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.
I am doing research for a book I am writing whose working title is Technology’s Role in Human Evolution. Currently, I am focused on light and electricity and their relationship to levity-gravity and, in alchemy, to salt-sulfur polarities. In doing this research I ordered and began to read Nick Thomas’ book The Science Between Space and Counterspace. Now I have another polarity to penetrate. All this research is slowing my book writing progress and brings up a difficult question about how or if to include any of these concepts that most potential readers will not understand or find too far removed from their sense of reality.
I take part in a weekly online discussion group that is part of a Theological University in America. I am a welcomed outsider. This coming week I will lead a discussion on Easter. The students and professors at this university tend towards Eastern spiritual paths. I plan to offer a perspective of the Western Spiritual Path as part of the Easter experience. Here is a draft outline of what I plan to cover:
- Easter is the Main Christian festival – Pentecost (aka Whitsun) has to be considered part of the greater Easter festival
- St. Paul said “Had He not risen, then our faith is in vain”
- Christianity was NOT about Christ’s teachings but about His deeds – many before him had offered similar teachings so that historians find little new and others can say “our tradition, our teachings are better.”
- Christmas was not about the birth of Jesus; rather it was about the coming of Christ into a human body. This happened not at the birth of Jesus but at the Baptism. What occurred before in the birth stories of Matthew and Luke as well as at the Temple at age 12 are part of the preparation for Christ-mas. This is why both Mark and John begin with the baptism as this is the beginning of story of Christ on Earth as a human being.
- The triumphal entry into Jerusalem, on the back of an ass, announces that this God had fully entered the body, its vehicle. What remained was to go through what the Gods and the beings of the hierarchies had not experienced – death – so that the battle with death could be won.
- Earlier, at the Transfiguration, Christ had attained to the level that previous great sages had attained at their death. From this point on, Christ’s cosmic hour has come and the great deed on Golgotha is prepared.
- The ancient mysteries expected the Sun God to come. They knew that their own trainings and initiations were weakening, not achieving the same heights of consciousness. These ancient mysteries had a Janus face, able to look back in time and ahead but the visions were clouding over. In these initiations, the neophyte was put into a state where to others he or she appeared dead because his or her life body (etheric, prana, chi) was freed from the physical body by the hierophant. This occurs normally only at death. Christ was the hierophant for Lazarus – read this story and you will see the parallels to the process of initiation in the ancient mysteries only here this is done in public rather than inside the Holy of the Holies. Thus the high priest had to condemn this hierophant to death to save the nation from losing its connection to its Folk Spirit (Yahweh).
- On Golgotha, the transition from moon to sun occurs for earth. Our planet becomes the seed for a future universe as the blood and spirit of Christ, the sun god, enters the earth. Enacted in public, for the world to see, was the Turning Point in Time, the Mystery of Golgotha enacted by the Heavenly Hierophant, Christ.
- Christ is called the new or the second Adam. Through him, an individual person can now overcome death. This is what is meant when the Rosicrucians said “In Christos Morimor” – in Christ I die. For the death of the lower ego allows for one to find their higher ego – their Christ in me (St. Paul “No longer I, but Christ in me”).
- What Christ achieved as one human being applies to all human beings. Each of us can now go this path that St. Paul describes.
- As this Holy Spirit descended at the Baptism to Jesus and remained upon him – as witnessed by John the Baptist, so did the Holy Spirit descend upon the disciples at Pentecost. The descent to one man, Jesus, was in the form of a dove while to the many disciples it was as flaming tongues. What descended onto Jesus was pure, serene, able to fly and move like a spirit. What descended upon the disciples was now human – a tongue for speaking into the hearts of others but no longer was this speaking merely dispassionate knowledge, it now was full of enthusiasm for life, for Earth, for the future. The world itself was to be renewed through Love.
- Before Golgotha, the primary battle was against the temptation of Lucifer through whom mankind was gifted Knowledge. On Golgotha there were three crosses. No picture of Golgotha is fully accurate without the three crosses representing Lucifer on one side, Christ in the middle, and one who brings the battle of our times that the ancient Persians called Ahriman, the Prince of Darkness on the third cross. A discussion breaks out between the three. Lucifer recognizes the Christ and he/she is forgiven. But the one of our times, mocks the Christ.
