Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
86851382 christianity-as-mystical-fact-and-the-mysteries-of-antiquity
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.

Saving this for later? Get the SlideShare app to save on your phone or tablet. Read anywhere, anytime – even offline.
Text the download link to your phone
Standard text messaging rates apply

86851382 christianity-as-mystical-fact-and-the-mysteries-of-antiquity


Published on

Published in: Education, Spiritual, Technology

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

No notes for slide


  • 1. i ^<*n .•***» ****^
  • 3. THE MEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY :> AS rOR, Lf noa and TILD-N FOUNDAI IONS R 1915 L Copyright, 1914 BY H. COLLISON The copyrights, the publishing rights, and the editorialresponsibility for the translations of the works of RudolfStciner, Ph.D., with the exception of those already pub-lished under the editorial supervision of Mr. Max Gysi,arc now vested in Mr. Harry Collison, M.A., Oxon. Ube linickcrboclscr ^ccss, tAcy/e |?ocb
  • 4. PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITIONr^HRISTIANITY as Mystical Fact was the title given by the author to thiswork, when, eight years ago, he gatheredinto it the substance of lectures delivered byhim in 1902. The title indicated the specialcharacter of the book. In it the attemptwas made, not merely to represent histori-cally the mystical content of Christianity,but to describe the origin of Christianityfrom the standpoint of mystical^ contempla-tion. Underlying tjiis intention was thethought that atthe g^neisis of Christianitymystical facts ^€v^ %t work which can onlybe perceived by such contemplation. It is only the book itself which can makeclear that by "mystical" its author does notimply a conception which relies more onvague feelings than on "strictly scientificstatements." It is true that "mysticism" isat present widely understood in the former iii
  • 5. iv Preface to the Second Editionsense, and hence it is declared by many to bea sphere of the human which soul-Hfe with"true science" can have nothing to do. Inthis book the word "mysticism" is used inthe sense of the representation of a spiritualfact, which can only be recognised in its truenature when the knowledge of it is derivedfrom the sources of spiritual life itself. Ifthe kind of knowledge drawn from suchsources is rejected, the reader will not bein a position to judge of the contents of thisbook. Only one who allows that the sameclearness may exist in mysticism as in a truerepresentation of the facts of natural science,will be ready to admit, that. the content ofChristianity ;HsViy;3ticiSm itt^yjalso be mys-tically described.: FQr;itis:not only a ques-tion of the conterlts df.the bbok, but first andforemost of tiiei metliix^s. of knowledge by : •means of wKicii^the stut^ffients in it aremade. Many there are in the present day whohave a most violent dislike to such methods,which are regarded as conflicting with theways of true science. And this is not onlythe case with those willing to admit other
  • 6. Preface to the Second Edition vinterpretations of the world than their own,on the ground "genuine knowledge of ofnatural science," but also with those whoas believers wish to study the nature ofChristianity. The author of this book stands on theground of a conception which sees that theachievements of natural science in our agemust lead up into true mysticism. In fact,any other attitude as regards knowledge actu-ally contradicts everything presented by theachievements of natural science. The factsof natural science itself indeed cannot becomprehended by means of those methodsof knowledge which so many people wouldlike to employ to the exclusion of others,under the illusion that they stand on thefirm ground of natural science. It is onlywhen we are prepared to admit that a fullappreciation of our present admirable know-ledge of nature is compatible with genuinemysticism, that we can take the contents ofthis book into consideration. The authors intention is to show, by meansof what is here called mystical knowledge,"how the source of Christianity prepared its
  • 7. vi Preface to the Second Editionown ground in the mysteries of pre-Christiantimes. In this pre-Christian mysticism we which Christianity throve, asfind the soil ina germ of quite independent nature. Thispoint of view makes it possible to understandChristianity in its independent being, eventhough its evolution is traced from pre-Christian mysticism. If this point of view beoverlooked, it is very possible to misunder-stand that independent character, and tothink that Christianity was merely a furtherdevelopment of what already existed in pre-Christian mysticism. Many people of thepresent day have fallen into this error, com-paring the content of Christianity with pre-Christian conceptions, and then thinkingthat Christian ideas were only a continuationof the former. The following pages are in-tended to show that Christianity presup-poses the earlier mysticism just as a seedmust have its soil. It is intended to empha-sise the peculiar character of the essence ofChristianity, through the knowledge of itsevolution, but not to extinguish it. with deep satisfaction that the author It isis able to mention that this account of the
  • 8. Preface to the Second Edition viinature of Christianity has found acceptancewith a writer who has enriched the cultureof our time in the highest sense of the word,by important works on the spiritual life hisof humanity. Edouard Schure, author ofLes Grands Inities, ^ is so far in accord withthe attitude of this book that he undertookto translate it into French, under the title,Le mystere chretien et les my s teres antiques.It may be mentioned by the way, and as asymptom of the existence at the presenttime of a longing to understand the natureof Christianity as presented in this work,that the first edition was translated intoother European languages besides French. The author has not found occasion to alteranything essential in the preparation of thissecond edition. On the other hand, what waswritten eight years ago has been enlarged,and the endeavour has been made to expressmany things more exactly and circumstan-tially than was then possible. Unfortunately ^ This book is to be an English t^-anslation, by had inF. Rothwell, under the of The Great Initiates, A titleSketch of the Secret History of Religions, by EdouardSchur6 (Pub., Rider & Son, London).
  • 9. viii Preface to the Second Editionthe author was obUged, through stress ofwork, to let a long period elapse between thetime when the first edition was exhausted,and the appearance of the second. Rudolf Steiner. May, 1 910.
  • 10. CONTENTS PAGE Preface to the Second Edition iiiCHAPTER I. Points of View . . . i II. The Mysteries and their Wisdom . . . . io III. The Greek Sages before Plato in the Light of the Wisdom OF the Mysteries . . 39 IV. Plato as a Mystic . . 63 V- The Wisdom of the Mysteries and the Myth • • • 93 VI. The Mystery Wisdom of Egypt 127 VII. The Gospels . . . -147VIII. The Lazarus Miracle . . 159 IX. The Apocalypse of St. John . 177 X. Jesus and His Historical Back- ground . . . .198 ix
  • 11. X ContentsCHAPTER PACK XI. The Nature of Christianity . 203 XII. Christianity and Heathen Wisdom . . .215 .XIII. St. Augustine and the Church 227 Notes ..... 239
  • 13. Christianity as Mystical Fact POINTS OF VIEWNATURAL Science has deeply influenced modern thought. It is becoming moreand more impossible to speak of spiritualneeds and the life of the soul, without takinginto consideration the achievements andmethods of this science. It must be ad-mitted, however, that many people satisfythese needs, without letting themselves betroubled by its influence.But those whofeel the beating of the pulse of the age musttake this influence into consideration. Withincreasing swiftness do ideas derived fromnatural science take possession of our brains, I
  • 14. 2 Christianity as Mystical Factand, unwillingly though it may be, our heartsfollow, often in dejection and dismay. It isnot a question only of the number thus wonover, but of the fact that there is a forcewithin the method of natural science, whichconvinces the attentive observer that thatmethod contains something which cannot beneglected, and is one by which any modernconception of the universe must be profoundlyaffected. Many of the outgrowths of thismethod compel a justifiable rejection. Butsuch rejection is not sufficient in an age inwhich very many resort to this way of think-ing, and are attracted to it as if by magic.The case is in no way altered because somepeople see that true science long ago passed,by its own initiative, beyond the shallowdoctrines of force and matter taught by ma-terialists. It would be better, apparently, tolisten to those who boldly declare that theideas of natural science will form the basis ofa new religion. If these ideas also appearshallow and superficial to one who knowsthe deeper spiritual needs of humanity, hemust nevertheless take note of them, for itis to them that attention is now turned,
  • 15. Points of View 3and there is reason to think they will claimmore and more notice in the near future. Another class of people have also to betaken into account, those whose hearts havelagged behind their heads. With their reasonthey cannot but accept the ideas of naturalscience. The burden of proof is too muchfor them. But those ideas cannot satisfythe religious needs of their souls, —the per-spective offered is too dreary. Is the humansoul to rise on the wings enthusiasm to the ofheights of beauty, truth, and goodness, onlyfor each individual to be swept away in theend like a bubble blown by the materialbrain? This is a feeling which oppressesmany minds like a nightmare. But scientificconcepts oppress them also, coming as theydo come with the mighty force of authority.As long as they can, these people remainblind to the discord in their souls. In-deed they console themselves by saying thatfull clearness in these matters is denied tothe human soul. They think in accordancewith natural science so long as the experienceof their senses and the logic of their intellectdemand it, but they keep to the religious
  • 16. 4 Christianity as Mystical Factsentiments in which they have been educated,and prefer to remain in darkness as to thesematters, —a darkness which clouds theirunderstanding. They have not the courageto battle through to the light. There can be no doubt whatever that thehabit of thought derived from natural scienceis the greatest force in modern intellectuallife,and it must not be passed by heedlesslyby any one concerned with the spiritualinterests of humanity. But it is none theless true that the way in which it sets aboutsatisfying spiritual needs is superficial andshallow. If this were the right way, theoutlook would indeed be dreary. Would itnot be depressing to be obliged to agree withthose who "Thought is a form of force. say:We walk by means of the same force byw^hich we think. Man is an organism whichtransforms forms of force into variousthought-force, an organism the activity ofwhich we maintain by what we call food,and with which we produce what we callthought. What a marvellous chemicalprocess it is which could change a certainquantity of food into the divine tragedy of
  • 17. Points of View 5Hamlet. ** This is quoted from a pamphlet ofRobert G. Ingersoll, bearing the title, ModernTwilight of the Gods. It matters little ifsuch thoughts find but scanty acceptance inthe outside world. The point is that in-numerable people find themselves compelledby the system of natural science to take upwith regard to world-processes an attitudein conformity with the above, even when theythink they are not doing so. It would certainly be a dreary outlook ifnatural science itself compelled us to acceptthe creed proclaimed by many of its modernprophets. Most dreary of all for one whohas gained, from the content of naturalscience, the conviction that in its own sphereits mode thought holds good and its ofmethods are unassailable. For he is drivento make the admission that, however muchpeople may dispute about individual ques-tions, though volume after volume may bewritten, and thousands of observations accu-mulated about the struggle for existence andits insignificance, about the omnipotence orpowerlessness of natural selection, naturalscience itself is moving in a direction which,
  • 18. 6 Christianity as Mystical Factwithin certain limits, must find acceptancein an ever-increasing degree. But are the demands made by naturalscience really such as they are described bysome of its representatives? That they arenot so is proved by the method employedby these representatives themselves. Themethod they use in their own sphere is notsuch as is often described, and claimed forother spheres of thought. Would Darwinand Ernst Haeckel ever have made theirgreat discoveries about the evolution of lifeif, instead of observing life and the structureof living beings, they had shut themselvesup in a laboratory and there made chemicalexperiments with tissue cut out of an or-ganism? Would Lyell have been able todescribe the development of the crust of theearth if, instead of examining strata and theircontents, he had scrutinised the chemicalqualities of innumerable rocks? Let us reallyfollow in the footsteps of these investigatorswho tower like giants in the domain ofmodern science. We shall then apply to thehigher regions of spiritual life the methodsthey have used in the study of nature. We
  • 19. Points of View 7shall not then believe we have understoodthe nature of the "divine" tragedy of Hamletby saying that a wonderful chemical processtransformed a certain quantity of food intothat tragedy. We shall believe it as littleas an investigator of nature could seriouslybelieve that he has understood the mission ofheat in the evolution of the earth, when hehas studied the action of heat on sulphur in aretort. Neither does he attempt to under-stand the construction of the human brainby examining the effect of liquid potash ona fragment of it, but rather by inquiring howthe brain has, in the course of evolution,been developed out of the organs of lowerorganisms. one who is It is therefore quite true thatinvestigating the nature of spirit can donothing better than learn from naturalscience. He need only do as science does,but he must not allow himself to be misledby what individual representatives of naturalscience would dictate to him. He must in-vestigate in the spiritual as they do in thephysical domain, but he need not adopt theopinions they entertain about the spiritual
  • 20. 8 Christianity as Mystical Factworld, confused as they are by their exclusivecontemplation of physical phenomena. We shall only be acting in the spirit ofnatural science if we study the spiritualdevelopment of man as impartially as thenaturalist observes the sense-world. We shallthen certainly be led, in the domain ofspiritual life, to a kind of contemplationwhich from that of the naturalist as differsgeology differs from pure physics and biologyfrom chemistry. We shall be led up to highermethods, which cannot, it is true, be those ofnatural science, though quite conformablewith the spirit of it. Such methods alone areable to bring us to the heart of spiritual de-velopments, such as that of Christianity, orother worlds of religious conceptions. Anyone applying these methods may arouse theopposition of many who believe they arethinking scientifically, but he will know him-self, for all that, to be in full accord with agenuinely scientific method of thought. An investigator of this kind must also gobeyond a merely historical examination ofthe documents relating to spiritual life. Thisis necessary just on account of the attitude
  • 21. Points of View 9he has acquired from his study of natural his-tory. When a chemical law is explained, it isof small use to describe the retorts, dishes,and pincers which have led to the discoveryof the law. And it is just as useless, whenexplaining the origin of Christianity, to as-certain the historical sourcesdrawn upon bythe Evangelist St. Luke, or those from whichthe hidden revelation" of St. John is com- **piled. History can in this case be onlythe outer court to research proper. It is notby tracing the documents historical origin ofthat we shall discover anything about thedominant ideas in the writings of Moses or inthe traditions of the Greek mystics. Thesedocuments are only the outer expression forthe ideas. Nor does the naturalist who is man trouble aboutinvestigating the nature ofthe origin of the word "man," or the way inwhich it has developed in a language. Hekeeps to the thing, not to the word in which itfinds expression. And in studying spirituallife we must likewise abide by the spirit andnot by outer documents.
  • 22. II THE MYSTERIES AND THEIR WISDOMA KIND manner of mysterious veil in hangs over the which spiritual needs weresatisfiedduring the older civilisations bythose who sought a deeper religious life andfuller knowledge than the popular religionsoffered. Ifwe inquire how these needs weresatisfied, we find ourselves led into the dim and the individualtwilight of the mysteries,seeking them disappears for a time from ourobservation. We see how it is that the popu-lar religions cannot give him what his heartdesires. He acknowledges the existence ofthe gods, but knows that the ordinary ideasabout them do not solve the great problemsof existence. He seeks a wisdom which isjealously guarded by a community of priest-sages. His aspiring soul seeks a refuge inthis community. If he is found by the sages 10
  • 23. Mysteries and Their Wisdom 1to be sufficiently prepared, he is led up bythem, step by step, to higher knowledge, inplaces hidden from the eyes of outward ob-servers. What then happens to him is con-cealed from the uninitiated. He seems for atime to be entirely renioved from earthly lifeand to be transported into a hidden world. When he reappears in the light of day adifferent, quite transformed person is beforeus. We see a man who cannot find wordssublime enough to express the momentousexperience through which he has passed.Not merely metaphorically but in a most realsense does he seem to have gone through thegate of death and to have awakened to anew and higher life. He is, moreover, quitecertain that no one who has not had a similarexperience can understand his words. This was what happened to those who wereinitiated into the Mysteries, into that secretwisdom withheld from the people and whichthrew light on the greatest questions. This** secret" religion of the elect existed side byside with the popular religion. Its originvanishes, as far as history is concerned, intothe obscurity in which the origin of nations
  • 24. 12 Christianity as Mystical F^actis lost. We find this secret religion every-where amongst the ancients as far as weknow anything concerning them; and wehear their sages speak of the Mysteries withthe greatest reverence. What was it thatwas concealed in them? And what did theyunveil to the initiate? The enigma becomes still more puzzlingwhen we discover that the ancients lookedupon the Mysteries as something dangerous.The way leading to the secrets of existencepassed through a world of terrors, and woe tohim who tried to gain them unworthily.There was no greater crime than the "be-trayal" of secrets to the uninitiated. The* traitor" was punished with death and theconfiscation of his property. We know thatthe poet y^schylus was accused of havingreproduced on the stage something from theMysteries. He was only able to escapedeath by fleeing to the altar of Dionysos andby legally proving that he had never beeninitiated. What the ancients say about these secretsis significant, but at the same time ambigu-ous. The initiate is convinced that it would
  • 25. Mysteries and Their Wisdom 13be a sin to tell what he knows and also that itwould be sinful for the uninitiated to listen.Plutarch speaks of the terror of those aboutto be initiated, and compares their state ofmind to preparation for death. A specialmode of life had to precede initiation, tend-ing to give the spirit the mastery over thesenses. and Fasting, solitude, mortifications,certain exercises for the soul were the meansemployed. The things to which man clingsin ordinary life were to lose all their valuefor him. The whole trend of his life of sen-sation and feeling was to be changed. There can be no doubt as to the meaning ofsuch exercises and tests. The wisdom whichwas to be offered to the candidate for initia-tion could only produce the right effect uponhis soul if he had previously purified thelower life of his sensibility. He was intro-duced to the life of the spirit. He was tobehold a higher world, but he could not enterinto relations with that world without pre-vious exercises and tests. The relations thusgained were the condition of initiation. In order to obtain a correct idea on thismatter, it is necessary to gain experience of
  • 26. 14 Christianity as Mystical Factthe intimate facts of the growth of knowledge.We must feel that there are two widely di-vergent attitudes towards that which thehighest knowledge gives. The world sur-rounding us is to us at first the real one.We feel, hear, and see what goes on in it,and because we thus perceive things with oursenses, we call them real. And we reflectabout events, in order to get an insight intotheir connections. On the other hand, whatwells up in our soul is at first not real to usin the same sense. It is "merely" thoughtsand ideas. At the most we see in them onlyimages of reality. They themselves have noreality, for we cannot touch, see, or hearthem. There is another way of being connectedwith things. A person who clings to the kindof reality described above will hardly under-stand it, but it comes to certain people atsome moment in their lives. To them thewhole connection with the world is completelyreversed. They then call the images whichwell up in the spiritual life of their soulsactually real, and they assign only a lowerkind of reality to what the senses hear, touch,
  • 27. Mysteries and Their Wisdom 15feel,and see. They know that they cannotprove what they say, that they can onlyrelate their new experiences, and that whenrelating them to others they are in the posi-tion of a man who can see and who impartshis visual impressions to one born blind.They venture to impart their inner expe-riences, trusting that there are others roundthem whose though as yet spiritual eyes,closed, may be opened by the power of whatthey hear. For they have faith in humanityand want to give it spiritual sight. Theycan only lay before it the fruits which theirspirit has gathered. Whether another seesthem, depends on his spiritual eyes beingopened or not. There is something in man which at firstprevents him from seeing with the eyes of thespirit. He is not there for that purpose. Heis what his senses are, and his intellect is onlythe interpreter and judge of them. The senseswould ill fulfil their mission if they did notinsist upon the truth and infallibility of theirevidence. An eye must, from its own pointof view, uphold the absolute reality of itsperceptions. The eye is right as far as it goes,
  • 28. 1 6 Christianity as Mystical Factand is not deprived of its due by the eye ofthe spirit. The latter only allows us to seethe things of sense in a higher light. Nothingseen by the eye of sense is denied, but a newbrightness, hitherto unseen, from radiateswhat is seen. And then we know that whatwe first saw was only a lower reality. We seethat still, but it is immersed in somethinghigher, which is spirit. It is now a questionof whether we realise and feel what we see.One who lives only in the sensations andfeelings of the senses will look upon impres-sions of higher things as a Fata Morgana, ormere play of fancy. His feelings are entirelydirected towards the things of sense. Hegrasps emptiness when he tries to lay hold ofspirit forms. They withdraw from him whenhe gropes after them. They are just "mere"thoughts. He thinks them, but does notlive inthem. They are images, less real tohim than fleeting dreams. They rise up likebubbles while he is standing in his reality;they disappear before the massive, solidlybuilt reality ofwhich his senses tell him. It is otherwise with one whose perceptionsand feelings with regard to reality have
  • 29. Mysteries and Their Wisdom 17changed. For him that reality has lost itsabsolute stability and value. His senses andfeelings need not become numbed, but theybegin to be doubtful of their absolute author-ity. They leave room for something else.The world of the spirit begins to animatethe space left. At this point a possibility comes in whichma}^ prove terrible. A man may lose hissensations and feelings of outer reality with-out finding any new reality opening up beforehim. He then feels himself as if suspended inthe void. He feels as if he were dead. Theold values have disappeared and no new oneshave arisen in their place. The world andman no longer exist for him. This, however,is by no means a mere possibility. It hap-pens at some time or other to every one whois seeking for higher knowledge. He comesto a point at which the spirit represents alllife to him as death. He is then no longer in —the world, but under it, in the nether world.He is passing through Hades. Well for himif he sink not Happy if a new world open !up before him ! Either he dwindles away orhe appears to himself transfigured. In the
  • 30. 1 8 Christianity as Mystical Factlatter case he beholds a new sun and a newearth. The whole world has been bornagain for him out of spiritual fire. It is thus that the initiates describe theeffect of the Mysteries upon them. Menippusrelates that he journeyed to Babylon in orderto be taken to Hades and to be brought backagain by the successors of Zarathustra. Hesays that he swam across the great water onhis wanderings, and that he passed throughfire and ice. We hear that the Mystics wereterrified by a flashing sword, and that bloodflowed. We understand this when we knowfrom experience the point of transition fromlower to higher knowledge. We then feel asif all solid matter and things of sense had dis-solved into water, and as if the ground werecut away from under our feet. Everythingis dead which we felt before to be alive. Thespirit has passed through the life of the senses,as a sword pierces a warm body we have seen ;the blood of sense-nature flow. But a newlife has appeared. We have risen from thenether-world. Tlie orator Aristides relatesthis: "I thought I touched the god andfelt him draw near, and I was then between
  • 31. Mysteries and Their Wisdom 19waking and sleeping. My spirit was solight that no one who is not initiated canspeak of or understand it." This newexistence is not subject to the laws oflower life. Growth and decay no longeraffect it. One may say much about theEternal, but words of one who has notbeen through Hades are mere sound andsmoke." The initiates have a new concep-tion of life and death. Now for the first timedo they feel they have the right to speakabout immortality. They know that one whospeaks of it without having been initiatedtalks of something which he does not under-stand. The uninitiated attribute immortal-ity only to something which is subject to thelaws of growth and decay. The Mystics,however, did not merely desire to gain theconviction that the kernel of life is eternal.According to the view of the Mysteries, sucha conviction would be quite valueless, forthis view holds that the Eternal is not presentas a living reality in the uninitiated. If suchan one spoke of the Eternal, he would bespeaking of something non-existent. It israther the Eternal itself that the Mystics are
  • 32. 20 Christianty as Mystical Factseeking. They have first to awaken theEternal within them, then they can speak of it.Hence the hard saying of Plato is quite realto them, that the uninitiated sinks into themire, and that only one who has passedthrough the mystical life enters eternity. Itis only in this sense that the words in thefragment of Sophocles can be understood:"Thrice-blessed are the initiated who cometo the realm of the shades. They alone havelife there. For others there is only miseryand hardship." one therefore not describing dangers when Isspeaking of the Mysteries? Is it not robbinga man of happiness and of the best part of hislife to take him to the portals of the nether-world? Terrible is the responsibility incurredby such an act. And yet ought we to refusethat responsibility? These were the ques-tions which the initiate had to put to himself.He was of opinion that his knowledge borethe same relation to the soul of the peopleas light does to darkness. But innocent hap-piness dwells in that darkness, and the Mys-tics were of opinion that that happinessshould not be sacrilegiously interfered with.
  • 33. Mysteries and Their Wisdom 21For what would have happened in the firstplace if the Mystic had betrayed his secret?He would have uttered words and only words.The feelings and emotions which would haveevoked the spirit from the words would havebeen absent. To do this preparation, exer-cises, tests, and a complete change in the lifeof sense were necessary. Without this thehearer would have been hurled into emptinessand nothingness. He would have been de-prived of what constituted his happiness,without receiving anything in exchange.One may also say that one could take nothingaway from him, for mere words would changenothing in his life of feeling. He would onlyhave been able to feel and experience realitythrough his senses. Nothing but a terriblemisgiving, fatal to life, would be given him.This could only be construed as a crime. The wisdom of the Mysteries is like a hot-house plant, which must be cultivated andfostered in seclusion. Any one bringing itinto the atmosphere of everyday ideas bringsit into air in which it cannot flourish. Itwithers away to nothing before the causticverdict of modern science and logic. Let us
  • 34. 22 Christianity as Mystical Fact therefore divest ourselves for a time of theeducation we gained through the microscopeand telescope and the habit of thought de-rived from natural science, and let us cleanseour clumsy hands, which have been too busywith dissecting and experimenting, in orderthat we may enter the pure temple of theMysteries. For this a candid and unbiassedattitude of mind is necessary. The important point for the Mystic is atfirst the frame of mind in which he approachesthat which to him is the highest, the answersto the riddles of existence. Just in our day,when only gross physical science is recognisedas containing truth, it is difficult to believethat in the highest things we depend upon thekey-note of the soul. Knowledge therebybecomes an intimate personal concern. Butthis is what it really is to the Mystic. Tellsome one the solution of the riddle of the uni-verse ! Give it him ready-made The Mys-!tic will find it to be nothing but empty sound,if the personality does not meet the solutionhalf-way in the right manner. The solu-tion in itself is nothing; it vanishes if thenecessary feeling is not kindled at its contact.
