11 November 1904, Berlin *Source for the
Re-checked shorthand notes by Franz Seiler; notes by Mathilde Scholl; longhand notes by Marie Steiner von Sivers.
About the text
All sources concur that we are here dealing with a shortened version of this lecture. The conclusion especially is preserved in only a very fragmentary fashion. In a handwritten copy of the notes of Mathilde Scholl there is a marginal reference to the fact that the contents of this lecture were later included in the third degree of the section dealing with cult and symbolism of the Esoteric School. The main value that these notes have for us today is that they form the only full account of Manicheism in the whole of Rudolf Steiner's work. As literary source material Rudolf Steiner made use of the work of Eugen Heinrich Schmitt: Die Gnosis — Grundlagen der Weltanschauung einer edleren Kultur, Vol. 1, Leipzig, 1903, a book which Rudolf Steiner had in his private library and which he had commended in his periodical: Luzifer (see note 2). In the chapter of this work dealing with Manicheism the extracts which Rudolf Steiner used for his lecture were marked by him. This lecture was held in the same year when the first fragments of the original Manichean manuscripts from Turfan were published.
We have been asked to say something about Freemasonry. This cannot be understood, however, until we have examined the original spiritual currents related to Freemasonry, which can be seen as its sources. An even more important spiritual current than Rosicrucianism was Manicheism. So first we need to speak about this much more important movement and then, at a later time, we can shed a light on Freemasonry.
What I have to say on this subject is connected with various things which influence the spiritual life of today and will influence it in time to come. And to illustrate how one who is actively engaged in this field constantly comes across something — if only obliquely — I would point out, by way of introduction, that on many occasions I have described the problem of Faust 1 See: Goethe's Standard of the Soul, Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1925; Goethe's Secret Revelation and the Riddle of Faust, Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1933; The Problem of Faust, (R. 55) — especially lecture of 3rd November 1917. as of particular importance for modern spiritual life. And that is why the modern spiritual movement is brought into connection with the problem of Faust in the first number of Luzifer. 2 The first number of Rudolf Steiner's Luzifer, a periodical concerned with soul life, spiritual development and theosophy, with its opening article on Luzifer, appeared in June 1903. The allusion I made to the problem of Faust in my essay in Luzifer is not without a certain reason.
to bring the things with which we are concerned into connection with
one another, we must start from a spiritual tendency which first
manifested in about the third century
It is that spiritual
movement whose great opponent was St. Augustine,
3 The famous Church Father (354–430 A.D.)
was, according to his own confession, a disciple of Manicheism
for nearly nine years until his ‘conversion.’ See lecture of
Festivals of the Seasons.
although before he went over to the side of the Catholic Church he was
himself an adherent of this faith. We have to speak about Manicheism,
which was founded by a person who called himself Mani
4 Originally Mani is said to have been called ‘Corbicius.’
‘Mani’ was the name which he gave himself and, according
to Schmitt (see note concerning the text), this has the significance:
‘an Aeon of the Mandeans: Mana raba, which is as much as to say:
the promised Comforter, the Paraclete.’ The date of Mani's life
is usually considered to be 215/16–276/7
and lived about
the time of the third century
This movement spread from a part of the
world which was then ruled by the kings of the Near East; that is to
say, from a region of Western Asia Minor. This Mani was the founder
of a spiritual movement which although at first only a small sect,
became a mighty spiritual current. The Albigenses, Waldenses and
5 According to Charles William Heckethorn (see note to lecture 3 of
30th September 1904): ‘The sect of the Albigenses, the offspring of
Manicheism, fructified in its turn the germs of the Templars and
Rosicrucians, and of all those associations that continued the
struggle and fought against ecclesiastical and civil oppression.’ The
relationship between Manicheism and Freemasonry is expressed thus by
Heckethorn: ‘Masons in this degree call themselves the
“children of the widow”, the sun on descending into his
tomb leaving nature — of which Masons consider themselves the pupils
— a widow; but the appellation may also have its origin in the
Manichean sect, whose followers were known as the “sons of the
According to Joseph Schauberg in his book (Vergleichendes Handbuch der Symbolik der Freimaurerei mit besonderer Rucksicht auf die Mythologien und Mysterien des Altertums) on the symbolism of Freemasonry, a copy of which was in Rudolf Steiner's library: ‘... nearly all Freemasonry symbols show that the Masons of old believed in and dedicated their service to a worship of the light after the manner of the Oriental sects of the Parsecs, Sabaeans, perhaps also of the Manicheans.’ of the Middle Ages are the continuation of this current, to which also belong the Knights Templar, of whom we shall speak separately, 6 There is no evidence to show when this could have taken place in this context. See also sixth lecture (25th September 1916) in Inner Impulses working in the Evolution of Mankind, (R. 45), and lecture of 2nd October 1916 (Z 425). and also — by a remarkable chain of circumstances — the Freemasons. Freemasonry really belongs to this stream, though it is connected with others, for instance with Rosicrucianism. 7 The origin of Freemasonry and its connection with Rosicrucianism is a much debated and unsolved theme, even in the literature of Freemasonry itself, whereas it has hardly even been touched on in serious historical studies. A first attempt in this direction, if exclusively from a rational and a spiritual point of view, is the work of Frances A. Yates: The Rosicrucian Enlightenment.
outer history has to say about Mani is very simple.