- While the Battle with Death has been won (the war continues), the Battle with Evil is now raging. This battle will continue for a long time, well after our human appearance has severely changed, well after women will have become infertile. Evil will not be defeated in any accustomed way. Through gentleness, through an ever stronger love for thy neighbor, through feeling the pain of others as one’s own pain, will Evil elect to leave this world – “and the meek shall inherit this world.”
- Is technology evil? Is it something we should fear and keep away? No! Evil is a spiritual “thing”. The ideas and concepts embedded into and enabling our technology can be carriers of evil. But as we rise in consciousness in balance with our sinking into the depths of electricity and other forces employed in technology, so shall we remain in our humanity. Christ reversed things: no longer is royalty or priesthood carried in the blood. No longer will the ancient mysteries work. Now new mysteries must arise through the working together of humans and spiritual beings who are now descending to help develop this seed of the future, the earth, the cosmic earth.
I have long wondered about the phrase from Matthew 6:12, the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” It does not say “forgive me my debts as I forgive my debtors.” What could be meant by the collective “our debts”? Who are “our debtors” as distinguished from “my debtors?” Could there be a “cosmic” explanation?
Let’s explore this cosmic possibility. When Rudolf Steiner discussed the previous planetary condition that esotericists call Old Moon, he mentions that the beings who are now Angels were then at the human stage. Roughly mid way through Old Moon’s times, evolution continued but devolution took precedence. This is similar to how during one’s life the forces of youth give way to the forces of old age when we reach the downhill part of our lives. At this point of cosmic devolution, higher beings of the heavenly hierarchy who have completed their mission are able to progress to the next level of the hierarchy and, at the same time, those beings who will be human at the next planetary condition begin to weave into life. During Old Moon, those next humans were us! And Steiner mentions that during this descending times on Old Moon, we were ‘troublesome’ for the angels.
What was the outcome of this trouble that we gave to those who are now angels? They became our guardian angels! As our individual angel, they will stay with us, for better or worse, to rise or fall with us. They truly are our guardian who guides us from death to rebirth through the vast spheres of the spiritual world. They are known as the Sons of Twilight. Through their senses they observe the lightness and the darkness, the colors, of our thinking.
In Steiner’s book Knowledge of Higher Worlds, we are introduced to a being one meets when they attempt to enter the spiritual world. The Guardian of the Threshold protects us from entering this world unprepared for the experience. For being unprepared will likely make the experience “shattering” thereby negatively affecting one’s ability to carry on with daily life in a healthy way. This Guardian first meets us on our side of the abyss of existence; that is, on the side where our everyday consciousness can extend up to where the twilight of the abyss exists. I have come to the conclusion that the Guardian of the Threshold begins as our guardian angel when we begin our meditative activity. As one progresses in becoming aware of the spiritual world, the Guardian of the Threshold’s guidance continues.
Eventually, as Steiner describes, when one is near the point where one’s ability to fully and healthfully participate in the spiritual world, then one finds that the Guardian has become the Christ. This incorporation of Christ within our guardian angel is significant not only for us but also for our angel and for the work of Christ.
“Our debt” began on Old Moon. By taking up meditation seriously and effectively now, we pay back this debt. Our guardian angel is united with us. Whether we, in freedom, choose to unite with Christ or take another path, our angel will go with us – for better or worse. Through meditation in harmony with the Guardian of the Threshold, we unite our angel’s destiny as well as our own destiny with Christ. In doing so, we can pay off “our debt”.
But what about “our debtors”? The Earth planetary condition is now well into devolution and so those beings who will be at the human stage in the next planetary conditions, Jupiter, are now, invisibly, among us. As we were troublesome to today’s angels when they were at the human stage on Old Moon, so will the Jupiter-humans be troublesome to us. They become “our debtors” and we will need to forgive them. Because they are thrust up from below, they pass through the realm of Ahriman and take on his character. Such Ahrimanic beings are definitely among us, challenging us to become strong in spirit. Our debtors will inherit a human stage for their development; a stage we help to build with the love we learn from the Christ. Thus, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” has not only personal significance but also cosmic.