  • 35. Mysteries and Their Wisdom 23A approaches you. divinity It is eithereverything or nothing. Nothing, if you meetit in the frame of mind with which you con-front everyday matters. Everything, if youare prepared, and attuned to the meeting.What the Divinity is in itself is a matterwhich does not affect you; the importantpoint for you is whether it leaves you as itfound you or makes another man of you.But this depends entirely on yourself. Youmust have been prepared by a special educa-tion, by a development of the inmost forcesof your personality for the work of kindlingand releasing what a divinity is able tokindle and release in you. What is broughtto you depends on the reception you giveto it. Plutarch has told us about this education,and which the Mystic offers of the greetingthe divinity approaching him; For thegod, as it were, greets each one who ap-proaches him, with the words, Know thy-self,* which is surely no worse than theordinary greeting, Welcome. Then we an- swer the divinity in the words, Thou art,*and thus we affirm that the true, primordial,
  • 36. 24 Christianity as Mystical Factand only adequate greeting forhim is todeclare that he is. In that existence we reallyhave no part here, for every mortal being,situated between birth and destruction, mere-ly manifests an appearance, a feeble and un-certain image of itself. If we try to grasp itwith our understanding, it is as when wateris tightly compressed and runs over merelythrough the pressure, spoiling what it touches.For the understanding, pursuing a too defi-nite conception of each being that is subjectto accidents and change, loses its way, nowin the origin of the being, now in its destruc-tion, and is unable to apprehend anythinglasting or really existing. For, as Heraclitussays,we cannot swim twice in the same wave,neither can we lay hold of a mortal beingtwice in the same state, for, through theviolence and rapidity of movement, it isdestroyed and recomposed; it comes intobeing and again decays; it comes and goes.Therefore, that which is becoming can neitherattain real existence, because growth neitherceases nor pauses. Change begins in thegerm, and forms an embryo; then thereappears a child, then a youth, a man, and an
  • 37. Mysteries and Their Wisdom 25old man; the first beginnings and successiveages are continually annulled by the ensuingones. Hence it is ridiculous to fear one death,when we have already died in so many ways,and are still dying. For, as Heraclitussays, not only is the death of fire the birth ofair, and the death of air the birth of water,but the same change may be still more plainlyseen in man. The strong man dies when hebecomes old, the youth when he becomes aman, the boy on becoming a youth, and thechild on becoming a boy. What existedyesterday dies to-day, what is here to-daywill die to-morrow. Nothing endures or is aunity, but we become many things, whilstmatter wanders around one image, onecommon form. For if we were always thesame, how could we take pleasure in thingswhich formerly did not please us, how couldwe love and hate, admire and blame oppositethings, how could we speak differently andgive ourselvesup to different passions, unlesswe were endowed with a different shape,form, and different senses? For no one canrightly come into a different state withoutchange, and one who is changed is no long^.it
  • 38. 26 Christianity as Mystical Factthe same; but if he is not the same, he nolonger exists and changed from what he iswas, becoming something else. Sense-per-ception only led us astray, because we do notknow real being, and mistook for it that which is only an appearance." Plutarch often describes himself as aninitiate. What he portrays here is a condi-tion of the life of the Mystic. Man acquiresa kind of wisdom by means of which hisspirit sees through the illusive characterof sense-life. What the senses regard asbeing, or reality, is plunged into the streamof "becoming"; and man is subject to thesame conditions in this respect as all otherthings in the world. Before the eyes of hisspirit he himself dissolves, the sum-total ofhis being is broken up into parts, into fleetingphenomena. Birth and death lose their dis-tinctive meaning, and become moments of ap-pearing and disappearing, just as much as anyother happenings in the world. The Highestcannot be found in the connection betweendevelopment and decay. It can only be, » Plutarchs Moral Works, On the Inscription EJ at elphi, pp. 17-18.ap
  • 39. Mysteries and Their Wisdom 27sought in what is really abiding, in what looksback to the past and forward to the future. To find that which looks (i. e. the spirit)backwards and forwards is the first stage ofknowledge. This is the spirit, which is mani-festing in and through the physical. It hasnothing to do with physical growth. It doesnot come into being and again decay as dosense-phenomena. One who lives entirelyin the world of sense carries the spirit latentwithin him. One who has pierced throughthe illusion of the world of sense has the spiritwithin him as a manifest reality. The manwho attains to this insight has developed anew principle within him. Something hashappened within him as in a plant when itadds a coloured flower to its green leaves.It is true the forces causing the flower togrow were already latent in the plant beforethe blossom appeared, but they only becameeffective when this took place. Divine,spiritual forces are latent in the man wholives merely through his senses, but theyonly become a manifest reality in the initi-ate. Such is the transformation which takesplace in the Mystic. By his development
  • 40. 28 Christianity as Mystical Facthe has added a new element to the world.The world of sense made him a human be-ing endowed with senses, and then left himto himself. Nature had thus fulfilled hermission. What she is able to do with thepowers operative in man is exhausted; notso the forces themselves. They lie as thoughspellbound in the merely natural man andawait their release. They cannot releasethemselves. They fade away to nothingunless man upon them and develops seizesthem, unless he calls into actual being whatis latent within him. Nature evolves from the imperfect to theperfect. She leads beings, through a longseries of stages, from inanimate matter,through all living forms up to physical man.Man looks around and finds himself a chang-ing being with physical reality, but he alsoperceives within him the from which forcesthe physical reality arose. These forces arenot what change, for they have given birthto the changing world. They are within manas a sign that there is more life within himthan he can physically perceive. What theymay make man is not yet there. He feels
  • 41. Mysteries and Their Wisdom 29something flash up within him which createdeverything, including himself, and he feelsthat this will inspire him to higher creativeactivity. This something is within him, itexisted before his manifestation in the flesh,and will exist afterwards. By means of ithe became, but he may lay hold of it andtake part in its creative activity. Such are the feelings animating the Mysticafter initiation. He feels the Eternal andDivine. His activity is to become a part ofthat divine creative activity. He may sayto himself: *I have discovered a higher egowithin me, but that ego extends beyond thebounds of my sense-existence. It existedbefore my birth and will exist after mydeath. This ego has created from all eternity,it will go on creating in all eternity. Myphysical personality is a creation of thisego. But it has incorporated me within it,it works within me, I am a part of it. WhatI henceforth create will be higher than thephysical. My personality is only a meansfor this creative power, for this Divine iswithin me. " Thus did the Mystic experiencehis birth into the Divine.
  • 42. 30 Christianity as Mystical Fact The Mystic called the power that flashedup within him a daimon. He was himselfthe product of this daimon. seemed toIthim as though another being had enteredhim and taken possession of his organs, abeing standing between his physical person-ality and the all-ruling cosmic power, thedivinity. The Mystic sought this —his daimon. Hesaid to himself: "I have become a humanbeing in mighty Nature, but Nature did notcomplete her task. This completion I musttake in hand myself. But I cannot accom-plish it in the gross kingdom of nature towhich my physical personality belongs. Whatit is possible to develop in that realm hasalready been developed. Therefore I mustleave this kingdom and take up the buildingin the realm of the spirit at the point wherenature left off. I must create an atmosphereof life not to be found in outer nature." This atmosphere of life was prepared forthe Mystic in the Mystery temples. Therethe forces slumbering within him were awak-ened, there he was changed into a highercreative spirit-nature. This transformation
  • 43. Mysteries and Their Wisdom 31was a delicate process. It could not bear theun tempered atmosphere of everyday life.But when once it was completed, its resultwas that the initiate stood as a rock, risingfrom the eternal and able to defy all storms.But it was impossible for him to reveal hisexperiences to any one unprepared to receivethem. Plutarch says that the Mysteries gave deepunderstanding of the true nature of the dai-mons. And Cicero tells us that from theMysteries, "When they are explained andtraced back to their meaning, we learn the na-ture of things rather than that of the gods." ^From such statements we see clearly thatthere were higher revelations for the Mysticsabout the nature of things than that whichpopular religion was able to impart. Indeedwe see that the daimons, i.e., spiritual beings,and the gods themselves, needed explaining.Therefore initiates went back to beings of ahigher nature than daimons or gods, andthiswas characteristic of the essence of thewisdom of the Mysteries. Plutarch, On the Decline of the Oracles; Cicero On theNature of the Gods.
  • 44. 32 Christianity as Mystical Fact The people represented the gods and dai- mons in images borrowed from the world of sense-reality. Would not one who had pene- trated into the nature of the Eternal doubt about the eternal nature of such gods as these? How could the Zeus of popular imagination be eternal if he bore within him the qualities of a perishable being? One thing was clear to the Mystics, that man arrives at a conception of the gods in a different way from the conception of other things. An object belonging to the outer world compels us to form a very definite idea of it. In contrast to this, we form our con- ception of the gods in a freer and somewhat arbitrary manner. The control of the outer world is absent. Reflection teaches us that what we conceive as gods is not subject to outer control. This places us in logical un- certainty; we begin to feel that we ourselves are the creators of our gods. Indeed, we ask ourselves how we have arrived at a concep- tion of the universe that goes beyond physi- cal reality. The initiate was obliged to ask himself such questions; his doubts were justi-Lfied. "Look at all representations of the
  • 45. Mysteries and Their Wisdom 33gods, " he might think to himself. "Are theynot Hke the beings we meet in the world ofsense? Did not man create them for him-self, by giving or withholding from them, inhis thought, some quality belonging to beingsof the sense- world? The savage lover of thechase creates a heaven in which the godsthemselves take part in glorious hunting,and the Greek peopled his Olympus withdivine beings whose models were taken fromhisown surroundings." The philosopher Xenophanes (b.c. 575-480)drew attention to this fact with a crude logic.We know that the older Greek philosopherswere entirely dependent on the wisdom ofthe Mysteries. We will afterwards provethis in detail, beginning with Heraclitus.What Xenophanes says may at once be takenas the conviction of a Mystic. It runsthus: "Men who picture the gods as created intheir own human forms, give them humansenses, voices,and bodies. But if cattle andlions had hands, and knew how to use them,like men, in painting and working, theywould paint the forms of the gods and
  • 46. 34 Christianity as Mystical Factshape their bodies as their own bodies wereconstituted. Horses would create gods inhorse-form, and cattle would make gods likebulls." Through insight of this kind, man maybegin to doubt the existence of anythingdivine. He may reject all mythology, andonly recognise as reality what is forced uponhim by his sense-perception. But the Mysticdid not become a doubter of this kind. Hesaw that the doubter would be like a plantwere it to say: "My crimson flowers are nulland futile, because I am complete within mygreen leaves. What I may add to them isonly adding illusive appearance." Just aslittle could the Mystic rest content with godsthus created, the gods of the people. If theplant could think, it would understand thatthe forces which created its green leaves arealso destined to create crimson flowers, anditwould not rest till it had investigated thoseforces and come face to face with them.This was the attitude of the Mystic towardsthe gods of the people. He did not denythem, or say they were illusion; but he knewthey had been created by man. The same
  • 47. Mysteries and Their Wisdom 35 same divine element, which are atforces, thework in nature, are at work in the Mystic.They create within him images of the gods.He wishes to see the force that creates thegods comes from a higher source than these ; itgods. Xenophanes alludes to it thus "There :is one god greater than all gods and men.His form is not like that of mortals, histhoughts are not their thoughts. This god was also the God of the Mysteries.He might have been called a "hidden God,"for man could never find him with his sensesonly. Look at outer things around you, youwill find nothing divine. Exert your reason,you may be able to detect the laws by whichthings appear and disappear, but even yourreason will not show you anything divine.Saturate your imagination with religious feel-ing, and you may be able to create imageswhich you may take to be gods, but yourreason will pull them to pieces, for it willprove to you that you created them yourself,and borrowed the material from the sense-world. So long as you look at outer things inyour quality of simply a reasonable being,you must deny the existence of God for God ;
  • 48. 36 Christianity as Mystical Factishidden from the senses, and from that rea-son of yours which explains sense-perceptions. God Hes hidden spellbound in the world,and you need His own power to find Him.You must awaken that power in yourself.These are the teachings which were given tothe candidate for initiation. And now him the great there began forcosmic drama with which his life was boundup. The action of the drama meant nothingless than the deliverance of the spellboundgod. Where is God? This was the questionasked by the soul of the Mystic. God is notexistent, but nature exists. And in natureHe must be found. There He has found anenchanted grave. It was in a higher sensethat the Mystic understood the words "Godis love." For God has exalted that loveto its climax, He has sacrificed Himself ininfinite love, He has poured Himself out,fallen into number in the manifold of nature.Things in nature live and He does not live.He slumbers within them. We are able toawaken Him; if we are to give Him exist-ence, we must deliver Him by the creativepower within us.
  • 49. Mysteries and Their Wisdom 37 The candidate now looks unto himself. Aslatent creative power as yet without existence,the Divine is living in his soul. In the soulis a sacred place where the spellbound godmay wake to liberty. The soul is the motherwho is able to conceive the god by nature. Ifthe soul allows herself to be impregnated bynature, she will give birth to the divine. Godis born from the marriage of the soul with —nature, no longer a "hidden,* but a mani-fest god. He has life, a perceptible life,wandering amongst men. He is the godfreed from enchantment, the offspring of theGod who was hidden by a spell. He is notthe great God, who was and is and is tocome, but yet he may be taken, in a certainsense, as the revelation of Him. The Fatherremains at rest in the unseen the Son is born ;to man out of his own Mystical know- soul.ledge is thus an actual event in the cosmicprocess. It is the birth of the Divine. It isan event as real as any natural event, onlyenacted upon a higher plane. The great secret of the Mystic is that hehimself creates his god, but that he firstprepares himself to recognise the god created
  • 50. 38 Christianity as Mystical Factby him. The uninitiated manhas no feelingfor the father of that god, for that Fatherslumbers under a spell. The Son appears tobe born of a virgin, the soul having seeminglygiven birth to him without impregnation.All her other children are conceived by thesense-world. Their father may be seen andtouched, having the life of sense. The DivineSon alone is begotten of the hidden, eternal,Divine, Father Himself.
  • 51. IllTHE GREEK SAGES BEFORE PLATO IN THE LIGHT OF THE WISDOM OF THE MYSTERIESNUMEROUS facts combine to show us that the philosophical wisdom of theGreeks rested on the same mental basis asmystical knowledge. We only understandthe great philosophers when we approachthem with feelings gained through study ofthe Mysteries. With what veneration doesPlato speak of the "secret doctrines* in thePhcedo. "And it almost seems, " says he, "asthough those who have appointed the initia-tions for us are not at all ordinary people,but that for a long time they have been en-joining upon us that any one who reachesHades without being initiated and sanctifiedfalls into the mire but that he ; who is purifiedand consecrated when he arrives, dwells withthe gods. For those who have to do with 39
  • 52. 40 Christianity as Mystical Factinitiations say that there are many thyrsus-bearers, but few really inspired. These latterare, in my opinion, none other than those whohave devoted themselves in the right way towisdom. I myself have not missed the oppor-tunity of becoming one of these, as far as Iwas able, but have striven after it in everyway." It is only a man who is putting his ownsearch for wisdom entirely at the disposal ofthe condition of soul created by initiationwho could thus speak of the Mysteries. Andthere no doubt that a flood of light is ispoured on the words of the great Greekphilosophers, when we illustrate them fromthe Mysteries. The relation of Heraclitus of Ephesus(535-475 B.C.) to the Mysteries is plainlygiven us in a saying about him, to the effectthat his thoughts "were an impassable road,and that any one, entering upon them with-out being initiated, found only "dimness anddarkness," but that, on the other hand, theywere "brighter than the sun" for any oneintroduced to them by a Mystic. And whenit is said of his book, that he deposited it in
  • 53. The Greek Sages Before Plato 41the temple of Artemis, this only means thatinitiates alone could understand him. (Ed-mund Pfleiderer has already collected the his-torical evidence for the relation of Heraclitusto the Mysteries. book Die Philosophie Cf, hisdes Heraklit von Ephesiis im Lichte der Mys-terienidee. Berlin, 1886.) Heraclitus wascalled "The Obscure,* because it was onlythrough the Mysteries that light could bethrown on his intuitive views. Heraclitus comes before us as a man whotook life with the greatest earnestness. Wesee plainly from his features, if we know howto reconstruct them, that he bore within himintimate knowledge which he knew that wordscould only indicate, not express. Out ofsuch a temper of mind arose his celebratedutterance, "All things fleet away," whichPlutarch explains thus: "We do not diptwice into the same wave, nor can wetouch twice the same mortal being. Forthrough abruptness and speed it dispersesand brings together, not in succession butsimultaneously. A man who thus thinks has penetrated thenature of transitory things, for he has felt
  • 54. 42 Christianity as Mystical Factcompelled to characterise the essence of tran-sitoriness itself in the clearest terms. Sucha description as this could not be given,unless the transitory were being measured bythe eternal, and in particular it could not beextended to man without having seen hisinner nature. Heraclitus has extended hischaracterisation to man. "Life and death,waking and sleeping, youth and age are thesame; this in changing is that, and that againthis." In this sentence there is expressedfull knowledge of the illusionary nature ofthe lower personality. He says still moreforcibly, "Life and death are found in ourliving even as in our dying. " What does thismean but that it is only a transient point ofview when we value life more than death?Dying is to perish, in order to make way fornew life, but the eternal is living in the newlife, as in the old. The same eternal appearsin transitory life as in death. When we graspthis eternal, we look upon life and deathwith the same feeling. Life only has a specialvalue when we have not been able to awakenthe eternal within us. The saying, "Allthings fleet away," might be repeated a
  • 55. The Greek Sages Before Plato 43thousand times, but unless said in this feeling,it is an empty sound. The knowledge ofeternal growth is valueless if it does notdetach us from temporal growth. It is theturning away from that love of life whichimpels towards the transitory, which Heracli-tus indicates in his utterance, "How can wesay about our daily life, We are, when from the standpoint of the eternal we know that*We are and are not? " Fragments of (Cf.Heraclitus, No. 81.) "Hades and Dionysosare one and the same," says one of the Frag-ments. Dionysos, the god of joy in life, ofgermination and growth, to whom the Dionys-iac festivals are dedicated is, for Heraclitus,the same as Hades, the god of destructionand annihilation.Only one who sees deathin life and life in death, and in both theeternal, high above life and death, can viewthe merits and demerits of existence in theright light. Then even imperfections becomejustified, for in them too lives the eternal.What they are from the standpoint of thelimited lower life, they are only in appear-ance, — "The gratification of mens wishes isnot necessarily a happiness for them. Illness
  • 56. 44 Christianity as Mystical Factmakes health sweet and good, hunger makesfood appreciated, and toil rest." "The seacontains the purest and impurest water,drinkable and wholesome for fishes, it is un-drinkable and injurious to human beings."Here Heraclitus is not primarily drawingattention to the transitoriness of earthlythings, but to the splendour and majesty ofthe eternal. Heraclitus speaks vehemently againstHomer and Hesiod, and the learned men ofhis day. He wished to show up their way ofthinking, which clings to the transitory only.He did not desire gods endowed with quali-ties taken from a perishable world, and hecould not regard as a supreme science, thatscience which investigates the growth anddecay of things. For him, the eternal speaksout of the perishable, and for this eternal hehas a profound symbol. "The harmony ofthe world returns upon itself, like that of thelyre and the bow. " What depths are hiddenin this image! By the pressing asunder offorces, and again by the harmonising of thesedivergent forces, unity is attained. How onesound contradicts another, and yet, together,
  • 57. The Greek Sages Before Plato 45they produce harmony. If we apply this tothe Spiritual world, we have the thought ofHeraclitus, Immortals are mortal, mortals immortal, living the death of mortals, dyingthe life of the Immortals." It is mans original fault to direct his cogni-tion to the transitory. Thereby he turnsaway from the eternal, and life becomes adanger to him. What happens to him, comesto him through life, but its events lose theirsting if he ceases to set unconditioned valueon life. In that case his innocence is restoredto him. It is as though he were from theso-called seriousness of life able to return tohis childhood. The adult takes many things which a child merely plays,seriously withbut one who really knows, becomes like achild. "Serious" values lose their value,looked at from the standpoint of eternity.Life then seems like a play. On this accountdoes Heraclitus say, "Eternity is a child atplay, it is the reign of a child." Where doesthe original fault lie? In taking with theutmost seriousness what does not deserve tobe so taken. God has poured Himself intothe universe of things. If we take these
  • 58. 46 Christianity as Mystical Factthings and leave God unheeded, we take themin earnest as "the tombs of God." Weshould play with them like a child, and shouldearnestly strive to awaken forth from themGod, who sleeps spellbound within them. Contemplation of the eternal acts like aconsuming fire on ordinary illusions aboutthe nature of things. The spirit breaks upthoughts which come through the senses,it fuses them. This is the higher meaning ofthe Heraclitean thought, that fire is the pri-mary element This thought is of all things.certainly to be taken at first as an ordinaryphysical explanation of the phenomena ofthe universe. But no one understands Hera-clitus who does not think of him in the sameway as Philo, living in the early days ofChristianity, thought of the laws of the Bible."There are people," he says, "who take thewritten laws merely as symbols of spiritualteaching, who diligently search for the latter,but despise the laws themselves. I can onlyblame such, for they should pay heed to both,to knowledge of the hidden meaning and toobserving the obvious one." If the questionis discussed whether Heraclitus meant by
  • 59. The Greek Sages Before Plato 47*fire" physical fire, or whether fire for himwas only a symbol of eternal spirit whichdissolves and reconstitutes all things, this isputting a wrong construction upon histhought. He meant both and neither ofthese things. For spirit was also alive, forhim, in ordinary fire, and the force which isphysically active in fire lives on a higherplane in the human soul, which melts in itscrucible mere sense-knowledge, so that outof this the contemplation of the eternal mayarise. It is very easy to misunderstand Heracli-tus. He makes Strife the Father of things, but only of "things," not of the eternal. Ifthere were no contradictions in the world, ifthe most multifarious interests were notopposing each other, the world of becoming,of transitory things, would not exist. Butwhat is revealed in this antagonism, what ispoured forth into it, is not strife but har-mony. Just because there is strife in allthings, the spirit of the wise should passover them like a breath of fire, and changethem into harmony. At this point there shines forth one of the
  • 60. 48 Christianity as Mystical Factgreat thoughts of Heraditean wisdom. Whatis man as a personal being? From the abovepoint of view Heraditus is able to answer.Man iscomposed of the conflicting elementsinto which divinity has poured itself. Inthis state he finds himself, and beyond thisbecomes aware of the spirit within him, the —spirit which is rooted in the eternal. Butthe spirit itself is born, for man, out of theconflict of elements, and it is the first whichhas to calm them. In man, Nature surpassesher natural limits. It is indeed the sameuniversal which created antagonism forceand the mixture of elements which is after-wards, by its wisdom, to do away with theconflict. Here we arrive at the eternaldualism which lives in man, the perpetualantagonism between the temporal and theeternal. Through the eternal he has be-come something quite definite, and out ofthis, he is to create something higher. He isboth dependent and independent. He canonly participate in the eternal Spirit whomhe contemplates, in the measure of the com-pound of elements which that eternal Spirithas effected within him. And it is just on
  • 61. The Greek Sages Before Plato 49this account that he is upon to fashion calledthe eternal out of the temporal. The spiritworks within him, but works in a special way.It works out of the temporal. It is thepeculiarity of the human soul that a tem-poral thing should be able to work like aneternal one, should grow and increase inpower like an eternal thing. This is why thesoul is at once like a god and a worm. Man,owing to this, stands in a mid-position be-tween God and animals. The growing andincreasing force within him is his daimonic —element, that within him which pushes outbeyond himself. "Mans daimon is his destiny.* Thusstrikingly does Heraclitus make referenceto this fact. He extends mans vital es-sence far beyond the personal. The per-sonality is the vehicle of the daimon, whichis not confined within the limit of the per-sonality, and which the birth and death forof the personality are of no importance.What is the relation of the daimonic ele-ment to the personality which comes andgoes? The personality is only a form for themanifestation of the daimon.
  • 62. 50 Christianity as Mystical Fact One who has arrived at this knowledgelooks beyond himself, backwards and for-wards. The daimonic experiences throughw^hich he has passed are enough to proveto him his own immortality. And he can nolonger limit his daimon to the one functionof occupying his personality, for the lattercan only be one of the forms in which thedaimon is manifested. The daimon cannot beshut up within one personality, he has powerto animate many. He is able to transformhimself from one personality into another.The great thought of reincarnation springsas a matter of course from the Heracliteanpremises, and not only the thought but theexperience of the fact. The thought onlypaves the way for the experience. One whobecomes conscious of the daimonic elementwithin him does not recognise it as innocentand He finds that in its first stage. it hasqualities. Whence do they come? Whyhave I certain natural aptitudes? Becauseothers have already worked upon my dai-mon. And what becomes of the work whichI accomplish in the daimon if Iam not toassume that its task ends with my personal-
  • 63. The Greek Sages Before Plato 51ity? I am working for a future personality.Between me and the Spirit of the Universe,something interposes which reaches beyondme, but is not yet the same as divinity. Thissomething is my daimon. My to-day isonly the product of yesterday, my to-morrowwill be the product of to-day; in the sameway my Hfe is the result of a former and willbe the foundation of a future one. Just asmortal man looks back to innumerable yes-terdays and forward to many to-morrows, sodoes the soul of the sage look upon manylives in his past and many in the future. Thethoughts and aptitudes I acquired yesterdayI am using to-day. Is not the same with itlife? Do not people enter upon the horizonof existence with the most diverse capacities?Whence this difference? Does it proceedfrom nothing? Our natural sciences take much credit tothemselves for having banished miracle fromour views of organic life. David Frederick und Neuer Glaube, con-Strauss, in his Altersiders it a great achievement of our daythat we no longer think that a perfectorganic being is a miracle issuing from no-
  • 64. 52 Christianity as Mystical Factthing. We understand its perfection when weare able to explain it as a development fromimperfection. The structure of an ape is nolonger a miracle if we assume its ancestors tohave been primitive fishes which have beengradually transformed. Let us at least sub-mit to accept as reasonable in the domainof spirit what seems to us to be right in thedomain of nature. Is the perfect spirit tohave the same antecedents as the imperfectone? Does a Goethe have the same ante-cedents as any Hottentot? The antecedentsof an ape are as unlike those of a fish as arethe antecedents of Goethes mind unlikethose of a savage. The spiritual ancestry ofGoethes soul is a different one from that ofthe savage soul. The soul has grown as wellas the body. The daimon in Goethe hasmore progenitors than the one in a savage.Let us take the doctrine of reincarnation inthis sense, and we shall no longer find itunscientific. We be able to explain shallin the right way what we find in our souls,and we shall not take what we find as ifcreated by a miracle. If I can write, it isowing to the fact that I learned to write. No
  • 65. The Greek Sages Before Plato 53one who has a pen in his hand for the firsttime can sit down and write offhand. Butone who has come into the world with "thestamp of genius," must he owe it to amiracle? No, even the "stamp of genius"must be acquired. It must havebeen learned.And when it appears in a person, we call it adaimon. This daimon too must have been toschool it acquired in a former life what it puts ;into force in a later one. In this form, and this form only, did thethought of eternity pass before the mind ofHeraclitus and other Greek sages. Therewas no question with them of a continuanceof the immediate personality after death.Compare some verses of Empedocles (b.c.490-430). He says of those who accept thedata of experience as miracles:Foolish and ignorant they, and do not reach farwith their thinking,Who suppose that what has not existed can come into being,Or that something may die away wholly and vanish completely;Impossible is it that any beginning can come from Not-Being,
  • 66. 54 Christianity as Mystical FactQuite impossible also that being" can fade into nothing;For wherever a being is driven, there will it continue to be.Never will any believe, who has been in these matters instructed,That spirits of men only live while what is called life here endures,That only so long do they live, receiving their joys and their sorrows,But that ere they were born here and when they are dead, they are nothing. The Greek sage did not even raise thequestion whether there was an eternal part inman, but only enquired in what this eternalelement consisted and how man can nourishand cherish it in himself. For from the out-set it was clear to him that man is an inter-mediate creation between the earthly and thedivine. It was not a question of a divinebeing outside and beyond the world. Thedivine lives in man but lives in him only in ahuman way. It is the force urging man tomake himself ever more and more divine.Only one who thinks thus can say withEmpedocles
  • 67. The Greek Sages Before Plato 55When leaving thy body behind thee, thou soar- est into the ether,Then thou becomest a god, immortal, not subject to death. What may be done for a human life fromthis point of view? It may be introducedinto the magic circle of the eternal. For inman there must be forces which merelynatural life does not develop. And the lifemight pass away unused if the forces re-mained idle. To open them up, thereby tomake man like the divine, —this was the taskof the Mysteries. And this was also themission which the Greek sages set beforethemselves. In this way we can understandPlatos utterance, that "he who passes un-sanctified and uninitiated into the worldbelow will lie in a slough, but that he whoarrives there after initiationand purificationwill dwell with the gods." We have to dohere with a conception of immortality, thesignificance of which lies bound up within theuniverse. Everything which man under-takes in order to awaken the eternal withinhim, he does in order to raise the value of theworlds existence. The fresh knowledge he
  • 68. 56 Christianity as Mystical Factgains does not make him an idle spectatorof the universe, forming images for himselfof what would be there just as much he did ifnot exist. The force of his knowledge is ahigher one, it is one of the creative forces ofnature. What up within him spiritu- flashesally is something divine which was previouslyunder a spell, and which, failing the know-ledge he has gained, must have lain fallowand waited for some other exorcist. Thus ahuman personality does not live in and foritself, but for the world. Life extends farbeyond individual existence when looked atin this way. From within such a point ofview we can understand utterances like thatof Pindar giving a vista of the eternal:* Happy is he who has seen the Mysteriesand then descends under the hollow earth.He knows the end of life, and he knows thebeginning promised by Zeus." We understand the proud traits andsolitary nature of sages such as Heraclitus.They were able to say proudly of themselvesthat much had been revealed to them, forthey did not attribute their knowledge totheir transitory personality, but to the eter-
  • 69. The Greek Sages Before Plato 57nal daimon within them. Their pride had asa necessary adjunct the stamp of humihtyand modesty, expressed in the words, "Allknowledge of perishable things is in perpetualflux like the things themselves." Heraclituscalls the eternal universe a play, he could alsocall it the most serious of realities. But theword "earnest " has lost its force through beingapplied to earthly experiences. On the otherhand, the realisation of "the play of theeternal" leaves man that security in life ofwhich he is deprived by that earnest whichhas come out of transitory things. A different conception of the universefrom that of Heraclitus grew up, on the basisof the Mysteries, in the community foundedby Pythagoras in the 6th century B.C. inSouthern Italy. The Pythagoreans saw thebasis of things in the numbers and geometri-cal figures of which they investigated thelaws by means of mathematics. Aristotlesays of them: "They first studied mathe-matics, and, quite engrossed in them, theyconsidered the elements of mathematicsto be the elements of all things. Now asnumbers are naturally the first thing in mathe-
  • 70. 58 Christianity as Mystical Factmatics, and they thought they saw manyresemblances in numbers to things and todevelopment, and certainly more in numbersthan in fire, earth, and water, in this way onequality of numbers came to mean for themjustice, another, the soul and spirit, another,time, and so on with all the rest. Moreoverthey found in numbers the qualities andconnections of harmony and thus everything ;else, accordance with its whole nature, inseemed to be an image of numbers, andnumbers seemed to be the first thing innature." The mathematical and scientific study ofnatural phenomena must always lead to acertain Pythagorean habit of thought. Whena string of a certain length is struck, a par-ticular sound is produced. If the string isshortened in certain numeric proportions,other sounds will be produced. The pitchof the sounds may be expressed in figures.Physics also expresses colour-relations infigures. When two bodies combine into onesubstance, always happens that a certain itdefinite quantity of the one body, expressiblein numbers, combines with a certain definite
  • 71. The Greek Sages Before Plato 59quantity of the other. The Pythagoreans*sense of observation was directed to sucharrangements of measures and numbers innature. Geometrical figures also play a sim-ilar role. Astronomy, for instance, is mathe-matics applied to the heavenly bodies. Onefact became important to the thought -lifeof the Pythagoreans. This was that man,quite alone and purely through his mentalactivity, discovers the laws of numbers andfigures, and yet, that when he looks abroadinto nature, he finds that things are obeyingthe same laws which he has ascertained forhimself in his own mind. Man forms theidea of an ellipse, and ascertains the laws ofellipses. And the heavenly bodies move ac-cording to the laws which he has established.(It is not, of course, a question here of theastronomical views of the Pythagoreans.What may be said about these may equallybe said of Copernican views in the connectionnow being dealt with.) Hence it follows asa direct consequence that the achievementsof the human soul are not an activity apartfrom the rest of the world, but that in thoseachievements the cosmic laws are expressed.
