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by Rev. Reingard Knausenberger
Fishermen know water, know how to read the signs in the air and clouds, can find their way in the dark and access the depths to draw up what lives there and nourishes. The Sea of Galilee is renowned for its sudden swings in weather, from calm tranquil waters to violent storms. One needs to be in Presence continually.
Come, follow me! When Jesus Christ called the brothers, Peter and Andrew, then James and John from their boats and nets it must have been like a bolt of lightning: act now! But they were ready, prepared and in presence. The first four disciples got up and created the cornerstone of the intimate circle around Jesus, to share his every step, every day and night. These were the ones that could truly be witnesses and say “I was there, I saw and heard…”
The ones who integrated the Christ power into the core of their being, from the very beginning.
James and John, his brother…John especially has the quality of being ‘brother’. What is ‘brother’ exactly? James and John are often called ‘the sons of Zebedee’…putting an emphasis on a ‘Father’ connection. James and John are also referred to as ‘the sons of thunder’…thunder is the voice of lightning, a mighty heavenly resonance vibrating through the atmosphere, preparing a moment of higher pure light breaking through into the earthly sphere. Thunder alerts us to prepare and be awake in such moments of revelation.
Are these addendums to their names maybe also indications of a spiritual capacity and orientation? Then it might not have been just naive and presumptuous for them to say: shall we call fire from heaven to destroy… (Lk 9: 51-56) or ask to be so close to Christ in his heavenly working like a right and left hand, in support of manifesting his intentions (Mk 10: 35-45).
Peter, James and John his brother, were singled out several times by Jesus to be a support and witnesses of very intimate events, each of them dealing with a moment of death and overcoming death. He was not only a teacher of a new power, but was being that resurrecting power! Like a moment of lightning breaking through, it was a glimpse of who he was and what his mission was. Every time such an event was followed by impressing upon the disciples to hold this in their heart in silence, do not speak about it until the right time comes. This is the case with the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Mk 5: 22-24; 35-43) and of Lazarus (Jn 11) and the Transfiguration (Lk 9: 28-36, Mt 17: 1-13). Thus they became the carriers of ‘secret wisdom’ (Gnosis) which could be communicated to the others after the Resurrection. This might have included an understanding of the new resurrected body, the laws connected with becoming a spirit community, but particularly how to relate to Christ’s ‘coming again’. The so-called ‘second coming of Christ’. In the Transfiguration these disciples experienced how the ‘super-space’ opened and ‘super-time’ shone in: future was now. They perceived the transforming, transfiguring of form and Gestalt of Jesus Christ. The words of revelation they heard confirmed the spirit reality of the appearance: ‘This is my beloved son, in whom I reveal myself, hear him!’ In this moment the disciples perceive the form Christ will have after his resurrection. ‘Do not speak about this until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead’.
Peter and John are chosen to go and prepare the space in the upper room for the intimate gathering for the Last Supper (Lk 22: 7-13). These three again are singled out thereafter in the Garden of Gethsemane as closest support to Jesus as he wrestles with the human temptation of succumbing to the powers of death (Mt 2: 36-46; Mk 14: 32-42). ‘Be awake and pray! My soul is despondent to the brim of death’.
John, the intimate disciple and witness, the one with a deep connection to the world of the Father God --like John the Baptist to the past, humanity’s history and becoming--, the brother and companion on the way to the Coming of Christ-like John the evangelist shows in Rev. 1: 9 is always a new revelation of future now. What deep mystery does this individual hold in the circle of Christ followers that even his name has such an intense resonance?
“In the beginning was the Word…which was Light… and gave Life… and shone into the darkness…and then there was the Human Being by the name: John, who came to bear witness to the light…and to take it into their being.” (Jn 1: 1-13)
John is one of the three disciples with an intimate relationship to Jesus. Together with Simon Peter and James, John accompanies Jesus onto the mountain when Jesus is transfigured. Peter, James and John are called aside by Jesus when Jesus goes way from the disciples to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter, James and John do not yet have the capacity to remain conscious to bear witness as apostles and fall asleep.
In being assigned tasks by the Christ who says: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”, it may be viewed that John is given the task of revealing the truth. This truth comes to us in John’s Gospel, his Epistles and the Book of Revelation.
In John we encounter a great mystery. Rudolf Steiner introduces us to a community of John. John the writer of the Book of Revelation is not John the Younger, the brother of James. The writer of Revelation is Lazarus who rose after a three-day temple sleep. The being of John the Baptist remains with all that is unfolding around Jesus and pours himself into John Lazarus. John Lazarus is the last human being to go through the ancient initiation process and he is the first human being to receive the Christian initiation that makes it possible for him to receive a revelation of the spiritual world in full consciousness. It may be possible for us to imagine that this community of John also includes the life-forces of the young disciple called John.
Whereas, when we look at Simon Peter, we encounter one person on a journey of development, when we look at John, we realise he is a community of persons.
John Lazarus dies of old age according to Christian tradition; he does not die a martyr’s death as do most of the other Apostles.
