Encountering our Humanity
The Verse Connecting All of Us.
Faith, Love and Hope
This verse is the one that creates the Circle of Light around the world. Here I would like to bring some thoughts which could be helpful in explaining the spiritual connection of the first line Faith, Love and Hope with the three last ones: Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition.
If we could go back in time to the 14th century before Christ we would find that at that time human beings still felt carried like children in a large family, loved and protected by the gods. They lived embedded in nature, and in a dreamy way they felt to be part of the spiritual world. Many of them still experienced, perhaps even saw and heard, spiritual beings and not only angel beings, but also nature spirits.
Today humanity lives in the age of the consciousness soul when we learn to connect our logical, sense-bound thought life to spiritual thoughts, finding the way in clarity between spiritual and sense-perceptible facts. The human being must first pass through this stage of the Consciousness Soul if he wishes to receive, after his own fashion, the forces of the Spirit Self, Life Spirit and the Spirit Man. And to this end he must, in the course of the fifth post-Atlantean [Rudolf Steiner, Esoteric Science, an Outline.] epoch, even up to the middle of the fourth millennium, fully unite his being with the forces of death; this lies within man’s power writes Rudolf Steiner. [GA 185, lecture 5.] In the fall and winter seasons the forces of death can be experienced by each human being in the out- breathing of nature.
Through the consciousness soul, our humanity asks us to realise that evil forces have taken part in the evolution of mankind and still are part of our problems today. They are attempting to prevent the union with the forces of death; yet only what we experience we can learn to overcome.
Referring back to Moses who brought to his people the Ten Commandments given to him on Mount Sinai by Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, we are told that when this gift was received by Moses, it was accompanied by lightning and thunder, fire and earthquakes. The Ten Commandments were an important step in human development because they required obedience and respect through the presence of the involved nature forces. Humans had evolved in the sense world to the point where it became necessary for them to learn to obey the Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness etc. Why had it become necessary to expose humanity to laws or commandments? The answer cannot be given without looking a little closer into our human development.
During the Lemurian epoch, [The Submerged Continents of Atlantis and Lemuria. Their History and Civilization, by Rudolf Steiner, translated by Max Gysi. GA 11.] quite early in the evolution of humanity, Lucifer entered the astral- or soul-body of the human being and exposed mankind to passions, drives, desires and deceit. He planted temptations in the human soul. Man would have remained a child in the hands of higher, divine-spiritual beings, had this not taken place. Independence would not have been established in the human soul. It did not happen so because Lucifer had approached man and made part of the underlying spiritual world invisible to him. The personal instincts, passions and desires which arose in the human astral body spread a cloud of darkness over the spiritual beings of the world out of which man is born and who would otherwise have remained perpetually visible to him.
Rudolf Steiner indicates also that through this event, due to Lucifer, man slowly gained his freedom from guidance by the beings of the higher worlds. Through this, many people lived with an ever-increasing selfishness and disregard for others and for our physical sense world. When mankind became mature enough to choose between right and wrong, human beings were no longer able to see the spiritual world working behind the physical sense world.
Humans became ever less dependent on the spiritual world, but they still had trust in, and respect for, Jehovah, perhaps also fear. Over a long period of time, in the souls of human beings a deep faith began to develop which took the place of the ever dwindling clairvoyance.
Rudolf Steiner: Faith lives in us as a gift from the Highest. It must carry us into the future. 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 and anxiety.
We also know through these lectures that what lives as truths in human artistic creation and appreciation and which lifts man’s spirit to the higher worlds was given to us by Lucifer. Art is inspired by Lucifer.
Now coming back to our verse, one may well ask: Is there a connection between faith and imagination? What is imagination? It is the ability of a soul to feel uplifted to a higher truth when studying artistic works of the past or the present and, of course, in the process of creation. This ability is a gift we receive when we study Spiritual Science with our consciousness soul, a soul that accepts consciously spiritual insights.