8 At this point the contents of Rudolf Steiner's lecture seem
to have been very inadequately reported. He based what he had to say
on a legend which he later repeated in a lecture for members
(according to notes lacking date or indication of locality). In the
aforementioned notes the literal transcript is as follows: ‘Mani, or
Manes, the founder of Manicheism appeared in the third century
in Babylon. An unusual legend has the following to say about him:
Skythianos and Terebinthus, or Buddha, were his predecessors. The
latter was the pupil of the former. After the violent death of
Skythianos, Terebinthus fled with the books to Babylon. He also
suffered misfortune; the only one to accept his teachings was an
elderly widow. She inherited his books and left them, at her death,
to her foster child, a twelve year old boy whom she had adopted out
of slavery when he was seven years old. The latter, who might also be
called a “Son of the Widow”, came to public notice at the
age of 24 as Manes, the founder of Manicheism.’
This legend is dealt with at length and with full references as to source in the work of D. Schwolsohn: Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus, Petersburg and Leipzig, 1856. (The detailed source references are not quoted in what follows):
‘Now that it has been established that Manicheism has been derived from Mandaism, we shall attempt to throw light on the account given of Mani by another of the Church Fathers. According to Epiphanius, Cyrillus Hierosolymitanus, Socrates and the author of the Acta Disputationis S. Archelai (Acta Archelai) with whom Theodoretus Suidas and Cedrenus in part agree, Mani was not the real founder of Manicheism but had as his predecessor a certain Scythianus and the latter's pupil, Terebinthus, who afterwards called himself Buddha. It goes on to say that anyone who wished to make a denial of the heresy of Manicheism, must at the same time abjure Zarades (Zoroaster), Buddha and Scythianus. According to the Acta Archelai, the last-named was a Scyth from Scythia — which accounts for his name, which was not really Scythianus — and he appeared at the time of the Apostles, when he started to spread his doctrine of the two principles. He is said to have been a Saracen by birth and married a woman from upper Thebes, for whose sake he settled in Egypt, where he became acquainted with the wisdom of the Egyptians. Epiphanius, Socrates and Cyrillus, Hierosolymitanus give similar accounts, only the first of these says that he was a Saracen by birth, was educated in Arabia and journeyed to India and Egypt, and the last mentioned says emphatically that his teachings had nothing in common with either Judaism or Christianity. He, or his pupil Terebinthus, was the author of four books, which the latter, after his emigration to Babylon, left to a widow when he died. Mani, the slave of this widow, inherited these writings from her and proclaimed their doctrines as his own. Theodoretus, Suidas and Cedrenus have the same to say of Terebinthus and Mani, only they identify the latter with Scythianus; Theodoritus even goes so far as to say that the reason why Mani was called Scythianus was that he was a slave, and Suidas and Cedrenus say that by birth he was a Brahmin. Bauer maintains that these two predecessors of Mani, Scythianus and Terebinthus-Buddha could not possibly be held to be historical personages: “Alone the obvious anachronism that Scythianus is reckoned as belonging to the time of the Apostles, and then to make his successor, Mani, appear soon after, is enough to make us suspicious of the historical truth of the whole story”. This, however, is quite a wrong supposition. The time of the Apostles lasted until Trajan, who died in 117, for, according to Eusebius, John the Evangelist only died during Trajan's reign. When it is said that Scythianus appeared during the time of the Apostles, it is only the last years of the said Apostle which are meant. As proof of this a point made by Suidas will serve, to the effect that the Emperor Nerva (who reigned from 97 A.D. for 1 year and 4 months) recalled the Evangelist, John, from Patmos, where he had been in exile, to Ephesus; at that time, adds Suidas, the dogma of the Manicheans became known through the public proclamation of Mani's heresy. The latter statement, however, is almost certainly founded on mistaken identity: for, in another place, Suidas himself says that Manes lived at the time of the Emperor Aurelian (reigned from 271–275). Without doubt, Suidas gleaned from his source that Scythianus proclaimed his dualistic doctrine at the time of Nerva and as he, as mentioned above, confused Manes with Scythianus, he substituted the former for the latter. According to that Scythianus started proclaiming his doctrine at the time of Nerva, that is to say, in 97 A.D. His pupil, Terebinthus-Buddha, may therefore have lived until 170 or 180 A.D., or even longer. Mani appears to have been born about 190 A.D. En-Nadim informs us (on the authority of Mohammed ben Is'haq Sahrmani, who is otherwise unknown) that Mani came before Schabur Ardsir (Sapores I) in the second year of the reign of the Roman Emperor Gallus (Trebonianus), who commenced his rulership November 251 A.D. As en-Nadim further adds, this took place on April lst, according to the Manicheans; that is to say, on April lst 253 A.D. But as Mani, according to en-Nadim, had been wandering the land and gathering pupil@ for forty years before he came before Schabur and was already twenty-four years old before he started to preach his doctrines, it follows from this that he must have been born around the year 190 A.D. According to the reports of the above mentioned Church Fathers, Mani did not come into direct personal contact with Terebinthus, but arrived as a seven year old boy at the house of the widow, in whose possession were the writings of the already deceased Terebinthus. The chronology therefore fits in very well and Scythianus and Terebinthus-Buddha can very well both be historical personages; only Bauer makes the conjecture, for reasons which have much in their favour, that Scythianus and Terebinthus-Buddha are identical, which could be so, as Mani, as stated above, never came into personal contact with either of them. But the questions remain: who was Scythianus and whence did he obtain his dualistic teaching? The Acta Archelai states specifically that he was a Scyth from Scythia and yet he is generally called a Saracen. We explain this contradiction in the following way: he was born in a northeastern province of Parthia, which in later times went under the general name of Scythia. Afterwards he wandered to the Near East, namely southern Mesopotamia and north-eastern Arabia (whence the name “Saracen”) and, at the time of Nerva, he was proclaiming his dualistic teaching and became the precursor of Mani. Bauer expressed himself likewise. El'hasai'h, or Elchasai', or Elkasai' (founder of the sect of the Ssabiers or Sabians, mentioned in the Koran — otherwise Mandaeans) also came from northeastern Parthia and proclaimed his dualistic doctrine in the same region and at the same time as Scythianus and was also, in certain respects, a precursor of Mani, as has been shown above. Does it not appear to be a reasonable conjecture to suppose that Scythianus, who was named after his birth place, is identical to the El'hasai'h of en-Nadim, the Elchasai' of the Pseudo-Origines and the Elkasai' of Epiphanius and Theodoretus?