John is associated with the fourth stone of the foundation of the New Jerusalem, emerald. Rudolf Steiner describes this stone as carrying the moral quality of green. Emerald is given its green colour by the impurity of chromium within the silicate structure. Emerald is connected with Sagittarius the centaur who is an archer. The arrow of the archer is pointed at the heart of Scorpio, which is connected with John the Evangelist. The soul quality connected with emerald is the control of thought. This soul quality must be transformed into the spiritual quality for a feeling for truth.
some of the thoughts presented by Rev. Michaël Merle in the Study of the Old Testament reported by John-Peter Gernaat
This study was given on Zoom and as a result had people present who had not previously attended any of the Old Testament Study sessions. Michaël gave a synopsis that is worth sharing. Genesis chapter 1 pre-dates what Steiner presented as the creation of the great Earth cycle, in that what we find in this account of the creation should be viewed as still an imagination in the minds of the Elohim. Chapter 2 of Genesis leaps forward to what Steiner describes as the Lemurian Period. Rudolf Steiner indicated that human beings were still beings of warmth or fire-beings at this time. Adam and Eve would not have looked as we might imagine. They did not yet have a physical body that would be recognisable in terms of our bodies today. They had a consciousness and a way of being that would be essential for our future development. Adam and Eve as a combined term is a merism (an old Hebraic grammatical form) meaning that it encompassed the totality of humanity. In each one of us there is an Adam and an Eve. In part we can experience this in that Rudolf Steiner indicated that when our physical body has one gender the etheric body has the opposite gender. Today we experience people trying to understand their own experience of the fullness of being human in a great variety of expressions of gender and gender identity. This may be regarded not as a collapse of human society, but rather as an emerging desire to comprehend the true essence of being human more fully. By the story of Noah, the Old Testament has leapt forward again to the end of what we refer to as the Atlantean Period. Genesis 11, where our focus is at now, is the first story in the Old Testament that is clearly in the post-Atlantean time, in fact the Old Testament bypasses the first post-Atlantean epoch, the Ancient Indian Epoch, and places us in the Persian-Sumerian-Babylonian Epoch.
The story of the Tower of Babel suffers from a poor translation from the Hebrew into English because of fixed theological ideas, as well as inherited ideas that were influenced by rabbinical commentaries in the Talmudic expression. When the original Hebrew texts were written they were written with a different intention to what is now understood. We need to come at the original intention through understanding the actual meaning of the language used as this passage is all about language. The Ancient Indian Epoch has passed and left behind thousands of years of wisdom and writing and of language. Sanskrit had already given way to the Akkadian language written in cuneiform. Modern scholars suggest that Sanskrit, Akkadian and Ancient Greek, all have a common root in the theorised Proto-Indo-European language or PIE language. This is thought to be a language that would have been spoken widely from about Eastern Europe across the middle East to India, into the Indus valley – the entire area covered by the Persian Empire and possibly further north to the northern shores of the Black and Caspian Seas. This suggests that there would have been a common understanding between the languages that developed from this root.
In this passage from the Old Testament, we have a settlement of humanity being developed into a city. After the expulsion from Paradise people began to settle and build. Husbandry changes from animal herding to a settled planting. This passage describes a world having one language and common speech and the people moved eastward, suggesting a search for culture and wisdom where the first human civilisation has originated. It is suggested that in this story the choice of words selected to tell the story had a lot to do with the sound quality of the words rather than their explicit meaning. Language is built on sound. As such we have the ancient language of the San people that is based on clicks within the mouth, English and Latin languages that are built around vowel sounds and languages, such as Afrikaans, that are built around grounded consonant sounds. This passage has a lot to do with the sound quality of building language rather than building the city. The language is chosen because of its repetitiousness. This is not captured in the English translation. It might be possible to translate this passage emphasising “b” sounds, such a brick and boulder, bitumen and binding building blocks. In translating it this way it would use the “b” sound for building which is captured in the gesture for “b” in Eurythmy. The Hebrew has a different sound gesture which accomplishes the same end.
This passage describes a desire and an attempt by humanity to build upwards towards heaven and not to populate the whole of the earth. The commandment given before humanity was expelled from Eden was to populate the earth. The Ancient Indian Epoch concerned itself with knowledge of the spiritual world, retaining the memory of our past home, as humanity was reaching upward rather than penetrating what it meant to dwell on the earth. The gesture of this passage is that the people were trying to build themselves back to heaven and not settle properly on the earth. It was their effort to build vertically rather than horizontally, even though humanity had fallen, that presents a problem. At this point in time all our best effort would not enable us to build our own way back to heaven because of our fallen state, we must first be graced from heaven. There has to be the cultic stream where grace is streamed down from heaven before any reverse-cultus activity can happen where we build ourselves, as a consequence, back towards heaven. YHWH (Yahweh) is one of the Elohim responsible for the development of humanity in this part of the world and building the Hebrew nation in particular, and when he says “let us go down” he is speaking to the other Elohim. The mission of humanity was to move horizontally to populate the earth and not vertically and therefore this project by humanity had to be thwarted.
