Yearly Archives: 2017

Preparing the Future Through Mythology

It has been my ‘academic contention’ that the lore of myths sought to prepare people for the future. The initiates of old were able to do so by beholding the spiritual events of the past and knowing that these would have a fulfillment in the future. The Greek Era lay in the middle of this human evolution. The Greek initiates could see back to Atlantean times (the Egyptian to Lemurian times). The Greek myths apply to today. In ancient Greece, people thought in pictures. When one died, these pictures were part of the etheric body laid aside. But, as one approached a new earthly life, these pictures were picked up again in the Moon sphere. Such pictures helped one prepare for their coming incarnation. Thus, the myths of Hephaestus and Prometheus are about our times when our soul life has been chained to the rocks, to the mineral kingdom. The gifts of Hephaestus are our chains. Hephaestus is commanded to build Pandora – an automaton robot built with all the earthly charms of a woman. Prometheus’ brother, Epimetheus, wants to have ‘marry’ her, to have sex with this sexbot. Pandora brings with her, a coffin laden with ‘gifts’ from the Gods. Surely, you can see how this applies to our times.

Calling the Disciples

Calling the Disciples

Each of the gospels expresses deep mysteries. Even the calling of the disciples is wrapped in mysteries. Let’s look, for example, at John 1:35-48. The scene is where John the Baptist has been baptizing in the Jordan River. John has remarked, “Behold (ιδε), the Lamb of God” (see also Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; and Luke 3:21-22). John is not only the baptizer but also the witness; a witness, as we shall see, of both the physical and the spiritual.  But John does not become one of the disciples. After the baptism of Jesus, his earthly role is complete. John will soon be beheaded. Who is called to be a disciple? What qualities were required? Had you been there, might you have been called?

What is a calling? The word has been used when a person finds their lifework, where work is happily pursued. Implied is a voice that is heard, a voice that your inner being, your self can hear. Once heard, the self redirects one’s life for it has found meaning. For those who accept the notion of reincarnation, this meaning is expressed as one’s karma.  “In the Beginning was the Word,” the Logos, the meaning of human life and evolution. The Word calls out to each human being.

John was a “voice crying out in the wilderness.” John represented the pinnacle of what mankind from the first Adam could achieve. John “beheld” (Greek: Τεθέαμαι tetheamai) the spirit descend and remain upon this man, Jesus. For John to have seen in this way, hence the use of the word “tetheamai”, shows what kind of special witness he was able to see both the earthly and the spiritual. Nowhere else does this Greek word tetheamai appear; use of theasamenoi does occur in some passages) except here where John describes how he beheld the spirit. What word can be used to describe such a seeing of a spiritual event? When Mary, in John 20:1 comes to the tomb she “sees the stone having been taken out of the tomb.” The verb “sees” is the Greek word “βλεπειν”. Here is esoteric writing indeed! The meaning can be read both from the physical reality and from the spiritual reality. The stone has been taken away! The mineral element of His body was gone. Mary at this point could only see with her physical eyes and thus could only see the mineral part of His body. But His body was not there – the stone had been taken away or more exactly “taken out of the tomb”!

John 20:5-6 has the disciple whom the Lord loved and Peter first see outside the tomb using βλεπειν (blepei) but once inside their seeing becomes θεωρει (theōrei is the root word for ‘theory’). Next these disciples enter the tomb and now, at a third level, their seeing becomes  ειδεν which, according to Strong’s Concordance, means “to see with the mind” (i.e. spiritually see), to perceive with inward spiritual perception. Later, Thomas the Twin doubting the reports and claiming that “unless I see (ϊδω – this is the same word as ειδεν) the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”  When the resurrected Jesus later appears, he has Thomas touch his wounds and then says to Thomas “Because you have seen (εωρακας – heōrakas) me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen (ϊδωντες – idontes – the same root word used by John when he says “Behold, the Lamb of God”) and yet have believed.”

