An Introduction to The Circle of Light
On an evening in February 2016, members of the community gathered at the home of Monica Gold. Monica had called us together to share something of great importance — she wanted to tell us of an inspiration that had come to her early one morning prior to this. She described to us that, on that particular morning, upon waking from a deep sleep, there was before her a terrible feeling about something, and it seemed as though it was her problem. As she still lay in her bed, this feeling was revealed to be a desperation for the world and what is happening in our time because of the separation of thinking, feeling and willing, as a result of the progression of humanity’s evolution. In particular, she felt these were struggles and difficulties present in Waldorf schools. And with this was the feeling that we have done nothing about it.
Then came the question from Monica to us, “What can we do?” A thoughtful discussion followed. Questions arose: We asked ourselves how we might approach this? Whom would we approach? What qualifies our evolving humanity? Could the Christ be asked to help us? We agreed that we would meet again at a later date to continue our exploration of how to guide this newly formed initiative. The morning after our meeting, upon awakening, The Verse Uniting All of Us was given to and received by Monica, and shared with the rest of us.
The Verse Uniting All of Us.
Faith, Love and Hope
Will lead me in my willing
When I light a candle and unite
With the ever-present Love of the Almighty —
And His Creative Force.
It works in me when I in love embrace all children
Who come to me with
faith, love and hope.
This may lead us on our path to create
A circle of light around the world.
It will unite us and disperse loneliness.
It will open our mind to imagination,
Strengthen our inspiration,
And bless us with intuition.
In his book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment, Rudolf Steiner [Rudolf Steiner, PhD. (1861-1925), founder of Anthroposophy (Spiritual Science), author of 28 books, numerous essays and several thousand published lectures.] writes in the last chapter, Life and Death: The Great Guardian of the Threshold, that the supersensible world came first and the physical, sense world developed out of it. “We see that, before we entered the physical world for the first time, we ourselves belonged to a supersensible world.” When one knows this and thinks of the verse Faith, Love and Hope one could ask: From where does its power arise to protect and guide us and to help us in difficult situations? Are we not children of the spiritual hierarchies? One can also ask, where would we find the origin of the three human soul faculties: faith, love and hope, what do they mean to us, and how is it possible that the verse which unites us rests fully on these three faculties?
In a lecture Joan Sleigh [The lecture was given at Hesperus near Toronto on October 1st, 2015. It was described by Rosemary Tayler in the Anthroposophical Newsletter Glimpses. Joan has been a Waldorf Teacher in South Africa, and she is now a member of the Executive Council at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. She has been touring Canada, including British Columbia and Toronto.] touched on these three faculties. Her topic was connected to the Michaelmas festival: Helplessness and Powerlessness. What new approaches or strengths can each of us find to overcome these? Her suggestion was that we must begin to unlearn our logical, intellectual, earth-bound thinking and to consciously focus on creative thinking. In this way we can open a door to inspired thinking. She referred to three soul faculties to overcome powerlessness, and they are faith, love and hope.
”The gesture of faith,” she said, “is needed, as a person steps out into the unknown and says ‘yes’ to destiny. The gesture of love is needed, as one expands oneself to include others. And the gesture of hope is needed, as one opens to the endless possibilities of becoming selfless and engaging in new activities. It is important to ask for guidance from the spiritual world during this process and to include others as we go about freeing ourselves from being stuck.”
When these three human faculties of faith, love and hope are thought of in our verse, it was said that they take on a protecting, guiding and transforming capacity, important for every human being on his or her path through life. They will reveal great wisdom when one takes a closer look at what they actually mean to each one of us, and when one considers their relationship to us during the human evolution.
Regarding FAITH, Rudolf Steiner shares with us that in the past people said, “What I believe, I know for sure.” Those people were not natural scientists, but they were certain, intuitively, that they were right. They believed in forces of the soul out of a deep connection with a supersensible world. Still today there lives, next to materialistic science, a deep conviction in people that they carry in themselves an inner force of faith. Rudolf Steiner said, “These are forces of which every soul should become increasingly aware because they are forces which look up to the spiritual world.”
