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The Temple Legend

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Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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The Temple Legend

Schmidt Number: S-1097

On-line since: 15th January, 2013

Lecture 12:


(In connection with the Legend of the True Cross, or Golden Legend)

(Second Lecture)

Berlin, 22nd May 1905

[See the Notes for this Lecture]

A few more reflections on the lost temple. We must regard Solomon's temple as the greatest symbol. Now the point is to understand this symbol. You know the course of events from the Bible, how it began. In this case, we are not dealing with mere symbols, but in fact with outward realities, in which, however, a profound world-historic symbolism finds its expression at the same time. And those who built the temple were aware what it was meant to express.

Let us consider why the temple was built. And you will see that each word in the Bible's account of it (Note 1) is a deeply significant symbol. In this you need only consider in what period the building was erected. Let us particularly recall the Biblical explanation for what the temple was to be. Yahveh addressed this explanation to David: ‘A house for My Name’ — that is, a house for the name Yahveh. And now let us make clear what the name Yahveh signifies.

Ancient Judaism became quite clear, at a particular time, about the holiness of the name Yahveh. What does it mean? A child learns, at a certain moment in its life, to use the word ‘I’. Before that, it regards itself as a thing. Just as it gives names to other things, so it even calls itself by an objective name. Only later does it learn to use the word ‘I’. The moment in the lives of great personalities when they first experience their own ‘I’, when they first become aware of themselves, is charged with significance. Jean Paul recounts the following incident: (Note 2) as a small boy he was once standing in a barn in a farmyard: at that moment he first experienced his own ‘I.’ And so serene and solemn was this instant for him, that he said of it: ‘I then looked into my innermost soul as into the Holy of Holies.’

Mankind has developed through many epochs and everyone conceived themselves in this objective way up to Atlantean times; only during the Atlantean epoch did man develop to the stage where he could say ‘I’ to himself. The ancient Hebrews included this in their doctrines.

Man has passed through the kingdoms of Nature. Ego consciousness rose in him last of all. The astral, etheric and physical bodies and the ego together form the Pythagorean square. And Judaism added thereto the divine ego which descends from above, in contrast with the ego from below. Thus, a pentagon has been made out of the square. This was how Judaism experienced the Lord God of its people, and it was therefore a sacred thing to utter the ‘Name’. Whereas other names, such as ‘Elohim’ or ‘Adonai’, came increasingly into use, only the anointed priest in the Holy of Holies was allowed to utter the name ‘Yahveh.’ (Note 3) It was in the time of Solomon that ancient Judaism came to the holiness of the name Yahveh, to this ‘I’ which can dwell in man. We must take Jehovah's challenge to man as something that sought to have man himself made into a temple of the most holy God. Now we have gained a new conception of the Godhead, namely this: the God which is hidden in man's breast, in the deepest holiness of man's self, must be changed into a moral God. The human body is thus turned into a great symbol of the Inner Sanctuary.

And now an outward symbol had to be erected, as man is God's temple. The temple had to be a symbol,illustrating man's own body. Therefore, builders were sent for — Hiram-Abiff — who understood the practical arts that could transform man himself into a god. Two images in the Bible relate to this: one is Noah's Ark, and the other is the Temple of Solomon. (Note 4) In one way both are the same, yet they also have to be distinguished.

Noah's Ark was built to preserve mankind for the present stage of human existence. Before Noah, man lived in the Atlantean and Lemurian epochs. At that time he had not built the ship which was to carry him across the waters of the astral world into earthly existence. Man came by the waters of the astral world, and Noah's Ark carried him over. The Ark represents the construction built by unconscious divine forces. From the measurements given, its proportions correspond to those of the human body, and also with those of Solomon's Temple. (Note 5)

Man has developed beyond Noah's Ark, and now he has to surround his higher self with a house created by his own spirit, by his own wisdom, by the wisdom of Solomon.