  • 72. 6o Christianity as Mystical FactThe Pythagoreans said: "The senses showman physical phenomena, but they do notshow the harmonious order which these thingsfollow." The human mind must first findthat harmonious order within itself, if itwishes to behold it in the outer world. Thedeeper meaning of the world, that which bearssway within it as an eternal, law-obeyingnecessity, thismakes its appearance in thehuman soul and becomes a present realitythere. THE meaning of the universe isREVEALED in the soul. This meaning is notto be found in what we see, hear, and touch,but in what the soul brings up to the lightfrom its own unseen depths. The eternallaws are thus hidden in the depths of thesoul. If we descend there, we shall find theEternal. God, the eternal harmony of theworld, is in the human soul. The soul-element is not limited to the bodily substancewhich is enclosed within the skin, for what isborn in the soul is nothing less than the lawsby which worlds revolve in celestial space.The soul is not in the personality. The per-sonality only serves as the organ throughwhich the order which pervades cosmic space
  • 73. The Greek Sages Before Plato 6imay express itself. There is something of thespirit of Pythagoras in what one of theFathers, Gregory of Nyssa, said: It is saidthat human nature is something small andlimited, and that God is and it infinite,is asked how the finite can embrace theinfinite. But who dares to say that the in-finity of the Godhead is limited by the boun-dary of the flesh, as though by a vessel?For not even during our lifetime is the spirit-ual nature confined within the boundaries ofthe flesh. The mass of the body, it is true,is limited by neighbouring but the parts,soul reaches out freely into the whole ofcreation by the movements of thought." The soul is not the personality, the soulbelongs to infinity. From such a point ofview the Pythagoreans must have consideredthat only fools could imagine the soul-forceto be exhausted with the personality. For them, too, as for Heraclitus, the essen-tial point was the awakening of the eternalin the personal. them meant Knowledge forintercourse with the eternal. The moreman brought the eternal element within himinto existence, the greater must he neces-
  • 74. 62 Christianity as Mystical Factsarily seem to the Pythagoreans. Life intheir community consisted in holding inter-course with the eternal. The object of thePythagorean education was to lead the mem-bers of the community to that intercourse.The education was therefore a philosophicalinitiation, and the Pythagoreans might wellsay that by their manner of life they wereaiming at a goal similar to that of the cultsof the Mysteries.
  • 75. IV PLATO AS A MYSTICTHE importance of the Mysteries to the spiritual life of the Greeks may berealised from Platos conception of the uni-verse. There is only one way of understand-ing him thoroughly. It is to place him inthe light which streams forth from theMysteries. Platos later disciples, the Neo-Platonists,credit him with a secret doctrine which heimparted only to those who were worthy, andwhich he conveyed under the seal ofsecrecy." His teaching was looked upon asmysterious in the same sense as the wisdomof the Mysteries. Even if the seventh Pla-tonic letter is not from his hand, as is al-leged, it does not signify for our presentpurpose, for it does not matter whether itwas he or another who gave utterance to the 63
  • 76. 64 Christianity as Mystical Factview expressed in this letter. This view is ofthe essence of Platos philosophy. In theletter we read as follows: "This much Imay say about all those who have writtenor may hereafter write they knew the as if —aim of my work, that no credence is to beattached to their words, whether they ob-tained their information from me, or fromothers, or invented it themselves. have Iwritten nothing on this subject, nor wouldanything be allowed to appear. This kindof thing cannot be expressed in words likeother teaching, but needs a long study ofthe subject and a making oneself one withit. Then it is as though a spark leapedup and kindled a light in the soul whichthereafter is able to keep itself alight.*This utterance might only indicate the writ-ers powerlessness to express his meaningin words, —a mere personal weakness, — if theidea of the Mysteries were not to be foundin them. The subject on which Plato hadnot written and would never write, must besomething about which all writing would befutile. It must be a feeling, a sentiment, anexperience, which is not gained by instan-
  • 77. Plato as a Mystic 65taneous communication, but by making one-self one with it, in heart and soul. Thereference is to the inner education whichPlato was able to give those he selected.For them, fire flashed forth from his words,for others, only thoughts. The manner of ourapproach to PlatosDialogues is not a matter of indifference.They will mean more or less to us, accord-ing to our spiritual condition. Much morepassed from Plato to his disciples than theliteral meaning of his words. The place wherehe taught his listeners thrilled in the atmos-phere of the Mysteries. His words awokeovertones in higher regions, which vibratedwith them, but these overtones needed theatmosphere of the Mysteries, or they diedaway without having been heard. In the centre of the world of the PlatonicDialogues stands the personality of Socrates.We need not here touch upon the historicalaspect of that personality. It is a questionof the character of Socrates as it appears inPlato. Socrates is a person consecrated byhis dying for truth. He died as only aninitiate can die, as one to whom death is 5
  • 78. 66 Christianity as Mystical Factmerely a moment of life like other moments.He approaches death as he would any otherevent in existence. His attitude towards itwas such that even in his friends the feelingsusual on such an occasion were not aroused.Phasdo says this in the Dialogue on the Im-mortality of the Soul: Truly I found myselfin the strangest state of mind. I had nocompassion for him, as is usual at the deathof a dear friend. So happy did the manappear to me demeanour and speech, in hisso steadfast and noble was his end, that Iwas confident that he was not going to Hadeswithout a divine mission, and that even thereit would be as well with him as it is with anyone anywhere. No tender-hearted emotionovercame me, as might have been expectedat such a mournful event, nor on the otherhand was I in a cheerful mood, as is usualduring philosophical pursuits, and althoughour conversation was of this nature; but Ifound myself in a wondrous state of mindand in an unwonted blending of joy and griefwhen I reflected that this man was about todie." The dying Socrates instructs his dis-ciples about immortality. His personality,
  • 79. Plato as a Mystic 67which had learned by experience the worth-lessness of Hfe, furnishes a kind of proofquite different from logic and argumentsfounded on reason. It seems as if it were nota man speaking, for this man was passingaway, but as if it were the voice of eternaltruth itself, which had taken up its abode ina perishable personality. Where a mortalbeing is dissolving into nothing, there seemsto be a breath of the air in which it is possiblefor eternal harmonies to resound. We hear no logical proofs of immortality.The whole discourse is designed to lead thefriends where they may behold the eternal.Then they will need no proofs. Would it benecessary to prove that a rose is red, to onewho has one before him? Why should it benecessary to prove that spirit is eternal, toone whose eyes we have opened to beholdspirit? Experiences, inner events, Socratespoints to them, and first of all to the ex-perience of wisdom itself. What does he desire who aspires afterwisdom? He wishes to free himself fromwhat the senses offer him in every-day per-ception. He seeks for the spirit in the sense-
  • 80. 68 Christianity as Mystical Factworld. Is not this a fact which may becompared with dying? ** For, " according toSocrates, who occupy themselves "thosewith philosophy in the right way are reallystriving after nothing else than to die and tobe dead, without this being perceived byothers. If this is true, it would be strange if,after having aimed at this all through life,when death itself comes they should be in-dignant at that which they have so longstriven after and taken pains about."To corroborate this, Socrates asks one ofhis friends: "Does it seem to you befitting aphilosopher to take trouble about so-calledfleshly pleasures, such as eating and drink-ing? or about sexual pleasures? And do youthink that such a man pays much heed toother bodily needs? To have fine clothes,shoes, and other bodily adornments, — do youthink he considers or scorns this more thanutmost necessity demands? Does it notseem to you that it should be such a manswhole preoccupation not to turn his thoughtsto the body, but as much as possible awayfrom it and towards the soul? Thereforethis is the first mark of the philosopher, that
  • 81. Plato as a Mystic 69he, more than all other men, relieves hissoul of association with the body. On this subject Socrates has somethingmore to say, i. e., that aspiration after wis-dom has this much in common with dying,that it turns man away from the physical.But whither does he turn? Towards thespiritual. But can he desire the same fromspirit as from the senses? Socrates thusexpresses himself on this point: "But howis it with reasonable knowledge itself? Is thebody a hindrance or not, if we take it as acompanion in our search for knowledge? Imean, do sight and hearing procure man anytruth? Or is what the poets sing meaningless,that we see and hear nothing clearly? . . .When does the soul catch sight of truth?For when it tries to examine something withthe help of the body, it is manifestly deceivedby the latter." Everything of which we are cognisant bymeans of our bodily senses appears and dis-appears. And it is this appearing and dis-appearing which is the cause of our beingdeceived. But when with our reasonable in-telligence we look deeper into things, the
  • 82. 70 Christianity as Mystical Fact eternal element in them is revealed to us. Thus the senses do not offer us the eternal in its true form. The moment we trust them implicitly they deceive us. They cease to deceive us if we confront them with our thinking insight and submit what they tell us to its examination.^ But how could our thinking insight sit in judgment on the declarations of the senses,unless there were something living within it which transcends sense-perception? There-fore the truth or falsity in things is decidedby something within us which opposes thephysical body and is consequently not sub-ject to its laws. First of all, it cannot besubject to the laws of growth and decay.For thissomething contains truth within it.Now truth cannot have a yesterday and ato-day, it cannot be one thing one day andanother the next, like objects of sense.Therefore truth must be something eternal.And when the philosopher turns away fromthe perishable things of sense and towardstruth, he is turning towards an eternal ele-ment that lives within him. If we immerseourselves wholly in spirit, we shall live wholly
  • 83. Plato as a Mystic 71in truth. The things of sense around us areno longer present merely in their physicalform. And he accomplishes this most per-fectly," says Socrates, "who approacheseverything as much as possible with thespirit only, without either looking roundwhen he is thinking, or letting any othersense interrupt his reflecting; but who, mak-ing use of pure thought only, strives to graspeverything as it is in itself, separating it asmuch and ears, in as possible from eyesshort from the whole body, which only dis-turbs the soul and does not allow it to attaintruth and insight when associated with thesoul. . Now is not death the release and . .separation of the soul from the body? Andit is only true philosophers who are alwaysstriving to release the soul as far as they can.This, therefore, is the philosophers vocation,to deliver and separate the soul from thebody. . . . Therefore it would be foolish ifa man, who all his life has taken measures tobe as near death as possible, should, when itcomes, rebel against it. In truth the . . .real seekers after wisdom aspire to die, andof all men they are those who least fear
  • 84. ^2 Christianity as Mystical Factdeath." Moreover Socrates bases all highermorality on liberation from the body. Hewho only follows what his body ordains isnot moral. Who is valiant? asks Socrates.He is valiant who does not obey his body butthe demands of his spirit when these de-mands imperil the body. And who is tem-perate? Is who "does not let not this hehimself be carried away by desires, but whomaintains an indifferent and moral demean-our with regard to them. Therefore are notthose alone temperate who set least valueon the body and live in the love of wisdom?"And so it is, in the opinion of Socrates, withall virtues. Thence Socrates goes on to characteriseintellectual cognition. What is it after all, tocognise? Undoubtedly we arrive at it byforming judgments. I form a judgmentabout some object; for instance, I say tomyself, what is in front of me is a tree. Howdo I arrive at saying that? I can only do itif I already know what a tree is. I mustremember my conception of a tree. A treeis a physical object. If I remember a tree, Itherefore remember a physical object. I say
  • 85. Plato as a Mystic 73of something that it is a tree, if it resemblesother things which Ihave previously ob-served and which I know to be trees. Mem-ory is the medium for this knowledge. Itmakes it compare the possible for me tovarious objects of sense. But this doesnot exhaust my knowledge. If I see twosimilar things, I form a judgment andsay, these things are alike. Now, in real-ity, two things are never exactly alike. Ican only find a likeness in certain re-spects. The idea of a perfect similaritytherefore arises within me without havingits correspondence in reality. And thisidea helps me to form a judgment, as mem-ory helps me to a judgment and to know-ledge. Just one tree reminds me of asothers, so am I reminded of the idea of simi-larity by looking at two things from a certainpoint of view. Thoughts and memories there-fore arise within me which are not due tophysical reality. knowledge not borrowed from All kinds ofsense-reality are grounded on such thoughts.The whole of mathematics consists of them.He would be a bad geometrician who could
  • 86. 74 Christianity as Mystical Fact only bring into mathematical relations what he can see with his eyes and touch with his hands. Thus we have thoughts which do not originate in perishable nature, but arise out of the spirit. And it is these that bear in them the mark of eternal truth. What mathe- matics teach will be eternally true, even if to-morrow the whole cosmic system should fall into ruins and an entirely new one arise. Conditions might prevail in another cosmic system, to which our present ma- thematical truths would not be applicable, but these would be none the less true in themselves.4 It is only when the soul is alone with itself that it can bring forth these eternal truths. It is at these times related to the true and eternal, and not to the ephemeral and appar- ent. Hence Socrates says: "When the soul returning into itself reflects, it goes straight to what is pure and everlasting and immortal and like unto itself; and being related to this, cleaves unto it when the soul is alone, and is not hindered. And then the soul rests from its mistakes, and is like unto itself, even as the eternal is, with whom the soul is now
  • 87. Plato as a Mystic 75in touch. This state of soul is called wisdom.. .Look now whether it does not follow .from all that has been said, that the soul ismost like the divine, immortal, reasonable,unique, indissoluble, what is always thesame and like unto itself; and that on theother hand the body most resembles whatis human and mortal, unreasonable, multi-form, soluble, never the same nor remain-ing equal to itself. ... If, therefore, thisbe so, the soul goes to what is like itself,to the immaterial, to the divine, immor-tal, reasonable. There it attains to bliss,freed from error and ignorance, from fearand undisciplined love and all other hu-man evils. There it lives, as the initiatessay, for the remaining time truly withGod." not within the scope of this book to It isindicate all the ways in which Socrates leadshis friends to the eternal. They all breathethe same spirit. They all tend to show thatman finds one thing when he goes the wayof transitory sense-perception, and anotherwhen his spirit is alone with itself. It is tothis original nature of spirit that Socrates
  • 88. 76 Christianity as Mystical Factpoints his hearers. If they find it, theysee with their own spiritual eyes that it iseternal. The dying Socrates does not provethe immortality of the soul, he simply laysbare the nature of the soul. And then itcomes to light that growth and decay, birthand death, have nothing to do with the soul.The essence of the soul lies in the true, andthis can neither come into being nor perish.The soul has no more to do with the becom-ing than the straight has with the crooked.But death belongs to the becoming. There-fore the soul has nothing to do withdeath. Must we not say of what is im-mortal, that it admits of mortality aslittle as does the straight of the crooked?Starting from this point, "must we notask," adds Socrates, "that if the immortalis imperishable, is it not impossible forthe soul to come an end when death toarrives? For from what has been alreadyshown, it does not admit of death, norcan it die any more than three can be aneven number." Let us review the whole development ofthis dialogue, in which Socrates brings his
  • 89. Plato as a Mystic 77hearers behold the eternal in human topersonality. The hearers accept his thoughts,and they look into themselves to see if theycan find in their inner experiences somethingwhich assents to his ideas. They make theobjections which strike them. What hashappened to the hearers when the dialogueis finished? They have found somethingwithin them which they did not possessbefore. They have not merely accepted anabstract truth, but they have gone througha development. Something has come to lifein them which was not living in them before.Is not this to be compared with an initiation?And does not this throw light on the reasonfor Platos setting forth his philosophy in theform of conversation? These dialogues arenothing else than the literary form of theevents which took place in the sanctuariesof the Mysteries. We are convinced of thisfrom what Plato himself says in many pas-sages. Plato wished to be, as a philosophicalteacher, what the initiator into the Mysterieswas, as far as this was compatible with thephilosophical manner of communication. Itis evident how Plato feels himself in harmony
  • 90. 78 Christianity as Mystical Factwith the Mysteries He only thinks he is on !the right path when it is taking him wherethe Mystic is to be led. He thus expresseshimself on the subject in the Timceus.* All those who are of right mind invokethe gods for their small or great enterprises;but we who are engaged in teaching about —the universe, how far it is created and un-created, — have the special duty, if we havenot quite lost our way, to call upon and im-plore the gods and goddesses that we mayteach everything first in conformity withtheir spirit, and next in harmony with our-selves. " And Plato promises those who fol-low this path, that divinity, as a deliverer,will grant them illuminating teaching as theconclusion of their devious and wanderingresearches. It is especially the TimcBus that reveals tous how the Platonic cosmogony connected iswith the Mysteries. At the very beginningof this dialogue there is mention of aninitiation. Solon is initiated by an Egyptianpriest into the formation of the worlds, andthe way in which eternal truths are symboli-
  • 91. Plato as a Mystic 79cally expressed in traditional myths. "Therehave already been many and various de-structions of part of the human race," saysthe Egyptian priest to Solon, and there willbe more in the future; the most extensive byfire and water, other lesser ones throughcountless other causes. It is also related inyour country that Phaethon, the son of Helios,once mounted his fathers chariot, and as hedid not know how to drive it, everything onthe earth was burnt up, and he himself slainby lightning. This sounds like a fable, butit contains the truth of the change in themovements of the celestial bodies revolvinground the earth and of the annihilation ofeverything on the earth by much fire. Thisannihilation happens periodically, after thelapse of certain long periods of time." Thispassage in the Timceus contains a plain indi-cation of the attitude of the initiate towardsfolk-myths. He recognises the truths hiddenin their images. The drama of the formation of the worldis brought before us in the Timceus, Any onewho will follow up the traces which lead tothis formation of the cosmos arrives at a
  • 92. 8o Christianity as Mystical Factdim apprehension of the primordial forcefrom which all things proceeded. "Now it isdifficult to find the Creator and Father of theuniverse, and when we have found Him, it isimpossible to speak about Him so that allmay understand." The Mystic knew whatthis "impossibility" means. It points to thedivine drama. God is not present in whatbelongs merely to the senses and understand-ing. In those He is only present as nature.He under a spell in nature. Only one who isawakens the divine within himself is able toapproach Him. Thus He cannot at once bemade comprehensible to all. But even toone who approaches Him, He does not appearHimself. The Timceus says that also. TheFather made the universe out of the bodyand soul of the world. He mixed together,in harmony and perfect proportions, theelements which came into being when He,pouring Himself out, gave up His separateexistence. Thereby the body of the worldcame into being, and stretched upon it, in theform of a cross, is the soul of the world. Itis what is divine in the world. It found thedeath of the cross so that the world might
  • 93. Plato as a Mystic 8icome into existence. Plato may thereforecallnature the tomb of the divine, a grave,however, in which nothing dead lies butthe eternal, to which death only gives theopportunity of bringing into expression theomnipotence of life. And man sees naturein the right light when he approaches it inorder to release the crucified soul of theworld. It must rise again from its death,from its spell. Where can it come to lifeagain? Only in the soul of initiated man.Then wisdom finds its right relation to thecosmos. The resurrection, the liberation ofGod, that is wisdom. In the Timceus thedevelopment of the world is traced from theimperfect to the perfect. An ascending pro-cess is represented imaginatively. Beingsare developed. God reveals Himself in theirdevelopment. Evolution is the resurrectionof God from the tomb. Within evolution,man appears. Plato shows that in man thereis something special. It is true the wholeworld is divine, and man is not more divinethan other beings. But in other beings Godis present in a hidden way, in man he ismanifest. At the end of the Timceus we 6
  • 94. 82 Christianity as Mystical Factread: "And now we might assert that ourstudy of the universe has attained its end,for after the world was provided and filledwith mortal and immortal living beings, it,this one and only begotten world, has itselfbecome a visible being embracing every-thing visible, and an image of the Creator. Ithas become the God perceptible to the senses,and the greatest and best world, the fairestand most perfect which there could be.*But this one and only begotten world wouldnot be perfect if the image of its Creator werenot to be found amongst the images it con-tains. This image can only be engenderedin the human soul. Not the Father Himiself,but the Son, Gods offspring, living in thesoul, and being like unto the Father, himman can bring forth. Philo, of whom it was said that he was theresurrected Plato, characterised as the "Sonof God"the wisdom born out of man, whichlives in the soul and contains the reasonexisting in the world. This cosmic reason,or Logos,appears as the book in which"everything in the world is recorded anddelineated." It also appears as the Son of
  • 95. Plato as a Mystic 83God, "following in the paths of the Father,and creating forms, looking at their arche-types." The platonising Philo addressesthis Logos as Christ, "As God is the first andonly king of the universe, the way to Himis rightly called the Royal Road. Considerthis road to be philosophy . . . the roadwhich the company of the ancient asceticstook, who turned away from the entanglingfascination of pleasure and devoted them-selves to the noble and earnest cultivationof the beautiful. The law names this RoyalRoad, which we call true philosophy, Godsword and spirit." It is like an initiation to Philo when heenters upon this path, in order to meet theLogos w^ho, to him, is the Son of God. "Ido not shrink from relating what has hap-pened to me innumerable times. Often whenI wished to put my philosophical thoughtsin writing, in my accustomed way, and sawquite clearly what was to be set down, Inevertheless found my mind barren and rigid,so that I was obliged to desist without hav-ing accomplished anything, and seemed tobe hampered with idle fancies. At the same
  • 96. 84 Christianity as Mystical Facttime I could not but marvel at the powerof the reality of thought, with which itrests to open and to close the womb of thehuman soul. Another time, however, Iwould begin empty and arrive, without anytrouble, at fulness. Thoughts came flyinglike snowflakes or grains of corn invisiblyfrom above, and it was as though divinepower took hold of me and inspired me, sothat I did not know where I was, who waswith me, who I was, or what I was saying orwriting; for just then the flow of ideas wasgiven me, a delightful clearness, keen insight,and lucid mastery of material, as if the innereye were able to see everything with thegreatest distinctness." This is a description of a path to knowledgeso expressed that we see that any one takingthis path is conscious of flowing in onecurrent with the divine, when the Logosbecomes alive within him. This is also ex-pressed clearly in the words: "When thespirit, moved by love, takes its flight intothe most holy, soaring joyously on divinewings, it forgets everything else and itself.It only clings to and is filled with that of
  • 97. Plato as a Mystic 85which it is the satellite and servant, and tothis it offers the incense of the most sacredand chaste virtue." There are only two ways for Philo. Eitherman follows the world of sense, that is, whatobservation and intellect which case offer, inhe limits himself to his personality and with-draws from the cosmos; or he becomes con-scious of the universal cosmic force, andexperiences the eternal within his personal-ity. He who wishes to escape from Godfalls into his own hands. For there are twothings to be considered, the universal Spiritwhich is God, and ones own spirit. Thelatter flees to and takes refuge in the uni-versal one who goes beyond his Spirit, forown spirit says that it is nothing and con-nects everything with God; but one whoavoids God, abolishes the First Cause, andmakes himself the cause of everything whichhappens." The Platonic view of the universe sets outto be knowledge which by its very nature isalso religion. It brings knowledge into rela-tion with the highest to which man canattain through his feelings. Plato will only
  • 98. 86 Christianity as Mystical Factallow knowledge to hold good when feelingmay be completely satisfied in it. It is thenmore than science, it is the substance of life.It is a higher man within man, that man ofwhich the personality is only an image.Within man is born a being who surpasseshim, a primordial, archetypal man, and thisis another secret of the Mysteries brought toexpression in the Platonic philosophy. Hip-polytus, one of the Early Fathers, alludes tothis secret."This is the great secret of theSamothracians (who were guardians of a cer-tain Mystery-cult), which cannot be ex-pressed and which only the initiates know.But these speak in detail of Adam, as latterthe primordial, archetypal man." The Platonic Dialogue on Love, or the Sym-posium, also represents an initiation. Herelove appears as the herald of wisdom. Ifwisdom, the eternal word, the Logos, is theSon of the Eternal Creator of the cosmos,love is related to the Logos as a mother.Before even a spark of the light of wisdomcan flash up in the human soul, a dim im-pulse or desire for the divine must be presentin it. Unconsciously the divine must draw
  • 99. Plato as a Mystic 87man what afterwards, when raised into his toconsciousness, constitutes his supreme happi-ness. What Heraclitus calls the daimon"in man connected with the idea (see p. 49) isof love. In the Symposium, people of themost various ranks and views of life speak —about love, the ordinary man, the politi-cian, the scientific man, the satiric poetAristophanes, and the tragic poet Agathon.They each have their own view of love, inkeeping with their different experiences oflife. The way in which they express them-selves shows the stage at which their "dai-mon" has arrived {cf. p. 49). By love onebeing is attracted to another. The multi-plicity, the diversity of the things into whichdivine unity was poured, aspires towardsunity and harmony through love. Thus lovehas something divine in it, and owing to this,each individual can only understand it as faras he participates in the divine. After these men and others at differentdegrees of maturity have given utterance totheir ideas about love, Socrates takes upthe word. He considers love from the pointof view of a man in search of knowledge. For
  • 100. 88 Christianity as Mystical Facthim, it is not a divinity, but it is somethingwhich leads man to God. Eros, or love,is for him not divine, for a god is perfect, andtherefore possesses the beautiful and good;but Eros is only the desire for the beautifuland good. He thus stands between manand God. He is a "daimon," a mediatorbetween the earthly and the divine. It is significant that Socrates does notclaim to be giving his own thoughts whenspeaking of love. He says he is only relatingwhat a woman once imparted to him as arevelation. It was through mantic art thathe came to his conception of love. Diotima,the priestess, awakened in Socrates the dai-monic force which was to lead him to thedivine. She initiated him. This passage in the Symposium is highlysuggestive. Who is the "wise woman" whoawakened the daimon in Socrates? She ismore than a merely poetic mode of expres-sion. For no wise woman on the physicalplane could awaken the daimon in the soul,unless the daimonic force were latent in thesoul itself. It surely in Socrates own soul isthat we must also look for this " wise woman.*
  • 101. Plato as a Mystic 89But there must be a reason why that whichbrings the daimon to Ufe within the soulshould appear as an outward being on thephysical plane. The force cannot work in thesame way as the forces which may be ob-served in the soul, as belonging to and nativeto it. We see that it is the soul-force whichprecedes the coming of wisdom which Socra-tes represents as a"wise woman." It is themother-principle which gives birth to theSon of God, Wisdom, the Logos. The un-conscious soul-force which brings the divineinto the consciousness is here represented asthe feminine element. The which as soulyet is without wisdom is the mother of whatleads to the divine. This brings us to animportant conception of mysticism. Thesoul is recognised as the mother of the divine.Unconsciously it leads man to the divine,with the inevitableness of a natural force. This conception throws light on the viewof Greek mythology taken in the Mysteries.The world of the gods is born in the soul.Man looks upon what he creates in images ashis gods (cf. p. 33). But he must force hisway through to another conception. He must
  • 102. 90 Christianity as Mystical Fact transmute into divine images the divine force which is active within him before the creation of those images. Behind the divine appears the mother of the divine, which is nothing else than the original force of the human soul. Thus side by side with the gods, man represents goddesses. ^^ f Let us look at the myth Dionysos in this of.©X.^ /light. Dionysos is the son of Zeus and a, *^^ f mortal mother, Semele. Zeus wrests the still immature child from its mother w^hen she is slain by lightning, and shelters it in his own side till ready to be born. Hera, the it is mother of the gods, incites the Titans against Dionysos, and they tear him in pieces. But Pallas Athene rescues his heart, which is still beating, and brings it to Zeus, Out of it he engenders his son for the second time. In this myth we can accurately trace a process which is enacted in the depths of the human soul. Interpreting it in the manner of the Egyptian priest who instructed Solon about the nature of myths {cf. p. 78 et seq.), we might say, it is related that Dionysos was the son of a god and of a mortal mother, that he was torn in pieces and afterwards
  • 103. Plato as a Mystic 91born again. This sounds like a fable, but itcontains the truth of the birth of the divineand its destiny in the human soul. The di-vine unites with the earthly, temporal itselfhuman soul. As soon as the divine, Dionysiacelement stirs within the soul, it feels a violentdesire for its own true spiritual form. Ordi-nary consciousness, which once again appearsin the form of a female goddess, Hera, be-comes jealous at the birth of the divine outof the higher consciousness. It arouses thelower nature of man (the Titans). The stillimmature divine child is torn in pieces. Thusthe divine child is present in man as intellec-tual science broken up. But if there beenough of the higher wisdom (Zeus) in manto be active, it nurses and cherishes the im-mature child, which is then born again as asecond son of God (Dionysos). Thus fromscience, which is the fragmentary divine forcein man, is born undivided wisdom, which isthe Logos, the son of God and of a mortalmother, of the perishable human soul, whichunconsciously aspires after the divine. Aslong as we see in all this merely a process inthe soul and look upon it as a picture of this
  • 104. 92 Christianity as Mystical Factprocess, we are a long way from the spiritualreality which is enacted in it. In this spiritualreality the soul is not merely experiencingsomething in itself, but it has been releasedfrom itself and is taking part in a cosmicevent, which is not enacted within the soul,in reality, but outside it. Platonic wisdom and Greek myths areclosely linked together, so too are the mythsand the wisdom of the Mysteries. Thecreated gods were the object of popular re-ligion, the history of their origin was thesecret of the Mysteries. No wonder that itwas held to be dangerous to "betray" theMysteries, for thereby the origin of the godsof the people was betrayed." And a rightunderstanding of that origin is salutary, amisunderstanding is injurious.