For centuries, people created works of art without talking about them, yet they resulted from inner experiences. Only a consciousness soul is able to interpret and see the past with awakened eyes. Jesus taught His students through parables, He spoke a picture language in imaginations, and today we may experience those parables consciously through thought. Through works of art and through fairy tales we can enliven faith that might have otherwise been lost in our time. –
Imaginations: I would like to share some pictures with you because they verify Anthroposophical facts, strengthen our faith and show what here is meant. Is there a spiritual world? Are we being seen, guided? Yes, it seems like it. Wander into a forest of birches, or Venus trees, in Russia. They look at us from all directions. Even the spirits of nature bestow imaginations
When we go and visit ancient Greece with the ability of imagination, we find many reliefs and sculptures which show that the artist was working out of his energy- or life-forces and that he was aware of angel beings. There was an intuitive, or possibly a conscious, understanding that our life-force which we also call the etheric force body is given to us by angelic beings. We bring the etheric body with us into our earth-life. It will dissolve into the general ether world after death. In the Death of Niobide, the watery life-force falls off her body as she dies. The exception is an extract of the etheric body, containing our life’s achievements, they will remain connected to our biography.
Figure 5, The Gravestone of Princess Volkonskaya, a relief, dates back as late as the 18th/19th centuries. The artist, possibly an initiate, was intuitively aware of what happens at death. Lucifer gave us art, perhaps he inspired this truth. The relief shows the gathered etheric forces in the knot of her gown. These are her life’s achievements. The jug shown is a symbol that these achievements will be kept safely for future incarnations. Her right arm rests on the jug. (The right side is always depicted as the doing side, the left as receiving.) They were woven by higher spiritual beings into this etheric extract and remain with our biography until the end of the Earth.
Just to give an example of such extract: Impatience would be changed by one’s ego into patience, if in one of our incarnations we would have to use a wheelchair. This achieved patience would stay with us forever.
“Not I but Christ in me.” [St. Paul] When connecting with the Christ the human being really can stand upright between Lucifer and Ahriman. If we look at the wooden statue, the Representative of Man by Rudolf Steiner, we are not only confronted with the fallen archangel Lucifer (above) but also with the fallen Archai Ahriman (below). Christ, the Being of Love, went through death on Golgotha out of divine love for mankind.
In the realm of the Shades the Christ appeared to men who had died and had lost faith in God and the spiritual world. In figure 7 His life forces become visible in an ordered way and their strength can be glimpsed through His straight leg.
Rudolf Steiner says: The Christ appeared in the realm into which man enters after death, where Ahriman’s influence was even mightier than in the world around man here on Earth between birth and death. In the realm of existence between death and rebirth, Ahriman’s influences worked upon man with terrible, overwhelming power. And if nothing else had taken place, utter darkness would gradually have closed in upon man in the realm of the Shades. … At the moment when the blood flowed from His wounds, the Christ appeared in yonder world, in the realm of the Shades, and cast Ahriman into fetters. [Rudolf Steiner, The Deed of Christ and the Opposing Spiritual Powers. GA 107, Berlin, January 1, 1909]
Although Ahriman’s influence remained and is really the origin of all materialistic thinking on the part of man, those influences can be paralyzed only if human beings receive into themselves the power emanating from the Mystery of Golgotha. They can draw from that event a power which enables them to find their way once again into the Divine Spiritual world. [Ibid.]
Love is not only a force which unites us; rather it exists in the individual as living warmth. … A human being without love could not sustain his sheath or life force which should be sustained by love. Such a human being would shrivel and, empty of love, would actually perish; he would really meet with physical death. [Rudolf Steiner, Faith, Love and Hope, Lecture 1, Nürnberg, Dec. 2, 1911.]Although Ahriman’s influence remained and is really the origin of all materialistic thinking on the part of man, those influences can be paralyzed only if human beings receive into themselves the power emanating from the Mystery of Golgotha. They can draw from that event a power which enables them to find their way once again into the Divine Spiritual world. [Ibid.]