Two of John’s disciples hear his proclamation and so they follow Jesus. Thus, Jesus turns around and asks them, “what do you seek?” They answer, oddly, “where are you staying?” Jesus’ answer is a mere poetic “Come and See! – Erchesthe kai Opsesthe!” Often, opsesthe is translated as “you will see” implying a process towards a deeper seeing. Andrew was one of these two disciples of John the Baptist. Andrew, or Andreas, is from the Ancient Greek word ἀνδρός andros which literally means “strong man”. Andrew calls his brother, Simon, to join them. Jesus names this brother, Cephas or Petros, the Rock.  This naming mystery calls upon the myth of Prometheus who was chained to the rock, to the mineral kingdom.

The next day, Philip, which means “friend of horses,” is found (heuriskei). At this time, the name Philip likely was given in honor of Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great.  Jesus merely says to Philip, “Follow (akolouthei) me” and Philip does! Philip then finds (heuriskei) Nathanael. When Nathanael questions whether anything good can come out of Nazareth, Philip replies “Come and See! (Erchou kai Ide!)” When spoken by Jesus, Greek opsesthe was used for see, but now  ide is spoken by Philip for “see”.

When Jesus sees (eiden) Nathanael, he says, “Behold (Ide), truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” Nathanael, impressed, asks Jesus how he knew this about him. Jesus answers, “Before Philip called you, I saw (eiden) you being under the fig tree.” With this reply, Nathanael is able to say “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus explains to the others present, “Because I saw (eiden) you under the fig tree, you believed. Greater things than these you will see (opse as in opsesthe).” What does Jesus mean when he calls Nathanael an “Israelite”? In the times of the Ancient Mysteries, many, such as the Mithraic cult, had seven degrees with the fifth being the rank of one who had attained oneness with the god of the folk spirit.

Rudolf Steiner describes these seven levels, “The initiate first became a ‘Raven’; that is, he observed the outer world and, being the servant of those who were in the spiritual world, he bore tidings to that world from the physical world. Hence the symbol of the raven as the messenger between the physical and the spiritual worlds, from the ravens of Elijah to the ravens of Barbarossa. The initiate of the second degree [called the Bridegroom] is fully within the spiritual world. The third degree is yet further advanced; here the initiate is called upon to enter the lists on behalf of the truth of occultism; he becomes a ‘Warrior’; an initiate of the second degree was not allowed to contend on behalf of the truths of the spiritual world. In the fourth degree [called a Lion] the initiate becomes firmly established in the truths of the spiritual world. The initiate of the fifth degree was one of those who, as I explained, learnt to control the forces which were transmitted in the female element of reproduction and in the blood of the generations. What name then must have been given to one who had been initiated within the Jewish people? He was called an ‘Israelite’, just as he would have been called a ‘Persian’ in Persia.”[1]

“He who had reached this point is said to have sat under the Tree of Life. Thus Buddha sat under the Bodhi Tree and Nathanael under the Fig Tree. These are terms for the picture on the astral plane. What is seen are reflections of inner — even bodily inner things. The Bodhi Tree is but the astral mirror image of the human nervous system. He who through initiation is able to direct his gaze inward, sees his inner life, even his bodily inner life, projected, reflected into the outer astral world.”[2]

The sixth level was called ‘Sun Hero’ and the seventh a ‘Father’.

We understand how the Ancient Mysteries were ending, they would be thoroughly destroyed in the 4th century, with Jesus’ words about Nathanael, “in whom there is no deceit.” For there were, at that time, Israelites, initiates of the fifth level, who succumbed to lies. “The closing of the Eleusinian Mysteries in the 4th century is reported by Eunapios, a historian and biographer of the Greek philosophers. Eunapios had been initiated by the last legitimate Hierophant, who had been commissioned by the emperor Julian to restore the Mysteries, which had fallen into decay. The very last Hierophant was a usurper, ‘the man from Thespiai who held the rank of Father in the mysteries of Mithras’ Eunapios calls him.”[3] The era when the Ancient Mysteries could flourish was before the rise of egoism that began, according to Rudolf Steiner, with the development of the Intellectual Soul beginning in the 8th century BC.  As the I Am arose offering a transition from tribe to individual, so too arose egoism that fell for temptations, for expressing lies to gain advantage, thereby causing these mystery centers to become corrupted.