After what has been said there can be no further doubt about the influence of Parsism on Mendaeism, a fact which was already suspected by Lorsbach. Bauer would see indications of the spread of Buddhism — with its consequent influence on Manicheism — in the accounts of Scythianus and Terebinthus-Buddha, whom he identifies, but to whom he attaches no historical reality. This he would see substantiated in many ways, one of which is the abjuration formula of the Manicheans who, on conversion to the Church, were required to denounce Buddha among others. An influence of Buddhism in the Near East at such an early date is certainly a possibility; for enNedim states specifically that Buddhism had penetrated into Transoxiana even before Mani's time. Weber also finds it “highly probable that Buddhist missionaries, urged on by their fresh religious zeal, had spread over the further parts of western Iran” at the time of which he was speaking (the time of the Greek rulership of India). Weber adds, however, that data on the subject are wanting. In another place he remarks: “the important influence which Buddhism had on the teaching of Mani is easily explained by the flowering of the same under the Yueitchi-Princes of Indo-Scythia, whose rulership spread temporarily over a large part of the eastern provinces of Iran”. We are also of the opinion that the account which Mas'udi gives of the journeys of Budasp (Buddha) to Seg'estan, Zabulistan and Kerman point to an early spread of Buddhism in Persia. If, then, according to this, Scythianus, who in our opinion is a well-authenticated historical personality, was the disseminator of Buddhist doctrines, so, according to the above arguments, we would have to look for Buddhist elements and Buddhist influences among the Mendaeans. Perhaps the many assertions of Mohammedan writers to the effect that Budasp (Buddha) was the founder of the cult of the Ssabiers arose out of an actual historical influence of Buddhism on the Mendaeans, who were originally called Ssabiers by the Mohammedans. The genetic origin of both Buddhism and Mendaeism is still insufficiently known for us to be able to form conclusive views about the influence of the former on the latter. We will therefore content ourselves with gentle hints and indications to future investigators, which may perhaps help towards clearing up the problem.’
Even though the latest research no longer pays heed to this legend, because it ascribes a different origin to Mani, it is not thereby invalidated as a description of Mani's ‘spiritual’ origin. Compare note 13: ‘why it was that Mani called himself the “Son of the Widow”’ — and Rudolf Steiner's ninth lecture of the cycle given in Munich in 1909: The East in the Light of the West, Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., and Anthroposophic Press
It is said that there once lived a merchant in the Near East who was very learned. He compiled four important works: first, Mysteria, secondly, Capitola, thirdly, Evangelium, and lastly Thesaurus. It is further related that at his death he left these writings to his widow who was a Persian. This widow, on her part, left them to a slave whose freedom she had bought and whom she had liberated. That was the said Mani, who then drew his wisdom out of these writings, though he was also initiated into the Mithraic mysteries. 9 According to Franz Cument: The Mithras Mysteries, Manicheism was the inheritor of the Mithras Mysteries and the continuator of their mission. Mani is called the ‘Son of the Widow’, and his followers are called the ‘Sons of the Widow.’ However, Mani described himself as the ‘Paraclete’. 10Compare once more with lecture 9 of The East in the Light of the West, quoted above. the Holy Spirit promised to mankind by Christ. We should understand by this that he saw himself as one incarnation of the Holy Spirit; he did not mean that he was the only one. He explained that the Holy Spirit reincarnated, and that he was one such reincarnation.
The teaching which he proclaimed was opposed in the most vigorous fashion by Augustine after he had gone over to the Catholic Church. Augustine opposed his Catholic views to the Manichean teaching which he saw represented in a personality whom he called Faustus. 11In his writing: Contra Faustum. Regarding Faustus, compare Bruckner: Faustus von Mileve, Basle, 1901, where Faustus is described as an important representative of Manicheism in Roman cultural circles. Faustus is, in Augustine's conception, the opponent of Christianity. Here lies the origin of Goethe's Faust, and of his conception of evil. The name ‘Faust’ goes back to this old Augustinian teaching.
