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by Rev. Reingard Knausenberger
‘…and Jesus finds Phillip and speaks to him: follow me.’ (Jn 1). Four times Phillip is mentioned in the Gospel and always in the Gospel of John. Seeking and finding seems to be a theme belonging to discipleship. After he is found by Jesus Christ, Phillip immediately goes and finds Nathanael and says: we have found the one of whom Moses speaks in the law and the prophets have written about…’
What does it take to be ‘found’ by Christ, for the spirit world to be able to find the human soul, to become spiritually visible? Maybe it is just as important that not only we humans seek Christ, but can also be found by him.
Then it is Phillip who is again found—by the Greeks on Palm Sunday wanting to see Christ.
(Jn 12: 20-36) Through this request Christ is lifted into a new and moving revelation into the depths of his soul and of the Father. ‘Whoever wants to serve me, must follow me on my path. There where I am, must also be those who will serve me; and those who serve me, my father will honour…Father, reveal your Name!...That you become Sons of the Light’.
Following on the path is not only a self-serving event, it has a universal purpose and goal, a beginning and an end. The obstacles and opportunities which appear underway also disappear again, are transient, keep changing – and keep the door open for every seeking soul to stumble, fall and rise again and keep growing. How can we, too, be found and inspired by other seekers?
Phillip shows another attribute at the Feeding of the Five thousand (Jn 6): he is worthy of and capable of being put to the test by Christ. ‘Where can we buy bread…?’ where upon he gives a very rational, realistic answer by assessing the situation: we don’t have enough money. Founded on this down-to-earth realism, Christ can demonstrate that this is not the only viewpoint which determines what is possible. Money is not the only determining factor in the issue. He can now take what is available, even if it doesn’t seem to make sense, and connect this with another reality. The reality of abundance. It nourishes. Phillip, and therefore all disciples, can learn how being servants of Christ means being able to handle and pass on the possibility of connecting heavenly reality with sober earthly reality, which manifests as nourishing wholeness. Even though the disciples do not exactly understand how this happens yet, like they, we also can apply this approach.
We get a glimpse into the depth of Phillip’s soul in John 14. In this chapter Christ opens his heart like floodgates outpouring his love. Phillip has a name derived from one of the Greek words for love: phileo, to be someone’s friend, to feel deep affection and loyal commitment for someone, to have a conscious personal heart-to-heart relationship with someone. But Christ is fulfilling his mission by giving birth to a new elevated love-power, seeding it into the human soul. ‘Show us the Father’ Phillip asks. And elicits an answer which can kindle this new fire of love in heart and spirit. The response, which crescendos in John 17, in essence is: keep following me, keep walking with me alive in your heart. I am laying into your soul the seed of what is be your goal, the purpose and fulfilment of your being. You carry it as a seed potential within you now. Be underway with your Self and focused, as it grows into new unknown dimensions. Dare yourself to live out of this source from now on.
Phillip from the talks on the twelve apostles of the New Jerusalem
by Rev. Michaël Merle
Jesus finds Phillip. Phillip is from the same city as Andrew and Simon Peter, but unlike the brothers Phillip is not a fisherman. It is likely, however, that Phillip is from the same group of seekers in that city. His name is Greek although he is Hebrew. It is therefore likely that he has a Hebrew name as well, but goes by a Greek name because of an occupation that may be that of a scribe or a writer. His name means ‘lover of horses’ or ‘the lover’. We have the Man and the Lover. In mythology the horse is always the symbol of thinking. Therefore to ride a horse in mythology means to have mastery over one’s thinking.
Phillip is the disciple who finds Nathaniel. Nathaniel is also looking. His name, ending in ‘el’ connects him and that which he is seeking with the Father God. When Phillip tells Nathaniel that he has found the fulfilment of the Old Testament, the Law and the Prophets this places who Phillip is speaking of in a clear lineage. However, when Phillip says that Jesus is from Nazareth Nathaniel is doubtful. Phillip’s response is marvellous: “Come and see”, in other words, ‘answer your own question’.
The fifth Foundation Stone of the New Jerusalem is inscribed with Phillip’s name which is sardonyx. Sardonyx is connected with Scorpio. Sardonyx has bands of white and red and may be called the stone of flesh and blood. Sardonyx is linked with the soul quality of patience that must be transformed into discernment. It is only with discernment, that is human insight impregnated by the spirit, that the human being is able to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
A report from the Old Testament Study by Rev. Michaël Merle by John-Peter Gernaat
From the beginning of the story of Abram (probably better translated as Avram) Michaël has spoken about the importance of a father-son relationship. Abram means ‘exalted father’. Abraham means ‘father of many’. Avram leaves his father’s house – an unusual thing for a man to do in that time of human history – and Lot his nephew leaves and travels with Avram and his entourage as a kind of a son figure. Lot’s father, Avram’s brother, has died and Avram becomes like a father to Lot.