Verse 7, YHWH is speaking to the other Elohim: “Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech”. The words that will be unravelled are ‘confuse’ and ‘understand’. The Hebrew word used that is translated as ‘confuse’ is ḇalal (baw-lal). The word has come to mean confusion, even to a rabbi, but originally it meant ‘to mix’ in the way that substances are mixed. It has a strong similarity with Arabic and Phoenician words of the time where the Arabic word meant to moisten or mix with water and the Phoenician word related to sacrifice through a mixing process. This helps us to return to the original meaning, and we can see how this later meaning derives from what the word originally meant: ‘to anoint’. The passage may now be understood to say that YHWH says, “let us mix to anoint their language”. There is a very different understanding if the original intention was to anoint the language of humanity rather than to create a deliberate confusion. The Hebrew word translated as ‘understand’ is shama (shaw-mah’) which rather means ‘to hear’. So this means that when a language is anointed it can be understood when one attunes one’s ear to hear it. Even when a language is anointed the speaker has an intention when they speak, and the listener has to have an intention in what they hear. Even with good intention it is still possible to not understand one another. The primitive root of the word means to hear intelligently. This can be quite a tall order.
The verse now reads: “Come, let us go down and anoint their language so that they will no longer hear each other (they will no longer attune their hearing to each other, no longer hear each other intelligently, so only understand (hear) certain people)”. Why did YHWH think it important to do this? Our new way to understand one another is to go beyond language to the intention of what is being said. Michaël explained this in that a school curriculum can be followed through the letter of what is written or by understanding the intention of a particular lesson, for example, and teaching the intention. Similarly, legal minds grapple with the intention of legislation rather than the letter of the law. Similarly, we speak through our actions; when we allocate more time to one activity than another, no one will believe us when we say the second activity is more important. The hidden meaning in this story of the Tower of Babel is not to separate people but to provide the insight that when we do understand one another it is because we have gone beyond language, to intention, to spiritual origin.
Michaël gave as an example that the origin of our ritual in The Christian Community is in the spiritual world and that although it was brought to us through the German language, that already is a translation and our aim should be to penetrate to the original source and not to idolise the German text.
Michaël also gave an explanation of how the Apartheid government used the story of the Tower of Babel to develop a theology of Apartheid in saying that the intention of God was that people who spoke different languages should not mix but develop separately.
How can we be certain that the intention of YHWH was not meant to create a barrier between people? The Tower of Babel story concludes in the Acts of the Apostles. In the Whitsun experience, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, no matter the language the Apostles spoke, everyone who heard them speak understood the intention of the words of the Apostles in their own language. The language of the Apostles was infused with spiritual intention so that it reached across the barrier of sound and the ear was attuned to hear the spirit and not the letters or sound of the language. When we are infused with the Spirit, we have the potential to understand each other irrespective of language. This was the intention of YHWH. It was inevitable that the ability to understand each other would disappear as a result of the Fall. But as people of the Redemption, we are on a new path, through Christ, to consciousness soul development. We have the capacity, when we exercise it, to hear and understand each other.
It is not surprising that the story took place at Babel, which links it to Babylon. The Babylonians, like the Ancient Indians in the epoch before, had established a great spiritual insight. They could read the cosmic script. This made it difficult for them to fully incarnate into an earthly existence. The story of the Tower of Babel is also a story of humanity fully landing on the earth and having our language anointed, so that, despite the reality that language degrades, it provides the possibility for people to express themselves. Language has always provided the possibility for one person to learn who another person is through the bridge that language provides to spiritual intention.
Prophet, Priest and King: Understanding Ourselves as the New Community of the Christ, a series by Rev. Michaël Merle
reported by John-Peter Gernaat (This is not a transcript of the talks but a report drawing in the main themes of the talks.)
What are the traditions behind the story of the Magi? The Gospel of Matthew tells us that priest-kings saw a star that they had been awaiting which set them on a journey to Palestine. They travelled to the most obvious city, Jerusalem, but what they were seeking was not there. When they find the child they give three gifts to the child that were precious in terms of their traditional understanding and wisdom. A tradition has arisen that there were three priest-kings or magi. They were called Kaspar (or Gaspar), Melchior and Balthazar. According to tradition Kaspar is the oldest and is European, Melchior is middle-aged and from Asia and Balthazar is the youngest and is from Africa. In the middle ages maps of the world represented a T with the crossbar across the middle of a circle (O), representing in part the Nile River, and the down bar (representing the Mediterranean Sea) cutting the lower half of the world in two. East (the Orient) was at the top of the map– hence finding one’s way or moving in the correct manner became known as orientation. These maps were based on a Roman map that can be found on the wall of capitols all over the Roman world. These maps represented the whole world and therefore the three Magi originating from these three continents also represented the whole of humanity. The idea of the three continents was connected in the mind of the ancient world with the three sons of Noah (each son having populated one of the three continents). There are, however, other traditions, such as a Syrian tradition that describes twelve magi or a whole community of magi as representing the whole of humanity.
How have the Magi come to be associated with Epiphany? Epiphany means revelation or revealing, the manifestation of God’s glory.