It was a great debate in Early Christianity: is the Father of the Old Testament the same as the Father Christ referred to? For many the God who says and eye for an eye is different from one who says love thy enemy, turn your cheek. Eventually, a majority vote decided that these were the same Father. But this does not settle Truth. Most Christians continued to have a different perspective until the Roman army was used to get them to agree.
The matter becomes much more deep when we look at the work of the School of Athens under Dionysius the Areopagite (which Justinian had shut down). Here we find a Heavenly Hierarchy defined where the Elohim are equated with the Exusiai. The Christ is from this hierarchy but he carries within himself, united, the Logos who is the Son in the Holy Trinity. That is why John’s Gospel says In the Beginning was the Logos and the Logos was with the God. A God was the Logos. This same one (a god, an elohim) was with the God in the beginning. The Greek adjective ton should appear whenever the definite article ‘The’ is meant.
Now all this grows profoundly in depth when we consider the Rosicrucian interpretation of Genesis. “Let us create Mankind in our image.” One (of the 7) Elohim creates Eve as an asexual human. She is fertilized from the spirit – from knowing. Another Elohim, Yahveh, creates Adam (both are Adam in that they are Mankind). From Eve without Adam comes Cain. From Eve with Adam comes Abel. Then Eve liberates herself through Lucifer from Yahveh by eating from the Tree of Knowledge. And by getting Adam to also eat from it, the process of sexuality begins – humanity moves from being asexual to being a sexual duality and this process continues through Cain and Abel until Seth is born. Seth represents the first humans who are the result of sexual relations, of the woman being fertilized by a man as he is the first whose likeness is that of his parents. Heredity begins as does reincarnation.
It is important to study why Freemasons look back to Cain as their founder. Abel tended sheep while Cain tilled the soil. Profound. Look at the difference in the verbs to tend and to till. Cain sought to spiritualize the earth. Abel accepted the abundance given by God. Abel, during the time before the duality of sexes was established, represents feminine wisdom. Cain represents masculine wisdom. For Freemasons, in doing their work, they had to be kept free of feminine wisdom. With the advent of the 20th Century, this came to an end.
Dionysius the Areopagite listed the Heavenly Hierarchy as follows:
Holy Trinity: Father – Son (Logos) – Holy Spirit
- Exusiai / Elohim
- Mankind to become this hierarchy
Much earlier in evolution, the being known as the Christ, through his development, became united with the Logos. When evolution was working on Mankind, Christ was at the level of an Elohim. Jesus from Matthew’s Gospel and Jesus from Luke’s Gospel are from the tenth. They make an incredible sacrifice to merge when the Luke-Jesus is 12 in the Holy of the Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. This boy is now Jesus of Nazareth who will again make a sacrifice to offer his sheaths to the Elohim known as the Christ at baptism.
Although many Gnostics thought this was an example of an avatar incorporation, for early Christians this was a God becoming Man – penetrating all the way into the body so that even the physical body could be resurrected for all humans. Note that the physical body and its mineral/ash are not the same thing. At Easter, the stone was removed.
In ancient times, one’s bloodline was critical to one’s fate. The profession of the father became the profession of the son(s). Of the twelve tribes of Israel, only from the Levites could a priest be selected. After Abraham came the line of kings and concept of royal blood. If we proceed far back we come to a time when, according to Rudolf Steiner, even the father’s memories were passed through the blood to the son. When the Bible says this person lived 700 years, it is referring to how long the memory lived on as a part of successive generations collection of memory. This was supported and protected by those spiritual beings who do “the good”.
But the bloodline begins to fail from the 7th century BCE onwards. This was especially noticed in the Mystery Centers where the bloodline could no longer support the development towards initiation into priesthood for neophytes. At the Turning Point in Time, Christ said to his disciples “this (wine) is my blood” and then on Golgotha, when a spear was thrust into his side, out ran blood and water and entered the earth. With this the bloodline ended.
