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The Gospel of St. John (Basle)

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The Gospel of St. John (Basle)

Schmidt Number: S-1620

On-line since: 15th September, 2010

Lecture III

Basle, 18 November, 1907

The ideas contained in St. John's Gospel are so profound that we shall only be able to understand this document correctly in all its parts when we have laid the right foundation for this through the knowledge of the evolution of our planet.

There is a remarkable agreement between the beginning of St. John's Gospel and the first words of the Bible. The first words of the book of Genesis are: “In the very beginning God created the heavens and the earth;” and in St. John's Gospel the first words are: “In the very beginning was the word.” These opening words give the fundamental tone to the whole of St. John's Gospel. The development of the earth can only be understood correctly when it is realised that in it the same laws are at work as in the evolution of the individual human being. The planet visible to the senses is, in the view of Spiritual Science, only the body of the spirit dwelling in it. This spiritual Being goes through repeated incarnations just as man does. Spiritual research recognises three incarnations before the earth reached its present condition. By this we do not mean to say that it had not already gone through other incarnations before, but even to the highest clairvoyant only three preceding and three following incarnations can be known. These, together with the present incarnation, make seven. When we use this number seven we are under no superstition. When a person stands in the open country he sees equally far in all directions. It is the same with the clairvoyant; he, too, sees equally far in time both forwards and backwards. In Spiritual Science these seven incarnations of the Earth are called: Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan. These names signify only conditions of one and the same Being.

Saturn was a condition of our Earth lying in the far distant past. The present planet Saturn is related to the present Earth as a child to an old man, and the Earth was once in the Saturn condition, a child. Again, it must not be thought that in the next embodiment of the Earth humanity will wander over the present planet Jupiter; but in its next embodiment the Earth will reach the condition in which the present planet Jupiter exists to-day.

Between two planetary embodiments there lies a kind of heavenly or spiritual state a Pralaya. The period between two planetary conditions is not a period of rest, any more than is the period through which man lives between two incarnations; it is a time of spiritual activity and preparation for the next life. Outwardly this condition appears to be dim.

When the Earth came forth from Pralaya in order to pass into the Saturn condition, it was not constituted as it is to-day. If we were to take all the substances and Beings contained in the Earth, Sun, and Moon, and form a single body out of them, we should then have what constituted the Earth when it passed over from that dim state into the Saturn condition. It did not come forth as a body without any being; the present humanity was already there, but in a state suited to that of the planet. On Saturn we formed the first foundations of the physical body. We can gain an idea of the physical constitution of man at that time if we try to realize the material condition of the planet. On Saturn there were no conditions of corporeality such as we meet with to-day. There were no solid, fluid or gaseous substances; matter was in a state which the modern physicist would not recognise as being corporeal.

Spiritual Science knows of four states of matter: earth, water, air, and fire or warmth. By “earth” we mean all that is solid; thus frozen water or ice is included in “earth”. “Water” is all that is fluid; thus molten iron or metal is also “water.” Air is all that is gaseous; thus steam would come under the heading of “air.” According to the view of the Physicist of the present day, fire or warmth is only a state of matter, an extremely rapid vibration of its smallest particles. But to Spiritual Science warmth is also a substance, one much finer than air. According to Spiritual Science, when a body is heated it absorbs the substance of warmth; when it cools it parts with warmth, the substance of warmth can condense to air, this in its turn can condense to water, and this to earth. All substances were once present merely as warmth. When the Earth was in the Saturn condition, only warmth existed.

The first rudiments of the human body were also formed out of the substance of warmth, nevertheless certain organs were already indicated even then. Not only did the germ of the physical body exist, but there was also the Spirit, the inmost being of man, the Spirit Man. This Spirit Man rested in the bosom of the Deity, which formed the spiritual atmosphere of Saturn. The Spirit Man was not an independent being, any more than one of our fingers is to-day, only at the end of the Vulcan Period will it be independent.

In the following epoch, the Sun Period, matter — and also the human bodies — had condensed from the state of warmth to the form of “air.” In consequence of this the etheric body of man was added to the existing physical body, and on the spiritual side the Deity descends, as it were, a step further and forms the Life Spirit.

In the Moon Period matter condensed to the fluid condition, and the densest substance might be compared to wax. Man also developed further and the astral body was formed, and on the other hand (from the spiritual side) the Spirit Self. Man at that time did not yet process an ego; he might be compared to the animals of the present day, although he looked quite different from them.

After the period of rest which followed the Mood Period the Earth came forth once more in its present period of evolution, and it then contained within it the substances and beings now contained in the present Sun, Moon and Earth. Man was so far refined materially that his astral body became capable of receiving an ego, for this astral body formed itself into an ego-bearer. On the other hand, the Spirit had so far condensed that it could, as ego, fertilise the lower bodies.

