THE SON OF GOD AND THE SON OF MAN. THE SACRIFICE OF ORPHEUS
The verses in St. Mark’s Gospel which we were endeavouring to elucidate in the last lecture are followed by remarkable words in many ways similar to those found in the other Gospels, although their full significance can best be studied in that of St. Mark. The words are to the effect that after the Baptism and the experiences in the ‘wilderness’, Christ Jesus went into the synagogue and taught the people there.
The sentence is usually translated: ‘And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.’ -- To a man of the present age, however orthodox a believer in the Bible, this sentence conveys little more than that His teaching was powerful and impressive -- unlike that of the scribes. But in the Greek text the sentence translated ‘as one that had authority and not as the scribes’, is: ὴν gαρ dιdἁσχῳv αὐτοὐς ώς ἐςουαίχν ἕχων, χαὶ οὐχ ώç οί gραμματῑç
(ēn gar didamaskōn autous hōs exusiān echōn, kai ouch hōs hoi grammateis)
If we try to grasp the meaning of this significant passage we shall be led a step further towards understanding the secrets of Christ’s mission. I have already called your attention to the fact that like other genuinely inspired writings, the Gospels are not easy to understand and that to grasp their real meaning we must bring together all the thoughts and ideas about the spiritual world acquired in the course of many years. Such ideas alone can give us insight into what is meant when it is said in the Gospel that He taught in the synagogue as one of the Exousiai, as a Power and Revelation, and not as those who are here called: gραμματῑç (scribes).
To understand a passage such as this we must remind ourselves of what we have learnt about the higher, supersensible worlds. We have learnt that man, as he lives in our world, is the lowest member of a hierarchical Order, that his place is at the lowest step of the ladder of this Order. Immediately above him in the supersensible world, at the first level, are the Beings called in Christian esotericism, Angeloi, Angels. They are the supersensible Beings of the rank immediately above man, who influence his life. Above them come the Archangeloi or Archangels, then the Archai or Spirits of Personality; then the Exousiai, Dynameis and Kyriotetes, and finally the Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim.
Thus above man there are nine ranks of hierarchical Beings. And we shall now try to picture how these different supersensible Beings intervene in human life.
The Angeloi are the Beings who as messengers of the spiritual world to the individual man in his life on Earth, are nearest of all to him. They exercise a perpetual influence upon the destinies of individuals on the physical plane. The Archangeloi are spiritual Beings whose activities embrace a wider sphere. They are the Beings whom we may call ‘Folk-Spirits’, who regulate and guide the affairs of whole groups of peoples. When a man of the present day speaks of a ‘Folk-Spirit’ he thinks, purely in terms of number, of so many thousands of individuals who happen to populate the same territory. But in Spiritual Science we mean by a Folk-Spirit the actual Folk-Individuality, not such and such a number of people but a real individuality just as we speak of an individuality in the case of a single man. The spiritual guidance of a whole Folk lies in the hands of the Archangelos. All these higher Beings are supersensible entities having their own spheres of activity. The Archai, Spirits of Personality or the ‘Primal Beginnings’, are again different from the Archangeloi or Folk-Spirits. If we speak of the French, the German, the English Folk-Spirit and so on, this points to different regions of the Earth. But there is something that is common to all men to-day, at least to all Western peoples, and affords them a basis for mutual understanding. In contrast to the single Folk-Spirit we speak here of the Time-Spirit: there is a Time-Spirit in the period of the Reformation, another in our own day. The Time-Spirits, the Archai, rank above the individual Folk-Spirits, and are the leaders of successive epochs.