  • 105. VTHE WISDOM OF THE MYSTERIES AND THE MYTHTHE Mystic sought forces and beings within himself which are unknown toman as long as he remains in the ordinaryattitude towards life.The Mystic puts thegreat question about his own spiritual forcesand the laws which transcend the lowernature. A man of ordinary views of life,bounded by the senses and logic, creates godsfor himself, orwhen he gets to the point ofseeing that he has made them, he disclaimsthem. The Mystic knows that he createsgods, he knows why he creates them, he behind the natural law whichsees, so to say,makes man create them. It is as thougha plant suddenly became conscious, andlearned the laws of its growth and develop-ment. As it is, it develops in lovely uncon- 93
  • 106. 94 Christianity as Mystical Factsciousness. If it knew about the laws of itsown being, its relation to itself would becompletely changed. What the lyric poetfeels when he sings about a plant, what thebotanist thinks when he investigates its laws,this would hover before a conscious plant asan ideal of itself. It is thus with the Mystic with regard tothe laws, the forces working within him. Asone who knew, he was forced to create some-thing divine beyond himself. And the in-itiates took up the same attitude to thatwhich the people had created beyond nature;that is to the world of popular gods andmyths. They wanted to penetrate the lawsof this world of gods and myths. Wherethe people saw the form of a god, or a myth,they looked for a higher truth. Let us take an example. The Athenianshad been forced by the Cretan king Minos todeliverup to him every eight years sevenboys and seven girls. These were thrown asfood to a terrible monster, the Minotaur.When the mournful tribute was to be paid forthe third time, the kings son Theseus accom-panied it to Crete. On his arrival there,
  • 107. Mysteries and the Myth 95Ariadne, thedaughter of Minos inter-ested herself in him. The Minotaur dweltin the labyrinth, a maze from which no onecould extricate himself who had once got in.Theseus desired to deliver his native cityfrom the shameful tribute. For this purposehe had to enter the labyrinth into which themonsters booty was usually thrown, and tokill the Minotaur. He undertook the task,overcame the formidable foe, and succeededin regaining the open air with the aid of aball of thread which Ariadne had given him. The Mystic had to discover how thecreative human mind comes to weave sucha story. As the botanist watches the growthof plants in order to discover its laws, so didthe Mystic watch the creative spirit. Hesought for a truth, a nucleus of wisdomwhere the people had invented a myth. Sallust discloses to us the attitude of amystical sage towards a myth of this kind.We might call the whole world a myth,"says he, which contains bodies and thingsvisibly, and souls and a hidden spirits inmanner. If the truth about the gods weretaught to all, the unintelligent would disdain
  • 108. 96 Christianity as Mystical Factitfrom not understanding it, and the morecapable would make light of it. But ifthe truth is given in a mystical veil, it isassured against contempt and serves as astimulus to philosophic thinking," When the truth contained in a myth wassought by an initiate, he was conscious ofadding something which did not exist in theconsciousness of the people. He was awareof being above that consciousness, as abotanist is above a growing plant. Some-thing was expressed which was different fromwhat was present in the mythical conscious-ness, but it was looked upon as a deeper truth,symboHcally expressed in the myth. Man isconfronted with his own sense-nature in theform of a hostile monster. He sacrifices toit the fruits of his personality, and themonster devours them, and continues todo so till the conqueror (Theseus) awakesin man. His intuition spins* the thread bymeans of which he finds his way againwhen he repairs to the maze of the sensesin order to slay his enemy. The mysteryof human knowledge itself is expressedin this conquering of the senses. The
  • 109. Mysteries and the Myth 97initiate knows that mystery. It points to aforce in human personality unknown to or-dinary consciousness, but nevertheless activewithin it. It is the force which creates themyth, v/hich has the same structure as mys-tical truth. This truth finds its symbol inthe myth. What then is to be found in the myths?In them is a creation of the spirit, of the un-consciously creative soul. The soul has well-defined laws. In order to create beyonditself, it must work in a certain direction.At the mythological stage it does this inimages, but these are built up according tothe laws of the soul. We might also say thatwhen the soul advances beyond the stage ofmythological consciousness to deeper truths,these bear the same stamp as did the myths,for one and the same force was at work intheir formation. Plotinus, the philosopher of the Neo-Platonic school (a.d. 204-269), speaks of thisrelation of mythical representation to higherknowledge in reference to the priest-sages ofEgypt. Whether as the result of rigorousinvestigations, or whether instinctively when 7
  • 110. 98 Christianity as Mystical Factimparting their wisdom, the Egyptian sagesdo not use, for expressing their teaching andprecepts, written signs which are imitationsof voice and speech; but they draw pictures,and outUnes of these they record, in in thetheir temples, the thought contained in eachthing, so that every picture contains know-ledge and wisdom, and is a definite truth anda complete whole, although there is no ex-planation nor discussion. Afterwards thecontents of the picture are drawn out of itand expressed in words, and the cause isfound why it is as it is, and not otherwise." If we wish to find out the connection ofmysticism with mythical narratives, we mustsee what relationship to them there is in theviews of the great thinkers, those who knewtheir wisdom harmony with the meth- to be inods of the Mysteries. We find such harmonyin Plato in the fullest degree. His explana-tions of myths and his application of them inhis teaching may be taken as a model {cj. p.78 et seq.). In the PhcBdrtis, a dialogue onthe soul, the myth of Boreas is introduced.This divine being, who was seen in the rush-ing wind, one day saw the fair Orithyia,
  • 111. Mysteries and the Myth 99daughter of the Attic king Erectheus, gather-ing flowers with her companions. Seizedwith love for her, he carried her off to hisgrotto. Plato, by the mouth of Socrates,rejects a rationalist interpretation of thismyth. According to this explanation, anoutward, natural fact is poetically symbolisedby the narrative. A hurricane seized thekings daughter and hurled her over therocks. "Interpretations of this sort," saysSocrates, "are learned sophistries, howeverpopular and usual they may be. For . . .one who has pulled to pieces one of thesemythological forms must, to be consistent,elucidate sceptically and explain naturallyall the rest in the same way. .But even . .if such a labour could be accomplished, itwould in any case be no proof of superiortalents in the one carrying it out, but onlyof superficial wit, boorish wisdom, and ridicu-lous haste. . Therefore I leave on one . .side all such enquiries, and believe what isgenerally thought about the myths. I donot examine them, as I have just said, but Iexamine myself to see whether I too mayperhaps be a monster, more complicated ^^/,o. /rx 00
  • 112. 100 Christianity as Mystical Factand therefore more disordered than the chi-maera, more savage than Typhon, or whetherI represent a more docile and simple being,to whom some particle of a virtuous anddivine nature has been given." We see from this that Plato does notapprove of a rationalistic and merely intel-lectual interpretation of myths. This atti-tude must be compared with the way inwhich he himself uses myths in order toexpress himself through them. When hespeaks of the life of the soul, when he leavesthe paths of the transitory and seeks theeternal in the soul, when, therefore, imagesborrowed from sense-perception and reason-ing thought can no longer be used, thenPlato has recourse to the myth. Phcedriistreats of the eternal in the soul, which isportrayed as a car drawn by two horseswinged all over, and driven by a charioteer.One horse is patient and docile, the otherwild and headstrong. If an obstacle comesin the way of the car the troublesome horsetakes the opportunity of impeding the docileone and defying the driver. When the cararrives where it has to follow the gods up the
  • 113. Mysteries and the Myth loicelestial steep, the intractable horse throwsthe team into confusion. If it is less strongthan the good horse, it is overcome, and thecar is able to go on into the supersensiblerealm. It thus happens that the soul cannever ascend without difficulties into thekingdom of the divine. Some souls rise moreto the vision of eternity, some less. Thesoul which has seen the world beyond re-mains safe until the next journey. One who,on account of the intractable horse, has notseen beyond, must try again on the nextjourney. These journeys signify the variousincarnations of the soul. One journey signifiesthe life of the soul in one personality. Thewild horse represents the lower nature, thedocile one the higher nature; the driver,the soul longing for union with the divine. Plato resorts to the myth in order to de-scribe the course of the eternal spirit throughits various transformations. In the sameway he has recourse, in other writings, tosymbolical narrative, in order to portray theinner nature of man, which is not perceptibleto the senses. Plato is here in complete harmony with the
  • 114. I02 Christianity as Mystical Factmythical and allegorical manner of expres-sion used by others. For instance there is inancient Hindu literature a parable attributedto Buddha. A man very much attached to life, who seekssensuous pleasures and will die at no priceis pursued by four serpents. He hears avoice commanding him to feed and bathethe serpents from time to time. The manruns away, fearing the serpents. Again hehears a voice, warning him that he is pur-sued by five murderers. Once more heescapes. A voice calls his attention to asixth murderer, who about to behead him iswith a sword. Again he flees. He comes to adeserted village. There he hears a voicetellinghim that robbers are shortly going toplunder the village. Having again escaped,he comes to a great flood. He feels unsafewhere he is, and out of straw, wood, andleaves he makes a basket in which he ar-rives at the other shore. Now he is safe, heis a Brahmin. The meaning of this allegory is that manhas to pass through the most various statesbefore attaining to the divine. The four
  • 115. Mysteries and the Myth 103serpents represent the four elements, fire,water, earth, and air. The five murderers arethe five senses. The deserted village is thesoul which has escaped from sense-impres-sions, but isnot yet safe if it is alone withitself, for if its lower nature lays hold of it, itmust perish. Man must construct for him-self the boat which is to carry him over theflood of the transitory from the one shore,the sense-nature, to the other, the eternal,divine world. Let us look at the Egyptian mystery ofOsiris in this light. Osiris had graduallybecome one of the most important Egyptiandivinities;he supplanted other gods in cer-tain parts of the country; and an importantcycle of myths was formed round him andhis consort Isis. Osiris was the son of the Sun-god, hisbrother was Typhon-Set, and his sister wasIsis. Osiris married his sister, and togetherthey reigned Egypt. over The wickedbrother, Typhon, meditated killing Osiris.He had a chest made which was exactly thelength of Osiris body. At a banquet thischest was offered to the person whom it
  • 116. 104 Christianity as Mystical Factexactly fitted. This was Osiris and noneother! He entered the chest. Typhon andhis confederates rushed upon him, closedthe chest, and threw it into the river. WhenIsisheard the terrible news she wandered farand wide in despair, seeking her husbandsbody. When she had found it, Typhon againtook possession of it, and tore it in fourteenpieces which were dispersed in many differ-ent places. Various tombs of Osiris wereshown in Egypt. In many places, up anddown the country, portions of the god weresaid to be buried. Osiris himself, however,came forth from the nether-world and van-quished Typhon. A beam shone from himupon Isis, who in consequence bore a son,Harpocrates or Horus. And now let myth with the us compare thisview which the Greek philosopher, Emped-ocles 490-430) takes of the universe. (B.C.He assumes that the one original primevalbeing was once broken up into the fourelements, fire, water, earth, and air, or intothe multiplicity of being. He represents twoopposing forces, which within this world ofexistence bring about growth and decay,
  • 117. Mysteries and the Myth 105love and strife. Empedocles says of theelementsThey remain ever the same, but yet by com- bining their forcesBecome transformed into men and the number- less beings besides.These are now joined into one, love binding the many together,Now once again they are scattered, dispersing through hatred and strife. What then are the things in the world fromEmpedocles point of view? They are theelements in different combinations. Theycould onlycome into being because thePrimeval Unity was broken up into the fouressences. Therefore this primordial unitywas poured into the elements. Anythingconfronting us is part of the divinity whichwas poured out.But the divinity is hiddenin the thing; it first had to die that thingsmight come into being. And what are thesethings? Mixtures of divine constituentseffectuated by love and hatred. Empedoclessays this distinctly:
  • 118. io6 Christianity as Mystical FactSee, for a clear demonstration, how the limbs of a man are constructed.All that the body possesses, in beauty and pride of existence,All put together by love, are the elements there forming one.Afterwards hatred and strife come, and fatally them asunder. tearOnce more they wander alone, on the desolate confines of life.So it is with the bushes and trees, and the water- inhabiting fishes.Wild animals roaming the mountains, and ships swiftly borne by their sails. Empedocles therefore must come to theconclusion that the sage finds again theDivine Primordial Unity, hidden in the worldby a spell, and entangled in the meshes oflove and hatred. But if man finds thedivine, he must himself be divine, forEmpedocles takes the point of view thata being is only cognised by its equal.This conviction of his is expressed inGoethes lines: If the eye were not ofthe nature of the sun, how could we be-hold light? If divine force were not at
  • 119. Mysteries and the Myth 107work in us, how could divine things de-lightus?" These thoughts about the world and man,which transcend sense-experience, were foundby the Mystic in the myth of Osiris. Divinecreative force has been poured out into theuniverse; it appears as the four elements;God (Osiris) is killed. Man is to raise himfrom the dead with his cognition, which is ofdivine nature. He is him again as to findHorus (the Son of God, the Logos, Wisdom),in the oppositionbetween Strife (Typhon)and Love (Isis). Empedocles expresses hisfundamental conviction in Greek form bymeans of images which border on myth.Love is Aphrodite, and strife is Neikos.They bind and unbind the elements. The portrayal of the content of a myth inthe manner followed here must not be con-fused with a merely symbolical or even alle- This is notgorical interpretation of myths.intended. The images forming the contentsof a myth are not invented symbols ofabstract truths, but actual soul-experiencesof the initiate. He experiences the imageswith his spiritual organs of perception, just
  • 120. io8 Christianity as Mystical Factas the normal man experiences the imagesof physical things with his eyes and ears.But as an image nothing in itself if it is isnot aroused in the perception by an outerobject, so the mythical image is nothingunless it is excited by real facts of the spiritualworld. Only in regard to the physical world,man is at first outside the exciting causes,whereas he can only experience the imagesof myths when he is within the correspondingspiritual occurrences. In order, however,to be within them, he must have gone throughinitiation. Then the spiritual occurrenceswithin which he is perceiving are, as it were,illustrated by the myth-images. Any onewho cannot take the mythical element assuch illustration of real spiritual occurrences,has not yet attained to the understanding ofit. For the spiritual events themselves aresupersensible, and images which are reminis-cent of the physical world are not themselvesof a spiritual nature, but only an illustrationof spiritual things. One who lives merely inthe images lives in a dream. Only one whohas got to the point of feeling the spiritualelement in the image as he feels in the sense-
  • 121. Mysteries and the Myth 109world a rose through the image of a rose,really lives in spiritual perceptions. This isthe reason why the images of myths cannothave only one meaning. On account of theirillustrative character, the same myths mayexpress several spiritual facts. It is nottherefore a contradiction when interpretersof myths sometimes connect a myth with onespiritual fact and sometimes with another. From this standpoint, we are able to finda thread to conduct us through the labyrinthof Greek myths. Let us consider the legendof Heracles. The twelve labours imposedupon Heracles appear in a higher light whenwe remember that before the last and mostdifficult one, he is initiated into the Eleusin-ian mysteries. He commissioned by King isEurystheus of Mycenae to bring the hell-hound Cerberus from the infernal regionsand take it back there again. In order toundertake the descent into hell, Heracleshad to be initiated. The Mysteries con-ducted man through the death of perishablethings, therefore into the nether-world, andby initiation they rescued his eternal partfrom perishing. As a Mystic, he could
  • 122. no Christianity as Mystical Factvanquish death. Heracles having become aMystic overcomes the dangers of the nether-world. This justifies us in interpreting hisother ordeals as stages in the inner develop-ment of the soul. He overcomes the Nemaeanlion and brings him to Mycenae. This meansthat he becomes master of purely physicalforce in man; he tames it.Afterwards heslays the nine-headed Hydra. He overcomesit with firebrands and dips his arrows inits gall, so that they become deadly. Thismeans that he overcomes lower knowledge,that which comes through the senses. Hedoes this through the fire of the spirit, andfrom what he has gained through the lov/erknowledge, he draws the power to look atlower things in the light which belongs tospiritual sight. Heracles captures the hindof Artemis, goddess of hunting: everythingwhich free nature offers to the human soul,Heracles conquers and subdues. The otherlabours may be interpreted in the same way.We cannot here trace out every detail, andonly wish to describe how the general senseof the myth points to inner development. A similar interpretation is possible of the
  • 123. Mysteries and the Myth inexpedition of the Argonauts. Phrixus andhis sister Helle, children of a Bceotian king,suffered many things from their step-mother.The gods sent them a ram with a goldenfleece, which flew away with them. Whenthey came to the straits between Europe andAsia, Helle was drowned. Hence the straitis called the Hellespont. Phrixus came to theKing of Colchis, on the east shore of theBlack Sea. He sacrificed the ram to the gods,and gave its fleece to King ^Eetes. Theking had it hung up in a grove and guardedby a terrible dragon. The Greek hero Jasonundertook to fetch the fleece from Colchis,in company with other heroes, Heracles,Theseus, and Orpheus. Heavy tasks werelaid upon Jason by ^etes for the obtainingof the treasure, but Medea, the kings daugh-ter, who was versed in magic, aided him.He subdued two fire-breathing bulls. Heploughed a field and sowed in it dragonsteeth from which armed men grew up out ofthe earth. By Medeas advice he threw astone into their midst, whereupon they killedeach other. Jason lulls the dragon to sleepwith a charm of Medeas and is then able
  • 124. 112 Christianity as Mystical Factto win the fleece. He returns with it toGreece, Medea accompanying him as hiswife. The king pursues the fugitives. Inorder to detain him, Medea slays her Httlebrother Absyrtus, and scatters his Hmbs inthe sea. ^etes stays to them, and the collectpair are able to reach Jasons home with thefleece. Each of these facts requires a deep elucida-tion. The fleece is something belonging toman, and infinitely precious to him. It issomething from which he was separated intimes of yore, and for the recovery of whichhe has to overcome terrible forces. It isthus with the eternal in the human soul. Itbelongs to man, but man is separated fromit by his lower nature. Only by overcomingthe latter, and lulling it to sleep, can herecover the eternal. This becomes possiblewhen his own consciousness (Medea) comesto his aid with its magic power. Medea isto Jason what Diotima was to Socrates, ateacher of love {cf. p. 88). Mans own wis-dom has the magic power necessary for at-taining the divine after having overcome thetransitory. From the lower nature there can
  • 125. Mysteries and the Myth 113only arise a lower human principle, the armedmen who are overcome by spiritual force,the counsel of Medea. Even when man hasfound the eternal, the fleece, he is not yetsafe. He has to sacrifice part of his con-sciousness (Absyrtus). This is exacted bythe physical world, which we can only appre-hend as a multiple (dismembered) world.We might go still deeper into the descriptionof the spiritual events lying behind theimages, but it is only intended here to indi-cate the principle of the formation of myths. Of special interest, when interpreted inthis way, is the legend of Prometheus, Heand his brother Epimetheus are sons of theTitan lapetus. The Titans are the offspringof the oldest generation of gods, Uranus(Heaven) and Gaea (Earth). Kronos, theyoungest of the Titans, dethroned his fatherand upon the government of the world. seizedIn return, he was overpowered, with theother Titans, by his son Zeus, who becamethe chief of the gods. In the struggle withthe Titans, Prometheus was on the side ofZeus. By his advice, Zeus banished theTitans to the nether- world. But in Prome-
  • 126. 114 Christianity as Mystical Facttheus there still lived the Titan spirit, he wasonly half a friend to Zeus. When the latterwished to exterminate men on account oftheir arrogance, Prometheus espoused theircause, taught them numbers, writing, andeverything else which leads to culture, es-pecially the use of fire. This aroused thewrath Zeus against Prometheus. Heph- ofaistos, the son of Zeus, was commissionedto make a female form of great beauty, whomthe gods adorned with every possible gift.She was called Pandora, the all-gifted one.Hermes, messenger of the gods, brought herto Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus.She brought him a casket, as a present fromthe gods. Epimetheus accepted the present,although Prometheus had warned him againstreceiving any gift from the gods. When thecasket was opened, every possible humanevil flew out of it. Hope alone remained,and Pandora quickly closed the this becausebox. Hope has therefore been left to man,as a doubtful gift of the gods. By order ofZeus, Prometheus was chained to a rock onthe Caucasus, on account of his relation toman. An eagle perpetually gnaws his liver,
  • 127. Mysteries and the Myth 115which is as often renewed. He has to passhis hfe in agonising loneliness till one of thegods voluntarily sacrifices himself, i. e., de-votes himself to death. The tormented Pro-metheus bears his sufferings steadfastly. Ithad been told him that Zeus would be de-throned by the son of a mortal unless Zeusconsented to wed this mortal woman. It wasimportant for Zeus to know this secret. Hesent the messenger Hermes to Prometheus,in order to learn something about it. Pro-metheus refused to say anything. The legendof Heracles connected with that of Pro- ismictheus. In the course of his wanderingsHeracles comes to the Caucasus. He slaysthe eagle which was devouring the liver ofPrometheus. The centaur Chiron, who can-not die, although suffering from an incurablewound, sacrifices himself for Prometheus,who is thereupon reconciled with the gods. The Titans are the force of will, proceedingas nature (Kronos) from the original univer-sal spirit (Uranus). Here we have to thinknot merely of will-forces in an abstract form,but of actual will-beings. Prometheus isone of them, and this describes his nature^-
  • 128. ii6 Christianity as Mystical FactBut he not altogether a Titan. In a cer- istain sense he is on the side of Zeus, theSpirit, who enters upon the rulership of theworld after the unbridled force of nature(Kronos) has been subdued. Prometheus isthus the representative of those worlds whichhave given man the progressive element,half nature-force, half spiritual force, manswdll. The will points on the one side towardsgood, on the other, towards evil. Its fate isdecided according as it leans to the spiritualor the perishable. This fate is that of manhimself. He is chained to the perishable,the eagle gnaws him, he has to suffer. Hecan only reach the highest by seeking hisdestiny in solitude. He has a secret whichis that the divine (Zeus) must marry a mor-tal (human consciousness bound up with thephysical body), in order to beget a son,human wisdom (the Logos) which will de-liver the deity. By means consciousness thisbecomes immortal. He must not betray thissecret till a Mystic (Heracles) comes to him,and annihilates the power which was per-petually threatening him with death. Abeing half animal, half human, a centaur, is
  • 129. Mysteries and the Myth 117obliged to sacrifice ifself to redeem man.The centaur is man himself, half animal, halfspiritual. He must die in order that thepurely spiritual man may be delivered. Thatwhich is disdained by Prometheus, humanwill, is accepted by Epimetheus, reason orprudence. But the gifts offered to Epime-theus are only troubles and sorrows, forreason clings to the transitory and perish-able. And only one thing is left —the hopethat even out of the perishable the eternalmay some day be born. The thread running through the legendsof the Argonauts, Heracles and Prometheus, iscontinued in Homers Odyssey, Here we findourselves compelled to use our own methodof interpretation. But on closer considera-tion of everything which has to be taken intoaccount, even the sturdiest doubter must loseall scruples about such an interpretation. Inthe first place, it is a startling fact that it isalso related of Odysseus that he descendedinto the nether- world. Whatever we maythink about the author of the Odyssey inother respects, it is impossible to imagine hisrepresenting a mortal descending to the in-
  • 130. ii8 Christianity as Mystical Factfemal regions, without his bringing him intoconnection with what the journey into thenether-world meant to the Greeks. meantItthe conquest of the perishable and theawakening of the eternal in the soul. It musttherefore be conceded that Odysseus accom-plished this, and thereby his experiencesand those of Heracles acquire a deeper sig-nificance. They become a delineation of thenon-sensuous, of the souls progress of de-velopment. Hence the narrative in theOdyssey is different from what demanded isby a history of outer events. The hero makesvoyages in enchanted ships. Actual geo-graphical distances are dealt with in mostarbitrar}^ fashion. It is not in the least aquestion of what is physically real. Thisbecomes comprehensible, if the physicallyreal events are only related for the sake of development of a soul. More-illustrating theover the poet himself at the opening of thebook says that it deals with a search for thesoul: "O Muse, sing to me of the man full ofresource, who wandered very much after hehad destroyed the sacred city of Troy, and
  • 131. Mysteries and the Myth 119saw the cities of many men, and learned theirmanners. Many griefs also in his mind didhe suffer on the sea, although seeking topreserve his own soul, and the return of hiscompanions." We have before us a man seeking for thesoul, for the divine, and his wanderingsduring this search are narrated. He comesto the land of the Cyclopes. These are un-couth giants, with only one eye and that inthe centre of the forehead. The most terrible,Polyphemus, devours several of Odysseus*companions. Odysseus himself escapes byblinding the Cyclopes. Here we have to dowith the first stage of lifes pilgrimage.Physical force or the lower nature has to beovercome. It devours any one who does nottake away its power, who does not blindit. Odysseus next comes to the island of theenchantress Circe. She changes some of hiscompanions into grunting pigs. She also issubdued by Odysseus. Circe is the lowermind-force, which cleaves to the transitory.If misused, it may thrust men down evendeeper into bestiality. Odysseus has to over-come it. Then he is able to descend into the
  • 132. 120 Christianity as Mystical Factnether- world. He becomes a Mystic. Nowhe is exposed to the dangers which beset theMystic on his progress from the lower to thehigher degrees of initiation. He comes tothe Sirens, w^ho lure the passer-by to deathby sweet magic sounds. These are the formsof the lower imagination, which are at firstpursued by one who has freed himself fromthe power of the senses. He has got so farthat his spirit acts freely, but is not initiated.He pursues illusions, from the power of whichhe must break loose. Odysseus has to accom-plish the awful passage between Scylla andCharybdis. The Mystic, at the beginning ofthe path wavers between spirit and sensuous-ness. He cannot yet grasp the full value ofspirit, yet sensuousness has already lost itsformer attraction. All Odysseus companionsperish in a shipwreck; he alone escapesand comes to the nymph Calypso, whoreceives him kindly and takes care of himfor seven years. At length, by order ofZeus, she dismisses him to his home. TheMystic has arrived at a stage at which all hisfellow-aspirants fail;he alone, Odysseus, isworthy. He enjoys for a time, which is de-
  • 133. Mysteries and the Myth 121fined by the mystically symbolic numberseven, the rest of gradual initiation. BeforeOdysseus arrives at his home, he comes to theisle of the Phaeaces, where he meets witha hospitable reception. The kings daughtergives him sympathy, and the king, Alcinous,entertains and honours him. Once more doesOdysseus approach the world and its joys,and the spirit which is attached to the world,Nausicaa, awakes within him. But he findsthe way home, to the divine. At first noth-ing good awaits him at home. His wife,Penelope, is surrounded by numerous suitors.Each one she promises to marry, when shehas finished weaving a certain piece of work.She avoids keeping her promise by undoingevery night what she has woven by day.Odysseus is obliged to vanquish the suitorsbefore he can be reunited to his wife inpeace. The goddess Athene changes himinto a beggar so that he may not be recog-nised at his entrance; and thus he overcomesthe suitors. Odysseus is seeking his owndeeper consciousness, the divine powers ofthe soul. He wishes to be united with thern^Before the Mystic can find them, he mi^e
  • 134. 122 Christianity as Mystical Factovercome everything which sues for thefavour of that consciousness. The band ofsuitors spring from the world of lower reality,from perishable nature. The logic directedagainst them is a spinning which always isundone again after it has been spun. Wis-dom (the goddess xthene) is the sure guideto the deepest powers of the soul. It changesman into a beggar, i. c, it divests him ofeverything of a transitory nature. The Eleusinian festivals, which were cele-brated in Greece in honour of Demeter andDionysos, were steeped in the wisdom of theMysteries. A sacred road from Athens to ledEleusis. It was bordered with mysterioussigns, intended to bring the soul into an ex-alted mood. In Eleusis were mysterious tem-ples, The dignity served by families of priests.and the wisdom which was bound up with itwere inherited in these families from genera-tion to generation. (Instructive informationabout the organisation of these sanctuarieswill be found in Karl Bottichers Ergdn-"Mfigen zu den letzten Untersuchungen auf der^^kropolis in A then, Philologus, Supplement,
  • 135. Mysteries and the Myth 123vol. iii, part The wisdom, which quali- 3.)fied for the priesthood, was the wisdom ofthe Greek Mysteries. The festivals, whichwere celebrated twice a year, representedthe great world-drama of the destiny of thedivine in the world, and of that of the humansoul. The Mysteries took place in lesserFebruary, the greater in September. Initia-tions were connected with the festivals. Thesymbolical presentation of the cosmic andhuman drama formed the final act of theinitiations of the Mystics, which took placehere. The Eleusinian temples had been erectedin honour Demeter. She was of the goddessa daughter of Kronos. She had given toZeus a daughter, Persephone, before his mar-riage with Hera. Persephone, while playing,was carried away by Hades (Pluto), the godof the infernal regions. Demeter wanderedfar and wide over the earth, seeking herwith lamentations. Sitting on a stone inEleusis, she was found by the daughters ofKeleus, ruler of the place in the form of an ;old woman she entered the service of hisfamily, as nurse to the queens son. She
  • 136. 124 Christianity as Mystical Factwished to endow this boy with immor-tahty, and for this purpose hid him in fireevery night. When his mother discoveredthis, she wept and lamented. After that thebestowal of immortality was impossible. De-meter left the house. Keleus then built atemple. The grief of Demeter for Persephonewas She spread sterility over the The gods had to appease her, toprevent a great catastrophe. Then Zeus in-duced Hades (Pluto) to release Persephoneinto the upper world, but before letting hergo, he gave her a pomegranate to eat. Thisobliged her to return periodically to thenether-world for evermore. Henceforwardshe spent a third of the year there, and two-thirds in the world above. Demeter wasappeased and returned to Olympus; but atEleusis, the place of her suffering, she foundedthe cult which should keep her fate inremembrance. It is not difficult to discover the meaningof the myth of Demeter and Persephone. Itis the soul which lives alternately above andbelow. The immortality of the soul and itsperpetually recurring transformation by birth
  • 137. Mysteries and the Myth 125and death are thus symbolised. The soul origi- —nates from the immortal Demeter. But it isled astray by the transitory, and even pre-vailed upon to share its destiny. It has par-taken of the fruits in the nether- world, thehuman soul is satisfied with the transitory,therefore it cannot permanently live in theheights of the divine. It has always to returnto the realm of the perishable. Demeter isthe representative of the essence from whichhuman consciousness arose; but we mustthink of it as the consciousness which wasable to come into being through the spiritualforces of the earth. Thus Demeter is theprimordial essence of the earth, and theendowment of the earth with the seed-forcesof the produce of the fields through her,points to a still deeper side of her being.This being wishes to give man immortality.She hides her nursling in fire by night. Butman cannot bear the pure force of fire (thespirit). Demeter is obliged to abandon theidea. She is only able to found a templeservice, through which man is able to partici-pate in the divine as far as this is possible. The Eleusinian festivals were an eloquent
  • 138. 126 Christianity as Mystical Factconfession of the belief in the immortahtyof the human This confession found soul.symbolic expression in the Persephone myth.Together with Demeter and PersephoneDionysos was commemorated in Eleusis. As .Demeter was honoured as the divine creatressof the eternal in man, so in Dionysos washonoured the ever-changing divine in thew^orld. The divine poured into the worldand torn to pieces in order to be spirituallyreborn {cj. p. 90) had to be honoured togetherwith Demeter. (A brilliant description ofthe spirit of the Eleusinian Mysteries isfound in Edouard Schures book, Sanctuairesd Orient. Paris, 1898.)