We enter the Temple of Solomon. The door itself is characteristic. The square used to function as an old. symbol. Mankind has now progressed from the stage of four-foldness to that of five-foldness, as five-membered man who has become conscious of his own higher self. The inner divine Temple is so formed as to enclose the five-fold human being. The square is holy. The door, the roof and the side pillars together form a pentagon. (Note 6, and (Note 7) When man awakens from his fourfold state, that is, when he enters his inner being — the inner sanctuary is the most important part of the temple — he sees a kind of altar; we perceive two cherubim which hover, like two guardian spirits, over the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy of Holies; for the fifth principle [of man's being], which has not yet descended to earth, must be guarded by the two higher beings — Buddhi and Manas. Thus man enters the stage of Manas development.

The whole inner sanctuary is covered in gold, because gold has always been the symbol of wisdom. Now wisdom enters the Manas stage. We find palm leaves as the symbol of peace. That represents a particular epoch of humanity, and is inserted here as something which only came to expression later, in Christianity. The temple leaders guarded this for itself, in this way suggesting something to do with later developments.

Later, in the Middle Ages, the idea of Solomon's Temple was revived again in the Knights Templars, (Note 8) who sought to introduce the Temple thinking in the West. But the Knights Templars were misunderstood at that time (e.g. trial of Jacques Molay, their Grand Master). If we wish to understand the Templars, we must look deeply into human history. What the Templars were reproached with in their trial rests entirely on a major misunderstanding. The Knights Templars said at the time: ‘Everything we have experienced so far is a preparation for what the Redeemer has wished for. For,’ they continued, ‘Christianity has a future, a new task. And we have the task of preparing the various sects of the Middle Ages, and humanity generally, for a future in which Christianity will emerge into a new clarity, as the Redeemer actually intended that it should. We saw Christianity rise in the fourth cultural epoch; it will develop further in the fifth, but only in the sixth is it to celebrate the Glory of its resurrection. We have to prepare for that. We must guide human souls in such a way that a genuine, true and pure Christianity may come to expression, in which the Name of the Most High may find its dwelling place.’

Jerusalem was to be the centre and from there the secret concerning the relationship of man to the Christ should stream out all over the world. What was represented symbolically by the temple should become a living reality. It was said of the Templars, and this was a reproach to them, that they had instituted a kind of star-worship, or, similarly, a sun-worship . However, a great mystery lies behind this. The sacrifice of the Mass was originally nothing else but a great mystery. Mass fell into two parts; the so-called Minor Mass, in which all were allowed to take part; and, when that had ended, and the main body [of the congregation] had gone away, there followed the High Mass, which was intended only for those who wished to undergo occult training, to embark on the ‘Path’. In this High Mass the reciting of the Apostolic Creed took place first; then was expounded the development of Christianity throughout the world, and how it was connected with the great march of world evolution.

The conditions on earth were not always the same as today. The earth was once joined to the sun and the moon. The sun separated itself, as it were, and then shone upon the earth from outside. Later, the moon split away. Thus, in earlier times, the earth was quite a different kind of dwelling place for man. Man was quite different physically, at that time. But when the sun and the moon split off from the earth, the whole of man's life underwent a change. Birth and death took place for the first time, man reincarnated for the first time, and for the first time the ego of man, the individuality, descended into the physical body, to reincarnate itself in continuous succession. One day that will cease again. The earth will again become joined to the sun, and then man will be able to pass through his further evolution on the sun. Thus we have a specific series of steps, according to which the sun and man move together. Such things are connected with the progress of the sun across the vault of heaven.

Now everything that happens in the world is briefly recapitulated in the following stages. Everything has been repeated, including the evolution of the global stages in the first, second and third Great Epochs. *See scheme at the end of the notes to lecture 10. It came about, then, that man descended into reincarnation. The sun split away [from the earth] during the time of transition from the second to the third Great Epoch, the moon during the third epoch [Lemuria]. Now the earth develops from the third to the sixth epoch, when the sun will again be joined to the earth. Then a new epoch will start in which man will have attained a much higher stage and will no longer incarnate.

This teaching concerning the course of evolution came into the world through religion in the shape of the story of Noah's Ark. In this teaching, what was to happen in the future was foreshadowed. The union of the sun with the earth is foreshadowed in the appearance of Christ on earth. It is always so with such teachings. For a time what happens is a repetition of the past, then the teaching begins to be a prefiguring of the future. Each individual cultural epoch, as it relates to the evolution of consciousness for each nation, is connected with the progression of the sun through the zodiac.