At a still higher level we come to the Exousiai. They are supersensible Beings of an essentially different order. To form an idea of how the Beings of these still higher Hierarchies differ from the Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai, let us remind ourselves that there is no essential difference between a member of one Folk and a member of a different Folk as regards his outer, physical make-up and what he eats and drinks. It cannot be said that, except as regards soul and spirit, the peoples differ essentially from each other. The guiding spiritual Beings (the Time-Spirits) of the successive epochs are concerned with things of the soul and spirit only. Man does not, however, consist only of soul and spirit. It is the human astral body that is essentially influenced by whatever is of the nature of soul and spirit. There are also denser members of man’s being which do not differ greatly from each other as far as the activities of the Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai are concerned. But creative influences are exercised upon these denser members of man’s nature by spiritual Beings belonging to ranks from that of the Exousiai upwards. Language and current modes of thought belong to the sphere of the Folk-Spirits and the Time-Spirits -- Archangeloi and Archai. But men are also influenced by the light and air and climate of a particular region. One type of human being thrives below the Equator, another in the regions nearer to the North Pole. We shall not agree with a German professor of philosophy whose view, presented in a very widely read book, was that civilisations of essential importance would have to develop in the Temperate Zone because the human beings responsible for such culture would freeze at the North Pole and scorch at the South Pole! But we can certainly speak of the different effects of food upon human beings living in different climates. External conditions are by no means without influence upon the character of a people -- for example, whether they live in mountain valleys or on plains. We see there how the forces of nature penetrate into and affect the whole of man’s constitution. Knowing from Spiritual Science that supersensible Beings are active in all the forces of nature and work upon men through these forces, we can make a distinction between Archai and Exousiai, and say: The Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai influence man through what concerns the soul and spirit only -- language, current modes of thought, ideas, and so on, but they do not work through the forces of nature; their operations do not directly affect the etheric body or the physical body, which are the lower members of man’s organism.
On the other hand, spiritual Beings from the rank of the Exousiai upwards work not only upon man but also in the forces of outer nature; they are the ‘Directors’ as it were of air and light, of the different ways in which foodstuffs are produced in the kingdoms of nature. They are the Beings who hold sway in these kingdoms of nature. The phenomena of thunder and lightning, rain and sunshine, how one kind of foodstuff grows in one region, other kinds in another, in short the whole ordering of earthly conditions we ascribe to spiritual Beings of the Hierarchies higher than the Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai. We see the effects of the activity of the Exousiai, for example, in the light that works upon us as well as upon the plants, not only in the invisible effects which are the manifestations of the Time-Spirits.
Let us now consider what it is that civilisation gives to men, what they have to learn in order to make progress. Every individual has at his disposal what is yielded by his own epoch, but also, to a certain extent, the fruits of earlier epochs. Now it is only what derives from the lowest Hierarchies up to and including the Time-Spirits that can be preserved as history and be taught and studied as such. What streams directly from the kingdoms of nature cannot be preserved in tradition. Nevertheless, men whose powers of knowledge enable them to penetrate into the supersensible worlds can pass beyond the Time-Spirits to still higher forms of revelation. Such revelations are recognised as belonging to a realm higher than that of the Time-Spirits, as having greater weight than anything deriving from the Time-Spirits, and as affecting men in a very special way. Every rational human being should ask himself now and then whether his soul is affected more profoundly by what can be learnt from the traditions of the several peoples and Time-Spirits of historical epochs, or by a glorious sunrise, which is a direct manifestation of nature and of the supersensible worlds. Individuals may well become conscious that a sunrise in all its glory can stir the soul infinitely more deeply than all the science, the learning and the art of the ages. Suppose we have been deeply moved by the works in the Italian Galleries of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and others, and later on climb some Swiss mountain and contemplate the spectacle there presented, we shall be vividly conscious of what nature can reveal. We shall ask: Who is the greater artist: Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, or the Powers who have painted the sunrise to be seen from the Rigi? -- And the answer can only be that wonderful as are the achievements of men, what comes before us as a revelation of divine-spiritual Powers is far greater.