One usually hears it said about Manichean teaching that it is distinguished from western Christianity by its different interpretation of evil. Whereas Catholic Christianity regards evil as an aberration from its divine origin, the defection of originally good spirits from God, Manicheism teaches that evil is just as eternal as good; that there is no resurrection of the body, and that evil, as such, will continue for ever. Evil, therefore, has no beginning, but springs from the same source as good and has no end.
If you come to know Manicheism in this form it will seem radically unchristian and quite incomprehensible.
should like to study the matter thoroughly according to the
traditions which are supposed to have originated from Mani himself,
and so see what it is all about. An external clue is given us in the
Manichean legend; just such a legend as the Temple Legend, which I
recounted to you recently. All such spiritual currents connected with
initiation are expressed exoterically in legends, but the legend of
Manicheism is a great cosmic legend,
12The legend is given as follows by Eugen Heinrich Schmitt (see notes
referring to text above referring to Schmitt).
‘“While the Powers of Darkness were chasing and devouring one another in a wild rage they arrived one day at the borders of their territory. Here they glimpsed a few beams of the Kingdom of Light and were so struck by the 'splendid sight that they decided to relinquish their quarrels among themselves and took counsel together as to how they could gain mastery over the Good which they had just seen for the first time and of which they formerly had no notion. Their desire thereafter was so great that all of them, as many as there were, armed themselves for battle.” This is the description of events given by Titus of Bostra. In a similar way Alexander of Lycopolis presents it to us: “In the Hyle (Matter) desire arose to climb to the upper regions; there was espied the Divine Ray of Light which engendered so much amazement that a decision was immediately formed to get the same into its power.” Of the measures taken by the threatened Kingdom of Light we are informed by the Acts of Archelaus (Acta disputationis cum Maneta, Chap. 7): “As the Father of Light became aware that the Darkness was about to attack his holy Domain, he allowed a force to emanate from him which is called the Mother of Life, this, in its turn, produced from itself Archetypal Man who, arrayed with the five pure Elements; Light, Fire, Wind, Water, Earth, descended to the earth like an armed warrior to do battle against Darkness.” Manes himself gives the name of the Universal or World-Soul to this force which emanates from God. We can recognise here the same force which is called the Heavenly Mother or Holy Spirit by Bardesanes and other Gnostics (According to Titus of Bostra 1. 29. Compare Bauer: Manicheism).
‘When Hyle made its attack, God held counsel to decide on a punishment, says Alexander of Lycopolis. But, as he had no means of punishment — there being no Evil in the House of God — he sent forth a force, a Soul-Force, against Matter, so that Matter was penetrated through and through and death consumed it with the force of this separation, with the force of this inner division and confusion which resulted from being mixed together in this way. It reminds us of the saying of Christ: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation.” (Luke 11. 17). The latter interpretation contains the deeper esoteric meaning of the above battle. Not force against force, not evil against evil can be the recompense of the gentle light of heaven of which the moral was proclaimed by Christ. His victory must be achieved in quite a different way: in the form of a quiet disintegration in which the Forces of Light act as a kind of ferment to leaven the dough of matter; thus the Gospel describes the battle of the Light in such a wonderfully meaningful fashion. The pictures which Mani gives describe exactly the same event as the Gospel, but in more detail and with a depth which corresponds to the more mature historical setting.
‘Therefore it is exactly the same thought which is expressed in the further unfolding of this Manichean hero-tale. In the struggle against the opposing forces of Hyle the heavenly hero is not able to prevail, although, like Proteus of the Greek saga, he constantly disguises himself and takes on the shape of the various elements. The Demons overcome him and gain possession of his armour; yes, they appropriate many pieces of his radiant, sun-like nature to themselves and he would have been entirely at their mercy had he not called out to the Father, the Primeval Source of Light! The latter sent him the help of the Spirit of Life (pneuma zoon), who stretched forth the succour of his right hand and drew him up again out of darkness into the Heights of Light. “That is why”, adds the Acta Archelaus Chapter 7, “when Manicheans meet one another they give each other the right hand, as a token that they have been rescued out of darkness; for, in darkness, says Mani, live all heresies.” This point is of particular interest, because it quite openly states the object of this allusion, “heresy”, which in this case refers to the Ecclesiastical, Satanic doctrine, which has known how to appropriate the Garment of Light, the outward form of Christianity, to itself to deceive and captivate the nobler souls. These are the plundered sun-like parts of Archetypal Man, which have come under the dominion of depravity-seeking mankind; a depravity which took on the appearance of sanctity through this act of plunder. It is, however, only one aspect of the meaning of this myth, which embraces both evolution and history. The noblest parts of Archetypal Man, his Sons, as it were, were fixed in the heavens as Sun and Moon by the Spirit of Life. These are the symbols of the all-illuminating Light and Life of Christ and the Paraclete, whereas the other stars, as scattered, expired light, are fixed in the heavens as the Demons of the Night. This Spirit of Life makes his appearance as the tamer of material existence, as the Spirit who brings measure and sets a limit to matter. He was therefore given the name “Architect of the Universe” by the Manicheans and essentially he plays the part of Horos, or Horothathos, the boundary-marker of Valentius. That part of divine Life and Light, however, which is held captive in the nature forms of the plants, animals and Man, is given the name: suffering Jesus: the Man of Sorrows: Jesus Patibilis. In the sense of Manicheism, however, Jesus only represents this divine figure when he surmounts the restricted sufferings within the narrow limits of the body, when it was nailed to the Cross on the hill near Jerusalem. He becomes the Saviour of the World only when he identifies his Divine Life with that of all the suffering beings of a world yearning for his redeeming, light-shedding thoughts. And nothing is more characteristic of the crudity of the basic views of the Constantinian Church than that its chief exponent, the great Augustine, was morally unable to find anything in these thoughts but a calumny and defilement and humiliation which would have been sufficient to make the Manicheans blush. On the other hand, we have seen with what delicacy Mani discharged himself of his task of rendering tangible a struggle between the forces of the Divine and the forces of Matter, of Evil, of Violence and the Demonic, and how beautifully he is able to honour the holy majesty of powerless mildness and to bring forth the dawning of a more noble culture of which the rough Roman mind of an Augustine had no inkling.’ a super-sensible legend.