You know that the time of transition from the third to the fourth cultural epoch was represented by the sign of the Ram or Lamb. The Babylonian-Assyrian epoch gathered together in the sign of the Bull all that was important for its time. The previous Persian age was designated in the constellation by the sign of the Twins. And if we go still further into the past we would come to the sign of the Crab for the Sanskrit culture. This epoch, in which the sun was in Cancer at the time of the spring equinox, was a turning point for humanity. Atlantis had been submerged and the first Sub-Race [cultural epoch] of the fifth Great Epoch had begun. This turning point was denoted by the Crab. The next cultural epoch similarly begins with the transition of the sun into the sign of the Twins. A further stage of history leads us over into the culture of Asia Minor and Egypt, as the sun passes into the sign of the Bull. And as the sun continues its course through the zodiac, the fourth cultural epoch begins, which is connected in Greek legend with the Ram or Lamb (the saga of Jason and the search for the Golden Fleece). And Christ Himself was, later on in early Christian times, represented by the Lamb. He called Himself the Lamb.

We have traced the time from the first to the fourth-cultural epoch. (Note 9) The sun proceeds through the heavens, and now we enter the sign of the Fishes, where we are ourselves at a critical point. Then, [in the future], in the time of the sixth epoch, the time will arrive when man will have become so inwardly purified that he himself becomes a temple for the divine. At that time the sun will enter the sign of the Water Carrier. Thus the sun, which is really only the external expression of our spiritual life, progresses in heavenly space. When the sun enters the sign of the Water Carrier at the spring equinox, it will then be understood completely clearly for the first time.

Thus proceeded the High Mass, from which all the uninitiated were excluded. It was made clear to those who remained that Christianity, which began as a seed, would in the future bear something quite different as fruit, and that by the name Water Carrier was meant John [the Baptist] who scatters Christianity as a seed, as if with a grain of mustard seed. Aquarius or the Water Carrier means the same person as John who baptised with water in order to prepare mankind to receive the Christian baptism of fire. The coming of a ‘John/Aquarius’ who would first confirm the old John and announce a Christ who would renew the Temple, once the great point of time should have arrived when Christ will again speak to humanity — this was taught in the depths of the Templar Mysteries, so that the event should be understood.

Moreover, the Templars said: Today we live at a point in time when men are not yet ripe for understanding the great teachings; we still have to prepare them for the Baptist, John, who baptises with water. The Cross was held up before the would-be Templar and he was told: You must deny the Cross now, so as to understand it later; first become a Peter, first deny the scriptures, like Peter the Rock who denied the Lord. That was imparted to the aspirant Templar as a preliminary training.

People generally understand so little of all this that even the letters on the Cross are not interpreted aright. Plato said of it that the world soul would be crucified on the world body. (Note 10) The Cross symbolises the four elements. The plant, animal and human kingdoms are built out of these four elements. On the Cross stands: JAM= water = James; NOUR = fire, which refers to Jesus himself; RUACH = air, the symbol for John; and the fourth JABESCHAH = earth or rock, for Peter.

Diagram 1

Thus there stands on the Cross what is expressed in the names of the [three] Apostles [and Jesus]. While the one name J.N.R.I. denotes Christ himself. ‘Earth’ is the place where Christianity itself must at first be brought, to that Temple to which man himself has brought himself so as to be a sheath for what is higher. But this Temple [Gap in text] (Note 11)

The cock, which is the symbol for both man's higher and lower selves, ‘crows twice’ [Mark 14:30]. The cock crows for the first time when man descends [to earth] and materialises himself in physical substance; it crows for the second time when man rises again, when he has learnt to understand Christ, when the Water Carrier appears. That will be in the sixth cultural epoch. Then man will understand spiritually what he should become. The ego will have attained a certain stage then, when what Solomon's Temple stands for will be reality in the highest sense, when man himself is a temple for Yahveh.

Before that, however, man still has to undergo three stages of purification. The ego is in a threefold sheath: firstly, in the astral body, secondly, in the etheric body, thirdly in the physical body.

As we are in the astral body, we deny the divine ego for the first time, for the second time in the etheric body, and for the third time in the physical body. The first crow of the cock is threefold denial through the threefold sheath of man. And when he has then passed through the three bodies, when the ego discovers in Christ its greatest symbolical realisation, then the cock crows for the second time.