Here in John’s Gospel, the calling of only five disciples is described. These are the two disciples of John, of which one is Andrew, who follow Jesus on their own initiative but inspired by their teacher, John, who had identified Jesus as the Lamb of God. Andrew calls his brother, Peter. Then Philip is called with a “follow me” statement. Philip then calls Nathanael. Seven more will be called.

I wonder if I were present at that time and some 30-year-old man walking by said to me, “Follow me” what would I have done. It seems to me that Philip and the others felt something special here, or they could see more than we see today. We have explored different Greek words used in John’s Gospel that reveal different levels of seeing.

Greek Greek English Comment
βλεπειν blepei See With one’s eyes
θεωρει theōrei See Platonic seeing ideas
ειδεν eiden See With the mind, inner sight
ὄψεσθε opsesthe Will see A process to a deep seeing
Τεθέαμαι tetheamai Behold Spiritual seeing

 

[1] Rudolf Steiner, The Gospel of St. John, Lecture 10, 3Jul1909, Cassel, GA 112

[2] Rudolf Steiner, The Gospel of St. John, Lecture 3, 5Mar1906, Berlin, GA 94

[3] Ellie Crystal, from http://www.crystalinks.com/eleusinian.html

Conversion of the ‘barbaric’ Tribes of the North by Wulfila the Initiate

Ulfilas (Wulfila in Germanic), A.D. 311–383, missionary to the West-Goths in the Balkan region; founder of Arianic-Germanic Christendom, who translated the Bible into Gothic.

Page of the Codex Argenteus

Codex Argenteus

location: Uppsala, Universitetsbibliotek [Sign. DG. 1]
size: 187 leaves (originally 336 leaves)
content: Parts of the Gospels in the order Matthew, John, Luke, Mark.

Splendid manuscript written in silver and gold ink on purple parchment, also known as the Silver Bible (Swedish Silverbibeln). Presumably written in Italy in the early 6th century. First discovered in the sixteenth century in the monastery of Werden (Germany). Subsequently taken to Prague (Rudolf II), captured by the Swedes (1648) and brought to Stockholm, taken to Holland by Isaac Vossius and finally bought by Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie, who donated the manuscript to the University of Uppsala (1669).

Anyone who follows the spread of Eastern Christianity and the spread of Arianism can see a Mithras element in it, even though in already quite weakened form. Any translation of the Ulfilas-Bible into modern languages remains imperfect if one is unaware that Mithras elements still play into the terminology of Ulfilas (or Wulfila). But who pays heed nowadays to these deeper relationships in the linguistic element? As late as in the fourth century, there were philosophers in Greece who worked on bringing the ancient etheric astronomy into harmony with Christianity. From this effort then arose the true Gnosis, which was thoroughly eradicated by later Christianity, so that only a few fragments of the literary samples of this Gnosis have remained.

What do people really know today about the Gnosis, of which they say in their ignorance that our anthroposophy is a warmed-over version? Even if this were true, such people would not be able to know about it, for they are familiar only with those parts of the Gnosis that are found in the critical, Occidental-Christian texts dealing with the Gnosis. They know the quotes from Gnostic texts left behind by the opponents of the Gnosis. There is hardly anything left of the Gnosis except what could be described by the following comparison. Imagine that Herr von Gleich would be successful in rooting out the whole of anthroposophical literature and nothing would remain except his quotations. Then, later on, somebody would attempt to reconstruct anthroposophy based on these quotes; then, it would be about the same procedure in the West as that which was applied to the Gnosis. Therefore, if people say that modern anthroposophy imitates the Gnosis, they would not know it even if it were the case, because they are unfamiliar with the Gnosis, knowing of it only through its opponents.

