Lectures to Priests: The Apocalypse
Dornach, 13 September 1924
Now that we have gathered together a number of elements in order to get at the essence of the Apocalypse, we will have to look more at the Apocalypse itself, and we will have to arrange things in such a way that we begin with several questions which are connected with the goal or end of what the Apocalypticer sees and what he wants to communicate to mankind; later on we will see why this particular choice of study materials is appropriate.
If we look at what he gives, one could say that it is a communication to human beings, a revelation to human beings, but a revelation which differs considerably from what arises when other communications which don't proceed from clairvoyance are brought to men. The Apocalypticer points out that it was a special event, a mighty enlightenment which enabled him to make his statement to humanity. However, thereby the Apocalypse appears as something which arises as a fact and an event which belongs to the continuation of Christian evolution.
We can say that of course the Mystery of Golgotha is the great starting point of Christian evolution upon earth which towers over everything else and which could only be anticipated and hoped for before; but then come the individual facts which must occur in order that Christian evolution continues from the Mystery of Golgotha through all the cycles of time to come. And the revelation which occurred through the Apocalypse is such an event. The author of the Apocalypse is fully aware that he's thereby not only putting what he experienced and is communicating to people into present-day evolution, but that what lies in the reception and further elaboration of the Apocalypse is a reality.
You see, the important, difference between Christianity and other religious confessions is that one has teachings in the ancient religious confessions, whereas the deed of Golgotha is the important thing in Christian evolution, and more deeds must be added to this important one. Therefore, the important thing for Christianity to do is to look for a real connection with the Mystery of Golgotha, and it's not of primary and fundamental importance to have the gospels interpreted for one. In recent times Christianity has taken on intellectualistic forms through the influence of intellectualism. One could, say that this is why that famous statement could be made: Jesus doesn't belong in the gospels. In other words, one can take the content of the gospels as teachings, but one doesn't have to: take the teacher who stands, behind them into account; he's not important. This means that, only the Father belongs in the gospels. It's as if the main thing about the Mystery of Golgotha was that Christ Jesus has appeared and has given a teaching from the Father. That is not the important thing. The important thing is that a deed was done on Golgotha — that Christ Jesus lived on earth and did the deed on Golgotha. The teaching is an incidental, accessory thing. Christianity must struggle through to, a recognition of this again, but it must also do it.
And so the Apocalypticer is aware that he receives this revelation and that this fact has taken place and that he works on through this fact; this is the important thing for him. For what is continually happening as a result of this? You know that from a formal viewpoint present-day man is living in such a way that he wears his three garments, physical body, etheric body and astral body which is connected with a certain normality. When he is in a sleeping condition the astral body and ego are outside the physical and etheric body and are in the earthly environment, in the spiritual region of the earthly environment, which is behind sensory, physical phenomena. They are not equipped for perceptibility in people today, they only become equipped through initiation. Man lives a dull existence during sleep, and only retains a general feeling about this on awaking, or he sees things in dreams, which emerge from sleep in the way which has often been described. Now if we don't think anything else than this; we have man's astral body and ego in the spiritual world, and they stand in that world in such a way that they can receive no direct impressions of Christ and his real nature.
Thus if we would think nothing else than what I just mentioned, the ego and astral body would enter the spiritual world every night and would have no direct connection with the Christ, would come back again to this earthly, physical garment, and since the Mystery of Golgotha has taken place in the course of earth evolution, they would have an impression of Christ, for the Christ is in the earth's aura, but this impression would remain dull. Just as other nocturnal impressions remain dull for day consciousness, so this impression that the Christ dwells in the physical and etheric bodies which lie there during sleep would only be perceived in the way that the sleeping condition is perceived by someone when he is waking up, and no distinct, clear experience could be there.