  • 139. VI THE MYSTERY WISDOM OF EGYPTWhen leaving thy body behind thee, thou soar- est into the ether,Then thou becomest a god, immortal, not subject to death. this utterance ofEmpedocles {cf. p. 55)IN is epitomised what the ancient Egyptiansthought about the eternal element in manand its connection with the divine. Theproof of this may be found in the so-calledBook of the Deady which has been decipheredby the diligence of nineteenth-century in-vestigators {cf. Lepsius, Das Totenbuch deralien Agypter, Berlin, "the 1842). It isgreatest continuous literary work which hascome down to us from ancient Egypt." Allkinds of instructions and prayers are con-tained in it, which were put into the tomb 127
  • 140. 128 Christianity as Mystical Factof each deceased person to serve as a guidewhen he was released from his mortal tene-ment. The most intimate ideas of the Egyp-tians about the Eternal and the origin of theworld are contained in this work. Theseideas point to a conception of the godssimilar to that of Greek mysticism. Osiris gradually became the favourite andmost universally recognised of the variousdeities worshipped in different parts ofEgypt. In him were comprised the ideasabout the other divinities. Whatever themajority of the Egyptian people may havethought about Osiris, the Book of the Deadindicates that the priestly wisdom saw inhim a being that might be found in thehuman soul itself. Everything said aboutdeath and the dead shows this plainly. Whilethe body is given to earth, and kept by it,the eternal part of man enters upon the pathto the primordial eternal. It comes beforethe tribunal of Osiris, and the forty-twojudges of the dead. The fate of the eternalpart of man depends on the verdict of thesejudges. If the soul has confessed its sins andbeen deemed reconciled to eternal justice,
  • 141. Mystery Wisdom of Egypt 129invisiblepowers approach it and say: "TheOsiris N. has been purified in the pool whichis south of the Hotep and north field of ofthe field of Locusts, where the gods ofverdure purify themselves at the fourth hourof the night and the eighth hour of theday with the image of the heart of the gods,passing from night to day." Thus, withinthe eternal cosmic order, the eternal part ofman is addressed as an Osiris. After thename Osiris comes the deceased persons ownname. And the one who is being united withthe eternal cosmic order also calls himself"Osiris." "I am the Osiris N. Growingunder the blossoms of the fig-tree is the nameof the Osiris N. " Man therefore becomes anOsiris. Being Osiris is only a perfect stagein human development. It seems obviousthat even the Osiris who is a judge withinthe eternal cosmic order is nothing else buta perfect man. Between being human anddivine, there is a difference in degree andnumber. The mystic view of the mystery of"number" underlies this. Osiris as a cosmicbeing One, yet on this account he exists isundivided in each human soul. Each person
  • 142. 130 Christianity as Mystical Factis an Osiris, yet the One Osiris must be repre-sented as a separate being. Man is in courseof development; at the end of his evolution-ary career, he becomes divine. In taking thisview, we must speak of divinity, or becom-ing divine, rather than of a separate divinebeing, complete in himself. It cannot be doubted but that accordingto this view only he can really enter uponthe Osiris existence, who has reached theportals of the eternal cosmic order as anOsiris. Thus, the highest life which mancan lead must consist in his changing himselfinto Osiris. Even during mortal life, a trueman will live as a perfect Osiris as far as hecan. He becomes perfect when he lives asan Osiris, when he passes through the ex-periences of Osiris. In this way, we see thedeeper significance of the Osiris myth. Itbecomes the ideal of the man who wishes toawaken the eternal within him. Osiris is torn to pieces and killed by Ty-phon. The fragments of his body are pre-served and cared for by his consort, Isis.After his death he let a ray of his own lightfall upon her, and she bore him Horus. This
  • 143. Mystery Wisdom of Egypt 131Horus takes up the earthly tasks of Osiris.He is the second Osiris, still imperfect, butprogressing towards the true Osiris. The true Osiris is in the human soul, whichat first is of a transitory nature; but as such,it is destined to give birth to the eternal.Man may, therefore, regard himself as thetomb of Osiris. The lower nature (Typhon)has killed the higher nature in him. Love inhis soul (Isis) must take care of the deadfragments of his body, and then the highernature, the eternal soul (Horus) will be born,which can progress to Osiris life. The manwho is aspiring to the highest kind of exis-tence must repeat in himself, as a microcosm,the macrocosmic universal Osiris process.This is the meaning of Egyptian initiation.What Plato {c}. p. 80) describes as a cosmicprocess, i. e., that the Creator has stretchedthe soul of the world on the body of the worldin the form of a cross, and that the cosmicprocess is the release of this crucified soul,this process had to be enacted in man on asmaller scale if he was to be qualified forOsiris life. The candidate for initiation hadto develop himself in such a way that his
  • 144. 132 Christianity as Mystical Factsoul-experience, his becoming an Osiris, be-came blended into one with the cosmicOsiris process. If we could look into the temples of initia-tion in which people underwent the trans-formation into Osiris, we should see thatwhat took place represented microcosmicallythe building of the cosmos. Man who pro-ceeded from the "Father" was to give birthto the Son in himself. What he actuallybears within him, divinity hidden under aspell, was to become manifest in him. Thisdivinity is kept down in him by the power ofthe earthly nature; this lower nature mustfirst be buried in order that the higher naturemay arise. From this we are able to interpret what weare told about the incidents of initiation.The candidate was subjected to mysteriousprocesses, by means of which his earthlynature was killed, and his higher part awak-ened. It is not necessary to study theseprocesses in detail, if we understand theirmeaning. This meaning is contained in theconfession possible to every one who wentthrough initiation. He could say: "Before
  • 145. Mystery Wisdom of Egypt 133me was the endless perspective at the end ofv/hich is the perfection of the divine. I feltthat the power of the divine is within me.I buried what in me keeps down that power.I died to earthly things. I was dead. I haddied as a lower man, I was in the nether-world. had intercourse with the dead, i. e., Iwith those who have already become partof the chain of the eternal cosmic order.After my sojourn in the nether- world, I arosefrom the dead. I overcame death, but nowI have become different. I have nothing moreto do with perishable nature. It has in mebecome saturated with the Logos. I nowbelong to those who live eternally, and whowill sit at the right hand of Osiris. I myselfshall be a true Osiris, part of the eternalcosmic order, and judgment of life and deathwill be placed in my hands. " The candidatefor initiation had to submit to the experiencewhich made such a confession possible tohim. Thus this was an experience of thehighest kind. Let us now imagine that a non-initiatehears of such experiences. He cannot knowwhat has really taken place in the initiates
  • 146. 134 Christianity as Mystical Factsoul. In his eyes, the initiate died physically,lay in the grave, and rose again. Whatis a spiritual reality at a higher stage ofexistence appears when expressed in the formof sense-reality as an event which breaksthrough the order of nature. It is a "mira-cle." So far initiation was a miracle. Onewho really wished to understand it must haveawakened within him powers to enable himto stand on a higher plane of existence. Hemust have approached these higher expe-riences through a course of life speciallyadapted for the purpose. In whatever waythese prepared experiences were enacted inindividual cases, they are always found to beof quite a definite type. And so an initiateslife is a typical one. It may be describedindependently of the single personality. Orrather, an individual could only be de-scribed as being on the way to the divineif he had passed through these definitetypical experiences. Such a personality was Buddha, living inthe midst of his disciples. As such an onedid Jesus appear to his community. Nowa-days we know of the parallelism that exists
  • 147. Mystery Wisdom of Egypt 135between the biographies of Buddha and ofJesus. Rudolf Seydel has convincingly provedthis parallelism in his book, Buddha undChristus, (Compare also the excellent essayby Dr. Hiibbe-Schleiden, "Jesus ein Bud-dhist.") We have only to follow out thetwo lives in detail in order to see that allobjections to the parallelism are futile. The birth of Buddha announced by a iswhite elephant, which descends from heavenand declares to the queen, Maya, that shewill bring forth a divine man, who "willattune all beings to love and friendship, andwill unite them in a close alliance. " We readin St. Lukes Gospel: To a virgin espousedto a man whose name was Joseph, of thehouse of David; and the virgins name wasMary. And the angel came in unto her, andsaid, Hail, thou that art highly favoured.. . . Behold, thou shalt conceive in thywomb, and bring forth a son, and shalt callhis name Jesus. He shall be great, and shallbe called the Son of the Highest. The Brahmins, or Indian priests, whoknow what the birth of a Buddha means,interpret Mayas dream. They have a defi-
  • 148. 136 Christianity as Mystical Factnite, typical idea of a Buddha, to which thelife of the personality about to be born willhave to correspond. Similarly we read inMatthew ii. et seq., that when Herod "hadgathered all the chief priests and scribes ofthe people together, he demanded of themw^here Christ should be born." The Brah-min Asita says of Buddha: "This is the childwhich will become Buddha, the redeemer, theleader to immortality, freedom, and light."Compare with this Luke ii. 25: "And, behold,there w^as a man in Jerusalem, whose namewas Simeon; and the same man w^as just anddevout, waiting for the consolation of Israel:and the Holy Ghost was upon him. . . . Andwhen the parents brought in the child Jesus,to do for him after the custom of the law,then took he him up in his arms, and blessedGod, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thyservant depart in peace, according to thyword : for mine eyes have seen thy salvation,which thou hast prepared before the faceof all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles,and the glory of thy people Israel." It is related of Buddha that at the age oftwelve he was lost, and found again under a
  • 149. Mystery Wisdom of Egypt 137tree, surrounded by poets and sages of theolden time, whom he was teaching. With thisincident the following passage in St. Lukecorresponds: "Now his parents went toJerusalem every year at the feast of the pass-over. And when he was twelve years old,they went up to Jerusalem after the customof the feast. And when they had fulfilledthe days, as they returned, the child Jesustarried behind in Jerusalem and Joseph and ;his mother knew not of it. But they, sup-posing him to have been in the company,went a days journey; and they sought himamong their kinsfolk and acquaintance. Andwhen they found him not, they turned backagain to Jerusalem, seeking him. And itcame to pass that after three days they foundhim in the temple, sitting in the midst ofthe doctors, both hearing them, and askingthem questions. And all him that heardwere astonished at his understanding andanswers" (Luke ii. 41-47). After Buddha had lived in solitude, andreturned, he was received by the benedictionof a virgin, "Blessed is thy mother, blessedis thy father, blessed is the wife to whom
  • 150. 138 Christianity as Mystical Factthou belongest." But he replied, "Onlythey are blessed who are in Nirvana," i. e.,who have entered the eternal cosmic order.In St. Lukes Gospel (xi. 27), we read: "Andit came to pass, as he spake these things,a certain woman of the company lifted upher voice and said unto him, Blessed is thewomb that bare thee, and the paps whichthou hast sucked. But he said, Yearather, blessed are they that hear the word ofGod, and keep it." In the course of Buddhas life, the temptercomes to him and promises him all the king-doms of the earth. Buddha refuses every-thing in the words: "I know well that I amdestined to have a kingdom, but Ido notdesirean earthly one. I shall become Bud-dha and make all the world exult with joy."The tempter has to own that his reign is over.Jesus answers the same temptation in thewords: " Get thee hence, Satan, for it is writ-ten. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, andhim only shalt thou serve. Then the devilleaveth him" (Matthew iv. 10, 11). Thisdescription of the parallelism might be exten-ded to many other points with the same result.
  • 151. Mystery Wisdom of Egypt 139 The life ofBuddha ended sublimely. Ona journey, he felt ill; he came to the riverHiranja, near Kuschinagara. There he laydown on a carpet which his favourite disciple,Ananda, spread for him. His body beganto be luminous from within. He died trans-figured, his body irradiating light, saying,"Nothing endures." The death of Buddha corresponds with thetransfiguration of Jesus. "And it came topass about eight days after these sayings,he took Peter and John and James, andwent up into a mountain to pray. And ashe prayed, the fashion of his countenancewas altered, and his raiment was white andglistering." Buddhas earthly life ends at this point,but it is here that the most important part ofthe life of Jesus begins, —His suffering, death,and Other accounts of Bud- resurrection.dhas death need not here be considered,even though they reveal profound aspects. The agreement in these two redemptivelives leads to the same conclusion. The nar-ratives themselves indicate the nature of thisconclusion. When the priest-sages hear what
  • 152. 140 Christianity as Mystical Factkind of birth is to take place, they knowwhat is involved.They know that theyhave to do with a Divine man; they knowbeforehand what kind of personality it iswho is appearing. And therefore his courseof life can only correspond with what theyknow about the life of a Divine man. In thewisdom of their Mysteries such a life istraced out for all eternity. It can only be asis must be; it comes into manifestation likean eternal law of nature. Just as a chemicalsubstance can only behave in a certaindefinite way, so a Buddha or a Christ canonly live in a certain definite way. His lifeis not described merely by writing a casualbiography; it is much better described bygiving the typical features which are con-tained for time in the wisdom of the Mys- allteries. The Buddha legend is no more abiography in the ordinary sense than theGospels are meant to be a biography in theordinary sense of the Christ Jesus. In neitheris the merely accidental given; both relatethe course of life marked out for a world-redeemer. The source of the two accounts isto be found in the mystery traditions and
  • 153. Mystery Wisdom of Egypt 141not in outer physical history. Jesus andBuddha are, to those who have recognisedtheir Divine nature, initiates in the mosteminent sense. Hence their Hves are Hftedout of things transitory, and what is knownabout initiates appHes to them. The casual incidents in their lives are not narrated. Ofsuch it might be announced "In the begin-ning was the Word, and the Word was withGod, and the Word was a God and the Wordwas made flesh and dwelt among us." But the life of Jesus contains more thanthat of Buddha. Buddhas ends with theTransfiguration; the most momentous partof the life of Jesus begins after the Trans-figuration. In the language of initiates thismeans that Buddha reached the point at * The great initiates raised themselves through initiationup into the sphere of the Logos and carried this Logosinfluence with them in their human Hfe. The fundamentaldifference between them and Jesus was the fact that theLogos in the course of its evolution individualised itselfinto One Divine Individuality who descended into Jesusof Nazareth at the Baptism, and so that the Logos mani-fested its whole EHvine individuality through the person-ality of Jesus as far as it was possible to express Divinityby human means. Such was the unique character of theChrist Jesus.
  • 154. 142 Christianity as Mystical Factwhich divine Hght begins to shine in men.He faces mortal death. He becomes thelight of the world. Jesus goes farther. Hedoes not physically die at the moment whenthe light of the world shines through him.At that moment he is a Buddha. But at thatvery moment he enters upon a stage whichfinds expression in a higher degree of initia-tion. He suffers and dies. What is earthlydisappears. But the spiritual element, thelight of the world, does not. His resurrec-tion follows. He is revealed to his followersas Christ. Buddha, at the moment of hisTransfiguration, flows into the blissful life ofthe Universal Spirit. Christ Jesus awakensthe Universal Spirit once more, but in a hu-man form, in present existence. Such an eventhad formerly taken place at the higher stagesof initiation. Those initiated in the spiritof the Osiris myth attained to such a resur-rection. In the life of Jesus, this "great" was added to the Buddha initiation.initiationBuddha demonstrated by his life that manis the Logos, and that he returns to theLogos, to the light, when his earthly partdies. In Jesus, the Logos himself became
  • 155. Mystery Wisdom of Egypt 143a person. In him, the Word was madeflesh. Therefore, what was enacted in the inner-most recesses of the temples by the guardiansof the ancient Mysteries has been appre-hended, through Christianity, as a historicalfact. The followers of Christ Jesus confessedtheir belief in Him, the initiate, of imique andsupreme greatness. He proved to them thatthe world is divine. In the Christian com-munity, the wisdom of the Mysteries wasindissolubly bound up with the personalityof Christ Jesus. That which man previouslyhad sought to attain through the Mysterieswas now replaced by the belief that Christhad lived on earth, and that the faithfulbelonged to him. Henceforward, part of what was formerlyonly to be gained through mystical methods,could be replaced, in the Christian com-munity, by the conviction that the divinehad been manifested in the Word presentamongst them. Not that for which eachindividual soul underwent a long preparationwas now decisive, but what those had heardand seen who were with Jesus, and what
  • 156. 144 Christianity as Mystical Factwas handed down by them. "That whichwas from the beginning, which we have heard,which our hands have handled, of the . . .Word of Hfe . . . that which we have seenand heard declare we unto you, that ye alsomay have fellowship with us." Thus do weread in the first Epistle of St. John. Andthis immediate embrace all reality is tofuture generations in a living bond of union,and as a church is mystically to extend fromrace to race. It is in this sense that the wordsof St. Augustine are to be understood, "Ishould not believe the Gospels unless theauthority of the Catholic Church inducedme to do so." Thus the Gospels do notcontain within themselves testimony to theirtruth, but they are to be believed becausethey are founded on the personality of Jesus,and because the Church from that personal-ity mysteriously draws the power to makethe truth of the Gospels manifest. The Mysteries handed down traditionallythe means of arriving at truth; the Christiancommunity propagates the truth. To itselfthe confidence in the mystical forces whichspring up in the inmost being of man, during
  • 157. Mystery Wisdom of Egypt 145initiation, was added the confidence in theOne, primordial Initiator. The Mystics sought to become divine,they wished to experience divinity. Jesuswas divine, we must hold fast to Him, andthen we shall become partakers of His divin-ity, in community founded by Him; this thebecame Christian conviction. What becamedivine in Jesus was made so for all His fol-lowers. **Lo, I am with you alway, evenunto the end of the world." The one whowas born in Bethlehem has an eternal charac-ter independent of time. The Christmasanthem thus speaks of the birth of Jesus,as took place each Christmas, Christ if itis bom to-day, the Saviour has come intothe world to-day, to-day the angels are sing-ing on earth." In the Christ-experience is to be seena definite stage of initiation. When theMystic of pre-Christian times passed throughthis Christ -experience, he was, through hisinitiation, in a state which enabled him to —perceive something spiritually, in higherworlds, — to which no fact in the world ofsense corresponded. He experienced that 10
  • 158. 146 Christianity as Mystical Factwhich surrounds the Mystery of Golgothain the higher world. If the Christian Mysticgoes through this experience by initiation,he at the same time beholds the historicalevent which took place on Golgotha, andknows that in that event, enacted within thephysical world, there is the same contentas was formerly only in the supersensiblefacts of the Mysteries. Thus there waspoured out on the Christian community,through the "Mysteries of Golgotha," thatwhich formerly had been poured out on theMystics within the temples. And initiationgives Christian Mystics the possibility of be-coming conscious of what is contained inthe "Mystery of Golgotha," whereas faithmakes man an unconscious partaker of themystical stream which flowed from the eventsdepicted in the New Testament, and whichhas ever since been pervading the spirituallife of humanity.