The first Epiphany story is the Baptism of Jesus of Nazareth in the Jordan. The heavens opened and, with John the Baptist as the witness, the Spirit descended in the form of a dove and Christ permeated the sheaths of a human being. The Spirit anoints the human being, and the Christ permeates the human being. Only a very special human constitution at that time could bear such a permeation by the Christ. This required a long period of preparation, which we are studying in the Old Testament Study, and that which we have heard in the birth of two Jesus children in talks this year and previous years, around the festival of Christmas. For early Christians, this revealing of the Christ was the most important event, after the Easter mystery. They also recognised the revelation of Christ that occurred at the Wedding Feast at Cana. With time the Wedding Feast at Cana became linked to the Epiphany celebration, and the gospel passage that recounts this was read on the Sunday after the Epiphany reading of the Baptism. But the Magi also recognised the revelation of the Christ in the star that appeared to them. This revelation then also became connected with Epiphany and for many is now the only event remembered as connected with Epiphany. In the western church tradition this gospel passage of the Magi became the reading for Epiphany and the Baptism in the Jordan was moved to the following Sunday.
What was the revelation that the Magi saw? Did they indeed see a new star in the heavens? This seems unlikely as they were the only ones privileged to see the star, Herod and all the wise men and scribes in Jerusalem could not see a star. It is therefore likely that the star was a light that arose for the Magi through their inner work as a result of their specific initiation. A magus is the word for a priest of the Zarathustran religion, the plural gives us magi. These were therefore men initiated in the way of the Zarathustran tradition and the gifts they brought were precious in the tradition of the Zarathustran religion. They may not have been the most costly gifts in the ancient world or their value understood by everyone.
The Magi recognised Jesus as being King, Priest and Prophet. In the Old Testament it is Zadok the Priest and Nathan the Prophet who anoint Solomon as King. This passage was put to music by Handel for the coronation of George II of the United Kingdom. The Magi could recognise those who were to be anointed. Only kings, priests and prophets were anointed. In the royal child in Bethlem, the Magi recognised a kingly child, a priestly child and a prophetic child. This child was the last human being who had the possibility of being king, priest and prophet. Since the Baptism it is no longer possible for a human being to be a prophet. This may not sit well today with many religious movements. John the Baptist may be viewed as the last prophet of the Old Testament tradition and the first New Testament prophet. Jesus is recognised by Islam as the holiest of prophets. Anyone who holds himself today to be a prophet connects himself to a pre-Christian tradition and not a Christian tradition. (In this sense it is important that we note that Rudolf Steiner was not a prophet nor a ‘guru’, as some people might like. He could certainly be viewed as a contemplative. Contemplatives are deep, prayerful people of insight and action. Their contemplation translates to activity in the world. This is different from a meditatant. Clairvoyance, however useful, is not a requirement of a contemplative. Clairvoyance still needs to be interpreted with careful consideration. Such well-considered understanding of what has been seen or perceived by one clairvoyantly could form part of a contemplative character.) The word prophet from the Greek means to foretell, to tell before it happens. The prophets of the Old Testament were seers. The way for Old Testament prophets usually led to condemnation from those who did not want to hear the message of God, and ultimately to death. Most of the Old Testament prophets struggled to take up their task. Many tried to escape their task, such as Jonah and Elijah. Being a prophet set the person apart from society. Even Jesus struggled when it came to prophetic statements. In the synagogue in Nazareth Jesus say: “this is coming to pass …” and the people threw him out of the synagogue and the town. The prophets of the Old Testament were tasked to ensure the preparation for the coming of Christ. After the coming of Christ into the human constitution prophets are no longer needed.
As human beings we are all kings. No one can convince another person of anything that the person does not accept for themselves through their own thinking. In history the king’s word convinced his subjects and kept the peace. Today peace is possible only through the cooperation of people, creating harmony between king and king (read queen for king as well, or consider that every human being, male or female may feel themselves as king – so that this term is no longer bound to gender). Human beings are destined to be priests. The Book of Revelation in chapter 1 and 5 describes the community of Christians as a kingly, priestly community.
In terms of our development from prophet to contemplative (moving from the development of old, to the new Christ centred development), we may consider the enlightenment of the Buddha as particularly significant. The Buddha completes the developmental path of the chakras by opening the crown chakra. This was the Chakra Path of the Vedas, the opening of the chakras from the base chakra to the crown chakra. The new path for us is the path of drawing the spirit into ourselves, which is the path of the descending chakras. We draw our star into ourselves. The star that the Magi saw shone on a being who was the new sun which would shine in his own constitution. All of Greek thinking can be seen as the first stage in this new descending chakra path. It is an important part of drawing the power of the Divine capacity into human thinking. It is this thinking that Paul uses in his epistles and we can say that Paul Christianised Hellenic thinking. Much of the work that is needed on the forehead chakra has already been accomplished and allows us the ability to contemplate the scriptures, entering into a new relationship through the contemplation of the Gospels and New Testament into this reality. This is then drawn down into the throat chakra, the chakra of expression. It takes time for humanity to find a new voice that creates, a voice that does not merely echo, but creates. This voice will be loving. Previously, our voice was prophetic, the voice of what is not happening. Now our voice will be the voice of what is because of what is said, tying us back to the Elohim who spoke creation into being.
When the Buddha opened the crown chakra it revealed an etheric heart and this thousand-petaled lotus flower faded. The energetic heart was drawn down into the energy centres after the enlightenment of the Buddha and the crown charka is no longer a centre. The crown chakra may be viewed as having been just on top of our heads like a crown containing the energy of our ‘I-ness’. This etheric heart was then lit, one might say, by the power of the Spirit at Whitsun, when our ‘I’ incorporated into our physical body. The seven-fold descending chakra path now begins with the forehead chakra (or third eye). A new chakra centre with eight petals appears between the solar plexus and the sacral chakra. The new number order from top to bottom can be seen on the western facade of Chartres Cathedral. More about this will be covered in the talk set for 7 February.
