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Lecture 9:


(Third lecture)

Berlin, 16th December 1904

[See the Notes for this Lecture]

It is important that we should speak about the higher degrees of Freemasonry, because this manner of instruction sets itself special tasks, certain aspects of which will be discussed in the near future. We are dealing, in the main, with a special rite, that is called the combined rite of Memphis and Misraim. (Note 1) I have already mentioned that the Memphis and Misraim rite possesses a great number of degrees, that ninety-five degrees must be undertaken, and that usually the Supreme Leaders of the Grand Orients — i.e. those of Germany, Great Britain and America possess the ninety-sixth degree. These degrees are so arranged that up to the end of about the eightieth to eighty-ninth degree they are divided up in the way I shall presently describe to you.

From about the eight-seventh degree onwards start the real occult degrees into which no one can be initiated who has not made a thorough study of the subject. I always make the reservation that in Europe there is nobody who has undertaken all these degrees or who has really undergone an occult Freemasonry training. But that is of no particular concern as far as Freemasonry goes, because its renewed task still awaits it in the future, and, when the time comes, the Organisation will be available; the vessel will be there which is needed to carry out what has to be achieved.

Now I must mention the various branches of Freemasonry and their tendencies, even if I am only to indicate some thing briefly. First of all, it is to be borne in mind that the whole of the masonic higher degrees trace back to a personality often spoken about but equally very much misunderstood. He was particularly misunderstood by nineteenth century historians, who have no idea of the difficult situations an occultist can meet in life. This personality is the ill-famed and little understood Cagliostro. The so-called Count Cagliostro, (Note 2) in whom an individuality concealed itself which was recognised in its true nature only by the highest initiates, attempted originally to bring Freemasonry in London to a higher stage. For during the last third of the eighteenth century, Freemasonry had fairly well reached the state that I have described. He did not succeed in London at that time. He then tried in Russia, and also at The Hague. Everywhere he was unsuccessful, for very definite reasons.

Then, however, he was successful in Lyons, forming an occult masonic lodge of the Philalethes [Searchers after Truth] out of a group of local masons, which was called the Lodge of Triumphing Wisdom. The purpose of this Lodge was specified by Cagliostro. What you can read about it is, however, nothing but the work of ignorant people. What can be said about it is only an indication. Cagliostro was concerned with two things: firstly, with instructions enabling one to produce the so-called Philosopher's Stone; secondly, with creating an understanding of the mystic pentagram. I can only give you a hint of the meaning of these two things. They may be treated with a deal of scorn, but they are not to be taken merely symbolically, they are based on real facts.

The Philosopher's Stone has a specific purpose, which was stated by Cagliostro; it is meant to prolong human life to a span of 5,527 years. (Note 3) To a freethinker that appears laughable. In fact, however, it is possible, by means of special training, to prolong life indefinitely by learning to live outside the physical body. Anyone, however, who imagined that no death, in the conventional sense of the word, could strike down an adept, would have quite a false view of the matter. So, whoever imagined that an adept could not be hit and killed by a falling roof slate, would also be wrong. To be sure, that would usually only occur if the adept allowed it. We are not dealing here with physical death, but with the following. Physical death is only an apparent occurrence for him who has understood the Philosopher's Stone for himself, and has learned to separate it. For other people it is a real happening, which signifies a great division in their life. For he who understands how to use the Philosopher's Stone in the way that Cagliostro intended his pupils to do, death is only an apparent occurrence. It does not even constitute a decisive turning point in life; it is, in fact, something which is only there for the others who can observe the adept and say that he is dying. He himself, however, does not really die. It is much more the case that the person concerned has learned to live without his physical body; that he has learned during the course of life to let all those things take place in him gradually, which happen suddenly in the physical body at the moment of death. Everything has already taken place in the body of the person concerned, which otherwise takes place at death. Death is then no longer possible, for the said person has long ago learned to live without the physical body. He lays aside the physical body in the same way that one takes off a raincoat, and he puts a new body on just as one puts a new raincoat on.