  • 159. VII THE GOSPELSTHE accounts of the life of Jesus which can be submitted to historical exam-ination are contained in the Gospels. Allthat does not come from this source might,in the opinion of one of those who are con-sidered the greatest historical authorities onthe subject (Harnack), be "easily writtenon a quarto page." But what kind of documents are theseGospels? The fourth, that of St. John, differsso much from the others, that those whothink themselves obliged to follow the pathof historical research in order to study thesubject, come to the conclusion: "If Johnpossesses the genuine tradition about thelife of Jesus, that of the first three Evangelists(the Synoptists) is untenable. If the Synop-tists are right, the Fourth Gospel must be 147
  • 160. 148 Christianity as Mystical Factrejected as a historical source" (OttoSchmiedel, Die Haiiptprohleme dcr LebenJesu Forschungy p. 15). This is a statementmade from the standpoint of the historicalinvestigator. In the presentwork, in which we aredealing with the mystical contents of theGospels, such a point of view is neither to beaccepted nor rejected. But attention mustcertainly be drawn to such an opinion as thefollowing: "Measured by the standard ofconsistency, inspiration, and completeness,these writings leave very much to be de- and even measured by the ordinarysired,human standard, they suffer from not afew imperfections." This is the opinion ofa Christian theologian (Harnack, Wesen desChristentums) One who takes on a mystical his standorigin of the Gospels easily finds an explana-tion of what is apparently contradictory, andalso discovers harmony between the fourthGospel and the three others. For none ofthese writings are meant to be mere historicaltradition in the ordinary sense of the word.They do not profess to give a historical
  • 161. The Gospels 149biography (c/. p. 140 et seq.). What theyintended to give was already shadowed forthin the traditions of the Mysteries, as thetypical life Son of God. It was these of atraditions which were drawn upon, not his-tory. Now it was only natural that thesetraditions should not be in complete verbalagreement in every Mystery centre. Still,the agreement was so close that the Bud-dhists narrated the life of their divine manalmost in the same way in which the Evangel-ists narrated the life of Christ. But natur-ally there were differences. We have only toassume that the four Evangelists drew fromfour different mystery traditions. It testifiesto the extraordinary personality of Jesusthat in four writers, belonging to differenttraditions, he awakened the belief that hewas one who so perfectly corresponded withtheir type of an initiate, that they were ableto describe him as one who lived the typicallife marked out in their Mysteries. Theyeach described his life according to their ownmystic traditions. And if the narratives ofthe first three Evangelists resemble eachother, it proves nothing more than that they
  • 162. I50 Christianity as Mystical Factdrew from mystery traditions. The similarfourth Evangelist saturated his Gospel withideas which are, in many respects, reminiscentof the religious philosopher, Philo {cf. p. S2).This only proves that he was rooted in thesame mystic tradition as Philo. There are various elements in the Gospels.Firstly, facts are related, which seem to layclaim to being historical. Secondly, thereare parables, in which the narrative form isonly used to symbolise a deeper truth. And,thirdly, there are teachings characteristic ofthe Christian conception of life. In St. JohnsGospel there is no real parable. The sourcefrom which he drew was a mystical schoolwhich considered parables unnecessary. The part played by ostensibly historicalfacts and parables in the first three Gospelsis clearly shown in the narrative of thecursing of the fig tree. In St. Mark xi. 11-14, we read: "And Jesus entered into Jeru-salem, and into the temple: and when hehad looked round about upon all things, andnow the eventide was come, he went outunto Bethany with the twelve. And on themorrow, when they were come from Bethany,
  • 163. The Gospels 151he was hungry: and seeing a fig tree afar offhaving leaves, he came, if haply he mightfind any thing thereon: and when he cameto it, he foimd nothing but leaves; for thetime of figs was not yet. And Jesus answeredand said unto it, No man eat fruit of theehereafter for ever." In the correspondingpassage in St. Lukes Gospel, he relates aparable (xiii. 6, 7): "He spake also thisparable A certain man had a fig tree planted ;in his vineyard; and he came and soughtfruit thereon, and found none. Then saidhe imto the dresser of his vineyard, Beholdthese three years I come seeking fruit on thisfig tree, and find none: cut it down; whycumbereth it the ground? " This is a parablesymbolising the uselessness of the old teach-ing, represented by the barren fig tree. Thatwhich is meant metaphorically, St. Markrelates as a fact appearing to be historical.We may therefore assume that, in general,facts related in the Gospels are not to betaken as only historical, or as if they wereonly to hold good in the physical world, butas mystical facts; as experiences, for therecognition of which spiritual vision is neces-
  • 164. 152 Christianity as Mystical Factsary, and which from various mystical arisetraditions. If we admit this, the differencebetween the Gospel of St. John and theSynoptists ceases to exist. For mysticalinterpretation, historical research has not tobe taken into account. Even if one oranother Gospel were written a few decadesearlier or later than the others, they are allof like historical value to the mystic, St.John*s Gospel as well as the others. And the "miracles" do not present theleast difficulty when interpreted mystically.They supposed to break through the arelaws of nature. They only do this whenthey are considered as events which haveso come about on the physical plane, in theperishable world, that ordinary sense-per-ception could see through them offhand. Butifthey are experiences which can only befathomed on a higher stage of existence,namely the spiritual, it is obvious that theycannot be understood by means of the lawsof physical nature. It is thus first of all necessary to read theGospels correctly; then we shall know inwhat way they are speaking of the Founder
  • 165. The Gospels 153of Christianity. Their intention is to relatehis life in the manner in which communica-tions were made through the Mysteries. Theyrelate it in the way in which a Mystic wouldspeak of an initiate. Only, they give theinitiation as the unique characteristic of oneunique being. And they make salvationdepend on mans holding fast to the initiateof this unique order. What had come to theinitiates was the "kingdom of God." Thisunique being has brought the kingdom to allwho will cleave to him. What was formerlythe personal concern of each individual hasbecome the common concern of all thosewho are willing to acknowledge Jesus as theirLord. We can understand how this came aboutif we admit that the wisdom of the Mysterieswas imbedded in the popular religion of theJews. Christianity arose out of Judaism.We need not therefore be surprised at find-ing engrafted on Judaism, together withChristianity those mystical ideas which wehave seen to be the common property ofGreek and Egyptian spiritual life. If weexamine national religions, we find various
  • 166. 154 Christianity as Mystical Factconceptions of the spiritual; but if, in eachcase, we go back to the deeper wisdom ofthe priests, which proves to be the spir-itual nucleus of them all, we find agree-ment everywhere. Plato knows himself tobe in agreement with the priest-sages ofEgypt when he is trying to set forth themain content of Greek wisdom in his philo-sophical view of the universe. It is relatedof Pythagoras that he travelled to Egyptand India, and was instructed by the sagesin those countries. Thinkers who lived inthe earlier days of Christianity found somuch agreement between the philosophicalteachings of Plato and the deeper meaningof the Mosaic writings, that they calledPlato a Moses with Attic tongue. Thus Mystery wisdom existed everywhere.In Judaism it acquired a form which it hadto assume if it was to become a world-religion. Judaism expected the Messiah. It is notto be wondered at that when the personalityof an unique initiate appeared, the Jewscould only conceive of him as being theMessiah. Indeed this circumstance throwslight on the fact that what had been an
  • 167. The Gospels 155individual matter in the Mysteries becamean affair of the whole nation. The Jewishreligion had from the beginning been anational religion. The Jewish people lookedupon itself as one organism. Its Jao wasthe God of the whole nation. If the son ofthis God were to be born, he must be theredeemer of the whole nation. The individualMystic was not to be saved apart from others,the whole nation was to share in the redemp-tion. That one is to die for all is founded onthe fundamental ideas of the Jewish religion. It is also certain that there were mysteriesin Judaism, which could be brought out ofthe dimness of a secret cult into the popularreligion. A fully-developed mysticism ex-isted side by side with the priestly wisdomwhich was attached to the outer formalism ofthe Pharisees. This mystery wisdom is spok-en of among the Jews just as it is elsewhere.When one day an initiate was speaking of it,and his hearers sensed the secret meaning ofhis words, they said: Old man, what hastthou done? Oh, that thou hadst kept silence!Thou thinkest to navigate the boundlessocean without sail or mast. This is what
  • 168. 156 Christianity as Mystical Factthou art attempting. Wilt thou fly upwards?Thou canst not. Wilt thou descend intothe depths? An immeasurable abyss is yawn-ing before thee." And the Kabbalists, fromwhom the above is taken, also speak of fourRabbis; and these four Rabbis sought thesecret path to the divine. The first died;the second lost his reason; the third causedmonstrous evils, and only the fourth, RabbiAkiba, went in and out of the spiritual worldin peace. We thus see that within Judaism also therewas a soil in which an initiate of an uniquekind could develop. He had only to say tohimself: "I will not let salvation be limitedto a few chosen people. I will let all peopleparticipate in it." He was to carry out intothe world at large what the elect had ex-perienced in the temples of the Mysteries.He had to be willing to take upon himself tobe, in spirit, to his community, through hispersonality, that which the cult of the Mys-teries had heretofore been to those who tookpart in them. It is true he could not at oncegive to the whole community the experiencesof the Mysteries, nor would he have wished
  • 169. The Gospels 157to do so. But he wished to give to all thecertainty of the truth contemplated in theMysteries. He wished to cause the life,which flowed within the Mysteries, to flowthrough the further historical evolution ofhumanity, and thus to raise mankind to ahigher stage of existence. "Blessed are theythat have not seen, and yet have believed."He wished to plant unshakably in humanhearts, in the form of confidence, the cer-tainty that the divine really exists. Onewho stands outside initiation and has thisconfidence will certainly go further than onewho is without must have weighed it. Itlike a mountain on the mind of Jesus tothink that there might be many standingoutside who do not find the way. He wishedto lessen the gulfbetween those to be initiatedand the "people." Christianity was to be ameans by which every one might find theway. Should one or another not yet be ripe,at any rate he is not cut off from the possibil-ity of sharing, more or less unconsciously, inthe benefit of the spiritual current flowingthrough the Mysteries. "The Son of Manis come to seek and to save that which was
  • 170. 158 Christianity as Mystical Factlost. Henceforward even those who cannot "yet share in initiation may enjoy some of thefruits of the Mysteries. Henceforth theKingdom of God was not to be dependent onoutward ceremonies "Neither shall they say, :Lo here! or, Lo there! for, behold, the King-dom of God is within you." With Jesus thepoint in question was not so much how farthis or that person advanced in the kingdomof the spirit, as that all should be convincedthat that kingdom exists. "In this rejoicenot, that the spirits are subject unto you;but rather rejoice, because your names arewritten in heaven. " That is, have confidencein the divine. The time will come whenyou will find it. ^
  • 171. VIII THE LAZARUS MIRACLEAMONGST the "miracles" attributed to Jesus, very special importance must beattached to the raising of Lazarus at Bethany.Everything combines to assign a prominentposition in the New Testament to that whichis here related by the Evangelist. We mustbear in mind that St. John alone relates it,the Evangelist who by the weighty wordswith which he opens his Gospel claims forita very definite interpretation. St. John begins with these sentences: **Inthe beginning was the Word, and the Wordwas with God, and the word was a God. . . .And the Word was made flesh, and dweltamong us, and we beheld his glory, a gloryas of the only begotten of the Father, full ofgrace and truth." One who places such words at the be- 159
  • 172. i6o Christianity as Mystical Factginning of his narrative is plainly indicatingthat he wishes it to be interpreted inavery deep sense. The man who approachesit with merely intellectual explanations, orotherwise in a superficial way, is like onewho thinks that Othello on the stage reallymurders Desdemona. What then is it thatSt. John means to say in his introductorywords? He plainly says that he is speak-ing of something eternal, w^hich existed atthe beginning of things. He relates facts,but they are not to be taken as facts ob-served by the eye and ear, and upon whichlogical reason exercises its skill. He hidesbehind facts the "Word" which is in theCosmic Spirit. For him, the facts are themedium in which a higher meaning is ex-pressed. And we may therefore assume thatin the fact of a man being raised from thedead, a fact which offers the greatest difficul-ties to the eye, ear, and logical reason, thevery deepest meaning lies concealed. Another thing has to be taken into con-sideration. Renan, in his Life of Jesus, haspointed out that the raising of Lazarus un-doubtedly had a decisive influence on the end
  • 173. The Lazarus Miracle i6iof the life of Jesus.Such a thought appearsimpossible from the point of view whichRenan takes. For why should the fact thatthe belief was being circulated amongst thepopulace that Jesus had raised a man fromthe dead appear to his opponents so danger-ous that they asked the question, CanJesus and Judaism exist side by side?" Itdoes not do to assert with Renan: "The othermiracles of Jesus were passing events, re-peated in good faith and exaggerated bypopular report, and they were thought nomore of after they had happened. But thisone was a real event, publicly known, and bymeans of which it was sought to silence thePharisees. All the enemies of Jesus wereexasperated by the sensation it caused. It isrelated that they sought to Lazarus." killIt is incomprehensible why this should be ifRenan were right in his opinion that all thathappened at Bethany was the getting up ofa mock scene, intended to strengthen beliefin Jesus. "Perhaps Lazarus, still pale fromhis illness, had himself wrapped in a shroudand laid in the family grave. These tombswere large rooms hewn out of the rock, and II
  • 174. 1 62 Christianity as Mystical Factentered by a square opening which was closedby an immense slab. Martha and Maryhastened to meet Jesus, and brought himto the grave before he had entered Bethany.The painful emotion felt by Jesus at thegrave of the friend whom he believed to bedead (John xi. 33, 38) might be taken bythose present for the agitation and tremorswhich were wont to accompany miracles.According to popular belief, divine powerin a man was like an and con- epilepticvulsive element. Continuing the above hy-pothesis, Jesus wished to see once more theman he had loved, and the stone havingbeen rolled away, Lazarus came forth inhis grave-clothes, his head bound with a nap-kin. This apparition naturally was lookedupon by every one as a resurrection. Faithknows no other law than the interest ofwhat it holds to be true." Does not suchan explanation appear absolutely naive, whenRenan adds the following opinion: "Every-thing seems to suggest that the miracle ofBethany materially contributed to hastenthe death of Jesus"? Yet there is undoubt-edly an accurate perception underlying this
  • 175. The Lazarus Miracle 163last assertion ofRenan. But with the meansat his disposal he is not able to interpret orjustify his opinion. Something of quite special importancemust have been accomplished by Jesus atBethany, in order that such words as thefollowing may be accounted for: "Thengathered the chief priests and the Phariseesa council, and said, What do we? for thisman doeth many miracles"* (John xi. 47).Renan, too, conjectures something special:*It must be acknowledged," he says, "thatJohns narrative is of an essentially differentkind from the accounts of miracles of whichthe Synoptists are full, and which are theoutcome of the popular imagination. Letus add that John is the only Evangelist withaccurate knowledge of the relations of Jesuswith the family at Bethany, and that itwould be incomprehensible how a creationof the popular mind could have been insertedin the frame of such personal reminiscences.It is, therefore, probable that the miracle inquestion was not amongst the wholly legend-ary ones, for which no one is responsible. Inother words, I think that something took ^
  • 176. 164 Christianity as Mystical Factplace at Bethany which was looked upon as aresurrection." Does not this really meanthat Renan surmises that something hap-pened at Bethany which he cannot explain?He entrenches himself behind the words:"At this distance of time, and with only onetext bearing obvious traces of subsequentadditions, it is impossible to decide whether,in the present case, all is fiction, or whether areal factwhich happened at Bethany servedas the basis of the report that was spreadabroad. " Might it not be that we have to dohere with something of which we mightarrive at a true understanding merely byreading the text in the right way? In thatcase, we should perhaps no longer speak of"fiction." It must be admitted that the whole narra-tive of this event in St. Johns Gospel iswrapped in a mysterious veil. To show this,we need only mention one point. If thenarrative is to be taken in the literal, physicalsense, what meaning have these words ofJesus: "This sickness is not unto death, butfor the glory of God, that the Son of Godmight be glorified thereby." This is the
  • 177. The Lazarus Miracle 165usual translation of the words, but the actualstate of the case is better arrived at, if theyare translated, "for the vision (or manifesta-tion) of God, that the Son of God might bemanifested thereby." This translation isalso correct according to the Greek original.And what do these other words mean, "Jesussaid unto her, I am the resurrection, and thelife: he that believeth in me, though hewere dead, yet shall he live"? (John xi. 4,25). It would be a triviality to think thatJesus meant to say that Lazarus had onlybecome ill in order that Jesus might manifestHis skill through him. And it would againbe a triviality to think that Jesus meant toassert that faith in Him brings to life againone who in the ordinary sense is dead. Whatwould there be remarkable about a personwho has risen from the dead, if after hisresurrection he were the same as he wasbefore dying? Indeed what would be themeaning of describing the life of such aperson in the words, "I am the resurrectionand the life"? Life and meaning at oncecome into the words of Jesus if we under-stand them to be the expression of a spiritual
  • 178. 1 66 Christianity as Mystical Factoccurrence and then, in a certain sense,literally as they stand in the text. Jesusactually says that He is the resurrection thathas happened to Lazarus, and that He isthe life that Lazarus is living. Let ustake literally what Jesus is in St. JohnsGospel. He is "the Word that was made flesh.*He is the Eternal that existed in the begin-ning. If he is really the resurrection, thenthe Eternal, Primordial has risen again inLazarus. We have, therefore, to do with aresurrection of the eternal "Word," and this"Word" is the life to which Lazarus hasbeen raised. a case of illness, not one It isleading to death, but to the glory, i. e., themanifestation of God. If the eternal Wordhas reawakened in Lazarus, the whole eventconduces to manifest God in Lazarus. Forby means of the event Lazarus has become adifferent man. Before it, the Word, or spiritdid not live in him, now it does. The spirithas been born within him. It is true thatevery birth is accompanied by illness, thatof the mother, but the illness leads to new life,not to death. In Lazarus that part of him
  • 179. The Lazarus Miracle 167becomes ill from which the "new man,*permeated by the "Word," is bom. Where is the grave from which the "Word "is born? To answer this question we haveonly to remember Plato, who calls mansbody the tomb of the soul. And we haveonly to recall Platos speaking of a kind ofresurrection when he alludes to the comingto life of the spiritual world in the body.What Plato calls the spiritual soul, St. Johndenominates the "Word." And for him,Christ is "Word." Plato might have thesaid, "One who becomes spiritual has causedsomething divine to rise out of the grave ofhis body." For St. John, that which tookplace through the life of Jesus was thatresurrection. It is not surprising, there-fore, if he makes Jesus say, "I am theresurrection." There can be no doubt that the occurrenceat Bethany was an awakening in the spiritualsense. Lazarus became something differentfrom what he was before. He was raisedto a life of which the Eternal Word could say,"I am that life." What then took place in
  • 180. i68 Christianity as Mystical FactLazarus? The spirit came to life withinhim. He became a partaker of the Hfe whichis eternal. Wehave only to express hisexperience in the words of those who wereinitiated into the Mysteries, and the meaningat once becomes clear. What does Plutarch{vide supra p. 26 et seq.) say about theobject of the Mysteries? They were to serveto withdraw the soul from bodily life andto unite it with the gods. Schelling thusdescribes the feelings of an initiate "The initiate through his initiation be-came a link in the magic chain, he himselfbecame a Kabir. He was admitted into anindestructible association and, as ancientinscriptions express it, joined to the armyof the higher gods" (vSchclling, Philosophieder Offenharung). And the revolution thattook place in the life of one who receivedinitiation cannot be more significantly de-scribed than in the words spoken by Adesiusto his disciple, the Emperor Constantine:If one day thou shouldst take part in theMysteries, thou wilt feel ashamed of havingbeen born merely as a man." If we fill our souls with such feelings as
  • 181. The Lazarus Miracle 169these, we shall gain the right attitude to-wards the event that took place at Bethany,and have a peculiarly characteristic expe-rience through St. Johns narrative. A cer-tainty will dawn upon us which cannot beobtained by any logical interpretation or byany attempt at rationalistic explanation. Amystery in the true sense of the word is beforeus. The "Eternal Word" entered into Laza-rus. In the language of the Mysteries, hebecame an initiate (vide p. 132 et seq,), andthe event narrated to us must be the processof initiation. Let us look upon the whole occurrence asthough it were an initiation. Lazarus isloved by Jesus (John xi. 36). No ordinaryaffection can be meant by this, for it wouldbe contrary to the spirit of St. JohnsGospel, in which Jesus is **The Word."Jesus loved Lazarus because he found himripe for the awakening of "the Word" withinhim. Jesus had relations with the family atBethany. This only means that Jesus hadmade everything ready in that family for thefinal act o! the drama, the raising of Lazarus.The latter was a disciple of Jesus, such an
  • 182. 170 Christianity as Mystical Factone that Jesus could be quite sure that inhim the awakening would be consummated.The final act in a drama of awakening con-sisted in a symbolical action. The personinvolved in had not only to understand itthe words, "Die and become!" He had tofulfil them himself by a real, spiritual action.His earthly part, of which his higher beingin the Spirit of the Mysteries must beashamed, had to be put away. The earthlymust die a symbolic-real death. The puttingof his body into a somnambulic sleep forthree days can only be denoted an outerevent in comparison with the greatness ofthe transformation which was taking placein him. An incomparably more momentousspiritual event corresponded to it. But thisvery process was the experience which dividesthe life of the Mystic into two parts. Onewho does not know from experience theinner significance of such acts cannot under-stand them. They can only be suggested bymeans of a comparison. The substance of Shakespeares Hamletmay be compressed into a few words. Anyone who learns these words may say that in
  • 183. The Lazarus Miracle 171a certain sense he knows the contents ofHamlet; and logically he does. But one whohas let all the wealth of the Shakespeariandrama stream in upon him knows Hamletin a different way. A life-current has passedthrough his soul which cannot be replacedby any mere description. The idea of Ham-let has become an artistic, personal expe-rience within him. On a higher plane of consciousness, a simi-lar process takes place in man when he experi-ences the magically significant event whichis bound up with initiation. What he attainsspiritually, he lives through symbolically.The word symbolically" is used here in thesense that an outer event is really enactedon the physical plane, but that as such, it isnevertheless a symbol. It is not a case of anunreal, but of a real symbol. The earthlybody has really been dead for three days. * This and other circumstances connected with theso-called raising of Lazarus from the dead are to be under-stood in the light of the fact, that Lazarus death-sleep —was at the same time symbolic and real it was in otherwords a symbolic reality, a reality symbolising otherrealities, and but for the action of Christ, Lazarus wouldhave remained dead.
  • 184. 172 Christianity as Mystical FactNew life comes forth from death. This lifehas outlived death. Man has gained confi-dence in the new life. It happened thus with Lazarus. Jesus hadprepared him for resurrection. His illnesswas at once symbolic and real, an illnesswhich was an initiation {cf. p. 132 et seq.)yand which leads, after three days, to a reallynew life. Lazarus was ripe for undergoing this ex-perience. He wrapped himself in the gar-ment and fell into a condition of the Mystic,of lifelessness which was symbolic death.And when Jesus came, the three days hadelapsed. "Then they took away the stonefrom the place where the dead was laid. AndJesus lifted up his eyes and said, Father, Ithank thee that thou hast heard me"(John xi. 41). The Father had heard Jesus,for Lazarus had come to the final act in thegreat drama of knowledge. He had learnedhow resurrection is attained. An initiationinto the Mysteries had been consummated.It was a case of such an initiation as hadbeen understood as such during the whole ofantiquity. It had taken place through
  • 185. The Lazarus Miracle 173Jesus, as the initiator. Union with the di-vine had always been conceived of in thisway. In Lazarus Jesus accomplished the greatmiracle of the transmutation of life in thesense of immemorial tradition. Throughthis event, Christianity is connected withthe Mysteries. Lazarus had become aninitiate through Christ Jesus Himself, andhad thereby become able to enter the higherworlds. He was at once the first Christianinitiate and the first to be initiated by ChristJesus Himself. Through his initiation he hadbecome capable of recognising that the"Word" which had been awakened withinhim had become a person in Christ Jesus,and that consequently there stood beforehim in the personality of his awakener, thesame force which had been spiritually mani-fested within him. From this point of view,these words of Jesus are significant, "And Iknew that thou hearest me always: but be-cause of the people w^hich stand by I said it,that they may believe that thou hast sentme." This means that the point is to makeevident this fact: in Jesus lives the "Son of
  • 186. 174 Christianity as Mystical Factthe Father" in such a way that when heawakens his own nature in man, man be-comes a Mystic. In this way Jesus made itplain that the meaning of Hfe was hidden inthe Mysteries and that they were the pathto this understanding. He is the living Wordin Him was personifiedwhat had been im-memorial tradition. And therefore the Evan-gelist is justified in expressing this in thesentence, "in Him the Word was made flesh.He rightly sees in Jesus himself an incarnatedMystery. On this account, St. Johns Gospelis a Mystery. In order to read it rightly, wemust bear in mind that the facts are spiritualfacts. If a priest of the old order hadwritten it, he would have described tradi-tional rites. These for St. John took theform of a person, and became the life ofJesus. Aneminent modern investigator of theMysteries, Burkhardt in Die Zeit Konstantins,says that they "will never be cleared up."This is because he has not found out how toexplain them. If we take the Gospel of St.John and see in it the working out in sym-bolic-corporeal reality the drama of know-
  • 187. The Lazarus Miracle 175ledge presented by the ancients, we are reallygazing upon the Mystery itself. In the words, "Lazarus, come forth," wecan recognise the call with which the Egyp-tian priestly initiators summoned back toevery-day life who, temporarily re- thosemoved from the world by the processes ofinitiation, had undergone them in order todie to earthly things and to gain a convictionof the reality of the eternal. Jesus in thisway revealed the secret of the Mysteries.It is easy tounderstand that the Jews couldnot let such an act go unpunished, any morethan the Greeks could have refrained frompunishing ^schylus, if he had betrayed thesecrets of the Mysteries. The main point for Jesus was to representin the initiation of Lazarus before all "thepeople which stood by," an event which inthe old days of priestly wisdom could onlybe enacted in the recesses of the mystery-temples. The initiation of Lazarus was toprepare the way to the understanding of the"Mystery of Golgotha." Previously onlythose who "saw," that is to say, who wereinitiated, were able to know something of
  • 188. 176 Christianity as Mystical Factwhat was achieved by but now a initiation,conviction of the Mysteries of higher worldscould also be gained by those who "had notseen, and yet had believed."