Lot travels with Avram to Egypt and through this we understand that Lot also underwent an initiation into the Egyptian Mysteries of the Sun Sphere. This provides Lot with the ability to make his own life-choices and he leaves to live, it may appear, in the city of his wife’s family, Sodom. There Lot is warned by the angels of YHWH that the sin of inhospitality cannot continue on this earth – this earth and our earth-existence is to create inclusivity of all people – and Lot, who understands this principle, is spared. Lot’s wife, who may be called Edith, turns back and in so doing, it could be understood, becomes the first human being to experience the aging process in her physical constitution. Lot does not have sons, he has only daughters. Lot’s daughters, after the escape from Sodom, get Lot drunk. We must understand this correctly. Before the human “I”, or at least a part of the human “I”, incarnated into the bodily constitution, made possible through the incarnation of Christ into the human being in Jesus of Nazareth, the “I” walked as a companion alongside each individual. A part of the human “I” still has not incarnated; we can call this our higher “I” which is held in the being of our guardian angel as a selfless task. The earthly “I” that is now incorporated into our being and the higher “I” are together an expression of Christ so that each one of us can know ‘Christ in me’. One way to fully open up to the earthly “I” for pre-Christian humanity was through alcohol. We encounter this for the first time with Noah who can experience his full “naked self”’ through planting a vineyard and drinking of the wine. Lot becomes drunk so that he can connect with his higher “I” in order that his grandsons, the son of each of his daughters, can be fully connected to him as an extension of the fullness of himself. His daughters are able to bear the consciousness of their father through them to their sons. This story is a story of the daughters giving birth in a higher consciousness to two nations that come out of Lot. His one daughter bears a son she names Moab and from him the nation of the Moabites arises. The other daughter bears a son named Ben-ammi through whom the Ammonite nation comes into being. Lot needs to connect with his sense of self in order that this may be carried through his daughters to the next generation. Lot fails to carry his self from one generation to the next generation, achieving only to carry it through to the second generation. Lot ‘fails’ in being a ‘son’ of Avram. The principle that is at work is that the line of succession must be through father to son as we see again in the genealogy in Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels. This is a spiritual principle, or metaphorical principle that also must be understood in a higher sense. Because Lot has daughters this spiritual principle must be worked on differently. Lot cannot carry forward the task that YHWH has given Avram for which Avram left his father’s house.
Sarai becomes impatient with the fulfilment of YHWH’s promise, or she feels a need to stage a “dress rehearsal”. In Gen. 16 we read that Sarai gives her servant Hagar, who had accompanied her from Egypt, to Avram, her husband, to bear a child. Hagar is an extension of the wisdom, the possessions, that Sarai acquired in Egypt when the Pharaoh took Sarai to wife (took her into an initiation of the Egyptian Mysteries). It was well understood that servants took an aspect of their master’s or mistress’s nature and carried out tasks on behalf of their master or mistress. Sarai, having a child by Hagar, means that Sarai has a child through an extension of herself. This extension is all of Sarai herself. However, once the conception occurs Sarai comes into conflict with herself, with that which she has extended to Hagar; she wishes to dissociate with that part of herself which she has come to despise. The part of Sarai that has been unfruitful despises the part of her that has borne fruit and the next generation. The unfruitful part of Sarai which bears all the wisdom she has acquired cannot be passed to the next generation and will die while the fruitful part will live on in the next generation. Sarai hands over her problem to YHWH, and Avram as the one connected strongly to YWHW, instructs Sarai that Hagar is in her power. She then treats Hagar, the fruitful extension of herself, so badly that Hagar runs away, retreats completely. After the birth of Isaac, Hagar is sent away by Abraham with his son, Ishmael, and she leaves Ishmael alone to die in the desert but YHWH comforts her by saying that Ishmael will be the father of a nation in his own right through a wife that she Hagar chooses for him from Egypt. The birth of Ishmael is one that does not fully take hold of the reality of the full relationship between Sarai and Avram. Ishmael is still his son but not worthy of the father-son relationship necessary to carry forward the spiritual principle spoken of earlier. Ishmael, who is born out of Sarai’s attempt to outwit YHWH, cannot carry forward the task that YHWH has given Avram for which Avram left his father’s house.
The task that YHWH called Avram to fulfil was to be the father of a nation, a specific nation, with a specific aim. This task set by YHWH is fulfilled in the person who does not give birth to another human being but instead bears a new birth within himself, the birth of the Christ within. This task ends with Jesus who will step into the River Jordan carrying all the preparation that begins with Avram or rather with Avram becoming Abraham, with the covenant. This is the principle of the father and the son.
The birth of Isaac, through the new covenant, fulfils the task – the beginning of a new nation that will be the responsibility of YHWH – that YHWH set for Avram. The birth of the third son is successful as we can read in Gen. 21. (We read this same principle in many fairy tales where a king has three sons and the first son goes out on a mission and fails; the second son also fails, often in the opposite direction; and the third son fulfils the mission.) Abraham circumcises Isaac at eight days as he had been commanded by YHWH. This is the sign of the covenant made with Abraham and it is the sign of belonging to this very specific nation. Isaac is the child that over successive generations will contribute to the refinement that must come for the human being who will stand in the River Jordan before John the Baptist. Isaac’s relations will in time establish a relationship with Egypt, just as Ishmael has done. There must be a reconciliation with Egypt for there not to be an unhealthy division between the half-brothers. All the descendants of Isaac must make a spiritual connection with Egypt all the way through to Jesus, the culmination of this mission of Abraham, who is taken to Egypt by his parents through a dream that Joseph has.
When we allow these stories of births to present a spiritual picture, rather than a physical, carnal picture, we start to understand the extraordinary establishment of the principle of father and son that on earth is but a mere reflection of the great principle of the Father God and the Son God. When this principle has been spiritually established between Abraham and Isaac the mission of Abraham, and through him the mission YHWH, can continue. The stories of Lot and Hagar and Ishmael help to establish this principle but both fail in achieving it fully. YHWH’s spiritual task is possible only through Isaac.
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
Michaël wants everyone to understand how this story of humankind develops. Genesis begins with the idea of the human being and the experience of life is completely different to what we know. Adam and Eve would have experienced themselves as fiery beings on the earth, according to the description of Rudolf Steiner. They would not have been grounded nor would they have had the physical experience we have today. This is still pre-mythological time. The Fall is a different experience of landing on the earth for humanity. The plan for humanity is God’s plan all along. This plan is not diverted by the original sin of humanity in the Garden of Eden, but the way in which this plan unfolds is influenced by the actions of humanity. The Fall therefore is not a disruption of God’s plan as is sometimes read into the story of Genesis. However, we must come to terms with what these actions bring about. It is part of the experience of being on this earth and only shows to confirm that we are in a relationship with the Divine.