Now that will give you an inkling. That is one lesson which Cagliostro taught — the Philosopher's Stone — which allows physical death to become a matter of small importance.

The second lesson was the knowledge of the Pentagram. That is the ability to distinguish the five bodies of man one from another. When someone says: physical body, etheric body, astral body, Kama-Manas body, causal body, [higher Manas or spirit self] these are mere words, or at best, abstract ideas. Nothing, however, is achieved by that. A person living today as a rule hardly knows the physical body; only one who knows the Pentagram learns to know the five bodies. One does not know a body by living in it, but by having it as an object. That is what distinguishes an average person from one who has gone through such a schooling that the five bodies have become objects. The ordinary person does indeed live in these five bodies: however, he lives in them, he cannot step outside [of himself] and look at them. At best he can view his physical body when he looks down at his torso, or sees it in a mirror. Those pupils of Cagliostro who had followed his methods would thereby have achieved what some Rosicrucians achieved, who had basically undergone a training with the same orientation. They were in a school of the great European adepts, who taught that the five bodies were realities, and not to remain as mere concepts. That is called ‘Knowing the Pentagram’ and ‘Moral Rebirth’.

I will not say that the pupils of Cagliostro never achieved anything. In general they went as far as comprehending the astral body. Cagliostro was extremely skilful in imparting a view of the astral body. Long before the catastrophe broke over him, he had succeeded in starting schools in Paris, Belgium, St. Petersburg and a few other places in Europe, in addition to the one in Lyons, out of which later emerged at least a few people who had the basis for some to proceed to the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth higher degrees of Freemasonry. Thus, Count Cagliostro at least had an important influence on occult masonry in Europe before ending his days in the prison in Rome. The world should not actually pronounce judgment on Cagliostro. As I have already indicated, when people speak about Cagliostro, it is as though Hottentots were to speak about the erection of an overhead railway, because the relationship of apparently immoral outward acts to world happenings is not understood.

I remarked earlier that the French Revolution arose out of the secret societies (Note 4) of the occultists, and if these currents were investigated further, they would lead back to the school of the adepts.

It may be that what Mabel Collins depicted in her novel Flita (Note 5) is hard to understand. In it she describes, rather grotesquely, how an adept has the World Chessboard in front of him in a secret place, and lets the pieces play, and how he, so to speak, controls the Karma of a continent upon one very simple little board. It does not quite take place as it is described there, but something on a much greater scale than that does actually happen, of which what is described in Flita gives only a distorted picture.

Now the French Revolution certainly proceeded from such things as this. There is a well-known story contained in the writings of the Countess d'Adhémar. It related that, before the outbreak of the French Revolution, the Countess d’Adhémar, one of the ladies-in-waiting to Marie-Antoinette, received a visit from the Count of St. Germain. (Note 6) He wanted to be presented to the Queen and to beg audience of the King. Louis XVI's minister, however, was the enemy of the Count of St. Germain, who therefore was not allowed into the King's presence. But he described to the Queen with great accuracy and detail the major perils which were looming ahead. Regrettably, however, his warnings were ignored. It was on that occasion that he uttered the great saying which was based on truth: ‘They who sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind’ (Note 7) and he added that he had uttered this saying millenia previously, and it had been repeated by Christ. Those were words which were unintelligible to the ordinary person.

But the Count of St. Germain was right. I will only add a few more touches which are quite correct. In books about the Count of St. Germain you can read that he died in 1784 (Note 8) at the court of the Landgrave of Hessen, (Note 9) who later became one of the most advanced German Freemasons. The Landgrave nursed him until the end. But the Countess d'Adhémar recounts in her memoirs (Note 10) that he appeared to her long after the year 1784, and that she saw him six more times long after that. In reality he was at that time, in 1790, with some Rosicrucians in Vienna (Note 11) and said, which is perfectly true, that he was obliged to retire to the Orient for the span of 85 years, and that after that time people would again become aware of his activity in Europe. 1875 is the year of the founding of the Theosophical Society. These things are all connected to ether in a certain way.