So, particularly in Athens, a school of wisdom existed well into the fourth century, and indeed even longer, that endeavored to bring the ancient etheric astronomy into harmony with Christianity. The last remnants of this view — man’s entering from higher worlds through the planetary sphere into the earth sphere — still illuminate the writings of Origen; they even shine through the texts of the Greek Church Fathers. Everywhere one can see it shimmer through. It shines through particularly in the writings of the genuine Dionysius the Areopagite. This Dionysius left behind a teaching that was a pure synthesis of the etheric astronomy and the element dwelling in Christianity. He taught that the forces localized, as it were, astronomically and cosmically in the sun entered into the earth sphere in Christ through the man Jesus of Nazareth and that thereby a certain previously nonexistent relationship came into being between the earth and all the higher hierarchies, the hierarchies of the Angels, of Wisdom, the hierarchies of the Thrones and the Seraphim, and so on. It was a penetration of this teaching of the hierarchies with etheric astronomy that could be found in the original Dionysius the Areopagite.” — Rudolf Steiner, Materialism and the Task of Anthroposophy, lecture 4, 15Apr1921, Dornach, GA 204

We must realise the importance of this world-historic event. Ancient culture is still alive in Augustine’s environment, but it is already decadent, has passed into its period of decline. He struggles bitterly, but to no purpose, with the last remnants of this culture surviving in Manichæism and Neoplatonism. His mind is steeped in what this wisdom, even in its decadence, has to offer, and, to begin with, he cannot accept Christianity. He stands there, an eminent rhetorician and Neoplatonist, but torn with gnawing doubt. And what happens? Just when he has reached the point of doubting truth itself, of losing his bearings altogether along the tortuous paths of the decadent learning of antiquity in the fourth century of our era, when innumerable questions are hurtling through his mind, he thinks he hears the voice of a child calling to him from the next garden: ‘Take and read! Take and read!’ And he turns to the New Testament, to the Epistles of St. Paul, and is led through the voice of the child to Roman Catholicism.

The mind of Augustine is laden with the oriental wisdom which had now become decadent in the West. He is a typical representative of this learning and then, suddenly, through the voice of a child, he becomes the paramount influence in subsequent centuries. No actual break occurs until the fifteenth century and it may truly be said that the ultimate outcome of this break appears as the change that took place in the life of thought in the middle of the nineteenth century.

And so, in this fourth century of our era, we find the human mind involved in the complicated network of Western culture but also in an element which constitutes the starting-point of a new impulse. It is an impulse that mingles with what has come over from the East and from the seemingly barbarian peoples by whom Roman civilisation was gradually superseded, but whose instructors, after they had mingled with the peasantry and the landowning classes, were the priests of the Roman Church. In the depths, however, there is something else at work. Out of the raw, unpolished soul of these peoples there emerges an element of lofty, archaic spirituality. There could be no more striking example of this than the bock that has remained as a memorial of the ancient Goths — Wulfila’s translation of the Bible. We must try to unfold a sensitive understanding of the language used in this translation of the Bible. The Lord’s Prayer, to take one example, is built up, fragment by fragment, out of the confusion of thought of which Augustine was so typical a representative. Wulfila’s translation of the Bible is the offspring of an archaic form of thought, of Arian Christianity as opposed to the Athanasian Christianity of Augustine.

Perhaps more strongly than anywhere else, we can feel in Wulfila’s translation of the Bible how deeply the pagan thought of antiquity is permeated with Arian Christianity. Something that is pregnant with inner life echoes down to us from these barbarian peoples and their culture, to which the civilisation of ancient Rome was giving place. The Lord’s Prayer rendered by Wulfila, is as follows:

Atta unsar thu in himinam,
Veihnai namo thein;
Quimai thiudinassus theins.
Vairthai vilja theins, sve in himina, jah ana aerthai.
Hlaif unsarana thana sinteinan, gif uns himma daga.
Jah aflet uns, thatei skulans sijaima, svasve jah veis afletam thaim skulam unsaraim.
Jah ni briggais uns in fraistubnjai, ak lausei uns af thamma ubilin.
Unte theina ist thiu dangardi, jah mahts, jah vulthus in aivius. Amen.

Atta unsar thu in himinam, veihnai namo thein; Quimai thiudinassus theins. Vairthai vilja theins, sve in himina, jah ana aerthai. — The words of this wonderful prayer cannot really be translated literally into our modern language, but they may be rendered thus:

We feel Thee above in the Spirit-Heights, All Father of men.
May Thy Name be hallowed.
May Thy Kingdom come to us.
May Thy Will be supreme, an the Earth even as it is in Heaven.

