V. THE CHRIST IMPULSE AS LIVING REALITY
As a supplement to the lectures given in the year 1912 on the mission of Christian Rosenkreutz, we publish certain material from the year 1911. It will help us find the thread between the work of Jeshu ben Pandira, [footnote: See Jeshu ben Pandira by Rudolf Steiner, also lectures 5 and 6 of the Gospel of St. Matthew.] the teacher of the Essenes, and that of Christian Rosenkreutz.
Christ works as a macrocosmic Power and is not a teacher like the other teachers of humanity. He has united Himself with the Earth, as a reality, as power, as very life.
The loftiest teachers of the successive epochs are the Bodhisattvas who already in the pre-Christian era pointed to Christ in His full reality of being; again in the post-Christian era they point to Him as a Power Who is now united with the Earth. Thus the Bodhisattvas work both before and after Christ's physical life on Earth. He who was born as the son of a King in India, 550 years before Christ, lived and taught for twenty nine years as a Bodhisattva, and then ascended to the rank of Buddha; thereafter he was never again to appear on the Earth in a body of flesh but from then onwards he worked from the spiritual world. When this Bodhisattva had become Buddha, he was succeeded by the new Bodhisattva whose mission it is to lead mankind to an understanding of the Christ Impulse. All these things had come to pass before the appearance of Christ on the Earth. About the year 105 B.C. there was living in Palestine a man greatly defamed in rabbinical literature. His name was Jeshu ben Pandira and he was an incarnation of this new Bodhisattva. Jesus of Nazareth is an essentially different being, in that when he (Jesus of Nazareth) reached the age of 30, he became the bearer of Christ, at the Baptism by John in the Jordan. It was Jeshu ben Pandira from whom the Essene teachings were mainly derived. One of his pupils bore the name of Matthew, and he too pointed to the Mystery of Golgotha. Jeshu ben Pandira was stoned by his enemies and his corpse was hung on a cross as a further mark of contempt. His existence can be established without the help of occult research for plenty is said about him in rabbinical literature, although the information is either misleading or deliberately falsified. He bore within him the Individuality of the new Bodhisattva and was the successor of Gautama Buddha. The name of his pupil Matthew passed over to later pupils. The content of the Gospel known by that name had already been in existence since the time of the first Matthew, in the form of a description of the rituals contained in the ancient Mystery-scripts. In the life of Christ Jesus, the essential content of these Mysteries became reality on the physical plane. What were previously only pictures from the Mysteries, seeds as it were of subsequent happenings, now became reality. Thus the Christ Mystery had already been known prophetically, had indeed been enacted in the ceremonies of the ancient Mysteries, before it became, once and once only, an actual event on the physical plane.
It is also necessary for us to know that one of the characteristics of the incarnations of the Bodhisattva is that in his youth he cannot be recognised as such. Between his thirtieth and thirty-third years a great revolution takes place in the soul and the personality is fundamentally transformed. For example, a Moses- or Abraham-Individuality can take possession of the personality of a Bodhisattva at this time of his life.
About 3,000 years after our present time, this Bodhisattva will become the Maitreya Buddha. And then his influence from the spiritual world will flow into the hearts of men as a magic, moral power. The stream going forth from the Maitreya Buddha will unite with the stream of Western spiritual life connected with Christian Rosenkreutz.
The Bodhisattva who once lived as Jeshu ben Pandira comes down to the Earth again and again in a human body and will continue to do so in order to fulfil the rest of his task and particular mission which cannot, as yet, be completed. Although its consummation can already be foreseen by clairvoyance, there exists no larynx capable of producing the sounds of the speech that will be uttered when this Bodhisattva rises to the rank of Buddha. In agreement with oriental occultism, therefore, it can be said: 5,000 years after Gautama Buddha, that is to say, towards the end of the next 3,000 years, the Bodhisattva who is his successor will become Buddha. But as it is his mission to prepare human beings for the epoch connected paramountly with the development of true morality, when, in the future, he becomes Buddha, the words of his speech will contain the magic power of the Good. For thousands of years, therefore, oriental tradition has predicted: Maitreya Buddha, the Buddha who is to come, will be a Bringer of the Good by way of the word. He will then be able to teach men of the real nature of the Christ Impulse and in that age the Buddha stream and the Christ stream will flow into one. Only so can the Christ Mystery be truly understood. So mighty and all-pervading was the Impulse poured into the evolution of mankind that its waves surge onwards into future epochs. In the fourth epoch of post-Atlantean civilisation this Impulse was made manifest in the incarnation of Christ in a human, physical body. And we are now going forward to an epoch when the Impulse will manifest in such a way that human beings will behold the Christ on the astral plane as an Ether Form.