It tells us that at one time the spirits of darkness wanted to take the kingdom of light by storm. They actually reached the borders of the kingdom of light and hoped to conquer it. But they failed to achieve anything. Now they were to be punished — and that is a very significant feature which I beg you to take account of — they were to be punished by the kingdom of light. But in this realm there was nothing which was in any way evil, there was only good. Thus the demons of darkness could only have been punished with something good. So what happened? The following: The spirits of light took a part of their own kingdom and mixed it with the materialised kingdom of darkness. Because there was now a part of the kingdom of light mingled with the kingdom of darkness, a leaven had been introduced into the kingdom of darkness, a ferment which produced a chaotic whirling dance, whereby it received a new element into itself; i.e. death. Therefore, it continually consumes itself and thus carries within itself the germ of its own destruction. It is further related that just because of this, the race of mankind was brought into existence. Primeval man represents just what was sent down from the kingdom of light to mix with the kingdom of darkness and to conquer, through death, what should not have been there; to conquer it within his own being.
The profound thought which lies in this is that the kingdom of darkness has to be overcome by the kingdom of light, not by means of punishment, but through mildness; not by resisting evil, but by uniting with it in order to redeem evil as such. Because a part of the light enters into evil, the evil itself is overcome.
Underlying that is the interpretation of evil which I have often explained as that of theosophy. What is evil? Nothing but an ill-timed good. To cite an example which has often been quoted by me, let us assume that we have to do with a virtuoso pianist and an excellent piano technician, both perfect in their sphere. First of all the technician has to build the piano and then hand it over to the pianist. If the latter is a good player he will use it appropriately and both are equally good. But should the technician go into the concert hall instead of the pianist and start hammering away he would then be in the wrong place. Something good would have become something bad. So we see that evil is nothing else than a misplaced good.
When what is especially good at one time or another strives to be preserved, to become rigid and thus curb the progress of further development, then, without doubt, it becomes evil, because it opposes the good. Let us suppose that the leading powers of the lunar epoch, though perfect in their way and in their activity, were to continue to intermingle with evolution though they ought to have ceased their activity, then they would represent something evil in earth evolution. Thus evil is nothing else than the divine, for, at that other time, what is evil when it comes at the wrong season, was then an expression of what is perfect, what is divine.
We must interpret the Manichean views in this profound sense, that good and evil are fundamentally the same in their origin and in their ending. If you interpret it in this way you will understand what Mani really intended to bring about. But, on the other hand, we still have to explain why it was that Mani called himself the ‘Son of the Widow’ 13The Manicheist scholar, Hans Heinrich Schaeder, writes in his study of Origin and Development of the Manichean System, from his collection of lectures, 1924–1925, from the Warburg Library: ‘We do not know what “Son of the Widow” means.’ Rudolf Steiner, by contrast, explains the meaning still more profoundly than in the lecture under consideration as being a ‘Mystery’ title. (The Mysteries of the East and of Christianity, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972). and why his followers were called the ‘Sons of the Widow’.
When we turn back to the most ancient times, before our present Root Race, the mode in which mankind acquired knowledge was different. You will perceive from my description of Atlantis — and also, when the next issue of Luzifer appears, you will see from my description of Lemuria 14His description in the periodical Luzifer. Contained in: Cosmic Memory, Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1971. — that at that time, and to a certain extent up to the present day, all knowledge was influenced by what is above mankind. I have often mentioned that that Manu 15See note 2 to lecture 4 of 7th October 1904. who will appear during the next Root Race will for the first time be a real brother to his fellow men, whereas all earlier Manus were superhuman, divine beings of a kind. Only now is man becoming ripe enough to have one of his brother men as his Manu, who has passed through all stages with him since the middle of Lemuria. What is really taking place then, during the evolution of the fifth Root Race? This, that the revelation from above, the guidance of the soul from above, is gradually being withdrawn, so that man is left to go his own way and become his own leader.