— We must be able to feel what these words express. Men were aware of the existence of a primordial Being, of the All-sustaining Father of humanity in the heights of spiritual existence. They pictured Hirn with their faculties of ancient clairvoyance as the invisible, super-sensible King who rules His Kingdom as no earthly King. Among the Goths this Being was venerated as King and their veneration was proclaimed in the words : Atta unsar thu in himinam.

This primordial Being was venerated in His three aspects: May Thy Name be hallowed. ‘Name’ — as a study of Sanscrit will show — implied the outer manifestation or revelation of the Being, as a man reveals himself in his body. ‘Kingdom’ was the supreme Power: Veihnai namo thein; Quimai thiudinassus theins, Vairthai vilja theins, sve in himina, jah ana aerthai.

‘Will’ indicated the Spirit shining through the Power and the Name. — Thus as they gazed upwards, men beheld the Spirit of the super-sensible worlds in His three-fold aspect. To this Spirit they paid veneration in the words :

Jah ana aerthai.
Hlaif unsarana thana sinteinan, gif uns himma daga.

— So may it be on Earth. Even as Thy Name, the form in which Thou art outwardly manifest, shall be holy, so may that which in us becomes outwardly manifest and must daily be renewed, be radiant with spiritual light. We must try to understand the meaning of the Gothic word Hlaif, from which Leib (Leib=body) is derived. In saying the words, ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ we have no feeling for what the word Hlaif denoted here: — Even as Thy ‘Name’ denotes thy body, so too may our body be spiritualised, subsisting as it does through the food which it receives and transmutes.

The prayer speaks then of the ‘Kingdom’ that is to reign supreme from the super-sensible worlds, and so leads on to the social order among men. In this super-sensible ‘Kingdom’ men are not debtors one of another. The word debt among the Goths means debt in the moral as well as in the physical, social life.

And so the prayer passes from the ‘Name’ to the ‘Kingdom’, from the bodily manifestation in the Spirit, to the ‘Kingdom’. And then from the outer, physical nature of the body to the element of soul in the social life and thence to the Spiritual.—

Jah aflet uns, thatei skulans sijaima, svasve jah
veis afletam thaim skulam unsaraim.

— May we not succumb to those forces which, proceeding from the body, lead the Spirit into darkness; deliver us from the evils by which the Spirit is cast into darkness. Jah ni briggais uns in fraistubnjai, ak lausei uns af thamma ubilin. — Deliver us from the evils arising when the Spirit sinks too deeply into the bodily nature.

Thus the second part of the prayer declares that the order reigning in the spiritual heights must be implicit in the social life upon Earth. And this is confirmed in the words : We will recognise this spiritual Order upon Earth.

Unte theina ist thiu dangardi, jah mahts, jah vulthus in aivius. Amen.

— All-Father, whose Name betokens the out er manifestation of the Spirit, whose Kingdom we will recognise, whose Will shall reign: May earthly nature too be full of Thee, and our body daily renewed through earthly nourishment. In our social life may we not be debtors one of another, but live as equals. May we stand firm in spirit and in body, and may the trinity in the social life of Earth be linked with the super-earthly Trinity. For the Supersensible shall reign, shall be Emperor and King. The Supersensible — not the material, not the personal — shall reign.

Unte theina ist thiu dangardi, jah mahts, jah vulthus in avius. Amen.

— For on Earth there is no thing, no being over which the rulership is not Thine. — Thine is the Power and the Light and the Glory, and the all-supreme Love between men in the social life.

The Trinity in the super-sensible world is thus to penetrate into and find expression in the social order of the Material world. And again, at the end, there is the confirmation: Yea, verily, we desire that this threefold order shall reign in the social life as it reigns with Thee in the heights: For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the revealed Glory. — Theina ist thiu dangardi, jah mahts, jah vulthus in aivius. Amen.

Such was the impulse living among the Goths. It mingled with those peasant peoples whose mental life is regarded by history as being almost negligible. But this impulse unfolded with increasing rapidity as we reach the time of the nineteenth century. It finally came to a climax and led on then to the fundamental change in thought and outlook of which we have heard in this lecture.