We work into these first three chakra points of the descending experience in The Christian Community in the Sacrament of Baptism which is then affirmed during the Act of Consecration of Man when we, the congregation, make the three crosses over these three charka points (the throat chakra sitting behind the chin when our spine is properly aligned). We are connected with our new-found thinking which is hard won through our own efforts and then graced, taking rational mind soul thinking into consciousness soul thinking. We connect with our will and the centre of activity and finally over the heart about which more will be said in the next newsletter as part three of this series will not be available in time for this newsletter. The congregation works into these charka points making three crosses while the priest inscribes a sun-cross or Celtic cross. In a way the trinity of the sun cross becomes a three-foldness in the human being.
The throat charka can be aligned with the idea of priesthood, not ordained priesthood but the priesthood of the people. The role of priesthood is to act on behalf of. Aaron and even Melchizedek are modern priests and in combination with acting on behalf of, the key aspect of priesthood is the offering of a sacrifice. This clearly differentiates a priest from a minister or pastor. The question must arise: what can we offer the Father, when everything that is, is made of the Father? We offer Christ to the Father in as much as we have received the offering of the Christ, we offer this to the Father. This is the only worthy offering we have to give the Father. As The Christian Community everyone is invited to be part of the act of offering in the Act of Consecration of Man and therefore we sit there as a priestly people while the ordained priest fulfils the ritual actions of the offering. We sacrifice part of our selfish intention to align ourselves with this sacrificial path.
The new path of priesthood that we, as humanity, follow may be considered in terms of the throat chakra. Rudolf Steiner in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds gives a characterisation of the descending eight-fold path of the sixteen petaled lotus of the throat chakra. Eight of the sixteen petals were activated in the ascending charka path; we are working on the other eight petals in the descending path. The eight activities that Rudolf Steiner refers to are infused with the power of the Christ. Although they seem similar to the Buddhist path (and are connected) this is the Christianised path. The eight-fold path is strongly connected with Francis of Assisi who lived out a priestly life although he was not ordained to priesthood. Of all people, Francis lived out the reality of ‘Christ in him’ in the fulness of this eight-fold path. This eight-fold way is evident in Luke’s Gospel.
The first step on the eight-fold path is Right View or Right Understanding. For the Buddha this meant that life is illusion and that all suffering comes through attachment to this life that is illusion. For us it is important to have a clear view of the path in order to walk this path. Rudolf Steiner describes this first step as the way in which ideas are acquired. Ideas should always carry significance. Our view is based on the significance of the idea. And the significance has to do with our future development. Ideas should allow us to progress in our development. In Luke 4 Jesus returns to Nazareth and speaks in the synagogue after reading from the prophet Isaiah. Jesus of Nazareth says that this word of scripture “is fulfilled in your hearing”. Those who heard the words first approved but soon questioned the truth of this and disapproved, hounding Jesus out of town. This time in Luke’s Gospel is the time of calling the seekers, calling the disciples to follow him. They do so in terms of a right or renewed view or understanding of the way.
In the Buddhist path the first two steps are linked and the next three are linked. However, if we look at the path as a whole, the second, third and fourth step are linked to an idea in Zarathustrianism. These steps within the eight-fold path are:
In Right Thought in Buddhism the elimination of the three poisons of greed, anger and ignorance are espoused. Rudolf Steiner describes this step on the new path as the resolution to act only out of well-founded considerations. We should resolve to never act on someone else’s insight or on hearsay. We may take in someone else’s insight and work with it until we have made it our own and then act on our own well-founded considerations. This is the path of our own way and common agreement is reached through each one’s own consideration not through the convenience of accepting the thoughts of another.
In Right Speech Michaël looked at Frances of Assisi and his writing of the Canticle of the Sun in which he addresses the whole of the cosmos as his brother and sister. This changes the relationship in which the ancient world saw the sun and the moon as gods. The period of history referred to as the scientific enlightenment saw these as only celestial bodies. What Frances of Assisi brings in his relationship to the cosmos is that these are not gods but our spiritual brothers and sisters – he sees us in a relationship to the spiritual reality of the cosmos. The Buddhist path is to speak only words that are true, honest and not duplicitous, and contain compassion, confidence and altruism. Rudolf Steiner speaks of the considered relevance of speech and communication. Michaël shared a part of a lecture by Dr Michaela Gluckler in which she shared the importance of speech in a pedagogical setting. This excerpt will be available as a download from the MailChimp newsletter as well as from the website within this report. Here are a few lines that are relevant: “The wisdom of language is transformed astrality. Speech is the astral quality completely dominated and worked through by the ego.” “… speech brings the wisdom of the Spirit Self (which we are developing – Ed.) into our ego awareness”. “We feel that the world of inspiration we enter through speech is a higher world, that speech is something like the last greetings in our normal life from this higher world.” In an aside on the basis of the words from the lecture: “Speech … protects and holds off aggression…” Michaël mentioned that Rudolf Steiner indicated that since the time of Christ the Buddha has aligned himself with the planetary forces of Mars. Therefore, any confrontation with another should be faced through right speech.