Christianity was for all of humanity, regardless of bloodline. All could become, inwardly, a priest. Although kings would continue to claim succession rights to their bloodline, history shows that the bloodline was indeed unfit for the position. Similarly, when popes were to be selected, at one point, family lineage (and wealth and power) played a destructive role.
Rudolf Steiner points out that a reversal occurred on Golgotha concerning the good and evil beings support of bloodline (this statement is a gross simplification – apologies). Afterwards, the good beings move to support the universality of the human being. Steiner also associates the ability of people to form memory with the Archai (above arch-angels who are above angels).
One might ask “what happens to the memory once carried by the blood?” The ancient mysteries of Egypt could, in their heights, trace back to Lemurian times while those of Greece could trace back to Atlantean. As this memory capability faded, so did their associated mystery. Until the Renaissance, people had remarkable memories. Epic stories, told once, were remembered! The so-called Fairy Tales were handed down until the Grimm brothers realized that our memories were failing and these tales needed to be written down before they were lost. Today, social media is replacing our memory of our lives storing pictures and other memorabilia. Students no longer need to learn the times tables with that memorization replaced by calculators. Where is this going?
A new memory is needed for new mysteries. This new memory, it seems to me, will be akin to what’s going on “in the cloud”, namely a seeing of memory, a seeing of the Akashic Record.
What is Whitsun? Why is it Important?
Whitsun is a shortened version of Whit Sunday which may derive from White Sunday or from Whit as in wit, wisdom, or both. This name is used in countries with Anglican religious heritage or connections. Whitsun is the seventh Sunday after Easter. It is another name for Pentecost which is the fiftieth day after Passover (the Saturday before Easter, or at least it was supposed to be but differences between the Gregorian, the Julian, and the Hebrew calendars cause Western Easter, Eastern Easter, and Passover to often unalign.) Another way to describe this is that Ascension Thursday happens 40 days after Easter and Whitsun/Pentecost ten days later. While Christmas is a fixed holiday, Whitsun/Pentecost is “movable” as it falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon that follows the spring equinox. The early Christians tried to establish Easter as a cosmic event with Christmas as an earthly event. Pentecost is the Greek name for Shavuot, a prominent feast of ancient Israel that celebrated Moses receiving the Law on Sinai. Perhaps the name Whitsun, or Whitsunday, was an attempt to distance or distinguish this Christian festival from the Jewish one.
Whitsun and Ascension go together. The time from Easter to Ascension is a time of intense teaching from Christ to the disciples. All present were initiated into the deep Mysteries of Golgotha. Then comes the proving of the training – ten days alone (or becoming all-one).
The festival of Whitsun commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s disciples. This is described in Acts 2:1-4, “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all together in one self [place is often used]. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong rushing wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”
Normally our mental image is tongues of fire on the 12 disciples but note this 6th century Rabbula Gospels from Syria (now in the Laurentian Library in Florence, Italy). It shows Mary, mother of Jesus of Nazareth, in the middle. Thus present, in one self, were more than just the 12. Some traditions claim as many as 120 were present as one.
To understand Whitsun/Pentecost, we need to understand what is here called the Holy Spirit. There are two mentions in the bible of descents of the holy spirit. The first is [John 1:32-34] at the baptism of Jesus, “Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit descend down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’” The second ‘descent’ is Acts 2:1-4 as quoted above. I bolded the words “and remain” to emphasize that this spirit was not in Jesus of Nazareth until this moment of baptism. Theologians often miss this important point.
‘Spirit’ is mentioned in other passages, notably John 19:30, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit [pneuma, πνεῦμα].” Pneuma is the same word for wind in Greek, not the moving air but what moves the air. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states that pneuma also means “breath as in the nostrils or mouth, often in Greek writings from Aeschylus down.” Now read Genesis 2:7 (ASV) “And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” And in John 1:4 “In Him is life [zoe, ζωὴ] and that life is the light of mankind.” “Him” is the Word, the Logos. When a human being speaks a word, they must use their breath. Breath is of the airy element in which light can freely exist. Note the strong association of the Word with life, zoe. Much more could be said on this tangent.
How are these two descents of the Holy Spirit alike and how are they different?