When we arrive at Noah we can know that “thousands and thousands of years” have passed. We are in a different experience, no longer the fiery beings that were the reality of Adam and Eve, but now watery beings starting to sense a densification of life. The last great watery experience moves us from the time we could describe as Atlantean into the post-Atlantean experience of feeling ourselves in our material, mineral, physical reality. We jump directly to the third Post-Atlantean Epoch in the story of Abraham. Abraham is entering historical time although the manner in which the story is told is not yet historical but still mythological or allegorical. The themes that unfold, that to our modern ear appear to be carnal in nature, represent steps in our spiritual development and should be understood as such.
From Abraham, YHWH of the Elohim (often referred to as the Lord God), a powerful being of the Exusiai, is carrying out the will of the Father God, becoming a father-like Divine figure for Abraham, who is all about being a father. One could see that YHWH is called upon to manage the theme of fatherhood in humanity: how to establish a family and an inheritance that will finally bring us to the point where we have a human being who has developed in such a way that this human being bears the Divine in him in a way that no other human being is able to do. This then becomes the door through which we are able to bear the Divine in us. We do not yet bear the fullness of the Divine in the way that this human being did; that is still well into our future. We can experience an aspect of this that allows us to develop further. We find ourselves in a stream where we can say that one of the sources is Abraham and his line of descendants.
The theme of fatherhood was covered in the talk on the three ‘sons’ of Abraham in that we see many nations arise from Abraham’s family. Lot’s grandsons give rise to the Moabite and Ammonite nations, Ishmael gives rise to the peoples who today are referred to as Arabs and Isaac gives rise to the Hebrew nation. It is Isaac and Ishmael who eventually bury their father when he dies even though Abraham has six more children, after the death of Sarah, by another wife. In the scriptures, and in many cultures, it was common for a man to have a ‘chief’ wife and ‘lesser’ wives – also referred to as sister wives, viewed as younger sisters to the ‘chief’ wife – who were viewed as an extension of the ‘chief’ wife to the extent that all the children fathered by the man were viewed as children of the ‘chief’ wife. Family relationships have evolved since then. When Abraham wants to find a wife for his son Isaac, he sends a servant back to the land of his father to find a wife. The servant returns with the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother.
In the writing of Genesis both Abraham and Sarah are seen as the substance out of which something is born and can both be referred to as being “father” to the line of descent and that which is born as being the “son”. These terms are not related to gender but to a quality of their origin. Through this we can relate to the fatherhood of the Divine as we are created of the very substance of God. Isaac inherits the substance of the Divine through inheriting the substance of his parents.
The events of this study refer to Genesis chapters 24 to 27. Rebecca, a cousin once removed to Isaac, is instrumental in Jacob receiving the blessing of his father. Esau and Jacob are twins but Esau is born first. Jacob is proactive and sees what belongs to him and grabs his inheritance. He does not wait for it to be given to him. He negotiates his birth right from his brother and then tricks his father into giving him that blessing that confirms the birth right. He may not be the first born, but he is the first born in being given that which belongs to him. Rebecca participates in Jacob receiving the blessing belonging to his brother.
Isaac is the son of Abraham who is not sacrificed so that the idea of inheritance can continue through him. This gives rise to a bloodline through which the spiritual world can work to refine it. Many very interesting women are brought into this bloodline.
The story of the birth right goes this way: Esau comes back hungry from a hunt and Jacob has prepared a red strew – red as it represents life blood. Esau feels so hungry that he could die. Jacob has the ability to nourish his brother and Esau recognises this. The one who can provide the sustenance required by the sibling is thus in truth “the firstborn”. This is the meaning of this metaphor in which Esau willingly trades his birth right for a bowl of the red stew of Jacob. And Jacob, according to the story was called Edom for making the red strew – Edom is not far removed from Adam; man of redness or blood. The birth right is about life, the life that Jacob can provide in the sustenance he can give his brother. Spiritually Esau could not fulfil the birth right because, as he himself says, he is at death’s door. The bearer of the full birth right is Jesus of Nazareth and in him is the new life. We inherit this life through the resurrection, and we all become the first born.
Esau gains his life by giving away his birth right. The gaining of his livelihood would be confirmed by the blessing of his father, but this Jacob takes away from him through deception. Isaac sends Esau to hunt and with the meat prepare a savoury meal (a meal of hospitality), but Rebecca hears the conversation and prepares a meal from two kids of the flock for Jacob to take to his father and with the skins fools Isaac into believing it is his hairy son who has returned for the blessing. Rebecca, like Eve, can see the future in the potential with which she is confronted and is instrumental in selecting the line through which the covenant of YHWH will find a fulfilment.
The blessing begins with an allusion to the sense of smell and we know from Rudolf Steiner that in our future the sense of smell will be replaced by a sense of morality. This already lives in our idiom in expressions like ‘smelling fishy’ related to an endeavour. “May God give you dew from heaven and the richness of the earth: abundance of grain and wine.” These are the very substances of which the true sacrifice is to be made (see the March article on sacrifice). The rest of the blessing is about others being subservient to him. Jacob receives the blessing to take on the birth right he has bought from his brother. The stew of Jacob was red because he is the source of the bloodline that sustains Esau and will produce the generations to Jesus. Our ‘I-ness’ is held in our blood.
When the blessing has been given to Jacob, Esau asks whether there is anything left to give. Esau’s blessing is that his home will be far removed from the dew of heaven and richness of the earth. He will live by the sword and serve his brother and when he wins his freedom he will shake the yoke of his brother from off his neck.