In the school founded by the Landgrave of Hessen, also, there were two main concerns: the Philosopher's Stone and the Knowledge of the Pentagram. The Freemasonry founded by the Landgrave of Hessen at that time continued to exist in a rather diluted form. In fact, the whole of Freemasonry, as I have described it, is called the Egyptian rite, the rite of Memphis and Misraim. The latter traces its origin back to King Misraim who came from Assyria — from the Orient — and, after the conquest of Egypt, was initiated into the Egyptian mysteries. These are indeed the mysteries which originate from ancient Atlantis. An unbroken tradition exists from that time. Modern Freemasonry is only a continuation of what was established then in Egypt.

Before I go into details I would like to say that Freemasonry which extends to the higher degrees is something which, in its more intimate aspect, is quite different from the normal craft masonry. The ordinary craft masonry rests on a kind of democratic principle, and if the democratic principle is to be applied to matters of knowledge, it is obvious that it will lead to a state of affairs in which the brothers who have congregated together will mainly do nothing but bring forward their own views. Truth, however, is something about which one cannot hold one's own views. One either knows a truth or one is ignorant of it. No one can say that the three angles of a triangle add up to 725 degrees instead of to 180 degrees.

When people sit together and have a discussion they talk about their own views, sometimes also about the most elevated things. But all of this exists on the level of illusion, and is just as irrelevant as what a person says who is ignorant of the true sum of the angles of a triangle and only gives his own opinion about it. Just as one is unable to discuss whether the sum of the angles of a triangle have this or that many degrees, so one is also unable to have a discussion about higher truths. That is why the democratic principle is not applicable to matters of knowledge, for there is no basis of argument on which to discuss them. What distinguishes masonry of the higher degrees from craft masonry is that one learns to know the truth step by step. Whoever has recognised a thing can no longer hold more than one opinion about it. One has either recognised it, or one has not done so. The ninety-six degrees have, therefore, a certain justification

At the head is the so-called Sovereign Sanctuary, who is identical with what is known as the Grand Orient in Freemasonry, and is in possession of the real occult knowledge. (Note 12) He knows the path and the speech of that which can be picked out in the masonic manifesto, (Note 13) and which makes it possible to hear the voice of the Wise Men of the East. When he has reached this step, he is certainly in a position to hear the voice of the Wise Masters. So far, however, must one have worked one's way up, that one is in possession of very definite knowledge, and also of definite inner qualities and inner capacities which by no means purely cover themselves with the conventional bourgeois virtues, but are something more meaningful and intimate. I would note that [compared with] what we have been speaking about here, what theosophical literature reveals of a theoretical or practical nature forms only an elementary part. So that the theoretical side of the higher degrees of Freemasonry far surpasses what can be divulged in popular theosophy. What can be disclosed there is dependent upon the permission given by the adepts to allow these things to be popularised up to a certain grade. But it is not possible to make all knowledge public.

It is correct to say that humanity will be astonished by some of the discoveries which will be made in the near future. But they will be rather premature discoveries and will thereby cause some havoc. The task of the Theosophical Society consists mainly in preparing people for such things. For instance, what I described at the beginning as the knowledge of the Philosopher's Stone was formerly much more universally known than it is today and, indeed, it was known already during a certain period of the Atlantean Epoch. At that time the possibility of conquering death was really something which was commonly known. I only wish to remark that I was not very happy about allowing this truth to appear in print recently. Therefore where this should have come in the discussion about Atlantean times in the Luzifer article, a row of dots was printed in place of those things which may not yet be communicated. (Note 14) It cannot even yet be communicated in its entirety. There is a very similar piece of information recorded by a very advanced medium, which appeared in the Theosophical Review (Note 15) dealing with exactly the same thing in a rather different form. The overcoming of death in Atlantean times is naturally preserved in the memories of the individuals concerned without their being aware of it. There are many people reincarnated today who passed through that period in their former lives and who are led to such revelations through their own memories. That will first of all lead to a kind of overrating of certain medical discoveries. People will imagine that medical science was the discoverer of such things. In reality people will have been led to them through their own memories of Atlantean times.

