The Mysteries of the East and of Christianity
4 lectures, Berlin, February 3–7, 1913 (CW 144)
Steiner gives a sketch of the evolution of the Mysteries from ancient Persia, through Egypt and Greece, to the Christian Era and the present day with the modern initiation of the Holy Grail.
Lecture 1: February 3, 1913, Everything belonging to the mysteries is based on the experiences of initiates in the higher worlds. The principles of initiation change in the successive epochs. Attainment of initiation today is possible without personal guidance, but one’s experiences must be carried through correctly. Sensory impressions become a means of experiencing what lies behind them. “Opinions” and “views” must be transcended. Some experiences are common to all mysteries, whether of the East or the West. Contact with death, passage through the elemental world, seeing the Sun at midnight, meeting with the higher and lower gods. The path into higher worlds is connected with strengthening of the soul’s inner forces.
Lecture 2: February 4, 1913, Natural and moral laws mingle in the spiritual world. Morally irresponsible souls must serve terrible beings after death. Untimely, deaths, epidemics, and illnesses are caused by spiritual forces and beings. After death, souls subject to laziness become the servants of the adversarial gods led by Ahriman. Certain characteristics are suitable or unsuitable for the development of clairvoyance. A seer has direct perception of the interaction of influences from the Earth and those from cosmic space. Experience at a definite stage of the mysteries is that in respect of the higher members of his being (astral body and “I”) man belongs not only to the Earth but is also at home in the cosmos.
Lecture 3: February 5, 1913, Ascent into the spiritual worlds is accompanied through certain necessary experiences. Possibility of a retrospect into the far past and reading the akashic record. In the higher worlds, a clairvoyant can discern the activities of beings associated with the Sun and the Moon in engendering human physical and etheric bodies. How the astral body and “I” are brought into being is veiled in secrecy. Steiner discusses the Zarathustra initiation, the Hermetic initiation, and two phases of the Isis initiation, separated by the time of Moses. When Moses led his people out of Egypt he took with him the part of the Egyptian initiation that added the Osiris initiation to that of the mourning Isis. Steiner discusses the “Sons of the Widow”. In the later Egyptian initiation the candidate experienced the dying of a god in the heavens in order to descend into another world.
Lecture 4: February 7, 1913, The being formerly known spiritually as the “Creative Word” first manifested physically when Moses heard the “Ejeh asher Ejeh.” Candidates in the later Egyptian mysteries felt that the Creative Word was disappearing. When it reappeared, belonging now to earthly evolution, it became known as the Holy Grail. Every epoch repeats the earlier experiences of humanity. Secrets of the Egyptian-Chaldean epoch were related to the influx forces of the zodiac and planets, especially those of the Sun and Moon. In the fifth epoch, those secrets must work right into the consciousness soul, or human personality. Inspirations from the twelve directions of the zodiac flowed into the twelve knights of King Arthur’s round table. All that is dead and withdrawn from the sovereignty of the soul must be enlivened again through the new wisdom of the Grail. Teaching is now no longer connected with particular localities. Dual nature in Goethe and in many men of the modern age is still under the influence of the intellectual soul. Parsifal: the ideal of later initiation. Modern mysteries are an aftereffect of the Grail mystery. The Amfortas nature in human beings must be recognized before the forces of Parsifal can be developed in human nature.
About the Author
Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up. As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.