  • 189. IX THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHNAT a remarkable New Testament stands the end the of document, the Apo-calypse, the secret Revelation of St. John. Wehave only to read the opening words to feelthe deep mystic character of this book. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gaveunto him, to shew unto his servants howthe necessary things are shortly going tohappen and ; this is sent in signs by the angelof God unto his servant John." What is hererevealed is sent in signs." Therefore wemust not take the literal meaning words of theas they stand, but seek for a deeper meaningof which the words are only signs. But thereare other things also which point to a hiddenmeaning. St. John addresses himself to theseven churches in Asia. Not actual, mate-rial churches are meant the number seven ; is 13 177
  • 190. 1 78 Christianity as Mystical Factthe sacred number, chosen on account of itssymboHc meaning. The actual number ofthe Asiatic churches was different. And themanner in which St. John arrived at therevelation also points something mys- toterious. I was in the Spirit on the Lordsday, and heard behind me a great voice, asof a trumpet, saying, What thou seest,write in a book, and send it unto the sevenchurches."* Thus, we have to do with arevelation received by St. John in the spirit.And it is the revelation of Jesus Christ.Wrapped in a hidden meaning there appearswhat Christ Jesus manifested to the world.Therefore we must also look for this hiddenmeaning in the teachings of Christ. Thisrevelation bears the same relation to ordi-nary Christianity as was borne by the revela-tion of the Mysteries, in pre-Christian times,to the peoples religion. On this account theattempt to treat the Apocalypse as a mysteryappears to be justified. The Apocalypse is addressed to sevenchurches. For the reason of this we haveonly to single out one of the seven messagessent. In the first of these it is said, "Unto
  • 191. The Apocalypse of St. John 179the angel of the church of Ephesus write;these things saith he that holdeth the sevenstars in his right hand, who walketh in themidst of the seven golden candlesticks; Iknow thy works, and thy labour, and thypatience, and how thou canst not bear themwhich are evil: and thou hast tried themwhich say they are apostles, and are not,and hast found them liars: and hast borne,and hast patience, and for my names sakehast laboured, and hast not fainted. Never-theless I have somewhat against thee, becausethou hast left thy highest love. Remembertherefore from whence thou art fallen, andrepent, and do the best works; or else Iwill come unto thee quickly, and will removethy candlestick out of his place, except thourepent. But this thou hast, that thou hatestthe deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I alsohate. He that hath an ear, let him hearwhat the Spirit saith unto the churches; tohim that overcometh will I give to eat of thetree of life, which is in the midst of the para-dise of God. " This is the message addressedto the angel of the first community. Theangel, who represents the spirit of this com-
  • 192. i8o Christianity as Mystical Factmunity, has entered upon the path pointedout by Christianity. He is able to distinguishbetween the false adherents of Christianityand the true. He wishes to be Christian,and has founded his work on the name ofChrist. But it is required of him that heshould not bar his own way to the highestlove by any kind of mistakes. He is shownthe possibility of taking a wrong coursethrough such errors. Through Christ Jesusthe way been for attaining to the divine haspointed out. Perseverance is needed foradvancing further in the spirit in which thefirstimpulse was given. It is possible tobelieve too soon that one has the right spirit.This happens when the disciple lets himselfbe led a short way by Christ and then leaveshis leadership, giving way to false ideas aboutit. The disciple thereby falls back againinto the lower self. He has left his "highestlove.* The knowledge which is attached tothe senses and intellect may be raised into ahigher sphere, becoming wisdom, by beingspiritualised and made divine. If it does notreach this height, itremains amongst perish-able things. Christ Jesus has pointed out
  • 193. The Apocalypse of St. John i8ithe path to the Eternal, and knowledge mustwith unwearied perseverance follow the pathwhich leads to its becoming divine. Lovingly-must it trace out the methods which trans-mute it into wisdom. The Nicolaitanes werea sect who took Christianity too lightly.They saw one thing only, that Christ is theDivine Word, the Eternal Wisdom which isborn in man. Therefore they concluded thathuman wisdom was the Divine Word, andthat it was enough to pursue human know-ledge in order to realise the divine in theworld. But the meaning of Christian wisdomcannot be construed thus. The knowledgewhich in the first instance is human wisdomis as perishable as anything else, unless it isfirst transmuted into divine wisdom. Thou **art not thus," says the Spirit " to the angel ofEphesus; thou hast not relied merely uponhuman wisdom. Thou hast patiently trod-den the Christian path. But thou must notthink that the highest love is not needed to attain to the goal. Such a love is necessarywhich far surpasses all love to other things.Only such can be the highest love. The path to the divine is an infinite one, and it is to h <*
  • 194. 1 82 Christianity as Mystical Factunderstood that when the first step has beengained, it can only be the preparation forascending higher and higher." Such is thefirst of these messages, as they are to beinterpreted. The meaning of the others maybe found in a similar way. St. John turned, and saw "seven goldencandlesticks," and "in the midst of theseven candlesticks one like unto the Son ofMan, clothed with a garment down to thefoot, and girt about the paps with a goldengirdle. His head and his hairs were whitelike wool, as white as snow; and his eyes wereas a flame of fire." We are told (i. 20)that "the seven candlesticks are the sevenchurches." This means that the candle-sticks are seven different ways of attainingto the divine. They are all more or lessimperfect. And the Son of Man "had inhis right hand seven stars" (v. 16). Theseven stars are the angels of the sevenchurches (v. 20). The guiding spirits, ordaimons {cf. p. 87), of the wisdom of theMysteries have here become the guidingangels of the churches. The churches arerepresented as bodies for spiritual beings,
  • 195. The Apocalypse of St. John 183and the angels are the souls of those bodies,just as human souls are the guiding powersof human bodies. The churches are the im-perfect ways and the souls of to the divine,the churches were to become guides alongthose paths. For this purpose they mustthemselves have for their leader the beingwho has in his right hand seven stars. "Andout of his mouth went a sharp two-edgedsword: and his countenance was as the sunshineth in his strength." This sword is alsofound in the Mysteries. The candidate forinitiation was terrified by a flashing sword(cf. p. 18). This indicates the situation ofone who wishes to know the divine by ex-perience, so that the face of wisdom mayshine upon him like the sun. St. John alsogoes through this experience. It is to be atest of his strength (cf. p. 18). "And whenI saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And helaid his right hand upon me, saying imto me,Fear not" (v. 17). The candidate for initia-tion must pass through the experiences whichotherwise man only undergoes at the gate ofdeath. His guide must lead him beyond theregion in which birth and death have a
  • 196. 1 84 Christianity as Mystical Factmeaning. The initiate enters upon a newlife. "And was dead; and, behold, I am Ialive for evermore, Amen; and have thekeys of hell and of death. Thus prepared, St. John is led on to learn "After this I looked,the secrets of existence.and, behold, a door was opened in heaven:and the first voice which I heard was as itwere of a trumpet talking with me; whichsaid. Come up hither, and shew thee I willthings which must be hereafter." The mes-sages to the seven spirits of the churchesmake known to St. John what is to takeplace in the physical world in order to pre-pare the way for Christianity. What he nowsees "in the Spirit" takes him to the spiritualfountain-head of things, hidden behind phy-sical evolution, but which be realised, willin a spiritualised age, in the near future, bymeans of physical evolution. The initiateexperiences now the in spirit what is tohappen in the future, — "And immediately Iwas in the spirit: and, behold, a throne wasset in heaven, and one sat on the throne.And he that sat was to look upon like ajasper and a sardine stone: and there was
  • 197. The Apocalypse of St. John 185a rainbow round about the throne, in sightHke unto an emerald." In this way is de-scribed the source of things in the world ofsense, in the pictures in which it appears tothe seer. "And round about the throne werefour and twenty seats: and upon the seats Isaw four and twenty elders sitting, clothedin white raiment; and they had on theirheads crowns of gold" (iv. 2-4). Thebeings far advanced on the path of wisdomthus surround the fountain-head of existence,to gaze on its infinite essence and bear testi-mony to it. "And in the midst of the throne,and round about the throne, were four beastsfull of eyes before and behind. And the firstbeast was like a and the second beast lion,like a calf, and the third beast had a face as aman, and the fourth beast was like a flyingeagle. And the four beasts had each of themsix wings about him; and they were full ofeyes within and they rest not day and night, :saying. Holy, holy, holy. Lord God Almighty,which was, and is, and is to come. " It is notdifficult to see that the four beasts representthe supersensible life underlying physicalforms of life. Afterwards, when the trumpets
  • 198. 1 86 Christianity as Mystical Factsound, they lift up their voices, i. e., whenthe Hfe expressed in sense-forms has beentransmuted into spiritual life. In the right hand of him who sits on thethrone is the book in which the path to thehighest wisdom is traced out (v. i). Thereis only one worthy to open the book. "Be-hold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, theRootof David, hath prevailed to open the book andto loose the seven seals thereof. " The sevenseals of the book denote that human wisdom issevenfold. That this is so is again connectedwith the sacred character of the numberseven. The mystic wisdom of Philo desig-nates as seals the eternal cosmic thoughtswhich come to expression in things. Humanwisdom seeks for those creative thoughts;but only in the book, which is sealed withthem, is divine truth to be found. Thefundamental thoughts of creation must firstbe unveiled, the seals must be opened, beforewhat is in the book can be revealed. Jesus,the Lion, has power to open the seals. Hehas given a direction to the great creativethoughts which, through them, leads to wis-dom. The Lamb that was slain and that
  • 199. The Apocalypse of St. John 187has bought its divinity with its blood, Jesus,who drew down the Christ into Himself andwho thus, in the supreme sense, passedthrough the Life- Death- Mystery, opens thebook (v. 9, 10). And as each seal is opened(vi) the four beasts declare what they know. , At the opening of the first seal, St. Johnsees a white horse, on which sits a rider witha bow. The first universal power, an em-bodiment of Creative Thought, becomes visi-ble. It is put into the right direction bythe new rider, Christianity. Strife is allayedby the new faith. At the opening of thesecond seal a red horse appears, ridden byone who takes away from the earth Peace,the second universal power, so that human-ity may not neglect, through sloth, to culti-vate divine things. The opening of the thirdseal shows the universal power of Justice,guided by Christianity. The fourth bringsthe power of Religion which, through Chris-tianity,has received new dignity. The meaning of the four beasts thus be-comes plain. They are the four chief uni-versal powers, to which Christianity giVes anew direction : War (the lion) ; Peaceful Work /
  • 200. 1 88 Christianity as Mystical Fact(the bull) ; Justice (the being with the humanface);and Religious Enthusiasm (the eagle).The meaning of the third being becomes clearwhen it is said, at the opening of the thirdseal, "A measure of wheat for a penny, andthree measures of barley for a penny," andthat the rider holds "a pair of balances.*And at the opening of the fourth seal a riderbecomes visible whose name "was Death,and Hell followeci with him." This rider isReligious Justice (vi. 6, 8). When the fifthseal isopened there appear the souls of thosewho have already acted in the spirit ofChristianity. Creative thought itself, em-bodied in Christianity, shows itself here; butby meant only the this Christianity is at firstfirst Christian community, which was transi-tory like other forms of creation. The sixthseal is opened (vi.) it is made evident that ;the spiritual world of Christianity an eter- isnal world. The people at large seem to bepermeated by that spiritual world out ofwhich Christianity itself proceeded. What ithas itself created becomes sanctified. "AndI heard the number of them which weresealed and there were sealed an hundred and :
  • 201. The Apocalypse of St. John 189forty and four thousand of all the tribes ofthe children of Israel" (vii. 4). They arethose who prepared for the Eternal beforethe coming of Christianity, and who weretransformed by the Christ-impulse. The opening of the seventh seal follows.It becomes evident what true Christianity isto be in the evolution of- the world. Theseven angels, "which stood before God,"appear (Rev. viii. 2). Again these angelsare spirits from the ancient Mysteriestransferred to Christianity. They are thespirits who lead to the vision of God ina really Christian way. Therefore what isnext accomplished is a leading to God: it isan "initiation" which is bestowed upon St.John. The proclamations of the angels areaccompanied by the necessary signs duringinitiations. "The first angel sounded andthere followed hail and fire mingled v/ithblood, and they were cast upon the earth:and the third part of trees was burnt up,and all green grass was burnt up." Andsimilar things take place when the otherangels sound their trumpets. At this point we see that this was not
  • 202. 190 Christianity as Mystical Factmerely an initiation in the old sense, butthat a new one was taking the place of theold. Christianity was not to be confined,like the ancient Mysteries, to a few electones. It was to belong to the whole ofhumanity. It was to be a religion of thepeople; the truth was to be ready for eachone who "has ears to hear. " The old Mysticswere singled out from a great number; thetrumpets of Christianity sound for every onewho is willing to hear them. Whether hedraws near or not depends on himself. Thisis the reason why the terrors accompanyingthis initiation of humanity are so enormouslyenhanced. What is to become of the earthand its inhabitants in a far distant futureis revealed to St. John at his initiation.Underlying this is thethought that initiatesare able to foresee in higher worlds what isrealised in the lower world only in the future.The seven messages present the meaning ofChristianity to that age, the seven sealsrepresent what was then being preparedthrough Christianity for future accomplish-ment. The future is veiled and sealed tothe uninitiated; it is unsealed in initiation.
  • 203. The Apocalypse of St. John 191When the earthly period is over during whichthe seven messages hold good, a more spirit-ual time will begin. Then life will no moreflow on asappears in physical forms, itbut even outwardly it will be a copy of itssupersensible forms. These latter are repre-sented by the four animals and the otherseal-pictures. In a still later future appearsthat form of the earth which the initiateexperiences through the trumpets. Thus the initiate prophetically goes throughwhat is to happen. And the Christian in-itiate learns how the Christ-impulse inter-poses and works on in earthly evolution.After has been shown how all that is too itmuch attached to perishable things perishesto attain true Christianity, there appearsthe mighty angel with a little book open inhis hand, which he gives to St. John. "Andhe said unto me. Take it, and eat it up and ;it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall bein thy mouth sweet as honey* (x. 9). St.John was not only to read the little book,he was to absorb it and let its contents per-meate him. What avails any knowledgeunless man is vitally and thoroughly imbued / / /
  • 204. 192 Christianity as Mystical Factwith it? Wisdom has to become life, manmust not merely recognise the divine, butbecome divine himself. Such wisdom as iswritten in the book no doubt causes pain tothe perishable part of man, *it shall makethy belly bitter," but so much the moredoes it make happy the eternal part, "butit shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey." Only by such an initiation can Christianitybecome actual on the earth. It kills every-thing belonging to the lower nature. "Andtheir dead bodies shall lie in the street of thegreat city, which spiritually is called Sodomand Egypt, where also our Lord was cruci-fied." By this meant the followers of isChrist, who are ill-treated by the temporalpowers. But what is ill-treated is only themortal part of human nature, which they willafterwards have conquered. Thereby theirfate is a copy of the prefiguring fate of ChristJesus. "Spiritually Sodom and Egypt" isthe symbol of a which cleaves to the lifeouter and is not changed by the Christ-impulse. Christ is everywhere crucified inthe lower nature. When the lower natureconquers, all remains dead. The dead bodies
  • 205. The Apocalypse of St. John 193of men about in the public places of cities. lieThose who overcome the lower nature andawaken the crucified Christ hear the trumpetof the seventh angel, *the kingdoms of thisworld are become the kingdoms of our Lord,and of his Christ, and he shall reign for everand ever" (xi. 15). "And the temple ofGod was opened in heaven, and there wasseen in his temple the ark of his testament"(xi. 19). In the vision of these events, the initiatesees renewed the old struggle between thelower and the higher natures. For every-thing which the candidate for initiation form-erly had to go through must be repeated inone who follows the Christian path. Justas Osiris was threatened by the evil Typhonso now "the great dragon, that old serpent"(xii. 9) must be overcome. The woman,the human lower know- soul, gives birth toledge, which is an adverse power if it is notraised to wisdom. Man must pass throughthat lower knowledge. In the Apocalypseit appears as the "old serpent." From theremotest times the serpent had been thesymbol of knowledge in all mystic wisdom. Z3
  • 206. 194 Christianity as Mystical FactMan may be led astray by this serpent, —knowledge, if he does not bring to life inhim the Son of God, who crushes the ser-pent*s head. "And the great dragon wascast out, that old serpent, called the Devil,and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world:he was cast out into the earth, and his angelswere cast out with him" (xii. 9). In thesewords we can see what it was that Christian-ity — wished to be: a new kind of initiation.What had been attained in the Mysterieswas to be attained in a new form. For inthem too the serpent had to be overcome,but this was no longer to take place in theold way. The one, primeval mystery, theChristian mystery, was to replace the manymysteries of antiquity. Jesus, in whom theLogos had been made flesh, was to becomethe initiator of the whole of humanity, andhumanity was to be his own community ofMystics. What was to take place was not a separa-tion of the elect, but a linking together of all.As each grows up to it so does he become aMystic. The good tidings are announced toall, he who has an ear to hear hastens to
  • 207. The Apocalypse of St. John 195learn the secrets. The voice of the heart isto decide in each individual case. It is notthat one person at a time is introduced intothe Mystery-temples, but that the word isto be spoken to all, to one it will then appealmore strongly than to It willleft to the daimon, the angel within eachindividual, to decide how far the latter maybe initiated. The whole world is a Mystery-temple. Not only is salvation to come tothose who see the wonderful processes inthe special temples for initiation, —processeswhich give them a guarantee of eternal life,but * Blessed are they that have not seen,and yet have believed. " Even if at first theygrope in the dark, the light may neverthelesscome to them later. Nothing is to be withheldfrom any one; the way is to be open to all. The latter part of the Apocalypse de-scribes clearly the dangers threatening Chris-tianity through anti-Christian powers, andthe final triumph of Christianity. All othergods are merged in the one Christian di-vinity "And the city had no need of the sun, :neither of the moon to shine in it: for theglory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb
  • 208. 196 Christianity as Mystical Factis the light thereof" (xxi. 23). The secretof the Revelation of St. John is that theMysteries are no longer to be kept under lockand key. "And he saith unto me, Seal notthe sayings of the prophecy of this book, forthe time is at hand. The author Apocalypse has set forth of thewhat he believes to be the relation of hischurch to the churches of antiquity. Hewished to express in a spiritual mystery whathe thought about the Mysteries themselves.He wrote his mystery on the isle of Patmos,and he is said to have received the "Revela-tion " in a grotto. These details indicate thatthe revelation was of a mystery character. Thus Christianity arose out of the Mys-teries. Its wisdom is born as a mystery inthe Apocalypse, but a mystery which trans-cends the limits of the old mystery world.The separate Mysteries were to become oneuniversal one. It may appear to be a contradiction to saythat the secrets of the Mysteries becamemanifest through Christianity, and thatnevertheless a Christian mystery is to beseen again in the spiritual visions of the
  • 209. The Apocalypse of St. John 197writer of the Apocalypse. The contradictiondisappears directly we reflect that the secretsof the ancient Mysteries were revealed bythe events in Through these Palestine.there became manifest what had previouslybeen veiled in the Mysteries. There is nowa new secret, namely what has been intro-duced into the evolution of the world by theappearance of the Christ. The initiate ofancient times, when in the spiritual world,saw how evolution points the way to the asyet hidden Christ. The Christian initiateexperiences the unseen effects of the mani-fested Christ.
  • 210. X JESUS AND HIS HISTORICAL BACKGROUND the wisdom of the Mysteries is to beIN sought the soil out of which grew thespirit of Christianity. All that was neededwas the gaining ground fundamental of theconviction that this spirit must be introducedinto life in greater measure than had been thecase with the Mysteries. But such a convic-tion was widely spread, as may be seen fromthe manner of life of the Essenes and Thera-peutae, who existed long before Christianityarose. The Essenes were a secluded sect, livingin Palestine, whose numbers at the time ofChrist were estimated at four thousand.They formed a community which requiredthat its members should lead a life whichdeveloped a higher life within the soul, andbrought about a new birth. The aspirant 198
  • 211. Jesus and Historical Background 199for admission was subjected to a severe test,in order to ascertain whether he were ripefor preparing himself for a higher life. If hewas admitted, he had to undergo a periodof probation, and to take a solemn oath thathe would not betray to strangers the secretsof the Essenian discipline. The object ofthis life was the conquest of the lowernature in man, so that the spirit latent withinhim might be awakened ever more and more.One who had experienced up to a certainpoint the spirit within him was raised to ahigher grade, and enjoyed a correspondingdegree of authority, not forced from without,but conditioned by the nature of things. Akin to the Essenes were the Therapeutae,who dwelt in Egypt. We get all desirabledetails of their mode of life in a treatise bythe philosopher Philo, On the ContemplativeLife, (The dispute as to the authenticityof this work must now be regarded as settled,and it may be rightly assumed that Philoreally described the life of a communityexisting long before Christianity, and wellknown to him. Cf. on the subject, G. R.Meads Fragments oj a Faith Forgotten.) _ A
  • 212. 200 Christianity as Mystical Factfew passages from Philos treatise will givean idea of the main tenets of the Therapeutae.*The dweUings of the members of the com-munity are extremely simple, only affordingnecessary shelter from extreme heat and cold.The dwellings are not built close together,as in towns, for contiguity has no attractionforone who wishes for solitude; nor are theyat a great distance one from another, inorder that the social relations, so dear tothem, may not be made difficult, and thatthey may easily be able to each otherassistin case of an attack by brigands. In eachhouse is a consecrated room called a templeor monasterion, a small room or cell in whichthe mysteries of the higher life are cultivated.. .They also possess works by ancient .authors who once directed their school, a-ndleft behind many explanations about thecustomary method used in allegorical writ-ings. Their interpretation of sacred . . .writings is directed to the deeper meaningof allegorical narratives." We thus see that what had been strivenafter in the narrower circle of the Mysterieswas being made general. But such a gener-
  • 213. Jesus and Historical Background 201alisation naturally weakened their severecharacter. The Essene and Therapeuticcommunities form a natural transition fromthe Mysteries to Christianity. But Chris-tianity wished to extend to humanity ingeneral what with the Essenes and Thera-peutae was an affair of a sect. This of courseprepared the way for a still further weaken-ing of the old severe forms. The existence of such sects makes it possi-ble to understand how was ripe far the timefor the comprehension of the mystery ofChrist. In the Mysteries, a man was arti-ficially prepared for the dawning upon hisconsciousness, at the appropriate time, of thespiritual world. Within the Essene or Thera-peutic community the soul sought, by acertain mode of life,become ripe for the toawakening of the higher man. A further stepforward is that man struggles through to afeeling that a human individuality may haveevolved to higher and higher stages of per-fection in repeated earth lives. One who hadarrived at a glimpse of this truth would alsobe able to feel that in Jesus a being of loftyspirituality had appeared. The loftier the
  • 214. 202 Christianity as Mystical Factspirituality, the greater the possibility of ac-complishing something of importance. Thusthe individuality of Jesus could becomecapable of accomplishing the deed which theEvangelists so mysteriously indicate in theBaptism by John, and which, by the wayin which they speak of it, they so clearlypoint out as of the utmost importance. Thepersonality of Jesus became able to receiveinto its own soul Christ, the Logos, who wasmade flesh in that soul. Thenceforwardthe Ego of Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ,and the outer personality was the vehicleof the Logos. The event of the Ego of Jesusbecoming the Christ is enacted in the Bap-tism by St. John. During the period of theMysteries, "union with the Spirit" was onlyfor those who were initiated. Amongst theEssenes, a whole community cultivated alife by means of which all its members wereable to arrive at the mystical union. In thecoming of Christ, something, i. e,, the deedsof Christ,was placed before the whole ofhumanity, so that all might share in themystical union.
  • 215. XI THE NATURE OF CHRISTIANITYTHE deepest effect must have been pro- duced upon believers in Christianityby the fact that the Divine, the Word, theeternal Logos, no longer came to them in thedim twilight of the Mysteries, as Spirit only,but that when they spoke of the Logos, theywere made to think of the historical, humanpersonality of Jesus. Formerly the Logoshad only been seen in different degrees ofhuman perfection. The delicate, subtle dif-ferences in the spiritual life of personalitiescould be observed, and the manner anddegree in which the Logos became livingwithin those seeking initiation. A higherdegree of maturity was to be interpreted as ahigher stage of evolution of spiritual life.The preparatory steps had to be sought in a 203
  • 216. 204 Christianity as Mystical Factspiritual life already passed through, and thepresent life was to be regarded as the prepara-tory stage for future degrees of spiritual evo-lution. The conservation of the spiritualpower and the eternity of that of the soulforce might be stated in the words of theJewish occult teaching in the book of Sohar,"Nothing in the world is lost, nothing fallsinto the void, not even the words and voiceof man: everything has its place and pur-port." Personality was but a metamor-phosis of the soul, which develops from onepersonality to another. The single life of thepersonality was only considered as a link inthe chain of development stretching back-wards and forwards. This Logos metamorphosing itself in themany separate human personalities hasthrough Christianity been directed awayfrom these to the one unique personalityof Jesus. What had previously been dis-tributed throughout the world was nowunited in a single personality. Jesus becamethe unique God-Man. In Jesus somethingwas present once which must appear to manas the greatest of ideals, and with which, in
  • 217. The Nature of Christianity 205the course of mans repeated earthly lives,he ought to be more and more united. Jesustook upon Himself the divinisation of thewhole of humanity. In Him was soughtwhat formerly could only be sought in amans own particular soul. One did not anym.ore behold the divine and eternal withinthe personality of a man; all that was nowbeheld in Jesus. It is not the eternal partof the soul that conquers death and is raisedthrough its own power as divine, but it isthat which was in Jesus, the one God thatwill appear and raise the souls. It follows from this that an entirely newmeaning was given to personality. Theeternal, immortal part had been taken fromit. Only the personality, as such, was left.If immortality be not denied, it has to beadmitted as pertaining to the personalityitself. Out of the belief in the souls eternalmetamorphosis came the belief in personalimmortality. The personality acquired in-finite importance, because it was the onlything which was left to man. Henceforth there is nothing between thepersonality and the infinite God. A direct
  • 218. 2o6 Christianity as Mystical Factrelation with Him must be established. Manwas no longer capable of himself becomingdivine, in a greater or less degree. He wassimply man, standing in a direct but out-ward relation to God. This brought quite anew note into the conception of the worldfor those who knew the point of view heldin the ancient Mysteries. There were manypeople in this position during the first cen- They knew the natureturies of Christianity.of the Mysteries. If they wished to becomeChristians, they were obliged to come to anunderstanding with the older conceptions.This brought them most difficult conflictswithin their souls. They sought in mostvarious ways to effect a settlement betweenthe two tendencies in the conception of theworld. This conflict is reflected in thewritings of early Christian times: in those ofheathens attracted by the sublimity of Chris-tianity, as well as in the writings of thoseChristians who found hard to give up the itconceptions of the Mysteries. Slowly didChristianity grow out of these Mysteries.On the one hand Christian convictions werepresented in the form of the Mystery truths.
  • 219. The Nature of Christianity 207and on the other, the Mystery wisdom wasclothed in Christian words. Clement of Alexandria (ob. 217 A.D.), aChristian writer whose education had beenpagan, is an instance of this. "God has notforbidden us to rest from good deeds whenkeeping the sabbath. He permits those whocan grasp them to share in the divine mys-teries and in the sacred light. He has notrevealed to the crowd what is not suitablefor them. He judged it fitting to reveal itonly to a few, who are able to grasp it andto work out in themselves the unspeakablemystery which God confided to the Logos,not to the written word. And God hath setsome in the Church as apostles; and someprophets; and some evangelists; and somepastors and teachers; for the perfecting ofthe saints, for the work of the ministry, forthe edifying of the body of Christ." In-dividual souls in those days sought by verydifferent paths to find the way from theancient views to the Christian ones. Andthe one who thought he was on the rightpath called others heretics. In the mean-while, the Church grew stronger and stronger
  • 220. 2o8 Christianity as Mystical Factas an outward institution. The more powerit gained, the more did the path, recognisedas the right one by the decisions of councils,take the place of personal investigation. Itwas for the Church to decide who deviatedtoo far from the divine truth which sheguarded. The idea of a "heretic" tookfirmer and firmer shape. During the firstcenturies of Christianity, the search for thedivine path was a much more personal mat-ter than it afterwards became. A longdistance had been travelled before Augus-tines conviction became possible: " I shouldnot believe in the truth of the Gospels unlessthe authority of the Catholic Church forcedme to do so" (cf. p. 143). The conflict between the method of theMysteries and that of the Christian religionacquired a special stamp through the variousGnostic sects and writers. We may class asGnostics all the writers of the first Christiancenturies who sought for a deep, spiritualmeaning in Christian teachings. (A brilliantaccount of the development of the Gnosis isgiven in G. R. S. Meads book mentionedabove. Fragments of a Faith Forgotten,) We
  • 221. The Nature of Christianity 209understand the Gnostics when we look uponthem as saturated with the ancient wisdomof the Mysteries, and striving to understandChristianity from that point of view. Forthem, Christ was the Logos, and as such of aspiritual nature. In His primal essence, Hecannot approach man from without. Hemust be awakened in the soul. But thehistorical Jesus must bear some relation tothe spiritual Logos. This was the crucialpoint for the Gnostics. Some settled it inone way, some in another. The essentialpoint common to them all was that to arriveat a true understanding of the Christ-idea,mere historical tradition was not enough,but that it must be sought either in thewisdom of the Mysteries, Neo- or in thePlatonic philosophy which was derived fromthe same source. The Gnostics had confi-dence in human wisdom, and believed it capa-ble of bringing forth a Christ by whom thehistorical Christ could be measured: in fact,through whom alone the latter could beunderstood and beheld in the right light. Of special interest from this point of viewis the doctrine given in the books of Diony- 14
  • 222. 210 Christianity as Mystical Factsius the Areopagite. It is true that there isno mention of these writings till the sixthcentury; it matters little when and wherethey were written, the point is that they givean account of Christianity which is clothedin the language of the Neo-Platonic philo-sophy and presented in the form of a spirit-ual contemplation of the higher world. Atall events thisa form of delineation which isbelongs to the first Christian centuries. Inolder times the truth was handed on inthe form of oral tradition; the most impor-tant things were not entrusted to v/riting.The Christianity described in the writingsof Dionysius is set forth in the mirror of theNeo-Platonic conception of the world. Sense-perception troubles man*s spiritual vision.He must reach out beyond the senses. Butall human ideas are primarily derived fromobservation by the senses. What man per-ceives with his senses, he calls existence;what he does not so perceive, he calls non-existence. he wishes to open up Therefore ifan actual view of the Divine, he must riseabove existence and non-existence, for thesealso, as he conceives them, have their origin
  • 223. The Nature of Christianity 21in the sphere of the senses. In this sense Godis neither existent nor non-existent; he issuper-existent. Consequently he cannot beattained by means of ordinary cognition,which has to do with existing things. Wehave to be raised above ourselves, above oursense-observation, above our reasoning logic,if we are to find the way to spiritual vision.Thence we are able to get a glimpse into theperspectives of the Divine. But this super-existent has Divinitybrought forth the Logos, the basis of theuniverse, filled with wisdom. To him manslower powers are able to attain. He ispresent in the cosmos as the spiritual Son ofGod, he is the Mediator between God andman. He may be present in man in variousdegrees. He may for instance be realisedin an external institution, in which thosediversely imbued with his spirit are groupedinto a hierarchy. A "church" of this kind isthe outer reality of the Logos, and the powerwhich lives in it lived in a personal way inthe Christ become flesh, in Jesus. Thus theChurch is through Jesus united to God Jesus :is its meaning and crowning-point.