Let’s start with the day of the Ascension. Gazing upwards, the disciples of Christ Jesus see Christ vanishing in the clouds. The usual conception of this scene is that Christ went up into heaven and so departed from the earth leaving not only the disciples to their own resources but the rest of mankind as well. This feels like a spiritual reneging on the promise of Easter! Did not Christ, through His deed on Golgotha, resolve to unite His own Being with the earth, that is to say, from the Mystery of Golgotha onwards to remain forever connected with earth-evolution?
Next, ten days after this Ascension, tongues of fire descend upon the heads of all of those assembled as “one self” so that they are inspired “to speak with other tongues.” What this actually means is that from this moment forward those gathered were able to impart the secrets learned from their time with the resurrected Christ, of the Mystery of Golgotha, to the heart of every human being, irrespective of race, gender, religion, or ethnicity. This was a cosmic deed accomplished for the whole of humanity.
Christ fulfilled his deed for all mankind on Golgotha. But now mankind must come to grasp this deed. The permeation of the human spirit-and-soul with the power to understand the Mystery of Golgotha is the sending of the Holy Spirit. This is the picture of the Whitsun festival, the festival of Pentecost.
Christ sent the Spirit after ten days of working on their own so that the individual being of spirit-and-soul may have access to the effects of The Deed that was accomplished for all men in common. Through the Spirit man must learn to experience the Christ Mystery inwardly, in spirit and in soul. The Holy Spirit is available to each human individual in order that he or she may be able to understand this cosmic Deed.
Looking a bit deeper (there are always more depths!), we can come to see that the Ascension tells us: The Deed on Golgotha was fulfilled for the physical body and the etheric body in the universal human sense while Whitsun tells us: The single human being must make this Deed bear fruit in himself by receiving the Holy Spirit. Thereby the universal Christ Impulse becomes individual in each human being.
This post will reveal some, perhaps unfavorable, personal traits of me. When I was a child I remembered far more dreams than I do as an adult. Occasionally I’ll remember the last dream of the night or one where I woke up during the dream and was able to make a written or visual or mental note about it so that in the morning I was able to recall the dream. Now I recall a dream from last night.
In the dream I was the person responsible for a group of people. We were in a fancy large hotel. My immediate responsibility was to get these twelve people from the hotel to their transport to some morning event. Soon the twelve had all arrived so I began to lead them to where I thought the taxi stand for the hotel existed. I knew where it was because I had, in the dream, stayed in this hotel at a prior conference (the memory of this was present to me in the dream but it was not part of a prior dream or reality that I am aware of). Out of the hotel we wander and I soon realize that there are no taxis in front so I lead the group down the circular drive to the highway where I try to flag down a set of taxis. But there are none. Then one comes but the driver appears busy and does not even look my way. Suddenly I have an aide and she suggests I call the taxi service with whom I made arrangements. Brilliant! My dream-memory said that I had made arrangements. I pulled out my iPhone and in its ‘recent calls’ list I found the number. The driver answered the call and wanted to know where we were! I asked him where he was and he said he had a 12-person van in the taxi stand behind the hotel. I realized at that moment that in leading the group to the front I was using old data. I apologized to the driver and said “we’d be right there.” Prior to this, the group had paid no attention to me. They were chatting profusely among themselves and treating me as a mere lower class tour guide. Now they began to complain about my incompetence as I led them back into the hotel’s front entrance. I would need to find a stairway to go down one level and walk the entire depth of the hotel’s ground floor to reach the rear entrance. That’s when I noticed a clear overhead sign that stated the taxi stand was now in the rear. Some in my group also noticed and increased their condemnation of my capabilities. At this point, I woke up. It was 5 am and sunrise was just beginning.
This dream helped me to realize that when traveling and within crowds, I become inwardly tense. In this state I become less observant and less tolerant. I sometimes go into auto-pilot and rely on doing things the way they’ve always been done. But with the spiritual world, things change, evolve. The way to the taxi stand to be transported with my 12 beings was no longer where it was in my previous ‘incarnation.’ The way there is now first inwardly, first into myself to find how I am a microcosm of the macrocosm. These twelve are me as a microcosm. When I try to take care of them out of old knowledge, they ignore me. But as I get my directions aligned, I’ll receive their ‘guidance,’ as difficult as it might be to hear. For to reach the taxi stand and the transport, I will need to sacrifice this old lower self, these old habits, and this materialistic thinking. Scourging is part of the western spiritual journey.