The next steps on the path are Right Action or Right Deeds; then Right Livelihood; Right Effort, and then what the Buddha refers to as Right Mindfulness; and finally, Right Concentration. Rudolf Steiner says for Right Action we are now involved in the regulation of harmonious actions – our actions are in harmony with our speech. Right Livelihood is the management of a harmonious life in conformity with nature and with spirit. Our concern for nature should be real. Right Effort is the endeavour to thoroughly fulfil our obligations. Right Mindfulness is to gather a rich store of experiences that are useful for our individual development and use them for our counsel. When we achieve our own priesthood as human beings where do we turn for counsel? By aligning ourselves with what one person can do through their ordination during the Act of Consecration of Man in the words that reach across the threshold through the power of the thinking of the priest and the speaking of the priest, strengthens the capacity in us to find our words and speak our truth. Right Concentration is now renewed as the practice of introspection in order to take prudent self-counsel. In our time self-counsel is not often possible and the wonder of conversation, described by Goethe in the Green Snake and Beautiful Lilly as more precious than gold, allows for worthy counsel to occur. In the future, when we learn to converse with ourselves, we will be conversing with the whole of the community, leading to a harmonious understanding within the whole community even though they do not hear the words we speak within ourselves.
This report will be continued in a report of the final talk in the series in the March newsletter.
– 7-11 October 2022 in Dortmund, GermanyFestival "100 Years The Christian Community" LOGOS – Consecrating Humanity
LOGOS – Consecrating Humanity is now the title of our conference. Up to now we have deliberately spoken provisionally of CG 2022, but now the planning teams have committed themselves to a message with which we want to enter our second century. While there will be translations of the subtitle, the German will use the English version.
Choosing this title took many months, so we did not make it easy for ourselves. It was not intended to be a catchy advertising slogan, nor an attention-grabbing headline on a poster, but rather a signpost for our future that expressed some content.
Let us look at some details. The Act of Consecration of Man is a deed, an act. Humanity means both the state of being human as well as the quality of being humane – being compassionate, sympathetic or generous.
The striving for humaneness is expressed in the formulation of human rights or in the Charter of the United Nations. However, we often see how difficult it is to be humane in unjust and violent living conditions. But as Christians we are striving for more than humaneness. We try to see beyond human beings here and now in this earthly world, and strive to see their full nature that reaches into higher worlds.
The title LOGOS – Consecrating Humanity thus emphasises the desire, the hope, the prayer that in our time through the Logos a consecration may take place both of the whole of humanity and of humaneness.
The term “consecrate” means to make something sacred, which immediately takes us to the realm of sacraments. This brings us to an important part of the conference. For the sacraments were already to be a focal point of the conference.
Many groups, organisations and states around the world are committed to humanity, to social renewal, to sustainability in every respect, to humaneness and tolerance. And we should support these as a Christian Community. However, only churches can bring the sacraments into the world, and we in The Christian Community strive for a renewed understanding of the sacraments. For this reason, various sacraments will be part of the conference, both thematically and practically – even the sacrament of Ordination of Priests will be celebrated there.
In preparation, a newsletter contained a series of contributions on the sacraments of the Christian Community, Rev Volker Harlan (Easter 2020), Rev Michael Bruhn (St John’s Tide 2020), Rev Anastasiia Mazur, and Rev Tom Ravetz (Michaelmas 2020) and is accessible at https://cg-2022.org/wp/index.php/filedownload/. The last edition can be downloaded by clicking here.
So let us become attuned to LOGOS – Consecrating Humanity. The claim that the sanctification of humanity and humaneness may take place in this time is lofty and in a way superhuman. To live up to this claim is a tremendous challenge. And time is pressing.
by Eva Knausenberger
The spoken word stands at the very beginning, is a beginning in itself. During the Holy Nights I had a dream. I saw word-seeds being scattered in great clouds. Each seed-word burst open and soon there was a firework of blossoms in all colours, an oceanic abundance of beauty, shapes, colours and possibilities as far as I could see; still visible when I close my eyes. A heightened sense of wonder and joy is my gift of the Holy Nights.
And then there is the wedding in Cana (John 2: 1-11), which I -for the sake of my argument here- interpret as the beginning of a new social contract between bride and groom as much as between all who were invited. The word ‘Yes’ is spoken at every wedding. Imagine the word ‘Yes’ to be a living seed, ready to burst into bloom, or perhaps turning the water we drink daily into flavoursome newness rather than a chemical alteration. All things become possible afterwards and we are the witnesses, just like the disciples were.
The words spoken by Amanda Gorman in honour of Joe Biden’s inauguration are such examples of flowers in my dream; they seeded joy and wonder into human hearts all over the world. The Truth of her words lit hope -at least for moments- in human hearts and minds, spoke more clearly than the lies, these flowers of evil with their toxic seeds. Do we know the inherent power of the spoken word, or do we say ‘Yes, But’…too often?