  • 224. 212 Christianity as Mystical Fact One thing was clear to all Gnosis, that onemust come to an understanding about thepersonality of Jesus. Christ and Jesus mustbe brought into connection with one another.Divinity was taken away from human per-sonality and must, in one way or another, berecovered. It must be possible to find itagain in Jesus. The Mystic had to do with adegree of divinity within himself, and withhis earthly personality. The Christian hadto do with the latter, and also with a perfectGod, far above all that is attainable byhumanity. If we hold firmly to this point ofview, a fundamental mystic attitude of thesoul is only possible when the souls spiritualeyes are opened when, through finding higher ;spiritual possibilities within itself, the soulthrows itself open to the light which issuesfrom Christ in Jesus. The union of the soulwith its highest powers is at the same timeunion with the historical Christ. For mys-ticism is an immediate consciousness andfeeling of the divine within the soul. But aGod far transcending everything human cannever dwell in the soul in the real senseof the word. The Gnosis and all subsequent
  • 225. The Nature of Christianity 213Christian mysticism represent the effort, insome way or other, to lay hold of that God,and to apprehend Him directly in the soul. A conflict in this case was inevitable. Itwas really only possible for a man to find hisown divine part, but this is both human and stage of(divine,— the divine at a certaindevelopment. Yet the Christian God is adefinite one, perfect in himself. Itwas pos-sible for a person to find in himself the powerto strive upwards to this God, but he couldnot say that what he experienced in his ownsoul, at any stage of development, was onewith God. A great gulf was fixed betweenwhat it was possible to find in the soul, andwhat Christianity called divine. It is thegulf between science and faith, betweenknowledge and religious feeling. This gulf does not exist for the Mystic inthe old sense of the word. For he knows fora certainty that he can only comprehendthe divine by degrees, and he also knowswhy this is so. It is clear to him that this of gradual attainment is a real attainment difficult to real divine life, and he finds it principle. speak of a perfect, isolated divine
  • 226. 514 Christianity as Mystical FactA Mystic kind does not seek a perfect of thisGod, but he wishes to experience the divinelife. He seeks to be made divine, not to gainan external relation to the Godhead. It is of the essence of Christianity thatits mysticism in this sense starts with anassumption. The Christian Mystic seeks tobehold divinity within him, but at the sametime he looks up to the historical Christ ashis physical eyes do to the sun. Just as thesun is the means by which physical eyesbehold physical objects, so does the ChristianMystic intensify his inner nature that it maybehold the divine, and the light which makessuch vision possible for him is the fact of theappearance of Christ. It is He who enablesman to attain his highest possibilities. Itis in this way that the Christian Mysticsof the Middle Ages differ from the Mysticsof the ancient Mysteries {cf. my book,Mystics of the Renaissance),
  • 227. XII CHRISTIANITY AND HEATHEN WISDOMAT the time of the first beginnings of Christianity, there appear in heathencivilisation conceptions of the universe whichseem to be a continuation of the Platonicphilosophy, and which may also be taken asa deepening and spiritualisation of the wis-dom of the Mysteries. The beginning ofsuch conceptions is to be dated from Philoof Alexandria (b.c. 25-A.D. 50). From hispoint of view the processes which lead to thedivine take place in the innermost part of thehuman soul. We might say that the templein which Philo seeks initiation is whollywithin him, and his higher experiences arethe Mysteries. In his case processes of apurely spiritual nature replace the initiatoryceremonies of the sanctuary. 215
  • 228. 2i6 Christianity as Mystical Fact According to Philo, sense-observation andknowledge gained through the logical intel-lect do not lead to the divine. They havemerely to do with what is perishable. Butthere is a way by which the soul may riseabove these methods. It must come out ofwhat it calls its ordinary self: from this itmust withdraw. Then it enters a state ofspiritual exaltation and illumination, in whichit no longer knows, thinks, and judges in theordinary sense of the words; for it has be-come merged, identified with the divine,which is experienced in its essence, and can-not be imparted in thought-concepts or ab-stract ideas. It is experienced, and one whogoes through this experience knows that noone can impart it, for the only way of reach-ing it is to live it. The visible world is animage of this mystic reality which is ex-perienced in the inmost recesses of the soul.The world has come forth from the invisible,inconceivable God. The harmony of thecosmos, which is steeped in wisdom, and towhich sense-phenomena are subject, is a di-rect reflection of the Godhead, its spiritualimage. It is divine spirit poured out into the
  • 229. Heathen Wisdom 217world, —cosmic reason, the Logos, the off-spring or Son of God. The Logos is themediator between the world of sense and theunimaginable God. When man steeps him-self in knowledge, he becomes united withthe Logos, which is embodied in him. Theperson who has developed spirituality is thevehicle of the Logos. Above the Logos isGod; beneath is the perishable world. It ismans vocation to form the link between thetwo. What he experiences in his inmostbeing, as spirit, is the universal Spirit. Suchideas are directly reminiscent of the Py-thagorean manner of thinking (cf. p. 57 etseq.). The centre of existence is sought in theinner life, but this life is conscious of itscosmic value. Augustine was thinking virtually the same way as Philo, when hesaid: "We see all created things because theyare; but they are, because God sees them."And he adds, concerning what and how wesee: "And because they are, we see them out-wardly; because they are perfect, we seethem inwardly." Plato has the same fundamental idea (cf.
  • 230. 2i8 Christianity as Mystical Factp. 63 Like Plato, Philo sees in the et seq.).destiny of the human soul the closing actof the great cosmic drama, the awakeningof the divinity that is under a spell. He thusdescribes the inner actions of the soul: thewisdom mans inner being walks along, in* tracing the paths of the Father, and shapesthe forms while beholding the archetypes/*It is no personal matter for man to createforms in his inner being they are the eternal ;wisdom, they are the cosmic life. This harmony with the interpretation is inof the myths of the people in the light of theMysteries. The Mystic searches for thedeeper truth in the myths {cf. p. 94 et seq.).And as the Mystic treats the myths of pa-ganism, Philo handles Moses* story of thecreation. The Old Testament accountsare for him images of inner soul-processes.The Bible relates the creation of the world.One who merely takes it as a descriptionof outer events only half knows it. It iscertainly "In the beginning God written,created the heaven and the earth. And theearth was without form and void, and dark-ness was on the face of the deep. And
  • 231. Heathen Wisdom 219the spirit of God moved on the face of thewaters." But the real inner meaning ofthe words must be lived in the depths ofthe soul. God must be found within, thenHe appears as the " Primal Splendour, whosends out innumerable rays, not perceptibleby the senses, but collectively thinkable."This is Philos expression. In the Timceusof Plato, the words are almost identical withthe Bible ones, "Now when the Father, whohad created the universe, saw how it hadbecome living and animated, and an image *of the eternal gods, he felt pleasure therein.In the Bible we read, "And God saw that itwas good." The recognition of the divine is for Philo,as well as for Plato and in the wisdom of theMysteries, to live through the process ofcreation in ones own soul. The history ofcreationand the history of the soul which isbecoming divine, in this way flow into one.Philo convinced that Moses* account of the iscreation may be used for writing the historyof the soul which is seeking God. Everythingin the Bible thereby acquires a profoundlysymbolical meaning, of which Philo becomes
  • 232. 220 Christianity as Mystical Factthe interpreter. He reads the Bible as ahistory of the soul. We may say that Philos manner of readingthe Bible corresponds to a feature of his agewhich originated in the wisdom of the Mys-teries. He indeed relates that the Thera-peutas interpreted ancient writings in thesame way. **They also possess works byancient authors who once directed their schooland left behind many explanations aboutthe customary method pursued in allegoricalwritings. .The interpretation of such . .writings is directed to the deeper meaningof the allegorical narratives" {cf, p. 200).Thus Philo*s aim was to discover the deepermeaning of the allegorical" narratives inthe Old Testament. Let us try to realise whither such an inter-pretation could lead. We read the accountof creation and not only a narrative find in itof outward events, but an indication of theway which the soul has to take in order toattain to the divine. Thus the must soulreproduce in itself, as a microcosm, the waysof God, and in this alone can its efforts afterwisdom consist. The drama of the universe
  • 233. Heathen Wisdom 221must be enacted in each individual soul. Theinner life of the mystical sage is the realisationof the image given in the account of creation.Moses wrote not only to relate historical i/facts, but to represent pictorially the pathswhich the soul must travel if it would findGod. All this, in Philos conception of the uni-verse, is enacted within the human soul.Man experiences within himself what Godhas experienced in the universe. The wordof God, the Logos, becomes an event in thesoul. God brought the Jews from Egyptinto Palestine; he let them go through dis-tressand privation before giving them thatLand of Promise. That is the outward event.Man must experience it inwardly. He goesfrom the land of Egypt, the perishable world,through the privations which lead to thesuppression of the sense-nature, into the Promised Land of the soul, he attains the eternal. With Philo it is all an inward process. The God who poured Himself forth into the world consummates His resurrection in the soul when that soul understands His creative word and echoes it. Then man has
  • 234. 222 Christianity as Mystical Factspiritually given birth within himself to di-vinity, to the divine spiritwhich became man,to the Logos, Christ. In this sense know-ledge was, for Philo and those who thoughtlike him, the birth of Christ within the worldof spirit. The Neo-Platonic philosophy,which developedcontemporaneously withChristianity, was an elaboration of Philothought. Let us see how Plotinus (a.d.204-269) describes his spiritual experiences: "Often when I come to myself on awakingfrom bodily sleep and, turning from theouter world, enter into myself, I beholdwondrous beauty. Then I am sure that Ihave been conscious of the better part ofmyself. I live my true life, I am one withthe divine and, rooted in the divine, gain thepower to transport myself beyond even thesuper- world. After thus resting in God,when I descend from spiritual vision andagain form thoughts, I ask myself how it hashappened that I now descend and that mysoul ever entered the body at all, since, in itsessence, it is what it has just revealed itselfto me. What can the reason be for soulsforgetting God the Father since they come
  • 235. Heathen Wisdom 223from the beyond and belong to Him, and,when they forget Him, know nothing of Himor of themselves? The first false step theytake is indulging in presumption, the desireto becom.e, and in forgetfulness of their trueself and in the pleasure of only belonging tothemselves. They coveted self-glorification,they rushed about in pursuit of their desiresand thus went astray and fell completelyaway. Thereupon they lost all knowledge oftheir origin in the beyond, just as children,early separated from their parents andbrought up elsewhere, do not know whothey themselves and their parents are."Plotinus delineates the kind of life which thesoul should strive to develop. "The life ofthe body and its longings should be stilled,the soul should see calm in all that surroundsit: in earth, sea, air, and heaven itself nomovement. It should learn to see how thesoul pours itself from without into the serenecosmos, streaming into it from all sides; asthe Sims rays illuminate a dark cloud andmake it golden, so does the soul, on enteringthe body of the world encircled by the sky,give it life and immortality.
  • 236. 224 Christianity as Mystical Fact It is evident that this vision of theworldis very similar to that of Christianity. Be-lievers of community of Jesus said: the"That which was from the beginning, whichwe have heard, which we have seen with oureyes, which we have looked upon, and ourhands have handled, of the Word of life . . .declare we unto you." In the same way itmight be said in the spirit of Neo-Platonism,That which was from the beginning, whichcannot be heard and seen, must be spirituallyexperienced as the Word of life." And so the old conception of the universeisdeveloped and splits into two leading ideas.It leads in Neo-Platonism and similar sys-tems to an idea of Christ which is purelyspiritual; on the other hand, it leads to afusion of the idea of Christ with a historicalmanifestation, the personality of Jesus. Thewriter of the Gospel of St. John may be saidto unite these two conceptions. "In thebeginning was the Word." He shares thisconviction with the Neo-Platonists. TheWord becomes spirit within the soul, thusdo the Neo-Platonists conclude. The Wordwas made flesh in Jesus, thus does St. John
  • 237. Heathen Wisdom 225conclude, and with him the whole Christiancommunity. The inner meaning of the man-ner in which the Word was made flesh wasgiven in all the ancient cosmogonies. Platosays of the macrocosm: "God has extendedthe body of the world on the soul of theworld in the form of a cross." The soul ofthe world is the Logos. If the Logos is to bemade flesh, he must recapitulate the cosmicprocess in fleshly existence. He must benailed to the cross, and rise again. In spirit-ual form this most momentous thought ofChristianity had long before been prefiguredin the old cosmogonies. The Mystic wentthrough it as a personal experience in initia-tion. The Logos become man had to gothrough it in a way that made this fact onethat is true for or valid to the whole ofhumanity. Something which was presentunder the old dispensation as an incidentin the Mysteries becomes a historical factthrough Christianity. Hence Christianitywas the fulfilment not only of what theJewish prophets had predicted, but also ofthe truth which had been prefigured in theMysteries. IS
  • 238. 226 Christianity as Mystical Fact The Cross Golgotha gathers together ofin one fact the whole cult of the Mysteries ofantiquity. We find the cross first in theancient cosmogonies. At the starting-pointof Christianity it confronts us in an uniqueevent which has supreme value for the wholeof mankind. It is from this point of view thatit is possible for the reason to apprehend themystical element in Christianity. Christian-ity as a mystical fact is a milestone in theprocess of human evolution and the incidents ;in the Mysteries, with their attendant results,are the preparation for that mystical fact.
  • 239. XIII ST. AUGUSTINE AND THE CHURCHTHE full force of the conflict which was enacted in the souls of Christian be-lievers during the transition from paganismto the new religion is exhibited in the personof St. Augustine (a.d. 354-430) . The spiritualstruggles of Origen, Clement of Alexandria,Gregory Nazianzen, Jerome, and others arefull of mysterious interest when we them seecalmed and laid to rest in the mind ofAugustine. In Augustine*s personality deep spiritualneeds developed out of a passionate nature.He passed through pagan and semi-Christianideas. He suffered deeply from the mostappalling doubts of the kind which attackone who has felt the impotence of manyvarieties of thought in the face of spiritualproblems, and who has tasted the depressing 227
  • 240. 228 Christianity as Mystical Facteffect of the question: **Can man knowanything whatever?" At the beginning of his struggles, Augus-tines thoughts clung to the perishable thingsof sense. He could only picture the spiritualto himself in material images. It is a de-liverance for him when he rises above thisstage. He thus describes it in his Confessio?is:** When I wished to think of God, I could onlyimagine immense masses of bodies and be-lieved that was the only kind of thing thatcould exist. This was the chief and almostthe only cause of the errors which I could notavoid. " He thus indicates the point at whicha person must arrive who is seeking the truelife of the spirit. There are thinkers, not afew, who maintain that it is impossible toarrive at pure thought, free from any materialadmixture. These thinkers confuse whatthey feel bound to say about their own innerlife, with what is humanly possible. Thetruth rather is that it is only possible toarrive at higher knowledge when thoughthas been liberated from all material things,when an inner life has been developed inwhich images of reality do not cease when
  • 241. St. Augustine and the Church 229their demonstration in sense-impressionscomes to an end. Augustine relates how heattained to spiritual vision. Everywhere heasked where the divine was to be found. "Iasked the earth and she said I am not itand all that was upon the earth said the same.I asked the ocean and the abysses and allthat lives in them, which said, We are not thy God, seek beyond us. I asked the winds,and the whole atmosphere and its inhabitantssaid, *The philosophers who sought for theessence of things in us were under an illusion,we are not God. I asked the sun, moon,and stars, which said, We are not God whomthou seekest."* And it came home to St.Augustine that there is only one thing whichcan answer his question about the divine his —own soul. The soul said, **No eyes nor earscan impart to thee what is in me. For Ialone can tell thee, and I tell thee in an un-questionable way." "Men may be doubtfulwhether vital force is situate in air or in fire,but who can doubt that he himself lives,remembers, understands, wills, thinks, knows,and judges? If he doubts, it is a proof thathe is alive, he remembers why he doubts, he
  • 242. 230 Christianity as Mystical Factunderstands that he doubts, he will assurehimself of things, he thinks, he knows thathe knows nothing, he judges that he mustnot accept anything hastily.** Outer thingsdo not defend themselves when their essenceand existence are denied, but the soul doesdefend itself. It could not be doubtful ofitself unless it existed. By its doubt it con-firms its own existence. "We are and werecognise our being, and we love our ownbeing and knowledge. On these three pointsno illusion in the garb of truth can trouble us,for we do not apprehend them with our bodilysenses like external things." Man learnsabout the divine by leading his soul to knowitself as spiritual, so that it may find its way,as a spirit, into the spiritual world. Augus-tine had battled his way through to thisknowledge. It was out of such an attitudeof mind that there grew up in pagan nationsthe desire to knock at the gate of the Mys-teries. In the age of Augustine, such convic-tions might lead to becoming a Christian.Jesus, the Logos become man had shown thepath which must be followed by the soul if itwould attain the goal which it sees when in
  • 243. St. Augustine and the Church 231communion with itself. In A.D. 385, atMilan, Augustine was instructed by St. Am-brose. All his doubts about the Old andNew Testaments vanished when his teacherinterpreted the most important passages,not merely in a literal sense, but **by liftingthe mystic veil by force of the spirit." What had been guarded in the Mysterieswas embodied for Augustine in the historicaltradition of the Evangelists and in the com-munity where that tradition was preserved.He comes by degrees to the conviction that**the law of this tradition, which consists inbelieving what it has not proved, is moderateand without guile." He arrives at the idea,**Who could be so blind as to say that theChurch of the Apostles deserves to have nofaith placed in it, when it is so loyal and issupported by the conformity of so manybrethren; when these have handed downtheir writings to posterity so conscientiously,and when the Church has so strictly main-tained the succession of teachers, down toour present bishops?" Augustines mode of thought told him, thatwith the coming of Christ other conditions
  • 244. 232 Christianity as Mystical Facthad set in for souls seeking after the spirit thanthose which had previously existed. For himit was firmly established that in Christ Jesushad been revealed in outer historical factthat which the Mystic had sought in theMysteries through preparation. One of hismost significant utterances is the following,**What is now called the Christian religionalready existed amongst the ancients andwas not lacking at the very beginnings ofthe human race. When Christ appeared inthe flesh, the true religion already in exist-ence received the name of Christian."There were two ways possible for such amethod of thought. One way is that if thehuman soul develops within it the forceswhich lead it to the knowledge of its true self,it will, if it only goes far enough, come alsoto the knowledge of the Christ and of every-thing connected with him. This would havebeen a mystery-wisdom enriched through theChrist event. The other way is taken byAugustine and is that by which he becamethe great model for his successors. It consistsin cutting off the development of the forces ofthe soul at a certain point, and in borrowing
  • 245. St. Augustine and the Church 233the ideas connected with the coming of Christfrom written accounts and oral traditions.Augustine rejected the first way as spring-ing from pride of the soul; he thought thesecond was the way of true humility. Thushe says to those who wished to follow thefirst way: You may find peace in the truth,but for that humility is needed, whichdoes not suit your proud neck." On theother hand, he was filled with boundless in-ward happiness by the fact that since thecoming of Christ in the flesh, it was possibleto say that every soul can come to spiritualexperience which goes as far as it can in seek-ing within itself, and then, in order to attainto the highest, has confidence in what thewritten and oral traditions of the ChristianChurch tell us about the Christ and hisrevelation. He says on this point: WhatbHss,what abiding enjoyment of supremeand true good is offered us, what serenity,what a breath of eternity! How shall Idescribe it? has been expressed, as far as Itit could be, by those great incomparable soulswho we admit have beheld and still behold.. . . We reach a point at which we ac-
  • 246. 234 Christianity as Mystical Factknowledge how true is what we have beencommanded to beUeve and how well andbeneficently we have been brought up byour mother, the Church, and of what benefitwas the milk given by the Apostle Paul tothe little ones. ..." (It is beyond thescope of this book to give an account of thealternative method which is evolved fromthe Mystery Wisdom, enriched through theChrist event. (The description of this methodwill be found in An Outline of Occult Sci-ence, see advt., front page.) Whereas inpre-Christian times one who wished to seekthe spiritual basis of existence was neces-sarily directed to the way of the Mysteries,Augustine was able to say, even to thosesouls who could find no such path withinthemselves, "Go as far as you can on thepath of knowledge with your human powers,thence trust (faith) will carry you up into thehigher spiritual regions." It was only goingone step further to say, it is natural to thehuman soul only to be able to arrive at acertain stage of knowledge through its ownpowers: thence it can only advance furtherthrough trust, through faith in written and
  • 247. St. Augustine and the Church 235oral tradition. This was taken by stepthe spiritual movement which assigned toknowledge a certain sphere above which thesoul could not rise by its own efforts, buteverything which lay beyond this domainwas made an object of faith which has to besupported by written and oral tradition andby confidence in its representatives. ThomasAquinas, the greatest teacher within theChurch (1224- 1 2 74), has set forth this doc-trine in his writings in a variety of ways.His main point is that human knowledgecan only attain to that which led Augustineto self-knowledge, to the certainty of thedivine. The nature of the divine and itsrelation to the world is given by revealedtheology, which is not accessible to man*s ownresearches and is, as the substance of faith,superior to all knowledge. The origin of this point of view may bestudied in the theology of John Scotus Eri-gena, who lived in the ninth century at thecourt of Charles the Bald, and who representsa natural transition from the earliest ideasof Christianity to the ideas of ThomasAquinas. His conception of the universe is
  • 248. 236 Christianity as Mystical Factcouched in the Neo-Platonism. In spirit ofhis treatise De Divisione Naturce, Erigenahas elaborated the teaching of Dionysiusthe Areopagite. This teaching started froma God above the perishable things of farsense, and it derived the world from Him{Cf. 208 et seq.). p. Man is involved inthe transmutation of all beings into thisGod, Who finally becomes what He wasfrom the beginning. Everything falls backagain into the Godhead which has passedthrough the universal process and has finallybecome But in order to reach perfected.this goal man must find the way to theLogos who was made flesh. In Erigenathis thought leads to another: that whatis contained in the writings which give anaccount of the Logos leads, when receivedin faith, to salvation.Reason and the au-thority of the Scriptures, faith and know-ledge stand on the same level. The one doesnot contradict the other, but faith mustbring that to which knowledge never canattain by itself. The knowledge of the eternal which the
  • 249. St. Augustine and the Church 237ancient Mysteries withheld from the multi-tude became, when presented in this way byChristian thought and feeling, the content offaith,which by its very nature had to dowith something unattainable by mere know-ledge. conviction of the pre-Christian TheMystic was that to him was given knowledgeof the divine, while the people were obligedto have faith in its expression in images.Christianitycame to the conviction that Godhas given his wisdom to mankind throughrevelation, and man attains through hisknowledge an image of this divine revelation.The wisdom of the Mysteries is a hothouseplant, which is revealed to a few individualsripe for it. Christian a Mystery wisdom is con-revealed as knowledge to none, but as atent of faith revealed to all. The standpoint Christianity, butof the Mysteries lived on inin a different form. All, not only the specialindividual, were to share in the truth, but point man the process was that at a certain by owned his inabiUty to penetrate farther ascended means of knowledge, and thence to faith. Christianity brought the content obscurity of the of the Mysteries out of the
  • 250. 238 Christianity as Mystical Facttemple into the clear light of day. The oneChristian movement mentioned led to theidea that this content must necessarily beretained in the form of faith.
  • 251. NOTES P. 5 —To one who has true perception, the " Spirit ofNature" speaks powerfully in the facts currently expressedby the catchword, " struggle for existence, " etc. but not in ;the opinions which modern science deduces from them. Inthe first statement lies the reason why natural science isattracting more and more widespread attention. But itfollows from the second statement that scientific opinionsshould not be taken as if they necessarily belonged to aknowledge of facts. The possibility of being led astray bymere opinion is, in these days, infinitely great. P. 9 — It should not be concluded from these remarksabout the sources of St. Lukes Gospel, that purely histori-cal research is undervalued by the writer of this book. Thisis not the case. Historical research is absolutely justified,but it should not be impatient with the method of presenta-tion proceeding from a spiritual point of view. It is notconsidered of importance to make various kinds of quota-tions in this book but one who is willing will be able to see ;that a really unprejudiced, broad-minded judgment willnot find anything that is here stated to be contrary to whathas been actually and historically proved. One who willnot be broad-minded, but who holds this or that theoryto be a firmly-established fact, may easily think thatassertions made in this book are untenable from a scien-tific point of view, and are made without any objectivefoundation. 239
  • 252. 240 Notes p. 15 — It is said above that those whose spiritual eyesare opened are able to see into the spiritual world. Theconclusion must not on this account be drawn that onlyone who possesses spiritual sight is able to form an intelli-gent opinion about the results arrived at by the initiate.Spiritual sight belongs only to the investigator. If heafterwards communicates what he has discovered, everyone can understand it who gives fair play to his reason andpreserves an unbiassed sense of truth. And such an onemay also apply the results of research toand derive lifesatisfaction from them without himself having spiritualsight. P. 20 — "The sinking into the mire" spoken of by Platomust also be interpreted in the sense referred to in thelast note. P. 20 —What is said about the impossibility of impartingthe teaching of the Mysteries has reference to the fact thatthey could not be communicated to those unprepared inthe same form in which the initiate experienced them;but they were always communicated to those outside insuch a form as was possible for the uninitiated to under-stand. For instance the myths gave the old form, in orderto communicate the content of the Mysteries in a waythat was generally comprehensible. — P. 88 Everything that relates to knowledge gainedthrough the "eyes of the spirit" is called by ancient mys-ticism "Mantik. " "Telestik, " on the other hand, is theindication of the ways which lead to initiation. P. 168 — "Kabirs, " according to ancient mysticism,are beings with a consciousness far above the human con-sciousness of to-day. Schelling means that man throughinitiation ascends to a state of consciousness above hispresent one.
  • 253. Notes 241 p. 186 —An explanation of the meaning of the numberseven may be obtained in An Outline of Occult Science (seeadvt., front page). P. 187 —The meanings of the Apocalyptic signs can onlybe given quite shortly here. Of course, all these thingsmight be much more thoroughly explained, but of this thescope of this book does not allow. The End
  • 254. il/ .^
  • 255. 1
  • 256. 1