Certain things will mature in the near future and therefore we shall speak about them. This makes it necessary to see the need of a step by step advance in the gaining of knowledge. This step by step advance is therefore rightly emphasised by those who wish to revive the Misraim and Memphis Rite at the present time. Even if this does not succeed during the next year or two, one must not think that failure in such things is of any significance There is a man at the head of the American Misraim movement, whose significant character constitutes a sure guarantee of constancy in the advance. This is the excellent Freemason, John Yarker. (Note 16)

It is difficult to say at the moment what form the matter will take in Great Britain and Germany. You will perceive that one must reckon with the human material concerned, and that the German movement, therefore — if it is to concern itself with such matters -will also have to reckon with what is available in this direction. If genuine occultists are to take part in such things they must needs be active in one or other direction. They will not always be able to take part in such things. Even the Masters, when they prescribe something of this kind, have to take their cue from great universal laws.

If, therefore, you hear something concerning the German Misraim-Memphis tendency, you should not imagine that this now has significance for the future. It is only the frame into which a good picture may later be put. This German Misraim Order stands under the overall guidance of a certain Reuss, (Note 17) who holds the actual leadership in Great Britain and Germany today. Then, the well-known Carl Kellner (Note 18) also works in this direction. The actual literary work is in the hands of Dr. Franz Hartmann, (Note 19) who serves the Misraim Rite with his pen to the very utmost. That is as much as I can impart to you in this or that fragment from here or there, concerning this movement.

Now I can only characterise what is involved here in general terms. There are four kinds of instruction given in the- Misraim Rite. (Note 20) The ninety-six degrees can therefore be achieved through four different kinds of instruction or disciplines. These four disciplines, by means of which one advances, are the following: First, the so-called symbolic instruction or discipline. By means of this, certain symbols can be recognised as facts. The person concerned is instructed in the occult laws of nature, through which quite definite effects are produced through cyclic movements in humanity.

The second kind of instruction or discipline is the so-called philosophic one. It is the Egyptian hermetic discipline. It consists of a more theoretical kind of instruction. The third kind of instruction is the so-called mystical discipline, which is based more upon inner development, and which, if rightly applied, would lead above all else to the appropriate manipulation of the Philosopher's Stone, that is, to the overcoming of death. That is essentially expressed in one of the sentences which I read out to you which stated that by means of Freemasonry everyone is able to convince himself of the fact of immortality. It depends, however, as the Cabbala says, whether this is requested or not. The fourth kind of instruction is the Cabbalistic one. It consists in the recognition of the principles of world harmony in their truth and reality, the ten basic ... [Gap]

By means of each of the four paths one can rise to a higher perception through the Misraim Rite. But there is actually no one within the ranks of Freemasonry today who would accept the responsibility of giving practical guidance to anyone, because those concerned have not undergone these things themselves, and the whole affair is a provisional arrangement and only intended to provide a framework for something which is still to come. It is possible that this framework will be filled with occult knowledge. Occult knowledge has to be cast in existing moulds. The important thing is that such moulds exist in the world. If there is molten metal and no mould into which to pour it, you are unable to do anything but let it run out in one lump. So it is also with spiritual currents. It is important that moulds exist into which can be poured the spiritual metal. That is symbolised by the Molten Sea. That will become recognised when what is now seemingly only vegetating receives form for outward manifestation.