In ancient times, dreams were more easily remembered and remembered with reverence for dreams were a gift from the spiritual world. They contained wisdom and foresight. But as humanity evolved to become self-aware, intellectual beings, the importance of dreams faded. Human destiny was for us to develop individualism, true freedom. “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” [John 8:32]
Now I’m trying to read the signs of our times and find that taxi stand behind the hotel [my body] with a van for twelve.
Easter was THE important Christian festival. St. Paul said, “If Christ be not risen, then is your faith vain.” A key purpose to the Council of Nicaea was to set the date of Easter (as calendars in those days had insufficient leap years to prevent the spring equinox from sliding in March towards February). The festival of the birth of Jesus was not at all celebrated. Christians felt that Jesus (both of Matthew’s gospel and of Luke’s) was born as a man and Christ entered this body at the baptism. As full of mystery as birth and baptism may be, for early Christians the important new mystery was what happened from Golgotha to the grave to the resurrection. With the early Christians, we do not find symbols of the suffering of Christ; rather we find their focus is on the resurrection.
Later, after 325 when the Council of Nicaea took place, materialism began to set in; even Christianity succumbed. The symbolic emphasis moved to the suffering Christ on the crucifix, to the bodily suffering of Christ. The crucifix is the expression of the transition to materialism taking root in Christianity. Spiritual reality is expelled by materialism. This comes to full reality with the 8th Ecumenical Council (Fourth in Constantinople). Here, by majority vote of the bishops, 27 canons were passed. The eleventh canon states “Though the Old and New Testaments teach that a man or woman has one rational and intellectual soul [compare to Aristotle], and all the fathers and doctors of the church, who are spokesmen of God, express the same opinion, some have descended to such a depth of irreligion, through paying attention to the speculations of evil people, that they shamelessly teach as a dogma that a human being has two souls, and keep trying to prove their heresy by irrational means, using a wisdom that has been made foolishness. Therefore this holy and universal synod is hastening to uproot this wicked theory now growing like some loathsome form of weed. Carrying in its hand the winnowing fork of truth, with the intention of consigning all the chaff to inextinguishable fire, and making clean the threshing floor of Christ, in ringing tones it declares anathema the inventors and perpetrators of such impiety and all those holding similar views; it also declares and promulgates that nobody at all should hold or preserve in any way the written teaching of the authors of this impiety. If however anyone presumes to act in a way contrary to this holy and great synod, let him be anathema and an outcast from the faith and way of life of Christians.”
Photius, who is revered as a saint in the Eastern Church but despised in the West, had argued that Aristotle indicated that each person has two aspects to their soul, one aspect focuses on the senses of the physical body and is thereby liable to error while another aspect focuses on the spiritual and is thus immune to error. With this decree, however, the human was reduced; no longer body, soul, and spirit, but now only body and (one) soul. One could be excommunicated from Christ’s Church for stating anything differently. When Christianity reaches the twentieth century, few theologians use or understand the term ‘soul’ anymore. Materialism reigns supreme.
Following this Ecumenical Council, the Eucharist was altered. Only the ‘prepared’ priests could receive the wine while all received just the body, the bread. For the congregation, this meant only the body matters. The troubadours then come to this drama to sing about the search for the Holy Grail. Where has the blood of Christ gone? Spirit triumphant over death, over the physical fades away replaced by portrayals the pain-racked soul of Jesus. Who guards and sustains mankind? Replacing the Triumphant Son of Man is the Man of Sorrows.
The Knights Templars dash onto this scene two hundred years later. In their initiation ceremony, one was led to understand why they rejected the crucifix as a symbol of their Christianity. Supposedly, during the initiation process, the elect was to spit on a cross that had an image of the suffering savior.