How do we use the word faith in our language? We have faith in guidance and protection; we have faith in our own ego-strength. When we struggle with difficulties we have faith to overcome them. We also can experience faith when we give a task to someone that he or she will complete it to our expectations.
The story from one of Steiner’s karma lectures [Rudolf Steiner, Karmic Relationships, Volume I, GA 235, Lecture 12] points to Garibaldi as an example of “living faith”. The general who later united Italy was nearing the coast of Brazil in his ship when he looked through his telescope and saw a girl standing on the shore. He exclaimed, “There is my wife.” In the evening he was invited to dinner by her father and they celebrated their wedding shortly after. I know of two other such cases in my own family where something similar occurred. Love at first sight? Or can one still see it from another point of view? Was it faith in one’s own judgement?
Just another example: When I spoke to a school representative on the phone and she said to me, “The hard work of so many loving teachers and their wonderful creations of plays and artwork with their classes lives! This will slowly overcome all doubt and difficulties in the school. “There was faith in her soul.
Faith lives in us as a gift from the Highest. Rudolf Steiner said, “If we do not have forces such as are expressed in the word ‘faith’ something in us goes to waste; we wither, as the leaves in autumn do … By losing the forces of faith we would be incapacitated in finding our way around in life; our very existence would be undermined by fear, care and anxiety.” So we have faith. Faith lives in our soul, in our astral body. How did we acquire the faith needed? Where do we find its origin? Rudolf Steiner speaks about it in his lecture Faith, Love and Hope. [Rudolf Steiner, Faith, Love and Hope, Nürnberg, Dec. 2, 1911. All references are from this lecture.]
The historic event connected with faith was the Ten Commandments being given by God to mankind through Moses on Mount Sinai in approximately 1400 B.C. accompanied by thunder and lightning, by fire and earthquake. At that time human beings were still in a different state of consciousness. They were able to see and hear spiritual beings around them and felt closely connected to nature and, therefore, also to God and His angels. There lived in them a great fear of punishment if they did not obey their God Jehovah. Until the Middle Ages, one still spoke of Moses and his severe laws. The Ten Commandments were made known widely through the Old Testament as part of the Bible. To-day, they are reflected in systems of laws around the world; this fact is remarkable. They have become part of us and are reflected in society’s laws. [Rudolf Steiner: Something all-embracing, grand, universal, is revealed to mankind as if in these words: There is a primal Being in the spiritual world, the Ego, whose image is here on earth. This Being can so infuse His own power into the human ego, so pour Himself into it, that man is enabled to conform to the norms, the laws, given in the Ten Commandments.] Over the centuries they developed into faith in God, faith that may live in every human being.
Faith lives in the astral, the soul of the human being. Again, a few examples, which show how strongly faith is connected with the human soul: We have faith in finding the right answer when we are searching. We must have faith in change when dealing with a disobedient child. I must have faith in my colleague when he presents me with opposing arguments. I need faith in myself to see through a web of wrongs in order to remain standing firmly! One could find many more examples.
LOVE, on the other hand, lives in the etheric, our life-force. It is more deeply connected with the human centre, our “I”. Buddha was the teacher of love. According to St. John, the Christ is the Being of Love. He said: I and the Father are One. In connection with our verse for the Circle of Light, Christ is the ever-present Love and the Creative Force of the Almighty.
Where do we become aware of love? Love lives in oneself and shows itself in compassion. Love lives in one’s partner, in one’s family and, hopefully, also in a community. Love lives in us for our spiritual teachers; in fact, it can live for whatever we experience through others in the present.
Love pulsates in our blood, and it rejuvenates us, it always finds a new way. If everything outside were taken away from us, love could still live inside us, especially if we have developed it consciously. It creates joy in us and gives us strength for whatever we are doing. If we work with love consciously it strengthens our connections to higher beings.
Here are two examples: Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. They worked out of inspiration and intuition, which are both connected to love. Both fought for the good in our world. Love is not only a force that unites, it also exists in the individual warmth of every great leader, indeed of every human being.