This struggle to raise oneself up to a proper understanding of Christ, first passing through the stage of Peter none of the Templars found it possible, under torture, to make clear to the judges.

At the outset, the Templars put themselves in a position, as if they had abjured the Cross. After all of this had been made clear to the Templar, he was shown a symbolical figure of the Divine Being in the form of a venerable man with a long beard (symbolising the Father). When men have developed themselves, and have come to receive in the Master a leader from amongst themselves, when those are there who are able to lead humanity, then, as the Word of the guiding Father, there will stand before men the Master who leads men to the comprehension of Christ.

And then it was said to the Templars: When you have understood all this, you will be ripe for joining in building the great Temple of the Earth; you must so co-operate, so arrange everything, that this great building becomes a dwelling place for our true deeper selves, for our inner Ark of the Covenant.

If we survey all this, we find images having great significance. And he in whose soul these images come alive, will become more and more fit to become a disciple of those great Masters who are preparing the building of the Temple of Mankind. For such great concepts work powerfully in our souls, so that we thereby undergo purification, so that we are led to abounding life in the spirit.

We find the same medieval tendency as manifested in the Knights Templars, in two Round Tables as well, that of King Arthur, and that of the Holy Grail. In King Arthur's Round Table can be found the ancient universality, whereas the spirituality proper to Christian knighthood had to be prepared in those who guarded the Mystery of the Holy Grail. It is remarkable how calmly and tranquilly medieval people contemplated the developing power (fruit) and outward form of Christianity.

When you follow the teaching of the Templars, there at the heart of it is a kind of reverence for something of a feminine nature. This femininity was known as the Divine Sophia, the Heavenly Wisdom. Manas is the fifth principle. the spiritual self of man, that must be developed, for which a temple must be built. And, just as the pentagon at the entrance to Solomon's Temple characterises the fivefold human being, this female principle similarly typifies the wisdom of the Middle Ages, This wisdom is exactly what Dante sought to personify in his Beatrice. Only from this viewpoint can Dante's Divine Comedy be understood. Hence you find Dante, too, using the same symbols as those which find expression in the Templars, the Christian knights, the Knights of the Grail, and so on. Everything which is to happen [in the future] was indeed long since prepared for by the great initiates, who foretell future events, in the same way as in the Apocalypse, so that souls will be prepared for these events.

According to legend we have two different currents when humanity came to the Earth: the children of Cain, whom one of the Elohim begat through Eve, the children of the Earth, in whom we find the great arts and external sciences. That is one of the currents; it was banished, but is however to be sanctified by Christianity, when the fifth principle comes into the world. The other current is that of the children of God, who have led man towards an understanding of the fifth principle. They are the ones that Adam created. Now the sons of Cain were called upon to create an outer sheath, to contain what the sons of God, the Abel-Seth children, created.

In the Ark of the Covenant lies concealed the Holy Name of Yahveh. However, what is needed to transform the world, to create the sheath for the Holy of Holies, must be accomplished again through the sons of Cain. God created man's physical body, into which man's ego works, at first destroying this temple. Man can only rescue himself if he first builds the house to carry him across the waters of the emotions, if he builds Noah's Ark for himself. This house must set man on his feet again. Now those who came into the world as the children of Cain are building the outward part, and what the children of God have given is building the inner part.

These two streams were already current when our race began ... [Gap] (Note 12)

So we shall only understand theosophy when we look upon it as a testament laying the ground for what the Temple of Solomon denotes, and for what the, future holds in store. We have to prepare for the New Covenant, in place of the Old Covenant. The old one is the Covenant of the creating God, in which God is at work on the Temple of Mankind. The New Covenant is the one in which man himself surrounds the divine with the Temple of Wisdom, when he restores it, so that this ‘I’ will find a sanctuary on this earth when it is resurrected out of matter, set free.

So profound are the symbols, and so was the instruction, that the Templars wanted to be allowed to confer upon mankind. The Rosicrucians are none other than the successors to the Order of the Templars, wanting nothing else than the Templars did, which is also what theosophy desires: they are all at work on the great Temple of Humanity.

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