Let's suppose that right after the Mystery of Golgotha was accomplished, human beings were there who experienced what happened and who could communicate their direct impressions of the Mystery of Golgotha to others. And in fact Christ gave his apostles an esoteric training and a number of important teachings after his resurrection. All of this was handed on and it continued in the first decades after the Mystery of Golgotha had been accomplished. At a certain point this had to come to an end. And we can see how it gradually died down in certain circles. It's correct to say that there were tremendous esoteric teachings about Christianity in the writings which were denounced for being gnostic and in other writings of old church teachers who were apostolic students or pupils of apostolic students, which were then eradicated by the church, because the church wanted to get rid of the cosmic elements which were always connected with these teachings. The church destroyed very important things. They were destroyed; a reading of the akashic records will restore them to the last dot on the “i” when the time has come to restore them again.
Nevertheless, the great impressions which were there would have faded for outer historical evolution. The Apocalypse appeared the moment these things were in danger of dying out. And if the Apocalypse is taken in properly — and various people have made this attempt in the second epoch after the Mystery of Golgotha — if the Apocalypse is taken in, if this grand picture, this prophetic picture of evolution penetrates man's astral body and ego, then the ego and astral body bear a revelation which comes directly from the spiritual world — as I told you in the first lecture — which is really a kind of a letter, a direct verbal revelation from the spiritual world which is connected with visions. If this is taken into the astral body, and namely into the ego-organization and carried out into the sphere of the earth's aura during sleep, it means that all those who had taken in this Apocalypse; with inner understanding were gradually inscribing its content into the ether of the earth's aura. So that one can say: the presence of Christ gives the fundamental tone in the earth's aura, and he continues to work in it.
This Christ impulse has a strong influence upon man's etheric body every night when the astral body and ego are outside of the physical and etheric body, except that the average person is usually not able to find the Christ impulse which is contained in the etheric body when he returns to the physical body in the morning with his ego and astral body. But when John's pupils in the wider sense of the word take in the content of the Apocalypse, it becomes inscribed in the ether of the earth's aura. What is inscribed there then works upon the human etheric body between the times of going to sleep and waking up. It was inscribed there already through the great, significant impressions which the author of the Apocalypse, or better said, the receiver of it, got from divine, spiritual beings, so that people who have an inclination to relate themselves to the Mystery of Golgotha can expose their etheric body to the content of the Apocalypse during their sleeping condition. This is a real thing. Through the necessary Christ sentiments one can bring about such a condition of sleep that what is as it were brought about in the earth's ether by the content of the Apocalypse and what lies in the direction of Christ-evolution is inscribed in man's etheric body. This is the way it really happens. This is what was present as the deed of the Apocalypse revelation which continued to have an effect.
And in one's work as a priest one can quietly say to those souls who are entrusted to one's care: the Christ has entered earth evolution through the Mystery of Golgotha. He inspired the writing of the gospels to serve as a preparation, so that their content can pass over into men's astral body and ego — one has to use suitable terminology here — and so that they are prepared to receive the Christ impulse in their etheric body when they wake up. Through the fact that the Apocalypticer is focusing on Christian evolution and is describing it through the various epochs of evolution and into the future, what is present in this evolution is incorporated into man's etheric body in a concrete way.
You see, therewith we have something in earth evolution which is quite new with respect to the ancient mystery teachings. For what did the ancient mysteries really convey to initiates? They gave them what one can see if one surveys the real spiritual nature of what was laid down an eternally long time ago, as it were, and if one finds the divine being who has been working along certain lines all the way back to eternity in outer physical activities. So that the initiates in the ancient mysteries didn't expect to get anything else into their etheric body than what gets into one's etheric body through the results of initiation.
A Christian initiate gets past this point. He wants to take what has come into earth evolution in the course of time, namely, everything which is connected with the Mystery of Golgotha and with Christ, into his etheric body. So that in fact the revelation of the Apocalypse is the beginning of a kind of an initiation for the whole Christian world, and not for individuals; but individuals can prepare themselves to participate in it.