Now when the spiritual leaders of mankind, the Initiates, appear before the world, their teachings are not based upon or drawn from tradition but flow from original sources, and their revelations are like the revelations of nature herself. What is merely repeated by others can never have an effect as powerful as that of a sunrise. Compared with what tradition has handed down of the teachings of Moses or Zarathustra and what the Time-Spirits and Folk-Spirits have communicated through forms of external culture, the effect made by nature herself is far the greater. It was only when the revelations of Moses and Zarathustra sprang from immediate experience of the supersensible worlds that their effect was as powerful as that of the revelations of nature. The wonderful thing about these original revelations to mankind is that they are like the revelations of nature herself. We should remember here that the Exousiai are the lowest Hierarchy of Beings who work in the forces and powers of nature.
What, then, was experienced by those who were gathered in the synagogue when Christ Jesus came among them? Hitherto they had been taught by the ‘Scribes’, by men who were cognisant of what the Time-Spirits and Folk-Spirits had communicated. To such teaching the people were accustomed. But now there came One who did not teach as the Scribes taught, whose words seemed like a revelation from the realm of the supersensible powers in nature, in thunder, or in lightning. Knowing that the higher the rank of the Hierarchies the greater are their powers, we can understand in all their depth these words in the Gospel of St. Mark.
If we can feel the supersensible reality behind the creations of men such as Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and others of their calibre, we can still glimpse in the relatively small number of pictures that have come down to us, something of the original inspiration. Great works of art, works of spiritual genius, are always echoes of what was originally revealed. And if we can perceive something of what Raphael, for example, expressed in his pictures, or form a living idea of the work of Zarathustra, we shall be able to hear something of what comes from the Exousiai.
But in the teachings given in the synagogues by the Scribes, that is to say, by men whose knowledge stemmed from the Folk-Spirits and Time-Spirits, there was nothing that could even faintly echo direct revelations of nature. Hence these words in St. Mark’s Gospel are an indication that in men living in those days an inkling was beginning to dawn that something entirely new was speaking to them; that through this man who came among them something revealed itself which was like a power of nature herself, like one of the supersensible Powers behind the phenomena of nature. Men began gradually to divine what it was that had entered into Jesus of Nazareth and was symbolised in the Baptism by John. The people in the synagogue were very near the truth when they said: When he speaks it is as though the Exousiai were speaking, not merely the Archai, the Time-Spirits, or the Folk-Spirits.
It is only through knowledge of Spiritual Science that we shall be able again to instil a full and living content and meaning into the barren abstractions abounding in modern translations of the New Testament, and to realise what is involved when efforts are made to penetrate to the core of the Gospels. Generations must pass before there can be any prospect of fathoming, even approximately, the deep meanings which our own times can dimly surmise. Actual investigation of a great deal in the Gospels will be possible only in the future.
Fundamentally, what the writer of St. Mark’s Gospel wished to present was an elaboration of the teaching of Paul, one of the first to recognise the nature and essential being of the Christ through direct supersensible perception. We must understand what Paul actually taught and what he experienced through the revelation that came to him on the road to Damascus. Although the event is described in the Bible as a sudden revelation, those conversant with the real facts know that this kind of illumination can come at any moment to one who is striving to reach the spiritual world and that as a result of his experiences he becomes a changed man. And in the case of St. Paul it is abundantly evident that through the revelation at Damascus this was what happened.
Even a superficial study of the Gospels and of the Pauline Epistles will make it clear that St. Paul regards the Event of Golgotha as the central point of the whole evolution of humanity and that he links this Event directly with what is described in the Bible as the creation of Adam, the first man. St. Paul’s teaching is to somewhat the following effect: The being we must call the spiritual man, the real man, of whom in the world of maya there is only an illusory image, came down in ancient Lemurian times to this world of illusion, facing the experiences he was to undergo in the flesh during successive incarnations. He became man in the form assumed throughout the Lemurian and Atlantean epochs and in post-Atlantean times until the coming of Christ. Then came the Event of Golgotha.
Paul was unshakably convinced after his vision near Damascus that in the Event of Golgotha something occurred that was exactly comparable with the descent of man into the flesh. For therewith the impulse was given gradually to overcome those forms of earthly existence into which man had entered through Adam. Hence Paul calls the Being who appeared in the Christ, the ‘new Adam’, whom every man can draw to himself through union with Christ.