The soul was always known as the ‘mother’ in all esoteric (mystical) teachings; the instructor was the ‘father’. Father and mother, Osiris and Isis, those are the two forces present in the soul: the instructor, representing the divine which flows directly into man, Osiris, he that is the father; the soul itself, Isis, the one who conceives, receives the divine, the spiritual into itself, she is the mother. During the fifth Root Race, the father withdraws. The soul is widowed. Humanity is thrown back onto itself. It must find the light of truth within its own soul in order to act as its own guide. Everything of a soul nature has always been expressed in terms of the feminine. Therefore the feminine element — which exists only in a germinal state today and will later be fully developed — this self-directing feminine principle which is no longer confronted by the divine fructifier, is called by Mani the ‘Widow’. And therefore he calls himself ‘Son of the Widow’.
Mani is the one who prepares that stage in
man's soul development when he will seek for his own
soul-spirit light. Everything which comes from Mani is an appeal to
man's own spirit light of soul, and at the same time is a definite
rebellion against anything which does not come out of man's own
soul,out of man's own observation of his soul. Beautiful words have
been handed down from Mani
16Rudolf Steiner here gives a free rendering of a quotation
from Eugen Heinrich Schmitt:
already mentioned at the
beginning of these notes. Schmitt's text is as follows: ‘It would
therefore be a notable test of the fact that Manicheism, as
understood by initiates and as inner secret doctrine, is not just a
re-telling of Persian fables, but a genuine Gnostic teaching based on
spirit-vision, if we could only prove in a single case that the
Manicheans sought the source of their knowledge and warranty for
their truth, not in outward belief in authority (Mani said this or
that), but directly through inner soul-vision. And this evidence is
actually forthcoming. Mani himself introduces his foundation letter
(epistola fundamenti) with the following words:
‘“These are the words of healing and the eternal fountain of life. He who hears them and believes in them first of all and keeps their message will nevermore be prey to death but will enjoy a truly immortal and splendid life. For truly he is blessed who, through this divine doctrine, partakes of the knowledge (Gnosis) which sets him free to pass over into eternal life. The peace of the Invisible God and a knowledge of Truth will be with their brothers and loved ones who believe in the laws of heaven even as they put them into practice in their daily lives. And they will behold you sitting on the right hand of the Light and will take away from you all malevolent attacks and all snares of this world; the gentleness of the Holy Spirit will in truth open your inner sense, so that you shall behold your own soul with your very eyes”. The last words of this sentence, “Pietas vero Spiritus Sancti intima vestri pectoris adaperiat, ut ipsis oculis videatis vestras animas”, appear in the Latin of Augustine (De actis cum Felixe L. 1 C. 14 Migne Aug. Opp. omnia Tomas V-III).’ and have been the leading theme of his followers at all later times. We hear the words: You must lay aside everything which you have acquired as outer revelation by means of the senses. You must lay aside all things which come to you via outer authority; then you must become ripe to gaze into your own soul.
St. Augustine, on the other hand — in a conversation which made him into an opponent of the Manichean Faust — voiced the opinion: ‘I would not accept the teachings of Christ if they were not founded on the authority of the Church’. 17(Contra epist. Manich 5). The Manichean Faust said, 18(In Augustine's work: Contra Faustum, VI, 8). After Augustine (basing his statement on John XX, 29) calls those blessed who have not seen and yet have believed, Faustus makes the reply: ‘If you imagine that we are called upon to believe without reason or reckoning, then you may well be happier without reasoning, but I prefer to get my blessedness through insight.’ Quoted from Eugen Heinrich Schmitt: Die Gnosis — Grundlagen der Weltanschauung einer edleren Kultur, and marked in Rudolf Steiner's copy. however: ‘You should not accept any teaching on authority; we only wish to accept a doctrine in freedom.’ That illustrates the rebellious self-sufficiency of the spirit light which comes to expression so beautifully in the Faust saga. 19Compare Herman Grimm: ‘Die Entstchung des Volksbuches von Dr. Faustus,’ in Fifteen Essays, third edition, Berlin, 1882.
We meet this confrontation also in later sagas in the Middle Ages: on the one hand the Faust saga, on the other, the Luther saga. 20It is a well-known legend that Luther, while staying in hiding at the Wartburg in Thuringia under the protection of Frederick the Wise (1521–22), threw an ink-bottle at the Devil. Luther carries on the principle of authority. 21Martin Luther, 1483–1546. The great inaugurator of the German Reformation was an Augustinian monk prior to leaving the monastic life. See Rudolf Steiner's two lectures: ‘Luther’ and ‘Luther the Janus-head,’ in The Karma of Materialism, C 47. Faust, on the other hand, rebels, he puts his faith in the inner spirit light. We have the saga of Luther; he throws the inkwell at the devil's head. What appears to him to be evil he thrusts aside. And on the other hand we have Faust's pact with the devil. A spark from the kingdom of light is sent into the kingdom of darkness, so that when the darkness is penetrated, it redeems itself, evil is overcome by gentleness. If you think of it in this fashion you will see that this Manicheism fits in very well with the interpretation which we have given of evil.