Last time I read to you from a speech by the English Prime Minister Balfour. (Note 21) From that, then, it is already noticeable that certain things are physical truths today, that are in primeval occult perceptions. If you read Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine, you will find there a passage relating to electricity, which expresses word for word what physicists are now gradually arriving at. What is written there is, however, only a hint at what is actually involved. It is the physical atom which is in question. This was misunderstood by all outward — but not occult — science until four or five years ago. It was taken to be [body having] mass in space. Nowadays one is beginning to recognise that this physical atom bears the same relationship to the force of electricity that a lump of ice bears to the water from which it has been frozen. If you conceive of water becoming frozen to ice, so is the ice also water, and in like manner the atom of physics is nothing else but frozen electricity. If you can grasp this point completely and were to go through the statements about the atom contained in all the scientific journals until a year or two ago, and were to regard them as rubbish, you will have more or less the right idea. It is only very recently that science has been able to form a conception of what the atom is. It stands [in the same relationship to electricity] as ice does to water out of which it has been frozen. The physical atom is condensed electricity. I regard Balfour's speech as something of extreme importance. (Note 22)

It is ... [Gap] something which has been published since 1875 [1879?]. (Note 23) The fact has been known to occultists for millenia. Now one is beginning to realise that the physical atom is condensed electricity. But there is still a second thing to be considered: what electricity itself is. That is still unknown. They are ignorant of one thing: namely, where the real nature of electricity must be sought. This nature of electricity cannot be discovered by means of any outer experiments or through outer observation. The secret which will be discovered is that electricity — when one learns to view it from a particular level — is exactly the same as what human thought is. Human thought is the same thing as electricity, viewed one time from the inside, another time from the outside.

Whoever is now aware of what electricity is, knows that there is something living within him which, in a frozen state, forms the atom. Here is the bridge from human thought to the atom. One will learn to know the building stones of the physical world; they are tiny condensed monads, condensed electricity. In that moment when human beings realise this elementary occult truth about thought, electricity and the atom, in that same moment they will have understood something which is of the utmost importance for the future and for the whole of the sixth post-Atlantean epoch. They will have learned how to build with atoms through the power of thinking.

This will be the spiritual current which will again have to be cast in the moulds which have been prepared for it by occultists over millenia. But because the human race had to pass through the era of the development of understanding and to look away from the true inner work, the moulds have become mere shells. But they still retain their function as moulds, and the right kind of knowledge will have to be poured into them.

The occult investigator obtains his truth from the one side, the physical scientist from the other. Just as Freemasonry has developed out of working masonry, out of the building of cathedrals and temples, so one will in future learn to build with the smallest of building blocks, with entities of condensed electricity. That will call for a new kind of masonry. Then industry will not be able to carry on any more as it does today. It will become so chaotic and will only be able to work purely out of the struggle for existence per se, as long as man does not know ... [Gap] Then it would be possible for someone in Berlin to drive into the city in a cab, while in Moscow a disaster which he had caused was taking place. And nobody at all would have any inkling that he had been the cause of it. Wireless telegraphy is the beginning of this. What I have portrayed is in the future. There are only two possibilities available: Either things go on chaotically, as industry and technology have done until now, in which case it will lead to whoever has the possession of these things being able to cause havoc, or else it will be cast in the moral mould of Freemasonry. *This last sentence appears as follows in the notes of Marie Steiner-von Sivers: ‘These things will either continue chaotically, as industry and technology have done until now, or harmoniously, as is the aim of Freemasonry; then the highest development will be achieved.’

Question: Why is the Catholic Church so antagonistic towards Freemasonry?

Answer: The Catholic Church does not want what is coming in the future. Pius IX was initiated into Freemasonry. He tried, through the Chapter of Clermont, to bring about a connection between the Jesuits and the Freemasons. That did not succeed, and therefore the old enmity between these two remained. Our Jesuits know little about these things, and the clergy are also unaware of what is involved. The actual clergy ... [Large gap]

The Trappists have to keep silent, for it is known that by doing so an important faculty of inspired speech in the next life is implanted. That is indeed only to be understood through a knowledge of reincarnation.

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