We may feel that we are the inheritors of Esau’s blessing in that we feel we are always in the service of our ‘brother’ and far from the richness of earth and the dew of heaven. We wait to win our freedom and take charge of ourselves and not be subject to the other. Today we still live in a world where one human being attempts to subjugate another. People feel the yoke of another, their brother, on their neck. We saw this in the emotional connection that arose when one man stopped breathing because another had his knee on his neck, which reignited the Black Lives Matter Movement. People are still asking for the last part of Esau’s blessing which will then open up Jacob’s blessing. The blessing of Jacob is the blessing of the first born and we are now all the first born of the new life through the resurrection. The blessing of Jacob has changed in that we must become master of ourselves, no longer our brother, and recognise the Jacob, the first born, in each other and thereby the same blessing that is due to them. The recognition of the ego of the other is highest of the twelve sense that Rudolf Steiner presented. The ego of the other is the Christ in the other. When we think of ourselves as Jacob and the other as Esau we find ourselves in the struggle of brother against brother which it is for us to overcome. We are asked to see equality in the essence of everyone. We are co-inheritors of the blessing of the first born. This puts to rest the Cain and Abel story of brother pitted against brother which is the inheritance of the Fall. We are people of the New Testament, inheritors of the new life, and not of the Old Testament. We recognise the new in the New Testament through our study of the Old Testament.
So much of the foundation of our human story is based on deeds that we would regard as dishonourable. When we fail to recognise the Christ in us and the Christ in the other, our deeds, to this day, remain dishonourable. It is through the Christ in us that we are able to discern what is honourable behaviour. But very little of the new life through Christ can be seen at work in the world today. The aim of education in the Waldorf sense is to make the person an honourable person in their dealings with others, it is not about the content of the material.
by John-Peter Gernaat
The statement of Christ “I am – fear not”, he makes before he makes any of the seven “I am …” statements.
After the feeding of the five thousand Jesus retreats onto the mountain and the disciples enter a boat to sail across the Sea of Galilea. The boat is blown far from land in a storm. The disciples are filled with an overwhelming awe at seeing Jesus walking towards them on the water. Then they hear the words: “I am – Fear not”. Immediately they find themselves at the shore. One can imagine what it feels like when a sailor arrives back at the shore after a journey.
How would the disciples, with an intimate knowledge of the Old Testament, have heard these words of Christ? Hearing these words would have shifted their relationship to Jesus. They would have had an intimate knowledge of Exodus 3: 13-18. Moses has an encounter with YHWH (Yahweh) in the burning bush. He asks YHWH who he should say has sent him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. The answer that he receives is: “I am that I am: you shall say to the children of Israel that I am sent me to you.” When Jesus says to the disciples “I am”, they immediately know who He is. These are the words spoken from the Burning Bush. These words are spoken by Christ in the Burning Bush, for it is the Trinity that sends YHWH to lead the Israelites.
They would also have known the book of Isaiah where in chapter 41 it says: “For I, YHWH, your God, take hold of your right hand and say to you: ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” YHWH often represented himself as the God who had, in fact, sent him.
The book of Isaiah has an extensive shift between chapters 39 and 40 and the part of Isaiah from chapter 40 onwards is also known as the ‘Book of Consolation’. This was translated into Greek as the ‘Book of Good News’ or the ‘Book of Gospel’. Theologians often refer to this book as the proto-Gospel. In this book are four ‘Songs of the Servant’ that have been attributed to Christ. The Christ dwelling in Jesus of Nazareth fulfils the promises of the four Servant Songs. So, the statement from YHWH in chapter 41 is from the Gospel.
The disciples hear “I am”, the words from the Burning Bush and “Fear not”, the Servant words.
By this stage of human evolution YHWH, who is one of the Elohim, an Angel of the Lord, has presented himself as God. YHWH has exceeded his mission in the development of the human being. Scripture scholars can clearly discern from the early writings of the Old Testament that YHWH is not the Father God. By the later writings in the Old Testament YHWH has clearly taken on the role of the Father God. In Isaiah 41: 46, YHWH explains the role he now carries but that must be transformed when the Servant of God arrives, for then the Servant of God takes over the (self-elevated) role YHWH has at that time. YHWH says in Isaiah 41: 46: “I, YHWH, who am the First and will be the Last”. Those words are true until the Servant comes and then the Servant becomes ‘the First and the Last’. YHWH is the first in that he was there at the heart of the creation in Genesis 1, and he will be there at the end of this creation, but this creation is one cycle of many cycles of time in which YHWH had and will have other roles. The new creation is Christ.
Isaiah 41: 8-10 is, by tradition, titled “Hope for a new Exodus” and is key to the “I am” statements of Christ. It says: “But you, Israel, my servant Jacob, whom I have chosen. Seed of Abraham, my friend. You who I have taken from the ends of the earth, called from the remotest corners and to whom I have said, ‘you are my servant’. I have chosen you and not cast you away. Fear not, I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will give you strength, I will bring you help, I will uphold you with the right hand of my justice.”
When the disciples hear “I am – fear not”, they know exactly what they are letting into the boat: the very power of the new creation, the very power of God. And in that instant the boat has reached it destination and is safe, they are home. The Christ is now in the boat; the Christ is starting to work in them – they are taking the Christ into their ‘boat’. This first “I am” is heard by disciples in night consciousness – they get into the boat at night – and it wakes them – they are at the shore. The seven “I am” statements that follow are heard in waking consciousness.
Now to look at the seven “I am” statements and what the Christ is saying in and through these statements – what aspect of the human being is he addressing.