Rudolf Steiner said: Take this case for example: whoever is unable to love anything else can often begin, if he is sufficiently avaricious, by loving money, at least substituting for charitable love another love – albeit one arising from egoism. For where there is no love at all in a human being, the sheath, which should be sustained by love forces would shrivel, and, he, empty of love, would actually perish. He would really meet with physical death. […] As was already said, love is a deeper force than faith. It lives in our life body, and it is needed by individuals, and not just for linking human beings together, but because forces of love are sustaining the etheric body.” At the very centre of the human being we have the essential kernel, the ego, surrounded by its sheaths, the first one being the body of faith, and then, around it, the body of love.
While the birth of faith was linked to the Ten Commandments, true love leads us back to what we call the Mystery of Golgotha, which happened in 33 AD when the Christ sacrificed Himself out of divine love for mankind and, thereby, opened the possibility to reverse the downward trend of the evolution. He assured mankind’s return to the spiritual world. Love took on a new meaning when Love connected itself to Life. The Christ connected His Life with ours, meaning with our life-force. His saying, “I am the Life,” [John 14,6]is well known.
As referred to by Joan Sleigh, the third faculty to overcome powerlessness is HOPE. It seems that hope always meets us at the threshold of despair. When we experience moments of “feeling lost” through confrontations with life’s challenges we come to a place where there is nothing left but hope. Perhaps an illness creating fear of dying keeps us awake day and night; an investment may be in danger of being lost; a relationship may be fading. Doctors Without Borders could not work without hope in trying to help the world. A concerned and conscious individual is easily overwhelmed by the negative that lives in today’s worldwide situation of destruction and despair and is often left with hope alone that the tides would turn again.
Hope lives in every one of us, and it is always connected with the future. We need confidence in the future. Rudolf Steiner says, “I know in the evening that, when I wake up in the morning, the Sun will rise, when I sow seeds that they will grow after a time, and if I as a carpenter have made a table that it will still be there tomorrow. Life would be impossible in the physical world, were not future events preceded by hope in this rhythmical way. It is precisely in the physical life that we need hope…. Lack of hope will soon give us deep wrinkles, as this lack is a deadening force in the physical body.” […]
“Now we may say that the inmost kernel of our being, our ”I” or Ego, is sheathed in our faith-body or astral body, then in our love-body or etheric body. If we comprehend the true significance of our physical body and we bear in mind that, in reality, it is not sustained by external physical forces of attraction and repulsion (that is a materialistic idea) but instead has what, according to our concepts, we know as forces of hope we can see that our physical body is built up by hope, not by forces of attraction and repulsion.”
In regard to the third faculty, hope, Rudolf Steiner speaks about a new revelation. It is a fact that the Christ has become the Lord of Karma. [Destiny] “This has been foreshadowed by those who have painted Him, as the Christ of the Last Judgement. Whether painted or described in words, something is represented which at the appointed time will come to pass. In truth, this begins in the 20th century and will hold good until the end of the Earth. It is in our 20th century that this judgement, this ordering of karma, begins, and we have seen how infinitely important it is for our age that this revelation should come to humanity in such a way that even concepts, such as faith, love, hope, can be appreciated in their true value for the first time.”
Faith, Love and Hope appear as a triad in the gospel. [1 Corinthians 13, 13. The original Greek speaks about love, not charity, as shown in some translations.] They are words of wisdom that ring through the ages. Faith, being based on the past, connects us with the Father-God. Love lives in the present, connects us with His Creative Force, the Christ. Hope is related to the future, to ever more spiritual revelations and to all the help a human being would need. We will form communities that are united. They will act out of Faith, Love and Hope, imagination, inspiration and intuition.
Once more Rudolf Steiner’s words: “Faith, Love and Hope constitute three stages in the essential being of man; they are necessary for health and for life as a whole, for without them we cannot exist. …. In this connection we have pointed out what is so essential and of such consequences for our age: The new appearance of the Christ in an etheric body. … It is infinitely important that this ordering of karma begins, and that faith, love and hope can be appreciated in their true value for the first time.”
Our verse for the Circle of Light embraces these three wisdom-filled faculties of Faith, Love and Hope which human beings carry within their sheaths of the astral, the etheric and the physical bodies.
Monica Gold and Giselher Weber,
Vancouver, Canada, July 2016