One could say that it's only this which opens up a path to get beyond the Father-nature principle. According to its form, all ancient initiation is basically a Father initiation. One sought nature and the spirit in nature and one could be satisfied with that. For man stood in the world. Now the Christ has been there in the earth. Now he remains there; he did his deed and he remains there now. One cannot take in what has taken place through the Mystery of Golgotha through an ancient initiation. One has to raise oneself into a world of the, spirit which is not the one that streams through the ancient mysteries. What streams through the old mysteries only hoped that the Mystery of Golgotha would stream through the new mysteries at some point. However, man now connects himself with the spirit directly through the spirit and not through nature. In ancient times initiates always chose the detour, through nature. New initiates, that is, many half or partly initiated people in the later centuries after the Mystery of: Golgotha — not in the first ones — thought that they connected themselves with the spiritual nature of the world through what has flowed into it through Christ and through what has been built upon Christ. This is the way such an initiate looked upon the Apocalypse; this is the way it was looked, upon at that time. Thus he looked upon it as something, which he spoke about as follows: Nature is one way to get into the spiritual world, and the marvelous knowledge which is revealed through the Apocalypses is the other way. It is a perplexing, felicific thing when the spiritual investigator encounters people in the second to sixth centuries — but not before — who. Say: “Nature is great,” — they meant what one knew about nature in antiquity — “but what is disclosed in a supersensible way by, the Apocalypticer or other apocalypticers is just as great or greater.” For nature leads to the Father, and what is opened up by the Apocalypticer leads through the Son to the Spirit. One was looking for a path to pure, unmediated spiritual things through something like the Apocalypse.
At the: same time this pointed to a real change which must and will come about when men make themselves worthy of it. In ancient times one had the strong feeling that man comes out of the spiritual world but that he has a development which connects itself strongly with what comes to meet him in the physical, sensory world. One felt this connection with the physical sense world ' very strongly and one was of the opinion that man has become a sinful, iniquitous being because he connects himself with the matter which is present in the earth.
By contrast with this another time was to be prepared, and it was foreseen by the Apocalypticer and announced in advance. He looked for an image or the right Imagination in order to place what is behind these secrets before the soul in imaginative pictures. And so he renewed and summarized an idea which was commonplace in esoteric Hebraic teachings. But only there. One pointed out the following there. Souls come out of the spiritual world. These souls which come out of the spiritual world clothe themselves in what comes out of the earth, and when they build houses for the most external work of the spirit, cities arise. But when they ensheathe the inner activity of the human soul, the human body arises out of the earth's building blocks. Thereby the concept of the construction of outer dwelling places merged with the concept of the building of one's own body. That was a beautiful and wonderful image, because it has such a factual foundation, namely, that one looked upon a house as a sheathe for the more extensive and extended part of one's deeds, soul processes and soul functions that — one saw the sheathe for this in the outer house. However, one had the beautiful and wonderful idea: If I do an outer deed in a house which is built for me out of earthly matter, and I use the house walls and the whole house as a sheathe, this is just the hardened, scleroticized extension of what is there when I do the inner deeds of the soul. Whereas man's body is the first house which man builds for the innermost deeds of the soul.
Then when he has his body and he extends what he has, he builds himself a second house; this second house is built out of the earth's ingredients. That was a very common idea, that one really looked upon one's body as a house, and that one looked upon a house as the outermost garment which man puts on here in the physical earth world.
Therefore, one looked upon man's housebuilding activity as something which proceeds from the soul's creative activity. In past times man was very much grown together with his house and the like, namely when he could think: O.K., he certainly has this body and this skin (See drawing). And now if he would get another skin in the course of his life for the more extensive activity of his soul, it would be a tent; except that this doesn't grow, he has to make it himself.