Western culture where materialism is most deeply rooted must find a renewal of the Easter experience. The renewed Easter thought should lead one to be lifted into the Spirit. Christ then becomes ‘visible’ as a super-sensible, super-earthly Being who entered into the stream of earthly evolution.
At the tomb that is the body, do we see only the stone? When we enter the tomb (Oh Man, Know Thou Thyself — Delphi) can we see the Kingdom within? Will we find “The One you seek is not here” or will we find “The One Who is here now,” the one Who from the spirit calls you to your spirit-awakening.
“In this Easter mood we shall also be able to find the strength with which our will must be imbued if the forces of decline are to be countered by those which lead humanity upwards. We need the forces that can bring about this ascent. And the moment we truly understand the Easter thought of Resurrection, this Easter thought — bringing warmth and illumination — will kindle within us the forces needed for the future evolution of mankind. Easter must become an inner festival, a festival in which we celebrate in ourselves the victory of the Spirit over the body. But we need the Christ for Whom we can seek in our inmost being, because when we truly seek Him, He at once appears.” — Rudolf Steiner,The Festivals and Their Meaning II, Lecture 4, March 27, 1921.
- Is mind a product of brain and body?
- Does consciousness arise magically out of matter?
- Are embryo cells individually intelligent, knowing what to do?
Like these questions above, the study of Embryology gives us some wonderful leading questions to this subject of consciousness. Here are some more:
- What were we actually doing when we were an embryo?
- Who is realizing itself?
- When does this realization occur?
- Are there patterns to consciousness arising that apply generically to all humans?
- How does one exist as an embryo?
Much of modern philosophy on consciousness begins with an adult in its study. Only a few years ago, it was felt that by about 7 years of age, the brain completed its infrastructure development as a hard wired machine that now could be properly filled with knowledge data. Mental illness was typically seen as irreversible because it arose out of ‘bad wiring’. Today plasticity of the brain has been recognized but often this fixed-brain psychology persists in practitioners.
Futurologists such as Ray Kurzweil insist that artificial intelligence (AI) will one day soon be able to ‘reverse engineer’ the brain and thereby endow a computing machine with the ability to think and act like a human being. Ray goes on to claim that with the exponential growth in computing capabilities, that by mid-century (roughly 2050) we will pass a Singularity point after which AI will race along leaving carbon-only humans behind. He states that to survive we will need to become a hybrid person, part carbon-based and part computer (silicon based) and eventually the weaker carbon-based part will disappear. This concept of a hybrid human, oddly, may have some unintended truth to it which I’ll discuss in another offering later. In many ways, we began down this path with the ‘personal computer’. But the intention that we can reverse engineer the brain to build a computer-based mind will fail because it fails to recognize the role of soul in human thinking.
Soul? Is not this an out-dated concept rejected in the 19th century? Indeed, materialism has sent the concept of soul to its death. Only religion, it seems, holds on to the concept to use it for the promise of an afterlife. Now, through an examination of pre-birth, through embryology, we can ask if this materialistic concept makes sense! [BTW, until the 8th Ecumenical Council at Constantinople, the human was always thought of as soma, psyche, and pneuma: body, soul, and spirit].
We turn now to embryologist Jaap van der Wal, some of whose work can be found here. One of his [slightly edited quoted] papers show that “an embryo ‘behaves’. It is shaping its body, it moves, it performs (literally). The first manifestation of behavior we exhibit as the psychosomatic body-mind being that we are, is our morphological behavior – that is to say, our body. The gestures we make on the physiological level are also performance, the en-act dimension in us. Going upright, finding the balance, centering: these are acts of the soul, of the human Self or spirit. Before we can do these psychologically, we perform them physiologically at about one year of age, as in, trying to get upright in a playpen. And even that is not the first time. The first time you found your balance was when you shaped and organized the bodily organization as an embryo. The human body is the only primate and mammalian body where the gravity center is organized inside and within the body. To come to yourself as a human being you need the organization for that, i.e., a body (not only a brain) that can do so. This is exactly what you do in the growing and shaping of your body as an embryo: you perform here the act of going upright and balancing in a morphological way.”