Thus from Lemurian on into pre-Christian times we have to see the gradual descent of man into matter -- whether we call him Adam or by some other name. Then he was given the power and the impulse to ascend again so that he might eventually return, enriched by the fruits of earthly existence, to the original, spiritual state that had been his before he descended into matter.
Now if we are to understand the essential meaning of evolution, we must not ask: Could man not have been spared this descent into matter? Why was it necessary for him to pass through different incarnations in order to re-ascend into the state that was his at the beginning? Such questions could spring only from complete misunderstanding of the spiritual meaning of evolution. For man takes with him from Earth-existence all the fruits of his experiences and is enriched with the content of his incarnations -- a content that was not previously his.
Think, hypothetically, of a man descending and passing through his first incarnation: there he learns certain things. In his second incarnation he learns more; and so on through all the incarnations. Their course, to begin with, is one of descent: man becomes more and more deeply entangled in the physical world. Then he begins an ascent and can rise to the extent to which he receives the Christ Impulse into himself. One day he will find his way again into the spiritual world; but he will then take with him whatever he was able to acquire on the Earth.
And so Paul sees in the Christ the central point of the whole process of man’s earthly evolution, the power that gives him the impulse to rise into the supersensible world enriched with all the experiences of life on the Earth.
But from this standpoint, how does Paul regard the sacrifice on Golgotha, the actual Crucifixion? It is not easy to relate to our modern ideas the way in which St. Paul -- and also the writer of St. Mark’s Gospel -- understood the sacrifice on Golgotha, this most essential fact of human evolution. Before this can be attempted we must familiarise ourselves with the thought that man as he stands before us is a Microcosm, and we must study all the implications of this fact.
Two periods of development, each very different from the other, are apparent in man’s life between birth and death in every incarnation. In various ways I have already called attention to the difference between the two periods -- for our study of Spiritual Science is more systematic than people usually imagine. One of these periods lies between birth and the point at which an individual’s memory begins. If you follow your memories back, you reach a certain point beyond which they cease. You were already in existence then and may have heard from your parents or relatives about your doings; hence you have some knowledge of them but you yourself remember nothing beyond a certain point of time. Normal remembrance breaks off at this point, the most favourable age for which is somewhere about the third year of life. Before that point of time a child is highly impressionable. Just think how much is taken in during the first, second and third years of life; yet modern man has no remembrance at all of how the impressions were made. – Then follows the period through which the thread of memory runs continuously.
We must pay careful attention to these two periods of development for they are very important in man’s life as a whole. We must observe the development of the human being closely and accurately and avoid the prejudiced views of modern science. The facts of science confirm what I have to say, but we should not attach too much weight to biased views that deviate widely from the truth. Close observation of man’s development makes it evident that his life as an individual in society is conditioned by whatever forms part of the thread of memory which begins, approximately, in the third year. Within the span of this thread of memory lies every principle by which we consciously direct our life; it embraces whatever rules of conduct we consciously accept as worthy to be followed. Our Ego has no consciousness of what lies before this point; of that, nothing finds its way into the thread of our conscious life.
Thus before our conscious life begins there are certain years during which our relation with the surrounding world is quite different from what it is later.
The difference is radical. Penetrating observation of a child before the period back to which memory extends when he is older, would show that in those first years he feels himself to be within the universal, macrocosmic, spiritual life. He does not separate or isolate himself from that life but feels part and parcel of the whole environment. He even speaks of himself as others do. He does not say: ‘I want’, but, ‘John wants’. It is only later that he learns to speak of himself as ‘I’. Modern child psychologists pick holes in this explanation but the truth is not controverted by their arguments which are just evidences of their lack of insight. In his earliest years a child still feels part of the world around him; it is only at the point from which his memories begin that he gradually detaches himself from his environment as an independent being.