First, in John 6: “I am the Bread which descends from heaven”. This references Exodus 16 when YHWH says to Moses: “Now I am going to rain down bread from heaven for you and in the morning you will see the glory of YHWH, and in the morning bread to satisfy your hunger”. It is clear that Christ is telling his disciples that he is taking over the work from YHWH; he is saying that ‘I now represent exactly what you need’. This is strongly connected with our physical existence. A few verses later Christ says: “I am the bread of life”. What life? The new life. The first temptation in the desert is the tempter asking Jesus to turn the stones to bread. The answer the tempter receives is: “We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”. The scripture that Jesus is quoting is Deuteronomy 8: 3: “He made you experience hunger, but he gave you manna to eat which neither you nor your fathers had known to show that Man does not live on bread alone but that all that proceeds from the mouth of God is life for Man”. So, to say, “I am the bread of life” is an extraordinary statement to make which Jesus fulfils at the Last Supper: “with this bread, take my body”. There is now a strong connection made between the Bread of Life and the physical experience of the body.
When we study the three temptations in the desert, it is clear that each represents a shortcut that would circumvent something later on in the mission of the Christ:
The temptation cuts out all the events from Maundy Thursday to Whitsun had Jesus acceded. It is a temptation to circumvent the way in which the Christ was destined to fulfil His task, and rather become a magician. (This is indeed interesting as there are books written about great magicians of that time that might have fulfilled the mission of the Christ in the minds of the authors. It becomes clear that the mission of the Christ was to fulfil the tasks, not to make them appear easy.) The rest of John 6 reveals that what is present in Jesus is a completely new thing, not just speaking from the old. It is taking on what has been promised and fulfilling it by taking it beyond what might be expected.
Second, in John 8 Jesus says: “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light in which there is life.” The light relates to our etheric being. In the Book of Exodus we read: “By day YHWH went before them in a pillar of cloud to guide them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light enabling them to travel day and night. Neither the cloud by day nor the fire by night disappeared from the sight of the people.” The cloud that led the Israelites was a cloud that radiated light; the same cloud that appeared at the Baptism in the Jordan and at the Transfiguration. Now Christ says “I am the light” and not only will one walk in light but that light is life. Reading Isaiah 42, one of the Servant Songs: “I, YHWH, have called you for the sake of justice. I will hold your hand to make you firm. I will make you as a covenant to the people and as a light to the nations.” This is the passage from Isaiah that is read in the synagogue in Nazareth when Jesus rolls up the scroll and says: “These words come to pass now in me.” Isaiah 49: “I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation will reach out to the ends of the earth.” We know from Luke’s Gospel where Simeon speaks after seeing the baby Jesus: “… Here is the light which will reveal to the nations the glory of your people Israel.”
Third, in John 10: 9: “I am the door and he who enters through me will find salvation.” This links us to our astral experience. Our sentient soul allows us to experience the gateway that exists between us and the world. In the Book of Exodus the pillar of cloud moves to the rear of the Israelites to place itself between them and the Egyptian army. To the Israelites it provides light while to the Egyptians it gives darkness. The pillar of cloud is a threshold that leads the Israelites from the front and protects them at the rear. Psalm 118: “This is the Lord’s gate through which the upright enter.”
Fourth, “I am the Good Shepherd”. Here we have a relationship to our ego being. The shepherd guides the flock. He takes a leadership role. This is the role of the “I” in the human being: to take hold of the astral, the etheric and the physical, to coordinate, to guide and to lead. Isaiah 40: 3: “Like a shepherd he feds his flock. He gathers the lambs in his arms. He gathers them in his bosom; gently leading those who are with young.” This is known as the Song of God’s Presence. In this passage we hear: “A voice cries, ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of YHWH. Make straight in the desert a highway for our God’”. Ezekiel 34 says: “And the word of the Lord came to me, saying: ‘Son of Man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy’, and say unto them, ‘Thus says the Lord God unto the shepherds: Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? … I will save my flocks from their mouths and no longer will it be food for them’. Indeed the Lord YHWH says this, ‘I myself will care for my sheep and watch over them.’” When Christ says: “I am the Good Shepherd”, He is taking on the role that YHWH (God) had spoken to the people. Every “I am” statement says: “I am your God”.
Fifth, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” relates to the Spirit Self. The “I” (the Good Shepherd) has transformed the doorway. The resurrected life is the life in the spirit so that evolution can continue. This is still dormant in us. Isaiah 43: “Yet it was the will of YHWH to crush him with grief as if you have made his life an offering for sin. He will have a long life and see his descendants. Through him the will of YHWH is done.” This is that the subject of great grief is not the true situation but rather that everlasting life is the true situation, and the servant will see his descendants. The promise made to Abraham is that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens, as the sand on the shore of the sea. Now the Servant, Christ, will see his descendants – all those who descend in faith, who carry the Christ in them.
Sixth, John 14: 6: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” The whole experience of Exodus was that the condition of that salvation was based on the Law. The Law could be followed in order to continue the protection that had been offered. Following the Law led to life. This it is now replaced; the Law is replaced with, “I am the Way, The Truth and the Life”. This is a new Life Spirit experience: to live in the Way of Christ, the Truth of Christ, the Life of Christ. It is possible to translate ‘way’ as ‘the way by which you are able to progress’ and ‘truth’ as the ‘truth by which you can truly know’ and ‘life’ as the ‘life in which you experience yourself in the span of time’.