Yesterday we heard that in still later epochs men will be able to behold Him in even higher forms in the aesthetic and moral spheres. But when we speak in this way of the Christ Impulse we are concerned with ideas which will be resolutely opposed above all by the Churches of Christendom. Great and incisive measures have been and are necessary in the onward progress of human evolution in order to promote increasing understanding of the Christ Impulse. Hitherto, indeed, such understanding has been lacking. And anyone who casts an eye at modern theology will perceive not only the futility of the attitude maintained by the opponents of Christianity, but also by those who claim to be steadfast adherents. The theosophical Movement in the West should have become that stream of spiritual life which out of true and genuine sources awakens understanding for Christianity in the modern age, but such endeavours met with strong opposition.
It is important to understand the real sources of Christianity, but owing to lack of time they cannot all be mentioned today. We shall speak only of those which have been accessible to mankind since the thirteenth century.
Since the thirteenth century, the Movement connected with the name Christian Rosenkreutz has been an integral part of the spiritual life of mankind. Spiritual measures of a very definite kind were necessary in the thirteenth century to enable the influence connected with this name to become part of the spiritual life of the modern age. At that time, when the spiritual world was entirely shut off from human vision, a College of twelve wise men came together. All the spiritual knowledge of the world and its secrets then existing was gathered into this College distributed as it were in different sections. By means of certain occult processes there had been transmitted to seven of these twelve wise men, the wisdom that had passed over from Atlantis into the holy Rishis. In four others lived the wisdom of the sacred mysteries of the Indian, Persian, Egyptian and Graeco-Latin epochs respectively. And what existed in those days of the kind of culture which was to characterise the Fifth post-Atlantean epoch this constituted the wisdom of the twelfth. The whole range of spiritual life was accessible to these Twelve.
Now it was known at that time that a certain Individuality who had been a contemporary of the Mystery of Golgotha, was to be born, again as a child. Meanwhile, through a number of incarnations, this Individuality had unfolded a power of deep and fervent piety, devotion and love. The College of the twelve wise men took this child into their care soon after he was born; shut off from the outside, exoteric world, he came under no influence save theirs; they were his teachers as well as caring for his bodily needs. The manner of the child's development was altogether unique; the profound spirituality he bore within him as the fruit of many incarnations came to expression, too, in his outer, bodily form. He was a weak and sickly child, but his body became marvelously transparent. He grew up and developed in such a way that a radiant, shining Spirit indwelt a body that had become transparent. Through the processes of a profoundly wise form of education, all the wisdom from the ages preceding and during post-Atlantean times which the twelve wise men were able to give forth, rayed into his soul. By way of the deeper soul-forces, not by way of the intellect, the treasures of all this wisdom united in the soul of this child. He then fell into a strange condition. For a certain period of time he ceased to take nourishment; all external functions of life were as though paralysed, and the whole of the wisdom received by the child rayed back to the Twelve. Each of them received back what he had originally given, but now in a different form. And those twelve wise men felt: Now, for the first time, the twelve great religions and world-conceptions have united into one interconnected whole, have been given to us! And henceforward there lived in the twelve men what we call Rosicrucian Christianity.
The child lived only a short time longer. In the external world we give the name Christian Rosenkreutz to this Individuality. But it was not until the fourteenth century that he was known by this name. In the fourteenth century he was born again and lived then for more than a hundred years. Even when he was not incarnated in the flesh, he worked through his ether body, always with the purpose of influencing the development of Christianity in its true form as the synthesis of all the great religions and systems of thought in the world. And he has worked on into our own time, either as a human being or from his ether-body, inspiring all that was done in the West to establish the synthesis of the great religions. His influence today is waxing and growing greater all the time. Many a person of whom we do not expect it, is a pupil chosen by Christian Rosenkreutz. Even today it is possible to speak of a sign by means of which Christian Rosenkreutz calls to one whom he has chosen. Many people can apprehend this sign in their life; it may express itself in a thousand ways, but these different manifestations all lead back to a typical form which may be described as follows.