Christ, when we approach Him with love, when we ask for His help in desperate situations, will send us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. And Christ will work through inspiration. In order to develop inspiration we will have to learn to listen to the Spirit. That can only be achieved when we have gained inner peace. Inspiration opens communication with spiritual beings. We gain a quite definite idea of what an inspiration really is when we know things for which the impulse of knowledge can only come from within. [Rudolf Steiner, Faith, Love and Hope, Lecture 1, Nürnberg, Dec. 2, 1911.]
Here we see a pharaoh of Egypt with the Horus Falcon. The Pharaoh guides his people through inspiration. The falcon is an imagination of this inspiration.
While Faith and Imagination can be connected with the past, Love and Inspiration live in the present. Our verse, speaks about faith, love and hope in relation to imagination, inspiration and intuition. Our verse connects us with the ever-present love of the Almighty and His creative force; Christians say the Christ. He will guide us through life, and we may hope that the verse will open our minds to imagination and strengthen our inspiration.
When we learn to connect our strongest forces of will in our striving to do justice to our exercises we may experience ever new forces of hope as well as a fount of new etheric forces that stream to us from the realm of the Highest. The Roman relief, figure 9, shows us a human being, holding with her right hand, her active one, the horns of a goat. It is well known that the goat climbs a mountain until she reaches the top. In our picture the lady is overflowing with life forces. These are shown in the form of folds in her gown, which can be seen as an imagination for etheric forces. What the forces of faith are for our astral or soul-body, and the love-forces for the etheric, the forces of hope are for the physical body. …Our Ego may be said to be sheathed: in our faith-body or the astral, in our love-body or the etheric, in our hope-body or the physical. So we may say that the “I” is the inmost kernel of our being. With our “I” we decide which mountains we would like to climb, and, as we have seen in figure 9, the strength will be given to us.
Intuition is the highest goal that a human being is destined to reach in the far future. Intuition means “all-consciousness”. We will become conscious of what lives in other people in a way which, as yet, is unimaginable for us. We will interact as co-creators with God’s angels. We will learn to experience the past, present and future simultaneously as seen in figure 10, named the “Trinity”. The Trinity may be imagined above the nine hierarchies of angels. In the far future mankind will become the 10th hierarchy. This can be seen on the cross of St. Francis figure 11. In the top panel of the cross mankind is welcomed by the Christ.
Hope in connection with intuition is the last soul capacity we come across in the verse, line 1. Hope is oriented towards the future.
When do we need to have hope? It can meet us at the threshold of despair, when there is nothing left but hope. As an example, an investment is in danger or a relationship is fading or an illness is very severe. Rudolf Steiner says that life would be impossible in the physical world, were not future events to be preceded by hope. Lack of hope will soon give us deep wrinkles, as this lack is a deadening force in the physical body. … It is precisely in physical life that we need hope; for, everything is upheld by hope and without it nothing can be done. The forces of hope, therefore, are connected with our last sheath, our physical body. Spiritual Science fills human beings with the strongest forces of hope. Our will lives in the physical body, our feeling in the astral and our thinking in the etheric. All three can light up in the astral.
Only very briefly will I touch on this here because our verse Faith, Love and Hope may lead us to the Trinity, to the Almighty. Without His help we would not be able to avert evil powers and work effectively in a positive way on the future of mankind. We would lack strength, guidance and courage to go forward. Rudolf Steiner connects hope with the fact that the Christ has become the Lord of Karma. He will give us hope for our future development.
Just an indication can be given here of how we already today may begin to work towards such goals. Most important already in our time is the necessity for an active concern on the part of everyone for his neighbour. This mutual concern for each other must grow and develop during the epoch of the Consciousness Soul.
The final example of an imagination is the Cross of St. Francis. He depicts a truth that man in time is evolving into the tenth hierarchy. This shows in the top panel.