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Self Knowledge and the God of the Sun

Source: A lecture given by Dr. Rudolf Steiner in Dornach, February 2, 1923. Based on shorthand notes not revised by the lecturer. Translated by Mona Bradley, edited by Dr. A. J. Welburn, Substantially abbreviated and re-edited here.

"The Sun" and "Christ" may seem different, but not to Rudolf Steiner:

Steiner My dear friends, when the pupils of the old initiates looked out into the wide universe and spoke of what they saw living out there beyond the Earth in the workings of the Sun, yes, in the Sun itself – when they spoke of the sublime Spirit-Being of the Sun as proclaimed by Zarathustra, they were speaking of the very same Being Whom, in these later times, we designate as Christ. - Rudolf Steiner, Man's Life on Earth and in the Spiritual Worlds (1960, 14-15).

Christ stands before us, the Spirit Being who . . . united Himself with the Earth. And He says to us: Be not dismayed that the Sun has become black; it is black because I, the God of the Sun, am no longer in it. - Rudolf Steiner, Man's Life on Earth and in the Spiritual Worlds. (Health Research Books, 1960, 95.)

If we then follow the life of this child [i.e., Jesus] and his permeation by the spirit of the Christ-Being, we come to realise that this Being, this Christ-Being, comes from the sun. - Rudolf Steiner, The Festivals and Their Meaning. (Rudolf Steiner Press 1996, 307). - Highlighting added.

In murky water

- it may pay to stand still awhile.

'Christ' is a term that is defined differently by different groups. It means basically "anointed", and is derived from khristos, which is a Greek translation of the Aramaic meshiha (mshikha) and Hebrew mashiah (messiah). Hebrew Messiah means literally, "oil-anointed". [1 Samuel 8]. In the Jewish tradition Messiah is understood to be a human being without any overtone of divinity. Jews at large do not consider Jesus a true Messiah. (WP, "Messiah in Judaism")

Christian theology focuses on the nature of Jesus as "the christ", whereas esoteric Christian traditions and gnosticism discern between the person Jesus and a state. Steiner puts his own spin on 'Christ' as the 'Lord of Karma'. To Steiner, the God of the Sun is central to all religions, though called by different names by each. Thus, Steiner's views of Christianity diverge from conventional Christianity in key areas.

Steiner further posits that there were two different Jesus children. (WP, "Rudolf Steiner"). Steiner:

Steiner We know that in Palestine, at the time which concerns us, not one but two Jesus-children were born. . . .

Occult investigation shows that the individuality who was in . . . Jesus-child [No. 1] was none other than Zarathustra . . .

[I]n his twelfth year the individuality of Zarathustra, by an occult process . . . forsook the body of [one] Jesus-child and went over into the body of the [other] Jesus-child [No. 2] [who] could speak as soon as he was born. . . . But . . . the language he spoke could be understood by his Mother only. . . .

We know also that active in the astral body of this child were the forces which had once been acquired by that Bodhisattva who became Gautama Buddha. - Rudolf Steiner, From Jesus to Christ. Lecture 8. (1911; GA0131). Emphasis added.

In the Buddhist view, when a person attains nirvana, they are liberated from karmic rebirth - they end the cycle of rebirth (WP, "Parinirvana"). Further, in an old Buddhist discourse named Last Days of the Buddha, Buddha says he would "utterly pass away." (◦Maha-parinibbana Sutta: Last Days of the Buddha, trs. Sister Vajira and Francis Story, 1998, 3.9 etc.

Thus, Steiner's rebirth claims also are at variance with the faith of Buddhists. It might do good to know it.


Sun Being teachings of Steiner

Suppose that we observe an animal during the course of a year . . . the animal organises its life according to its natural surroundings.

If we then go on to consider people . . . we find that . . . instincts which enabled people to experience their natural surroundings so directly, largely [have] died out.

Our own historical time, dating from the first third of the fifteenth century [is] a time in which conscious inner life must replace [instincts].

[Mankind's] life has taken on a newer, more conscious form. Yet [man] has given himself over to a more chaotic life.

We must keep in mind the particular tasks awaiting the human soul in each historical age . . . consider the various ages of history from many points of view. Life is rich and diverse . . .

Through concepts and ideas we learn to know mineral, plant and animal.

Ancient man . . . could certainly say: "The animal before me has firm visible outlines."

But when . . . a man was to rise to self-knowledge, . . . he could then see, as it were, into the inner realms . . . he also received the guiding principles of self-knowledge . . . He bore in himself the effects of physical-mineral processes. He bore in himself pictures of interweaving vegetative life, and also of animal life. In his world he was able to bring all these together: mineral, plant and animal . . . how they worked together.

[E]nlightened people in those ancient times could say: "Man . . . does not belong to the earth in the same sense as do the other realms of nature . . . His home lies essentially in the supersensible world."

[T]oday after death we have the panorama of past life spread out . . .

Now man says: My great task is to become aware of my humanity . . .

Through such a higher consciousness - imaginative, inspired and intuitive consciousness - man may reach in self-knowledge beyond . . .

[Let the Sun-Being come to flower in him as it should:]

The experience of the Sun God in man is essential to our own day. . .

We must learn . . . to be really human, that we may not experience the scandal of being less in the world-order than the animals - despite the Gods having determined us for higher things . . .


Rudolf Steiner on Self Knowledge and the Sun-God  Experience, Rudolf Steiner thought in brief, Literature  

Steiner, Rudolf. 1973. From Jesus to Christ. GA 131. Tr. H. Collison. Rev. by Charles Davy. Translation by H. Collison and revised by Charles Davy. Forest Row, East Sussex: Rudolf Steiner Press.

Steiner, Rudolf. "Self Knowledge and the Christ Experience." 1 lecture given in Dornach, February 2, 1923. GA 221. Forest Row, East Sussex: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1988.

Harvesting the hay

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