The choice may, for example, happen in the following way. A man embarks upon some undertaking; he spares no effort to make it successful and forges straight ahead towards his goal. While he is ruthlessly making his way in the world (he may be a thorough materialist), suddenly he hears a voice saying: Stop what you propose to do! ... And he will be aware that this was no physical voice. But now suppose that he does abstain from his project. If he has actually done this he may realise that if he had continued ruthlessly towards his goal, he would certainly have been led to his death. These are the two fundamentals: that he knows with certainty, firstly, that the warning came from the spiritual world, and secondly, that death would have come to him had he persisted in his undertaking. It is therefore revealed to one who is to become a pupil: You have actually been saved, moreover by a warning proceeding from a world of which, to begin with, you know nothing! So far as circumstances of the earthly world are concerned, death has already come to you and your further life is to be regarded as a gift ... And when the man in question realises this he will be led to the resolve to work in a spiritual movement. If the resolve is taken, this means that he has actually been chosen. This is how Christian Rosenkreutz begins to gather his pupils around him, and many human beings, if they were sufficiently alert, would be conscious of such an event in their inner life.
The human beings of whom it can be said that they were, or will now be, united in this way with Christian Rosenkreutz, are those who should be the pioneers of a deeper understanding of esoteric Christianity. This stream of spiritual life connected with Christian Rosenkreutz provides the highest means for enabling the Christ Impulse to be understood in our present time. The beginning was already made long, long ago a hundred years before the Mystery of Golgotha, through Jeshu ben Pandira whose essential mission was to make preparation for the coming of Christ. He had a pupil, Matthew, whose name subsequently passed over to a successor who was living at the time of Jesus of Nazareth. The greatest deed wrought by Jeshu ben Pandira was that he was the originator and preparer of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. The content of this Gospel derives from a ritual of Initiation and passages such as that concerning the Temptation, and others, too, originate from enactment's in the ancient Mysteries. All these processes in the evolution of humanity were to become fact on the physical plane too. And this was what was written down, in outline, by the pupil of Jeshu ben Pandira.
Jeshu ben Pandira was not spared from the hard fate he himself predicted; he was stoned and his corpse suspended on a cross. The original chronicle was preserved in the hands of a few of his adherents, in deep secrecy. We can best realise what happened to it later on, from what the great Church Father Jerome himself says, namely that he had received the document of the Matthew Gospel from a Christian sect. The original record was held at that time in the secret keeping of a small circle and through certain circumstances came into the hands of Jerome. He was charged by his Bishop with the task of translating it. Jerome himself narrates this; but he says at the same time that because of the form and manner of the transcription, it should not pass into the hands of the outside world. He wanted to translate it in such a way that its secrets would remain secret and he says, furthermore, that he himself does not understand it. The character of what came into existence in this way was such that in secular language one man could express it in one way and another in a different way. And this is how it has come down to posterity. In reality, therefore, the world does not yet possess the Gospels in their true form. There is every reason and justification for spiritual research today to shed new light upon the Gospels. Spiritual research goes back to the Akasha Chronicle because there and there only are they to be found in their original form.
Let there be no mistake about it. Christianity in its true form has yet to be raised from the ruins. One sign among many others indicates how necessary this is. For example, in the year 1873, in France, a count was taken of those who could be said to belong inwardly and genuinely to Catholicism. They amounted to one-third; the other two-thirds proved no longer to be adherents in the real sense and these two-thirds were certainly not composed entirely of people who never feel the need of religion! Life today is such that the religious longings of men do indeed incline towards Christ; but the true sources of Christianity must be rediscovered. And it is to this end that the stream of spiritual life going out from Jeshu ben Pandira flows into unity with the other stream which, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, is connected with the name of Christian Rosenkreutz.