“The Word of God, in sense’s darkness resounds, transfiguring the world” (from a Soul Calendar verse by Rudolf Steiner)
by Rev. Paul Corman, priest emeritus of The Christian Community
More than a century ago, when Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: “There are no facts, only interpretations”, it was not the first blow to “Truth” in human history, but it most probably gave rise to or at least fed the ever more prevalent modern assumption or better written conviction that Truth as an absolute does not exist, only small truths do and they are relative to one another, i.e., existing side-by-side with supposedly equal validity. However, many of our contemporaries, in a strange twist of this fatality, ardently believe that only their beliefs are true and that any belief different to theirs is not true. Thus, with one stroke of misguided conviction, relativism and absolutism are married in unholy wedlock, a nifty trick if you can get away with it. This is not the same as plain old-fashioned relativism in which absolute Truth (absolutism) does not exist, but relative ones do: my truth is my truth and your truth is yours. That certainly has some merit to it, for there are, indeed, smaller or partial truths that are apparently contradictory, because they have not yet grasped the whole, but which in part at least contain bits and pieces of truth. This tends, as we can clearly experience in today’s world, to lead us to be utterly divided and absolutely intolerant of any other truth that is not our own. Relativism becomes absolutism. Thus has been spawned in our current culture such illogical and contradictory concepts such as “alternative facts” and “fake news”. Of course, some news is not true, some of it is made up and fake, but then it should not deserve to be called news. Those who cry loudest about “fake news”, mean that certain news is fake and false because it is contrary to what their convictions insist is true. Again, we come face to face with a modern, irreal hybrid: relative-absolutism. And the concept of “alternative facts” is another thought pretzel. Either something is factual, real and provable or it is not a fact, at least not yet. Alternative facts do not exist. Facts are true; false “facts”, alternative “facts”, cannot exist. They are lies dressed up as convictions and parading around to look like truths.
This takes us to the present all-pervasive world of conspiracies and conspiracy theories, all of which, no matter where they may come from or by whom propagated, by their very nature of being a “theory”, are not yet proven, so not yet true. They are theories and when we elevate them, without proper methods and proofs, to the realm of Truth, theories become convictions which we feel obligated to defend tooth and nail against anything that presents itself as something which we do not hold to be self-evident or even a little bit evident. It may be of little comfort, but it is astounding that Nietzsche also wrote: “Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies”.
Some will think that all of this is a political problem. I would suggest that it may appear so, but fundamentally it is a spiritual and religious problem. When we confuse theory with conviction and conviction with truth, we do grave damage to our social discourse, to our own health and to that of others. We do damage to the realm of thought, divine thought, the home and birthplace of language, of the Logos, of the Christ himself, as the evangelist John, writes: “In the beginning was the Word (Logos) and the Word was with God and the Word was God”.
Christ struggled his whole adult life with the problem of truth. He says of Himself: “I am the Way the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6), and before He was sentenced to die on the cross, some of the last words, always expressions of His own logos substance, that He heard, were phrased as the monumental question by Pontius Pilate: What is truth? We have on the one hand an absolute in the statement that the essence of Christ, of His being and His being in us, is the “I Am the Truth”. On the other hand, we have the very real question that comes from an honest query, derived from the state of separation of the human condition, in which the human being no longer knows for sure if absolute Truth exists and must come to terms with relative truth. Between these two disjunctives of human reality, do we all, as incarnated humans, still live to this very day. Both absolute Truth and relative truth should be able to live in harmony, side by side. We should be able to live with them in a more perfect union than we seem to be able to do at the present time. We can take this condition as a loss and tragedy, which, of course, it is, but we can also take it as a challenge and a path to be tread forward toward higher knowledge.
Let us look for a moment at the mystery that language holds in the words we have at our disposal to express the concept of “Truth”.
The English word is derived from a Proto-Indo-European root, “deru”, whose basic meaning “is firm”, “solid”. From this same root, Latin gave birth to “ver” (veritas), the Latin root word that means “truth” or “true.” This root is also found in a number of English words, like “verdict”, “verify” and “veracity”. When we think or speak of “truth” in English we are referring to firmness and solidity, something fundamental to our existence and that can be both absolute and relative, both personal and collective, both objective and subjective.
Since we are dealing with this topic in a religious context, it will be helpful to look at the words for “truth” in both Old Testament Hebrew and in New Testament koine Greek.
In the Old Testament we find two words for truth: אֱמֶת (emet), a feminine noun that like English, means “firmness”, “faithfulness”, “truth” and ק֫שֶׁט (qoshet), a masculine noun that comes from an otherwise unused root meaning “to be balanced”, “distributed with equity”, as in something evenly weighed, an accurate and true measure.
One can gather from these Hebrew words and their meaning that for Hebrew thought “truth” is something that has to do with the divine and with humanity. The firmness of God’s creative work as the basis of all life, is absolute. When humans have to deal with each other in the earthly sphere, it requires finding a balance and an “honesty” that doesn’t “cheat” one’s fellow man on what is correct, equitable and real. “Qoshet” can be considered a more subjective, social, “relative” aspect of truth, while “emet” would be an objective, even absolute aspect. However, we must consider that in the Old Testament what was equitable and balanced and fair in our dealings with our fellow humans was given to us as commandments or “mitzvot” by God. We see here, too, that absolutism and relativism can live in harmony.