How do we imagine the interworking of good and evil? We have to explain it as the harmonisation of life with form. 22Rudolf Steiner had spoken on several occasions about the concepts, life and form, at the time he gave this lecture. See lecture of 3rd November 1904: ‘Theosophy and Tolstoy’ copy Z 332. Also twenty-seventh lecture in Foundations of Esotericism, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983. How does life change over into form? Through coming up against resistance, through not manifesting all at once in one particular shape. Take note, for instance, how life in a plant — let us say a lily — speeds on from form to form. The life in the lily has fashioned, has elaborated, the form of the lily.
When this form has been created, life overcomes it and passes over into the seed to be reborn as the same life in a fresh form. And so life strides onward from form to form. Life itself is formless and could never perceptibly manifest its vital forces. The life of the lily, for instance, exists in the first lily and progresses to the second, third, fourth and so on. Everywhere there is the same life which appears in a limited form, spreading and interweaving. The fact that it appears in a limited form is a restriction imposed upon this universal flowing life. There would be no form if life were not restricted, if it were not arrested in its flowing force which radiates in all directions. It is just what remains behind, which, from a higher stage, appears like a fetter; it is just out of this that form evolves in the great cosmos.
What comprises life is always set in the framework of a form which was life in an earlier time. Example: the Catholic Church. The life which existed in the Catholic Church from St. Augustine until the fifteenth century was the Christian life. The life therein is Christianity. Ever and again this pulsating life emerges anew (the mystics). Where does the form come from? It is no less than the life of the old Roman Empire. What was still alive in the old Roman Empire has frozen into form. What was at first a Republic, then an Empire, what lived in outward appearance as the Roman State, surrendered its life, frozen into form, to the later Christianity; even its capital city, Rome, was previously the capital city of the Roman Empire, and the Roman provincial officers have their continuation in the presbyters and bishops. What was previously life later becomes form for a higher stage of life.
Is it not the same with human beings? What is human life? The fructification from above (Manas fructification), implanted into man in mid-Lemurian times, has today become his inner life. The form is what is carried over, as seed, from the lunar epoch. At that time, in the lunar period, the life of man consisted of the development of the astral body; now this has become the sheath, the form. Always the life of a former epoch becomes the form of a later epoch. In the harmonisation of form and life that other problem is expressed too: the problem of good and evil, through the fact that the good of a former epoch is joined to the good of a later epoch, which is fundamentally nothing but a harmonisation of progress with the things which hinder progress. That is what, at the same time, makes material existence possible, makes it possible for things to appear in outward form. It is our human existence on the solid mineral plane: soul life and what remains of the life of an earlier epoch hardened into a restrictive form. That, too, is the teaching of Manicheism regarding evil.
If we now pose the question from this point of view: What are Mani's intentions, what is the meaning of his statement that he is the Paraclete, the Spirit, the Son of the Widow? It means no less than that he intends to prepare for the time in which the men of the sixth Root Race will be guided out of their own being, by their own soul's light, to overcome outward forms and convert them to spirit.
Mani's intention is to create a spiritual current which goes beyond the Rosicrucian current, 23In a note of 1907 Rudolf Steiner writes that, within the Rosicrucian current, the initiation of Manes was looked upon as one of the Higher Degrees which consisted of understanding the true function of Evil. which leads further than Rosicrucianism. This current of Mani's will flow over to the sixth Root Race and has been in preparation since the founding of Christianity. It is just at the time of the sixth Root Race that Christianity will be expressed in its most complete form. Its time will truly have come. The inner Christian life, as such, overcomes every form, it is propagated by external Christianity and lives in all forms of the various confessions. Whoever seeks Christian life will always find it. It creates forms and destroys forms in various religious systems. It does not depend upon a search for conformity in the outward forms in which it is expressed, but it depends upon experiencing the inner life stream which is always current under the surface. What is still waiting to be made is a form for the life of the sixth Root Race. That must be created beforehand, it has to be there so that Christian life can be poured into it. This form has to be prepared by human beings who create an Organisation, a form, so that the true Christian life of the sixth Root Race can find its place therein. And this external form of society must derive from the intention which Mani has fostered, from the small group whom Mani has prepared. That must be the outer form of Organisation, the congregation in which the spark of Christianity will first be truly kindled.
From this you will be able to conclude that Manicheism will endeavour, first and foremost, to preserve purity in outer life; for its aim is to produce human beings who will provide an adequate vessel in the future. That is why such great stress was laid on absolute purity of mind and of life. The Cathars were a sect which rose like a meteor in the twelfth century. They called themselves Cathars because ‘cathar’ means ‘pure one’. They strove for purity in their way of life and in their moral attitude. They had to seek catharsis (purification) both inwardly and outwardly in order to form a community which would provide a pure vessel. That is what Manicheism was striving for. It was less a question in Manicheism of the cultivation of the inner life — for life will flow onwards through other channels — but rather the cultivation of the external form of life.