Now one feature of the Hebraic esoteric doctrine was that one looked upon the absorption of earthly ingredients for human development and the flowing together and control of earthly things in a quite particular way. You see, with respect to the physical, one will always admit: The earth is arranged in such a way that it has a north pole where cold accumulates, as it were. And one will describe this north pole from the nature of the earth in a physical, geographic way, and one will consider it to be an important part of the earth. Hebraic esoteric doctrine also did this with the soul activities which are contained in the earth's forces and in a way which was the opposite of the situation with the north pole on the earth it looked upon Jerusalem, the very concrete Jerusalem, as the place where cultures run together and the most perfect houses are collected. This was a pole for the concentration of outer culture around the human soul, and its culmination was Solomon's temple.
Now one felt that this was exhausted in the evolution of the earth, and the people who knew something about the Hebraic esoteric teaching looked upon the destruction of Jerusalem after the Mystery of Golgotha as something which was not an outer event that was brought about by the Romans; they thought that the Romans were the puppets of spiritual powers and that they only carried out the plan of the spiritual powers. For they thought that this method of looking for ingredients from the earth in order to build human bodies and houses was no longer usable. When Jerusalem became great all the substances and materials from the earth which were to be used in order to build human bodies and houses had become exhausted.
If one translates this Hebraic esoteric teaching into the Christian one, it means that: If the Mystery of Golgotha had not taken place, Jerusalem would have been destroyed anyway. But what can be a new construction by men who create with the aid of the earth would not have been inserted into this destruction. A kind of a seed of a completely new structure was laid into what was destined to be destroyed in Jerusalem. Mother earth dies in Jerusalem. Daughter earth is expectant or lives in the expectation of another seed. Bodies and houses are not built from the earth here through the gathering together of ingredients as in the old Jerusalem which stands there as the culmination of what occurs on the earth, but the earth rises as a spiritual pole of the old Jerusalem. One will no longer be able to or it will be increasingly difficult to make something like the old Jerusalem from the earth's ingredients. Another time arises instead which was laid down as a seed by the Mystery of Golgotha. Men receive something from above which envelopes them, more on the outside, or more on the inside. The new city sinks down from above and pours over the earth — the new Jerusalem. The old Jerusalem was made out of the earth and its substances: the new Jerusalem is made out of spiritual ingredients from heaven.
You will think that such an idea is rather strange by comparison with everything which is thought in our time and compared with what you could learn from what is thought in our time. How does one picture man's development from an anatomical, physiological viewpoint today? Man eats, stuffs food into his stomach, digests it, throws off certain substances and replaces what has to be replaced by the substances he assimilates.
However, this is not what happens, for man is a three-membered being who consists of a nerve-senses man, a rhythmic man and a metabolic limb man. None of the substances in food go into the actual metabolic limb man — they all go into the nerve-senses man. The nerve-senses man absorbs the salts and other substances which are needed and which are always finely distributed in air and light, and it guides them into the metabolic-limb man. The latter is fed entirely from above. It's not true that it gets its substances from physical foods. Diseases arise if substances from the earth, enter the metabolic limb man. All of the food which is taken in and digested only supplies the organs of the nerve-senses man. The head is formed by substances, from the earth. The organs of the metabolic-limb man are formed by things from the heavens. What is in the rhythmic man is only a coarser indication which goes in two directions. Man doesn't eat the oxygen in the air — he inhales it. This is coarser than the way that man assimilates things for the metabolic-limb man. Man takes in what he needs for the metabolic-limb man through a very much finer breathing. Respiration is something which is coarser. And what man does with oxygen to produce carbonic acid is something which is finer than what happens so that the food stuffs which go through the stomach can supply the head. This is the transition in the rhythmic man.
This is the real story about man's building and its processes. The truth of the matter is that what is created by the materialistic view and is taught by anatomy and physiology is nonsense. The moment one knows this one knows that what builds up the human body doesn't only come from below upwards from the earth's plant, mineral and animal kingdoms, and one knows that what supplies the organs which are often considered to be the coarsest ones comes from above. Then one will be able to see that there was a kind of a surplus in nourishment from below until Jerusalem was destroyed. A surplus of what comes from above gradually begins to be important after the Mystery of Golgotha.
