the Guardian of the Threshold himself. The same words: two different ways to grasp them. These words are mantric, for meditation, they are words which awaken the capacity in the soul to come near to the spiritual world, if they are able to ignite the soul.

[The mantra is written on the blackboard and the title and last line are underlined.]

The Guardian at the abyss

From the distant beings in space
Who experience existence in light,
From the stages of the course of time,
Which finds expression in creating,
From the depths of heart-felt feeling
Where in the Self the world is fathomed:

They resound in the speech of the soul,
They gleam in the spirit-thoughts,
From divine curative powers,
In the cosmic formative forces
The undulating existential words:
O you man, know thyself!

While the Guardian is saying these words, we have moved close to the yawning abyss of being. It is deep. There is no hope of crossing the abyss with the feet given us by the earth. We need freedom from earthly gravity. We need the wings of spiritual life in order to cross over the abyss. By at first beckoning us to the yawning abyss of existence, the Guardian of the Threshold made us aware of how our Self, before being illuminated and purified for the spiritual world, where actually today we are everywhere surrounded by hate for the spiritual world, by mockery of the spiritual world, by cowardice and fear of the spiritual world — the Guardian makes us aware of how this, our Self, which wills and feels and thinks, is constituted today in our present evolutionary cycle in its threefold character of willing, feeling and thinking. We must first recognize this before we can become aware, in real self-knowledge, of our true Self, which is implanted in us by the gods.

All three beasts, which arise from the abyss one after the other, appear to us as seen from the viewpoint of the eternal divine force of healing: human willing, human feeling, human thinking. As they appear one after the other — willing, feeling, thinking in their true form — the Guardian explains them:

We are standing at the edge of the abyss. The Guardian speaks — the beasts rise up:

Yes, you must beware of the abyss;
Otherwise its beasts will devour
You, if you pass by me in haste.
Your cosmic age has placed them there
In you as enemies of knowledge.

Behold the first beast, the crooked back,
The bony head, the scrawny body,
His skin is all a dullish blue;
Your fear of creative spiritual being
Begat the monster in your will;
Knowledge bravery alone will overcome it.

Behold the second beast, it bares
Its teeth in a warped face, scornfully it lies,
Yellow with gray spots is its body;
Your hate of spiritual revelation
Begat this weakling in your feeling;
Your flame for knowledge must subdue him.

Behold the third beast, with cloven muzzle,
Its eye is glassy, posture slouching,
Dirty-red its form appears to you;
Your doubts in the power of spiritual light
Begat this ghost within your thinking;
Your creative knowledge must make it yield.

Only when you've defeated the three
Will wings sprout upon your soul
To fly the abyss over,
Which separates you from the knowledge fields
To which your heart desires
to consecrate itself in healing.

I will write these mantric words on the blackboard next time.

When one has heard this directly from the mouth of the Guardian, one may return, remembering, to the point of departure. There exists everything before the soul that all beings in our surroundings say, if we understand them correctly; what all beings in the most distant past already said to humanity, what all beings say to humanity in the present, and what all beings will say to the human beings of the future:

O man, know thyself!
So resounds the Cosmic-Word.
You hear it strong in soul,
You feel it firm in spirit.

Who speaks with such cosmic might?
Who speaks with such depth of heart?

Does it work through distant radiant space
Into your senses' sense of being?
Does it ring through weaving waves of time
Into your life's evolving stream?

It's you yourself who,
In feeling space, in experiencing time,

Create the Word, feeling foreign
In the soulless void of space
Because you lose the force of thought
In time's destructive flow.

These are the words of the Michael-School. When they are spoken, Michael's spirit flows in waves through the room in which they are spoken. And his sign is what confirms his presence.


*


Diagram 1

Michael-Sign (red)

Then Michael leads us to the real Rosicrucian School, which shall reveal the secrets of humanity in the past, in the present and in the future through the Father-God, the Son-God and the Spirit-God. And then pressing the seal on the words “rosae et crucis”, the words may be pronounced:

Ex deo nascimur

In Christo morimur

Per spiritum sanctum reviviscimus

accompanied by the sign of Michael's seal, which are for the first words “Ex deo nascimur” [See note]:

Diagram 2

secondly by the words “In Christo morimur”:

Diagram 3

thirdly by the words “Per spiritum sanctum reviviscimus”:

Diagram 4

As we say the words “Ex deo nascimur”, we feel them confirmed by the seal and sign of Michael —

“Ex deo nascimur” by this sign [makes the gesture — see note]:

Diagram 2

I esteem the Father

“In Christo morimur” by this sign:

Diagram 3

I love the Son

“Per spiritum sanctum reviviscimus” by this sign:

Diagram 4

I bind myself to the Spirit

That is what the signs mean.

Michael's presence is confirmed by his seal and sign.

Diagram 1

Michael-Sign [see note]

The mantric words written on the blackboard may only be kept by those who are legitimate members of the School, that is, who have been issued the blue certificate. No one else may possess these words. Of course, those may have them who for some reason cannot attend a particular session of the School, or because of the distance from their homes cannot attend. As members of the School they can receive them from other members.

However, in each case permission to pass on these words must be obtained. The one who is to receive the words may not request permission, but only the one who passes them on. He or she obtains permission either from Dr. Wegman or from me. This is not a mere administrative measure, but must be the basis for every passing on of the words that permission must be granted either by Dr. Wegman or by me. The words may not be sent by letters, but only personally; they may not be entrusted to the mail.

 

Note: It is not possible to determine from the stenographic records of the seven Repetition Lessons exactly when during each lesson, Rudolf Steiner drew the Michael-Sign and the Michael-gestures with their corresponding words, or when he made the signs and the gestures.






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