It can therefore be said that the principles a man may accept for the guidance of his life and the whole content of his consciousness belong to the second phase of development beginning at the point of time referred to. In the first phase he has a quite different relation to the environment; he feels much more closely connected with it. The only way to understand this thoroughly is to imagine what would happen if the form of consciousness which has produced this feeling of direct connection with the surrounding world in early childhood were to remain in later years. If that were the case human life would take a very different course. Man would not feel so isolated; even in later years he would feel himself to be an integral part, a member, of the Macrocosm, the Great World. As things are he loses his feeling of oneness with the Great World and believes himself to be isolated from it. In ordinary life this isolation comes into a man’s consciousness in an abstract form only, for instance, in his egoisms, or in a tendency to shut himself off more and more within his own skin. The view that man’s life is enclosed within his skin is complete nonsense. Whenever he exhales he becomes part of the outer world for the breath previously indrawn is now outside. Man’s picture of himself is pure maya but his form of consciousness makes this inevitable. Human beings nowadays are neither particularly inclined nor indeed mature enough to understand karma. If, for instance, anyone gets his windows broken he is apt to take this as an offence directed against himself, and he is annoyed by it because he feels himself to be an isolated being. But were he to believe in karma he would feel related to the whole Macrocosm and would know that in point of fact it is we ourselves who have broken the windows. For in truth we are interwoven with the whole Cosmos and it is sheer nonsense to imagine that we are enclosed by our skin. But it is only in very early childhood that this feeling of oneness with the Cosmos exists; in later life it is lost at the point to which memory reaches.
It was not always so. In earlier times, by no means very long ago, the consciousness belonging to early childhood extended, in some degree at least, into the later years of a man’s life. This was in the times of the ancient clairvoyance; and with it went a very different kind of thinking and a different way of expressing facts. This is an aspect of human evolution about which the student of Spiritual Science must be quite clear.
When a male child is born nowadays he is simply regarded as the son of his father and mother: and if he has no birth or baptismal certificate bearing the names of his parents to identify him as a citizen, nothing is officially known about him and in certain circumstances his very existence is questioned. To the modern mind a human being is simply the physical offspring of his father and his mother.
This was not how people thought in a past not so very far distant. Scholars and researchers to-day do not, however, know that in earlier times not only was men’s thinking different but the content and implications of the words and designations used were different. Hence interpretations of ancient legends do not convey their real meaning. We are told, for instance, of Orpheus, a Greek singer. I refer to him because he belongs to the period several centuries before the rise of Christianity. We may think of him as the one responsible for the organisation of the Greek Mysteries. This fourth post-Atlantean epoch of which he was an important figure in the opening stage, was a preparation for the Christ Event and what humanity was to receive through it. Thus in Greece Orpheus was the great Preparer.
If a man of the modern age were to encounter a figure such as Orpheus, he would simply say: he is the son of such-and-such a father and such-and-such a mother -- and science might possibly look for inherited characteristics. There is, for example, a bulky tome in which all the hereditary characteristics of Goethe’s families are set forth in an endeavour to present him as the sum-total of those characteristics. That is by no means how people thought in the days of Orpheus. The man of flesh and his physical attributes were not what really mattered to them. The essential qualities were those that enabled Orpheus to be the leader and organiser of pre-Christian Greek culture -- certainly not the physical brain or nervous system. The essential thing was the fact that he had within him -- in his own field of experience -- a quality derived from the supersensible world and united with the material-physical element provided by his personality. The eyes of the Greeks were directed, not to the physical figure of Orpheus descending from father and mother, perhaps also from grandfather and grandmother; this figure was more or less unessential, being merely the outer expression, the sheath. The essential element was what had descended from a supersensible source and had united with a material entity on the physical plane. Hence a Greek would have said to himself: When Orpheus is before me, the fact that he descends from a father and a mother need hardly be taken into account; what is of importance is that his soul-qualities, which have made him what he is, stem from the supersensible, from a supersensible reality which has never hitherto had anything to do with the physical plane; a physical-material element has here been able to unite with the supersensible reality in his personality. -- And because the Greeks regarded a purely supersensible quality as the hallmark of Orpheus, they said he was the offspring of a Muse, the son of Calliope, not of a physical mother but of a supersensible reality which had never had any previous connection with the physical and material.