Even though we saw that people have twisted the facts around, things are developing in such a way today that nourishment from above is becoming more important than the one from below. Thereby man is being transformed. Our head is no longer like the heads people had in ancient times. They used to have foreheads which receded more. (see drawing) Present-day foreheads protrude more; the outer brain has: become more important. This is the thing which has changed. What is becoming more important in the brain is more like digestive organs than what is at the center. The peripheral brain is more like man's digestive organs than the delicate tissues in the whiter brain, that is, in the continuation of the sensory nerves into the center of the head. And metabolic organs are nourished from above.
One can understand these things right down to the smallest details if one has the will to speak about certain things in the way that the Apocalypticer does when he says: Here is wisdom. Except that what is in the ordinary knowledge which is living and weaving among people today is not wisdom, but darkness. What one calls “scientific results” today is definitely the result of Kali Yuga; it is a total eclipse of the human mind. One should look upon this as a secret and not blare it out in the streets. Something is esoteric if it remains in a certain circle. You see, the growing of the new Jerusalem has already begun, has begun since the Mystery of Golgotha.
When man's earth period will be completely fulfilled he will not only be able to work heavenly substances into his body through his senses but he will also extend this heavenly substance to what will then be an outer city through what one calls spiritual knowledge and art — an extension of the body in the way that I explained. The old Jerusalem was built from below upwards, the new Jerusalem will really be built from above downwards. This is the tremendous perspective which arose from a vision, a super-colossal vision of the Apocalypticer. He became aware of this mighty thing: Everything arises here which men could build out of the earth upwards, as it were, and becomes concentrated in the old Jerusalem. This came to an end. He saw this rising up and this melting away in the old Jerusalem and he saw the approach of the human-being city, the new Jerusalem from above, from the spiritual worlds.
This is the goal, the last tendency of the revelation in the Apocalypse. In this respect it really contains Christian paths of humanity and Christian goals of humanity. If we try to understand them, we arrive at a certain peculiarity concerning the Apocalypse which some people have an inkling of although they can't quite understand it. Anyone who makes a serious effort to understand the Apocalypse cannot help asking himself: How do I do this? How do I get into this, how do I get into the idea about the old and new Jerusalem, what do I have to do in order to understand it? Anyone who seriously wants to understand the Apocalypse cannot help telling himself: I have to get into its content and I can't just continue to talk about images which have no content for me. In order to get into the content one needs a cosmology and a view of humanity which can only be given by a new Anthroposophy and by a real perception of' the spiritual world. One comes to Anthroposophy through the Apocalypse because one is using the means to understand the Apocalypse and because one notices: John received the Apocalypse from regions where Anthroposophy was before it came to human beings.
This is why one needs the transition; one has to understand the Apocalypse in an Anthroposophical way if one wants to understand it in an honest and serious way. You notice this most of all in something like the final goal, the new Jerusalem. However, you have to know the secrets about the building up of man from above and below better than science knows them. Then you can extend these ideas to the overall activity of men on earth, which is also from below upwards and which changes into one from above downwards. The building of the old Jerusalem will change into the spiritual building of the new Jerusalem from above downwards. People should grow into what is being built in a spiritual way not just in the exegetes' symbolical, theoretical, pictorial way but in such a way that the spirit becomes just as real for us as the material and physical was for thousands of years.
To the extent that you are worthy of it you will look upon the new Jerusalem as something which hangs down from above in just as real a way as the old Jerusalem stood on its foundations from below upwards, and you won't just take this in a pictorial way or in the way that the exegetes present it. This is something which one has to remember the Apocalypse contains no symbols, but references to quite concrete facts and to what happens, and not to something which just wants to indicate the events through symbols. That is the important thing. This is the way we have to feel and find our way into the Apocalypse. We will take this up again tomorrow.