“Our body is behavior, human behavior, to be explicit. The body is not a thing, an anatomical substrate; it is a performance, a function, a behavior. Soul does not have a body, it is body; body does not have a soul, it is soul. Even your skeleton and brain (organs that for example are nearly structuralized to death and physical substance) are ‘on the move’, are processes. [Note the mystical numbers: 7, 12, 5, 5, 3]. I learned from embryology, Motion is primary, form is secondary! Form arises out of motion (and not the reverse as reductionistic thinkers always propagate). In that motion a behavior is performed.”
“Within the embryo, form and function are still related and linked together firmly. Bodily and physiological functions are pre-exercised as growth gestures and as growing movements in the embryo. In this respect a human being has already breathed long before he has taken his first breath after birth. The dynamics with which lungs, thorax and diaphragm are developing and unfolding may be considered as a type of breathing because these dynamics are already breathing movements. Considered in this way, an embryo looks, grasps, walks. This can be called morphological behavior.”
Thus, I am a being of soul and body (not body and soul). It is not my muscles that move me, rather, it is my willing activity in my soul directed from my I that moves my limbs. I am integrated with my body for my life on earth but I must not be confused to believe that my body is me or is moving me. Consciousness is primary.
This takes us to more leading questions:
- Does the soul exist before birth? before conception?
- Can consciousness exist without the brain? If so, how is it different?
- Besides our awake consciousness, we know we have three levels of lesser consciousness: dreaming, dreamless sleep, and coma. How many higher levels might there be?
- If consciousness is primary, did evolution arise from it? If so, is the fossil record a story of the sequence of what precipitated out of a consciousnes
I was asked a question “do Anthroposophists (spiritual scientists) believe that they are gods or even greater than gods?” I replied with the following that I will share here:
I think there is much more to this question than a mere yes or no.
This may sound like “what is the meaning of life?” Well, in fact, it is related to that question, why are we here? What is the purpose of humanity? What’s the end goal?
Science today would have us believe that first came matter as atoms, then bigger atoms and molecules, then building blocks, then life, then consciousness. Many philosophers and scientists today have come to a different conclusion, namely that consciousness is primary. From consciousness came life and from life matter. This does not violate the fossil record. As Life evolved, it was necessary to shed aspects to continue towards an upright human being. Life evolved shedding or precipitating out the mineral kingdom, the plant kingdom, and the animal kingdom. Finally an upright human being could evolve on earth.
The gods (a hierarchy of spiritual beings) prepared the earth and guided Mankind. Gradually they pulled back to where the human no longer walked with gods, no longer talked with gods, no longer found them in dreams or meditations, and eventually no longer found Nature a manifestation of the divine. God deemed this destiny so that human beings would develop towards a goal. What is that goal? To become spiritual (divine) beings of love and freedom. Each of the existing hierarchy are already spiritual beings of something – their name is what they represent. For example, Dynamis mean spirits of movement.
To become spiritual beings of love and freedom, that is a far distant goal of course.
Through inner development, one can improve one’s character, one’s moral fortitude. And one can also open soul organs through which one can perceive the spiritual world. The High Priests of old were such people. The Cathars of the twelfth to fourteenth century called such people Perfects as they had been perfected. Such terminology shows up in many early Christian writings. As in Buddhism, it is possible for such a perfected one to no longer incarnate. But typically in Christian streams, such perfects actually seek to incarnate more frequently to be of greater service on earth to their fellow humans.
Who were the sons of God spoken of in Genesis 6.2 and 6.4?
In Anthroposophy, we might see ourselves as moved by responsibility to Michael and the spiritual world that tries to carry out God’s will. We might feel called to do service but to perform this service we must set aside time in our day to work on our inner life – with the goal of opening these organs of spiritual perception so that we may work out of the truth and goodness that flows from Michael, from the Christ impulse, in ways that are appropriate today. So we do not see ourselves as God or gods, but as servants to such. We do not see ourselves as privileged but as earnest and responsible.
The meaning of life? The end goal? Mankind is to become the Tenth Hierarchy. There will be other beings after us who will be at the human stage and we who are human now will be their angels just as those that are angels now were at a human stage in times long, long ago. Perhaps the end goal is to build out Twelve Hierarchies eventually?