But as the son of Calliope and nothing more than that, Orpheus could have given expression only to manifestations of the supersensible world. In keeping with the nature of the age in which he lived, it was also his mission to give expression to what would be of service to physical life in that epoch. Hence he was not only a mouthpiece for the Muse, for Calliope, as in much earlier times the Rishis were merely mouthpieces for supersensible Powers, but his own life gave expression to the supersensible in such a way that the physical world also was important to his life. His teaching was connected with and suited to the climate of Greece, to what was part of outer nature in Greece -- and so Orpheus was made the son of Oeagrus, the Thracian River-God.
This shows us that to the Greeks what mattered most in their view was what was living in Orpheus’ soul. In those days men were characterised by the quality of their souls, by their spiritual value, not, as in later times, by saying: he is the son of so-and-so, or, he comes from such and such a town. It is very interesting to see how deeply involved the Greeks felt in the destiny of a man such as Orpheus, who descended on the one side from a Muse and on the other from a Thracian River-God. Unlike the ancient prophets, Orpheus was subject not only to supersensible influences but to material influences as well -- to all the influences exercised by the physical-material world.
Now we know that man consists of several members: the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body and the Ego, the ‘I’. A man such as Orpheus, descended from a Muse -- you now know what that means -- was still able to see into the spiritual world; but on the other hand, his capacity for experiencing the spiritual world was weakened by the life he led on the physical plane as the son of his father, the Thracian River-God.
The Leaders in the second and third post-Atlantean culture-epochs who became mouthpieces for utterances of the spiritual worlds were able to perceive their own etheric body separated from the physical. In the civilisations where ancient clairvoyance prevailed -- and it was the same even among the Celts -- when a man was to be made aware of something he was called upon to communicate to his fellow-men, it was revealed to him in this way: his etheric body emerged from the physical body and became the bearer of forces which streamed down into it. If those who proclaimed the utterances of the spiritual worlds were men, their etheric bodies were female and they consequently saw in female form whatever communicated messages to them from the spiritual worlds.
Now it was also the purpose of the legend to show that although Orpheus was in direct contact with the spiritual Powers, as the son of a Thracian River-God there was always the possibility that he would be unable to retain what was revealed to him through his own etheric body. The more thoroughly he made himself at home in the physical world and lived his life as a son of his country, the more did his power of clairvoyance recede. The story relates that Eurydice, the transmitter of his revelations, his soul-bride, was torn away from him through the bite of an adder -- a picture of his human failings -- and carried off to the underworld. He could win her back only by passing through an Initiation. -- Whenever we are told of a journey into the underworld, an Initiation is meant. -- In order to win back his bride, Orpheus must pass through an Initiation. But he was already too closely enmeshed in the physical world. He had indeed acquired the capacity to make his way into the underworld, but on his return, when his eyes again encountered the sunlight, Eurydice vanished from his sight. Why was this? It was because on seeing the sunlight he did something that was forbidden him: he turned and looked back. That is to say, he disobeyed a strict command given him by the God of the underworld, namely, that physical man, living on the physical plane, must not look back beyond the point of time I have indicated, to the period of the macrocosmic experiences of childhood; if these experiences were to penetrate into the consciousness normal in later life, they would give rise to clairvoyance in its ancient form. Hence the command of the God of the underworld that no man may seek to penetrate the mysteries of childhood, to remember where the Threshold is fixed. -- But this was what Orpheus did, and he consequently lost the faculty of clairvoyance.
Something of great delicacy and subtlety in connection with Orpheus is set before us in this story of the loss of Eurydice. One consequence is that man is sacrificed to the physical world. With a nature still deeply rooted in the spiritual he is also, partially, the sort of being which it is his destiny to become on the physical plane. And so all the forces of the physical plane press in upon him and he loses Eurydice, his own innocent soul -- which it is the fate of modern man also to lose. These forces tear Orpheus to pieces; in a sense, he is sacrificed.