Now let us look at what is to come about during the sixth Root Race. Good and evil will then contrast very differently from the way that they do today. What will be evident to all mankind in the fifth Round 24See diagram in connection with lecture 10 of 23rd December 1904. Compare also: The Apocalypse of St. John, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1977. — that the outer physiognomy which each one acquires will directly mirror what Karma has made out of him — that will express itself spiritually in the sixth Root Race like a prelude to this event. Among those on whom Karma has bestowed an excess of evil, it will become particularly evident on a spiritual level. On the one hand there will be human beings possessing mighty inner forces of good, who will be gifted with great love and goodness; but, on the other hand, the opposite will also be seen. Evil will be present as a disposition without any disguise in a great many people, no longer cloaked or hidden from view. The evil ones will extol evil as something of particular worth. A glimmering of this delight in evil and the demonic pertaining to the sixth Root Race is already in evidence in certain men of genius. Nietzsche's ‘blonde beast’, 25‘blonde beast’ in his Zur Genealogie der Moral, which was widely praised. However, Rudolf Steiner said in his lecture of 6th October 1917, Elemental Spirits of Birth and Death,’ copy Z 400: ‘people understood very little about it ... It was the Devil himself who inspired people with the wish, as Nietzsche devotees, to become “blonde beasts” themselves ... but even though people never became “blonde beasts” in Nietzsche's sense — something took place in this century as a result of this socially disturbing impulse of the nineteenth century.’ for example, is a portent of this.
The unalloyed evil must be cast out of the stream of world evolution like dross. It will be relegated to the eighth sphere. 26This difficult occult concept had already been explained by Rudolf Steiner, shortly before this time, as for instance on 31st October 1904, in the following way: ‘In the first half of the fourth Round mankind developed the capacity for adapting his senses to the mineral kingdom for the first time. In the second half of the fourth Round he redeemed the mineral kingdom. But a part of this remained behind and was excluded, because it was no longer of any use to mankind. That constitutes the eighth sphere, which is no longer of use to the development of man, but can be used by higher beings.’ (From previously unpublished notes). In the year 1915, Rudolf Steiner again went very thoroughly into the concept of the eighth sphere. See: The Occult Movement in the Nineteenth Century, especially fourth and fifth lectures, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973. Today we stand immediately at the threshold of a time when good must consciously come to terms with evil.
The sixth Root Race will have the task of drawing evil back into the continuing stream of evolution through kindness. Then a spiritual current will have been born which does not oppose evil, even though it manifests in the world in its demonic form. The consciousness will have been established in the successors to the ‘Sons of the Widow’ that evil must be included again in evolution and be overcome, not by strife, but only through charitableness. It is the task of the Manichean spiritual stream forcefully to prepare for this. This spiritual stream will not die out, it will make its appearance in many forms. It appears in forms which many can call to mind but which need not be mentioned today. If it were to function merely in the cultivation of an inner mood of soul, this current would not achieve what it should do. It must express itself in the founding of communities which, above all, will look upon peace, love and passive resistance to evil as their standard of behaviour and will seek to spread this view. For they must create a receptacle, a form, for the life which will continue to exist even without their presence.
Now you can understand how it is that Augustine, the leading spirit of the Catholic Church, who developed the form of the Church very precisely in his City of God, who worked out the form for contemporary life, was of necessity the most violent opponent of that kind of form which is preparing for the future. Two polar opposites confront one another, Faust and Augustine: Augustine, who based his work on the Church, on the form belonging to his day, and Faust, who strives to prepare in man a sense for the form of the future.
That is the contrast which developed in the third and fourth centuries A.D. It is still present and finds expression in the struggle of the Catholic Church against the Knights Templars, the Rosicrucians, Albigenses, Cathars and so on. All of them are eliminated from the physical plane, but their inner spirit continues to be active. This contrast manifests again later in modified but still violent form in two currents born out of Western culture, that of Jesuitism (pertaining to Augustine) and that of Freemasonry 27Rudolf Steiner spoke in much more detail on this subject, which is here only briefly mentioned, in his lecture given in Dornach on 3rd July 1920 (as yet untranslated); but he also spoke about Jesuitism on 20th May, 3rd and 6th June: ‘Roman Catholicism.’ Copy Z 65. (Manicheism). Those who lead the battle on the one side are all conscious of what they are doing — they are the Catholics and Jesuits of the higher degrees. Of those, however, who are on the other side, who lead the battle in the spirit of Mani, only very few are conscious; only those at the head of the movement are conscious of it.
Thus Jesuitism (belonging to Augustine) and Freemasonry (Manicheism) confront one another in later centuries. They are the offspring of ancient spiritual currents. That is why you have in both these currents a continuation of the same ceremonies connected with initiation that you find in the old currents. The initiation into Jesuitism has the four degrees: Coadjutores temporales, Scholares, Coadjutores spirituales, Professi. The degrees of initiation in the true occult Freemasonry are similar. The two run parallel to one another but they point in quite different directions. 28In the shorthand version of Franz Seiler a few sentences occur at the end. It is not quite clear if this is the answer to a question: ‘Christ appears in person during the sixth Root Race (Great Epoch) — the Thousand-Years Reign, originally it was Aeon, in Latin saeculum saeculorum. In the sixth Root Race, therefore, both the Bad and the Good will have evolved ... [Gap] ... The Keely Motor came too early, no doubt. An individual will possess so much power during the seventh Root Race, that he will be able to kill thousands and thousands at a stroke.’ Compare this with note 29 to lecture 20, the last lecture in this volume.