Seventh: “I am the true vine”. First, “I am the bread” and finally, “I am the true vine”; these are the two pillars of the Eucharist: bread and wine. “I am the true vine” relates to the ultimate experience of our development as human beings, what we can refer to as Spirit Human. First, we hear, “I am the true vine that has life.” Later we read: “I am the vine, you are the branches.” This is the source of our life to which we are now connected and is the source for our becoming Spirit Human. Isaiah 5 is known as the Song of the Vineyard: “Let me sing for my beloved a love song about his vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard in a fertile hillside. He dug it up; cleared the stones and planted it with the choicest of vines. He built there a watchtower and hewed out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only wild grapes. Now inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard, what more was there to do that I have not done for my vineyard. Good grapes was the yield that I expected and why did it yield only sour grapes? Now I will let you know what I will do with my vineyard. I will remove its hedge and it will be burned. I will break down its wall and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland. I will neither prune not hoe it. Briars and thorns will grow there. I command the clouds as well not to send rain on it.” It represents the wasteland, the wilderness, the desert in which a straight highway will be made; the way of the Lord. Moving to Isaiah 27 known as the ‘Vineyard of YHWH’: “On that day I will say, ‘Praise my fruitful vineyard, I YHWH am its keeper. I water it every moment, so that no one will harm it. Day and night, I guard it. I have no walls. Who will cleanse me from thorns? I myself will march against them, I will burn them all together, for if they come to me for refuge let them make peace with me, yes let them make peace with me. In the days to come, Jacob will take root; Israel will blossom and bear many a shoot and fill the earth with many a fruit.” “I am the True Vine, and you are the branches” who will fill the earth with many a fruit. You will bear fruit because of your connection to the True Vine. What lives in Christ will produce fruit because it also lives in everyone who is able to experience the Christ in them.
The seven “I am” statements in John provide us with the whole picture of how Christ becomes the new guide in our becoming. Christ becomes the source of our new creation.
If these “I am” statements are as much now about us, bearing the Christ in us, as they are about the Christ, then I must become the bread of life; I must become the light of the world; I must become the resurrection and the life. Ultimately that is the purpose to which each one of our lives is evolving. We are a part of the transformation, the transubstantiation experience. In the Act of Consecration the bread becomes the Body of Christ, so that the substance of each one of us can transform. The Act of Consecration of the human being is not only the act of consecration of the bread and wine, it is our transformation. We need to take on the ownership of these words, these “I am” statements.
by John-Peter Gernaat
This module of the Africa Seminary ran from Friday 19 March to Monday 22 March 2021. The theme of the module was: What key unlocks meaning in every aspect of life? Unlocking the Open Secret – The Basics through the development of the human being in utero and what this reveals. The purpose of the module was to study a blueprint that exists in Creation that is revealed in the story presented in Genesis and is clearly evident in the development of a human embryo in the first stage of its development.
Rudolf Steiner gave the following verse to Ita Wegman and it formed a touchstone for the module:
The human being is a bridge between the past and the future.
The present is a moment – moment as bridge.
Spirit grown to soul in matter’s husk comes from the past:
soul growing to spirit as seed encased journeys towards the future.
Grasp future things through past ones:
Hope for evolving things through what has evolved.
So grasp existence in evolving growth:
So grasp what will be in what exists.
The embryology of the human foetus is quite complex and available in biology and medical textbooks.
Reading Genesis 1 Adam is created once all the plants and animals are already created. The human being is the recapituliser of the evolutionary process. Genesis 2 seems to present a different picture. In Chapter 2 Adam is a seed of everything in the Cosmos. He must name the animals (he must recognise the animals for their essential nature) and he can do this because they are derived from him. In Genesis 1 the blueprint is presented while in Genesis 2 YHWH of the Elohim (one of the Elohim) becomes the builder of this blueprint. In Genesis 2 we learn that the human being is the core trunk from which all else is derived. The human being at the same time is the archetypal seed-form while the other beings of creation become fixed as they branch off from the trunk. Therefore, Adam can name the animals and say: “I see nothing that is not me, but nothing that is entirely me”. When Eve is created Adam does not name her because she is all of himself, not an aspect of him. It is only after the Fall that Eve is named as ‘mother’.
The Vedic tradition has a very similar picture of the creation. The entire universe was created as a Cosmic Human and then we were created as a microcosm of the Cosmic Human Being. We are mirrored in the forms that surround us. One could say that the human being is an upside-down plant comparing leaves to lungs, flowers to sexual organs and roots to the brain. This macrocosmic picture captured in the microcosmic way can be seen in the planets rotating around the sun mirrored in the electrons around the nucleus of the atom.
The human being is unique amongst the vertebrates in that we retain the characteristics of our juvenile form more than any other primates. This characteristic is called neoteny. It is as though we remain juveniles but grow only in size.
It is of interest to note the difference between the female and male human. The female is born with every egg she will need in her life already within her body. She will never produce another egg. The male is born without sperm and only begins sperm production at puberty and then never stops producing sperm. The production of sperm divides the chromosomes in two so that a sperm cell is no longer a part of the male. One formative sperm cell becomes four sperm. It has a purpose to go to a destination. The unmatured egg also matures and develops as four from which only one egg is retained and released. The egg is encouraged to leave the ovary and then waits for sperm, and then invites one sperm into itself.
The difference between a single-celled plant and a single-celled animal is that the animal cell will move towards food. This means the outer membrane is more flexible and can form something akin to a tail (a flagellate) with which it can propel itself. This ability is recapitulated in the human egg (the cell at rest) and the sperm with a tail that can propel it.
The development of the human embryo is described in other religious texts or commentaries. The Islamic Hadith describes the human embryo as created in four stages:
Rudolf Steiner describes that at conception the fertilised egg contains the spirit orb of the physical body. Between 17 and 21 days a second conception occurs at which time the etheric, astral and ego connect with the body in seed form. The etheric body becomes active at 7 weeks; the astral body becomes active at 7 months and the ego is activated at birth and provides the impulse for the baby to enter the birth canal. Our ego or “I” is divided into the part that connected with our earthly existence and our higher “I”. The higher “I” is fully connected to the placenta but at the birth of the baby the higher “I” is, in a way, birthed into the womb of the baby’s guardian angel. Before Christ entered into Jesus, the earthly “I” lived in the amnionic fluid in the womb and then also remained outside of the physical constitution of the human being during life, walking beside the person, in a sense.