Such are the connections. — I have given only one example of how, without in any way distorting the facts, but rather drawing the real threads that bind them together, we can realise in history the existence of law higher than natural law can ever be. I wanted, in the first place, to describe the facts from the exoteric point of view. Later on we will consider their esoteric connections, for this will show us how events have shaped themselves in this period which stretches from the fourth century A.D. to our own age, and how the impulses of this epoch live within us still. We shall realise then that an understanding of these connections is essential to the attainment of true insight for our work and thought at the present time.” — Rudolf Steiner, European Spiritual Life in the 19th Century, Lecture 1, 15May1921, Dornach, GA 325

The Struggles of Early Christianity: Augustine and Mani, Earthly and Cosmic Christ

This blog seeks to reopen the debates of Early Christianity about the principles: The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. It seeks to understand what was meant by the Logos and the Paraclete. I stumbled upon a blog that was perfect for this journey. The following is quoted from Mieke Mosmuller’s philosophical reflections blog.  Augustine and Manicheism III

“In the book ‘Contra Faustum’ Augustine writes as follows and we can see clearly, what Rudolf Steiner meant:

Faustus objects to the incarnation of God on the ground that the evangelists are at variance with each other, and that incarnation is unsuitable to deity. Augustine attempts to remove the critical and theological difficulties.

1. Faustus said: Do I believe in the incarnation? For my part, this is the very thing I long tried to persuade myself of, that God was born; but the discrepancy in the genealogies of Luke and Matthew stumbled me, as I knew not which to follow. For I thought it might happen that, from not being omniscient, I might take the true for false, and the false for true. So, in despair of settling this dispute, I betook myself to Mark and John, two authorities still, and evangelists as much as the others. I approved with good reason of the beginning of Mark and John, for they have nothing of David, or Mary, or Joseph. John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” meaning Christ. Mark says, “The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” as if correcting Matthew, who calls him the Son of David. Perhaps, however, the Jesus of Matthew is a different person from the Jesus of Mark. This is my reason for not believing in the birth of Christ.

Remove this difficulty, if you can, by harmonizing the accounts, and I am ready to yield. In any case, however, it is hardly consistent to believe that God, the God of Christians, was born from the womb.

2. Augustine replied: Had you read the Gospel with care, and inquired into those places where you found opposition, instead of rashly condemning them, you would have seen that the recognition of the authority of the evangelists by so many learned men all over the world, in spite of this most obvious discrepancy, proves that there is more in it than appears at first sight. Any one can see, as well as you, that the ancestors of Christ in Matthew and Luke are different; while Joseph appears in both, at the end in Matthew and at the beginning in Luke. Joseph, it is plain, might be called the father of Christ, on account of his being in a certain sense the husband of the mother of Christ; and so his name, as the male representative, appears at the beginning or end of the genealogies. Any one can see as well as you that Joseph has one father in Matthew and another in Luke, and so with the grandfather and with all the rest up to David. Did all the able and learned men, not many Latin writers certainly, but innumerable Greek, who have examined most attentively the sacred Scriptures, overlook this manifest difference? Of course they saw it. No one can help seeing it. But with a due regard to the high authority of Scripture, they believed that there was something here which would be given to those that ask, and denied to those that snarl; would be found by those that seek, and taken away from those that criticise; would be open to those that knock, and shut against those that contradict. They asked, sought, and knocked; they received, found, and entered in.”

This quote shows the great debates within early Christianity. Those with ties to the Old Mysteries that persisted until the 4th Century, sought for the Cosmic Christ and could not accept that a divine being would, or even could, incarnate into matter. The physical world had evolved from being maya, illusion, to be the creation of a lesser-god that, through temptation, had corrupted Mankind. But the New Mysteries, established on Golgotha, declared that this God, the Christ, had indeed fully incarnated into a physical body and, by doing so, had altered the future path of Mankind and the Earth. But the forces promoting a physical Christ, could not figure out the birth of Christ. The mysteries of the Baptism and the Transfiguration were already lost. Gone too, by the time of Augustine, was the understanding of the different between Jesus and Christ. Grasping this difference made the birth stories of Matthew and Luke understandable. For the four Gospels, are not contradicting each other. The Birth of Christ is at the Baptism. Now this paper  about Leonardo’s Virgin of the Rocks will make more sense.

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