The Greeks had a different take on “truth” as evidenced by the Greek word used in the New Testament, ἀλήθεια (Alethia). It is often translated as "unclosedness", "unconcealedness", or “revelation”. All of which are not very accurate translations, although they can be considered as related to "truth". The literal meaning of the word ἀ-λήθεια is “Un-forgetting”, in other words, “remembering”. For the Greeks, this world and the world of the spirit, the world of the dead, were separated by a river, called the Lethe stream. A soul, before it could incarnate in the earthly sphere, had to swim through the Lethe stream, the stream of forgetfulness, in order to forget all that it had experienced in the realm of spirit. The same was true for a newly departed soul. Before it could enter again into the realm of spirit, it had to swim through the same Lethe stream and forget details of the past Earth life. “A” is a Greek prefix that means “un” or “not”. A-letheia would then mean “not forgetting”. Alethia is most commonly translated as “truth”. Truth, for the Greeks, was an act of remembering what they had experienced in the realm of Spirit before incarnating and recognising it in some aspect of life on Earth. So, truth was revelation, or better described an act of recalling pre-natal spirit thought, ideas and pictures. Truth was, indeed, the state of something spiritual becoming evident, of being revealed. Aletheia, thus, was considered “factuality” and earthly “reality”. Truth was spirit objectivity revealing itself to the subjective human mind and heart.
Of all the four Evangelists, John was the one most concerned with the concept of Truth. We have seen above that for him, Christ was the creative Logos-Word. At the end of his prologue, he writes: "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John1:17). One could say that for John, writing in a Greek sense, Christ is the revelation of all that is true, that He is Truth on Earth. Later in chapter 14:6, as we read above, he lets Christ confirm this about Himself: “I am the Way the Truth and the Life”. There are other moments when John shows Christ grappling, for Himself and for us, with what Truth is all about. John 8:32 “The truth shall make you free”, or John 15:26 where the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth sent from God and finally Pilate’s fatal question, John 18:38, “What is Truth?”, which leaves to us the task to continue to grapple with this central human-divine question.
We do continue to grapple with it, nowadays almost on a daily basis, in our social encounters and dealings and through the vastness of social media. Even in the Act of Consecration of Man, though in a somewhat indirect manner we are grappling with the question. The service does not mention the word “truth”, it does however, mention “all true Christians who are born” and “the attainment of true salvation”, leaving us with the obvious looming counter question: “Are there un or not-true Christians who are born?”, and if so, who decides who is and who is not a “true Christian”? I think not any of us should have that power over any others of us and yet, that is exactly what the tendency seems to be today: “Those who do not believe as we do, are not true Christians”. What arrogance, what presumption has invaded the sacredness of modern religious space!
Still the question of what true Christians and what true Salvation may mean is a serious one and deserves to be seriously considered. If that were not the case, these words would not appear in the Act of Consecration. Quite possibly they have little or nothing to do with a judgement of who is or who isn’t a true Christian, but rather, perhaps, with the central act of becoming Christian: struggling with “I am the Truth”, with what truth is and means. And then there is “true salvation”, begging the question again: “Is there untrue or false salvation?”, and if so, what would that be like? Answers can be given, but my answers could well not be your answers and more to the point is the sense that can arise from these contemplations: the process of becoming a Christian must involve a struggle with these true questions about Truth.
To close this contemplation and to spur us on in our considerations of the questions about Truth raised here and those raised in our daily lives, the following two quotes may be helpful in our struggle for Truth:
Rabindranath Tagore-- “If you shut your door to all errors, truth will be shut out as well.”
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing-- “It is not the possession of Truth, but rather the pursuit of Truth by which the human being extends its powers and in which its ever-growing perfectibility is to be found. Possession makes us passive, indolent, and proud. If God were to hold all Truth concealed in his right hand, and in his left only the steady and diligent search for Truth, albeit with the proviso that I would always and forever err in the process, and offer me the choice between the two, I would, with all humility, fall down before Him and say: Father, give me what you have in your left hand.”
by David Wertheim Aymes
I am learning more and more about the threefold and its application in daily practical life.
It has a really simple entry point, but to then progress in the correct way things will become more challenging. It is simple in that we live in a social order that asphyxiates itself and leads to social unrest, inequalities, division, damage to the earth herself, and more. The source of this is the unitary state, bowl of confusion, thinking that humanity as a whole has adopted.
We are however already doing a lot when we allow ourselves to distil out of the unitary the three spheres (Liberty, Fraternity, Equality or Freedom to learn and understand, Business and the Economy, Equality or Equity) and give each some room for expression. We then start to sense the interconnectedness between them and how they underpin each other. We also sense how the social organisation within the environment of our working and daily lives becomes easier to diagnose and rectify, healthier, more relevant to the market, ourselves, suppliers and our interactions with our neighbours, communities, friends. Just holding the above simple overview of the threefold concept will lead us forward. Others need not be concerned with too much more. We however add more to it in that we can observe the relationships between the three that need managing and harmonising.
We must not be fooled into believing that there is a blueprint for a perfect solution. We must be satisfied with searching for what we slowly discover as realities as we work from the simple original thought noted above. We must not allow ourselves to force any analogy into the process. We must rather be happy to discover what needs to come about that will facilitate a healthy social order. A healthy social order cannot come about as a doctrine. It can start to form if we stay above our own little social order and observe it unfolding and discovering what we need to do to guide it to yielding a healthy social order.
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