There are seven steps in the first 24 days of embryological development. Although we spent time studying them it is not relevant to this report to include the details. What is relevant is to understand how these seven steps recapitulate the seven stages or days of Genesis. Understanding this reveals that there is only one pattern for development. Connected with this seven-stage process is a parallel process of the Father God coming to know Himself. This concept exists in the Kabbalistic tradition of Tsim-Tsum and was studied by Rudolf Steiner. The notebooks of Steiner in which his findings are annotated were published some two decades ago and are still little known.
The Pierpont Morgan Library in New York houses a manuscript of illuminated miniatures of the Bible from Creation to King David. It is known variously as the Crusader Bible, Morgan Picture Bible, the Maciejowski Bible, and the Shah Abbas Bible and was created by monks in France in the 1240s for King Louis IX of France. We used Goethean observation to understand how the illuminated miniatures of the first six days of Creation hold the image of all of subsequent creation including the first seven stages of embryological development in the human being.
The fourth step in Goethean observation is becoming one with the object being observed. We achieved this differently for the seven stages and in the process created three poetic verses and a wet-on-wet painting that became the backdrop for the combined verses. These creations were finally gifted to another participant as part of the experience of this creative module.
We were privileged to hear the story of Creation from Genesis translated in a more poetic form that also accompanied the Close of Day services.
The first day of Creation the Creative Beings separate light from darkness and name them day and night. This stage is referred to as All Might in which the Father reveals Himself to the Son (make a space wherein the Son can create).
The second day of Creation is the creation of a firmament called sky to separate the waters above from the waters below. This stage is referred to as All Wisdom in which the Son reveals Himself to the Spirit (the light of the Spirit can illuminate all that the Son has created).
The third day of Creation is the separation of the waters from the dry land and the land being fertile and all plants, including those that bear fruit that is good to eat, come into being. This stage is referred to as All Love in which the Spirit reveals Itself to the Father (The Spirit says: “I have filled the space”). The element of this stage is the sympathy and antipathy to all Creation. This is the element of being ‘one with’ and ‘apart from’.
The fourth day of Creation is the creation of the two great lights in the sky to illuminate day and night. This stage is referred to as All Justice in which the Father veiled in the Son reveals Himself to the Spirit. The element of this stage is karma and with karma comes birth and death. In this stage of embryological development, the full embryo resembles the sun, surrounded by a crown of stars and with the crescent moon below (the body stalk), reminiscent of the picture of the woman in Revelation 12. The embryo begins to prepare for feeding by forming the beginnings of a gut. This is the first organ to begin developing and we retain a gut reaction to much of what meets us in life. The seed of the etheric, astral and ego are implanted at this time.
The fifth day of Creation is when the birds of the air and fish of the sea are created. In a picture these are the animals that are not ‘inside of us’. This stage is referred to as All Redemption in which the Son veiled in the Spirit reveals Himself to the Father. This stage is known esoterically as Last Judgement. This is where we are currently in the evolution of the great Earth Cycle of time. The element of this stage is death and rebirth. It is the possibility of everything being renewed and connects us to the Source. In the embryo pulsating blood islands form outside the embryo that will later be incorporated into the embryo.
The sixth day of Creation is when the animals that walk on the land are created and then the human being is created. This stage is referred to as All Hallowing in which the Spirit veiled in the Father reveals Itself to the Son. The Spirit pours out at Whitsun and embeds in the human being, that is the substance of the Father, to be revealed to the Son. The element of this stage is making whole.
The seventh day of Creation is when the Creative Beings see that Creation is good. This state is referred to as All Harmony in which the Father veiled in the Son and the Spirit reveals Himself to Himself. This is the seed for the future. The element is the Creation of Good (Goodness becomes).
When we visualise an atom that consists of a nucleus in which there are neutrons and photons and electrons that spin on the periphery around the nucleus we would imagine the atom being as big in diameter as the entire church properties along Dover Street are wide. Then the nucleus would be the size of one grain of uncooked rise. In the vast empty space a photon of light is trapped. Ralph Waldo Emmerson refers to us as nothing more than thickened light. All of creation is a manifestation of the substance of the Divine. It is all light that is so “thick” that we can see and touch it. In this we have the process of the Trinity getting to know Itself in a new way as described above and known as Tsim-Tsum in the Kabbalistic tradition. This reflects the statement of Christ in John 8: “This is the Light in which there is Life”.
In the study of plants we know that carbon, the very substance that provides the massive structure of the plant, is derived not from the ground, but from the air through the process of photosynthesis that requires light. A plant appears because of light.
In the Sunday talk, open to everyone, Michaël shared the journey that leads to birth. This journey has been covered before, in November in a talk “Crossing the Threshold: The Experience after death” by Rev. Michaël Merle . Between death and a new birth we find ourselves in the heavenly spheres in a new relationship to the Cosmos. We reach what Rudolf Steiner describes as the “Midnight Hour”. At this point in our journey we become conscious that we are moving towards a physical birth. We leave the community of the spiritual world to begin an individual path. In a sense we excommunicate ourselves from the community of the spiritual world. We experience a death from the spiritual world as we take the path towards birth.
The path of our journey to the earth is out of communion, through an offering – because substance begins to change from spirit to matter – to a proclamation, i.e.: ‘here I am standing on the earth’. This is the opposite to what we experience in the Act of Consecration of Man where we hear a proclamation, an offering, the transubstantiation and a communion. We are now again forming a community, but of free individuals who join this community in freedom.
The path from the Midnight Hour to birth, the path of excommunication, is one in which the individual has to work and will experience pain. Through pain we increase the capacity to learn and more and more learn to stand in our sense of isolation. Then the spiritual being will at some point connect to a physical manifestation. This physical being is made up of two parts that are not fully human that come together in conception to become fully human. We can think of conception also in the sense of an idea, that we conceive a picture that we hold of what is to come.