Saturn

Sun

Moon

Earth

Spirit Man

Spirit Man

Spirit Man

Spirit Man

 

Life Spirit

Life Spirit

Life Spirit

 

 

Spirit Self

Spirit Self

 

 

 

Ego (“I”)
Ego-bearer

 

 

Astral body

Astral body

 

Etheric body

Etheric body

Etheric body

Physical body

Physical body

Physical body

Physical body

The first important cosmic event was the separation of the Sun from the Earth. This separation was necessary in order to provide the higher spiritual Beings with a suitable field of action — those spiritual Beings who till then had been united with humanity and were now ready to pass on to higher activity. These higher Beings had reached the goal of human evolution even during the Saturn Period, and they were then at the stage of evolution which man will only reach in the far-distant Vulcan Period of the Earth. Again, other high spiritual Beings had already reached in the Sun Period of the Earth the sublime condition which humanity will only reach in the Venus Period. These are the Beings who now send down their forces to us with the physical sunlight. These two kinds of Beings separated from the Earth and, taking with them the finest substances and forces, formed the present Sun.

It was a sad time when the Sun was separated from the Earth and the Moon was still within it. There was a danger of man being immersed in mere form, of his spiritual part dying out and with it all possibility of development. If the Sun had remained united with the Earth, this would have caused man to develop so rapidly in the direction of the spiritual that he would not have been able to develop himself corporeally. If, on the other hand, the Moon forces had remained united with the forces of the Earth, all life would have hardened in mere form, the human beings would have become statues and, as Goethe says in “Faust”, a “crystallised people” would have originated.

Through the separation of the forces of the Sun and Moon from the Earth there was brought about the balance between life and form which was necessary for the evolution of humanity. It was only because these forces could from this time forth work upon man from outside that he could continue to develop in the right way. The forces coming from the Sun create and fertilise life; the forces coming from the Moon pour this life into firm forms. The form of the physical body we now possess we owe to the Moon; but the life which sinks into this body comes from the Sun.

It was through one of the Sun-Beings uniting himself with the Moon that these two streams from the Sun and Moon work in the right way. The Beings standing at the stage of the Gods separated with the Sun; that one of these Beings separated himself from the rest and made the present Moon his dwelling place. This Spirit who is united with the Moon is known as Jehovah, the God of Form or the Moon-Deity. This God Jehovah or Jahve so moulded the three bodies of man that they became capable of receiving the drop of the ego. Jehovah formed the human body in his image, “in the Image of God created He him:” (Genesis 1:27.)

The occult schools of all ages have possessed this knowledge of evolution. In the Christian occult school of Dionysius the Areopagite the pupil received this teaching in approximately the following way. His teacher said to him: observe various kingdoms of nature. You see the stones. They are dumb; they manifest neither joy nor sorrow. Observe the plants. They, too, are dumb, they express neither pleasure or pain. The animals have raised themselves above this stage; they are not dumb. If with spiritually sharpened gaze you were to follow their development; you would see that in the sounds uttered by the animals of the far distant past the same is expressed as sounds through the cosmos. The further you ascend in the kingdoms of nature and approach Man the more you will find that sound becomes the expression of individual pain and individual pleasure. To man alone is it given to express in sound that which proceeds, from his individual spirit. The animal bellows forth that which goes on in nature; but sound became word when Jahve had so moulded the human bodies that the spiritual Beings of the Sun could sink into them. When sound becomes word, the Spirit enters into the astral body. Sense and meaning penetrated into sound when the higher Sun-Powers pressed into the forms created by Jehovah. The actual spiritual beginning of man was when the first word rang out in him.

We have now arrived at the point touched upon by the Evangelist John in the first verse of his Gospel: “In the very beginning was the Word.” The highest Spirit united with the Sun, He who sent the Egos to the Earth, is called in the occult teaching: “Christ.” But the Egos, as parts of the Sun-Logos, only streamed gradually into the forms. The “Light” streamed forth from the Sun-Logos, but few received it in those old times; those, however, who received it became different from their fellow-men. They were called children of God or Sons of God (St. John, 1:13). They possessed four principles, physical body, etheric body, astral body, and ego, although the fourth, the youngest principle, was still weak and dim. The “light,” however, is to come to all men, but for this time is needed. This is indicated in verses eight to fourteen. But there were a few men who had already received the light to a high degree so that they knew about it and could bear witness to it, and these taught others. Those who bore witness to the “light” from their own experience, those who were able to point out that One was coming Who for the first time would offer the light to all, were in the occult teaching called “John” (Chapter 1:6-7). The writer to one of these “Johns.” In verse eighteen we read: “No man has ever seen God.” That is to say, no one before “Johns,” for He only became personified in Christ Jesus. The Event of Golgotha is the greatest Event in the evolution of Man and the Cosmos.






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