What is it, then, that Orpheus experienced as representative of the transition between the third and fourth epochs of post-Atlantean culture? In the first place he experienced the stage of consciousness which the child leaves behind -- the connection with the Macrocosm. This does not pass over into his conscious life and therefore in his essential being man is torn to pieces and killed by life on the physical plane which in the real sense begins at the point of which we have been speaking.
And now keep in mind this man living on the physical plane; he is normally able to remember back only to a certain point of time; beyond this lie the three years of earliest childhood. With this thread of memory he is so enmeshed in the physical plane that, in his own being, he cannot endure it and he is torn to pieces. Thus it is with the true spirit of man to-day -- here is a proof of how deeply he is enmeshed in matter. This is the spirit which in Pauline Christianity is called the ‘Son of Man’. Here is a concept which you must grasp -- the concept of the Son of Man who can be found in a human being onwards from the point in his life to which his later memory extends, and includes everything he has acquired from the civilisation around him. Keep this ‘man’ in your mind, and then picture to yourselves what he might become if there were added to him all that presses in upon him from the Macrocosm in the first three years of his childhood. This could be a foundation only, because at that stage the developed human ‘I’ is not yet present. But if it did merge into the consciousness of a developed ‘I’, we should witness a happening comparable with what took place at the Baptism in the Jordan at the moment when the Spirit descended from above into Jesus of Nazareth: the three innocent years of early childhood merged with the rest of the human being. That is the immediate fact. And the consequence was that this innocent childhood-life, as it sought to develop on the physical Earth, could evolve for three years only -- as is indeed always the case -- and then met its end on Golgotha. It could not merge with what man becomes at the point in time from which in later life his memory normally begins.
Think what it would be like if; in one man, we saw mingled together all the interconnections with the Macrocosm which show themselves dimly and indistinctly in the early years of childhood but which cannot really light up in the child because he is as yet without Ego-consciousness. Think further, and picture to yourselves how, if the reality did dawn in this way in a later consciousness, something would take shape which has its origin, not in man’s own nature but in the depth of those cosmic worlds out of which we are born. If you think of all this you will get an idea of the meaning of the words spoken in connection with the event portrayed as the descent of the Dove: ‘This is my beloved Son; this day have I begotten him.’ That means: Here the Christ is incarnated, begotten, in Jesus of Nazareth, born in him at the moment of the Baptism by John. In the Christ there was present, in its highest form, the consciousness otherwise belonging only to the early years of childhood; now, mingling with it, there was feeling of oneness with the Cosmos which a child would feel if it could be fully aware of its experiences during the first three years. In that case there would be still another meaning in the words: ‘I and the Father’ -- that is, the cosmic Father -- ‘are one’.
If you ponder deeply about these things you will get an inkling of what was experienced by St. Paul as a first, basic element in the revelation near Damascus and finds expression in the beautiful words: ‘Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.’ Among many meanings of this saying there is the one indicated by St. Paul: Not I, but Christ in me -- the Christ, that is, who has a macrocosmic consciousness such as a child would have if it could somehow combine the consciousness belonging to the first three years with the Ego-consciousness of later life. In the normal man of to-day these two forms of consciousness are separate: indeed they must be separate, for they are incompatible. Nor were they any more compatible in Christ Jesus Himself; after those three years, death was bound to supervene and to occur in the circumstances as they actually were in Palestine. These circumstances were not matters of chance but came about because these two lived within each other: the Son of God (which is man from the moment of his birth until the development of the Ego-consciousness) and the Son of Man (which is what he is after Ego-consciousness has been attained). The events which then culminated in the happenings in Palestine were the outcome of the living together of the Son of God and the Son of Man.
Lecture Seven: The higher Members of Man's Constitution: their relation to the Physical Body and to the outer World
Background to the Gospel of St. Mark
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