From that moment we need earthly nourishment, we need our Daily Bread. The word in the Lord’s Prayer in Greek is epiousios. ‘Epi’ means ‘on top of’, as in epidermis, the top layer of our skin. ‘Ousio’ means the substance of being. We are therefore speaking of the ‘fitting substance of being upon which we can rely’. We are speaking of the bread that suffices for this day in order for us the remain ‘bread’ or a physical being – matter – on the earth. We are nourished by many things, the ‘word’ of God or the very substance of God, and that which nourishes our soul.
On the journey from the Midnight Hour, conception is the morning star that lights the way for the dawn. Dawn would be birth. The process of embryology that was studied during this Africa Seminary Module occurs between the morning star and the dawning of the sun. Around the 17th day a very significant change happens in the embryo that can also be seen as a second conception. In this process we go from being two layers of cells to creating, in the space between, a third layer. We become three-fold. At this point there is the possibility of something new happening. This process is akin to an offering. One can say that it is when karma incarnates into cellular, metabolic activity. The potential for an etheric, astral and ego unfolding now becomes present.
It takes about three years from birth for the infant to come upright, to walk and to be able to say “I” of itself. This is the fourth step from the Midnight Hour, the step of proclamation. This completes the process of birth from the spiritual world to earthly life that began at the Midnight Hour. Our guardian angel cares for this process and needs guardians on earth to help. If our higher “I” remained connected we would learn nothing in an earthly incarnation. The higher “I” is held by the guardian angel. The higher “I” lives in the womb of our mother, connected with the placenta – it is the part that feeds the baby in all ways. At birth our guardian angel takes our higher “I” and carries it in a way that a mother does. The higher “I” learns all the earthly “I” experiences because it is not directly present. The essential spirit that leaves the community of spirit at the Midnight Hour gets to know itself in a new way through the experience of being on earth. This is the process of “Know Thyself”, getting to know ourselves.
The Act of Consecration of Man should remind us of this process and to feel our way into a reconnection with the spiritual. The proclamation of the Gospel is the “I” of Christ to which we all align. We hear in the Gospel: “I am the light”. The thickened light that is our earthly existence is the Christ light that gives us life. All the potential for Good lives in the “I” of the human being. We stand for the Gospel reading to witness the panorama of the “I” of Christ. It shows us how an “I” can work.
The Act of Consecration then proceeds to the offertory, the opportunity for us to bring ourselves with Christ. We have nothing to offer the Father, but we can bring ourselves and our new learning – the new experience of myself – to the Father. We can offer our pure thinking, our loving heart and our willing devotion. The offering of our soul, held by our “I”, we can align with Christ to offer to the Father.
In the transubstantiation the physical substances of earth become part of the spiritual world. We then take communion, not for ourselves, but for the whole world. We take it so that something can happen in us that is needed for the whole evolution of earthly existence. We are the only beings on earth who can take this into ourselves consciously – “take this into your thinking”. This is what we can take with us across the threshold back into the spiritual world. Between the transubstantiation and the communion is the Lord’s Prayer. In it we have the sense of the journey we have undertaken.
In the Lord’s Prayer we have the incarnation process as a reminder that we stand in our “I”. This is not an easy thing to do. Our time is always the hardest time, right now. We are born to learn to stand and to say: “I am here”. Light in my expression from the source of light itself – Christ: light of the world, light in which there is light, light in which there is life.
The module on embryology was presented as an introduction to the theme of Holy Week which was The Birth of the Human Spirit.
by Jane Abrahams
At the right moment they come
out of transcendence
across decades and oceans
Time folds up into itself
as they were
Named, one by one around the circle
their faces imprint themselves
on the eager air
their voices sound
close, fresh and living.
I open the book
find the marked place
the place where we left off yesterday
and become engrossed.
For a while
our minds become Mind
the Logos is among us
as together we unravel meaning
together find a place to stand
A waking bird chirps outside
brings back the present moment
by Aneesa Adams of the Sandton Chronicle
A rich and wholesome history has filled the streets of Bryanston since the inception of the Bryanston Organic Market.
Almost 40 years ago, Cindy Spencer founded the market and after succumbing to cancer on 1 December last year, her memory will live on.
Pioneer and nature enthusiast Spencer was on a mission to share her goodwill and organic ideals. Starting up the Bryanston Organic Market with just a wheelbarrow and fresh vegetables, her legacy as the mercurial being and free-spirited soul still lives on today.
Her daughter Leila Kuhlmann shared the story of how it all came to be.
“My mom was very eccentric and she had quite a few beliefs. She started the market based on the principles of holism, true care and mindful intent."
With just an idea and a whole lot of heart, Spencer’s idea developed into the marvel it is today. “My mom always said not to worry about the money, get going with the idea and flow. So she started at the Michael Mount Waldorf School where my brother and I attended. There, I sat at the end of a wheelbarrow going up and down the street while my mom pushed. Filled with carrots, lettuces and all types of organic vegetables she’d encourage people to buy some.”
Spencer managed to build pools, classrooms and halls with the money raised.
“She eventually stopped pushing the wheelbarrow and started setting up tables.” Spencer took the market to a whole new level after visiting global markets. A few years later in 1988, the market burnt down.
“It was a very sad experience for my mom, she left and didn’t return for 10 years until some healing happened. By the time she got back, it had transformed. The market is still changing, it’s something very special, when she started this, it was to transform the school and that's what she did.”
She was part of a group, Performance Arts which was based in Sandown. The group was invited to attend Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994 to give it an ‘African feel’ with special inauguration pots. Spencer’s light went far across the world, so much so that Pope John Paul II was gifted one of her pots by Zanele Mbeki during a state visit in the year 2000. It still sits in the Vatican today.
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