Christ's descent to Earth

From Anthroposophy

The spiritual being of the Christ that descended to Earth and took hold of the lower bodies of Jesus of Nazareth was the Logos, part of the Trinity, and part of the development of the solar system and humanity already from the start and the Old Saturn stage.

With the 'descent' is meant what we can logically understand as the descent through the various stages of the spiritual hierarchies.

  • A crucial stage takes place on Old Sun, and the relation to a being of the archangels then at the 'human' stage (fourth condition of consciousness CoC-4).
  • Afterwards especially the various stages of this descent in the Earth planetary stages are described by Rudolf Steiner, ao
    • entering the Earth stage of development through a relation with the level of the Spirits of Wisdom (SoW)
    • the division of the seven Spirits of Form (SoF) at the time one of them, Jehovah left to infuse mankind with the first divine impulse during the Lemurian epoch.
    • the three pre-MoG interventions of the Christ through an archangelic being.


Rudolf Steiner does not however give a complete or exhaustive picture on how this process of descent really happened, hence one is to integrate the various aspects oneself by study and contemplation. Various snippets of information enrich this total image as one deepens this study.

Aspects

  • other related pages for study
  • description of the descent from spiritual heights, see eg 1914-06-01-GA152 below
  • Christ first in the elements of the Earth, before in Man (Moses: burning bush and on mount sinai <-> in the elements)
  • Seven rishi’s: Christ beyond reach of spiritual vision
  • Christ came from outside time/space
  • context zooming out: before and after the separation of the Sun, and positioning the Mystery of Golgotha between the separation and reunion of the Sun with the Earth
  • descent to hell (1923-04-01-GA223)

Illustrations

Schema FMC00.429 provides sketches with description of how to imagine Christ's 'descent' to Earth

FMC00.429.jpg

Lecture coverage and references

1909-06-24-GA112

talks about Christ was first in the elements of the Earth, before in Man

  • seven rishi’s: Christ beyond reach of spiritual vision
  • Moses: burning bush and on mount sinai <-> in the elements
1912-04-13-GA136

shining through gate SoW (SWCC)

.. the normal Spirits of Wisdom we must seek upon the sun, in the same sense we have to seek for the normal Spirits of Motion as working from the planets, though they too have their real habitation upon the sun. We have to seek the impulse of the normally-developed Spirits of Wisdom as coming directly from the sun.

.. certainly with regard to the plants, spiritual investigation shows a differentiation because we are concerned with the offspring of the Spirits of Wisdom; but if we consider the plants on earth in relation to the Spirits of Wisdom on the sun, their movements all appear more or less as a vertical union of the sun with the center-point of the earth. In the plant-forms we can distinguish what proceeds from the spirits who have their dwelling-place in the planets; but what we perceive as proceeding from the Spirits of Wisdom flows together in a vertical line.

In a similar manner .. in the region we enter when we direct our gaze to the sun (for we must seek the normal Spirits of Wisdom there) we can no longer distinguish any differentiations. There we perceive unity. What proceeds from the normal spirits flows together in a unity.

Now when we come to the question: Where is that revealed which proceeds from the unity of the Spirits of Wisdom who have their dwelling-place directly upon the sun? Where is that revealed in the activity of the earth? — we thus come to a still wider sphere.

The sphere of such a spirit as the one who inspired the Buddha (the Spirit of Motion on Mercury) is insignificant in comparison with the wider, more comprehensive sphere which, in the process of the development of mankind is directed by the Spiritual Beings of Wisdom perceived as Unity, and which is to be sought upon the sun.

If we go back to the civilisation of ancient India, then we find that the Seven Holy Rishis spoke of that which each one of them had to give to humanity from their occult foundations. They were conscious of having preserved that which, through seven long periods of civilisation, had been directed by the Spirits of Motion. It was just as though seven successive periods of time were all at once to unite in the evolution of the earth, and were so to work that they represented a College of great Individualities. So it came about that these seven successive activities of the Spirits of the Planets came to light in that which the Seven Holy Rishis had to say to humanity; each one speaking what he himself knew. They did not assert that what they had to give was the direct outflow of a Spirit of Motion, but they said that it was like a recollection in the soul of each of what had been given earlier by the Spirits of Motion. For the exalted wisdom which the Holy Rishis gave to humanity was the great recollection of the ancient Atlantean civilizations, only in a new form. At the same time, these seven Holy Rishis said: “above them which we have to give as the civilizations of the seven successive periods of time, lies something else which exists beyond our sphere.” That which lay above their sphere, the Holy Rishis called Vishvakarma. Thus they alluded to something which lay beyond their sphere, and which comprised a greater earth-sphere than that of the separate Spirits of Motion. As it was with the spheres of the Spirits of the Age, so did the Holy Rishis point to epochs of civilisation which lie beyond the sphere of the individual Spirits of Motion.

Then came the civilisation of Zarathustra; and Zarathustra pointed again to the same being whom the Holy Rishis had called Vishvakarma, only he alluded to him in his own way as Ahura Mazdao. The Holy Rishis knew, as also did Zarathustra, that what is meant by Vishvakarma represents the Spirit of Wisdom who streams down upon the earth and encompasses wider spheres than do the individual Spirits of Motion. Zarathustra too knew that Ahura Mazdao has wider spheres than the Spirits of Motion.

Then came the Egyptian civilisation; and for certain reasons it became necessary to say: The present time (that is, the Egyptian present) is not fitted to direct its vision to that Sun-spirit of Wisdom whom Zarathustra divined in his own way. Hence the Egyptian civilisation clothed their concept of the nature of this Spirit in the legend that when he wished to come down to the earth he was immediately dismembered. Osiris dismembered by his brother is a reference to that to which the Holy Rishis pointed in their Vishvakarma.

.. The Seven Holy Rishis alluded to the fact that this being existed. Zarathustra said that the occult vision directed to the Sun sees this being. The Egyptian civilisation stated that this being is still so far from the earth that man can only meet him after death. The fourth period was able to point out that conditions had arisen in our earth evolution, making it possible that for three years a human being could be directly inspired by this Spirit of Wisdom.

Hence it was possible to recognize as a fact that the sphere of this Sun-spirit of Wisdom is much more comprehensive than the sphere of the Spirits of Motion, for it now embraces the whole collective process of civilisation on earth.


That which was designated in the language of the Holy Rishis as Vishvakarma, in that of Zarathustra as Ahura Mazdao, in the Egyptian (if one really understands what stands behind the name) as Osiris, and which we, in the fourth period of civilisation designate by the word “Christ,” is that which has shone down through the portal of the Sun-spirit of Wisdom.

and then the paragraph about Christ Impulse 'shining through SoW'

I never said that the Spirit of Motion alone shone through the Buddha, nor do I now say that the Sun-spirit of Wisdom alone shone through the Christ. (DL editor: reversed).

He was the portal through which occult vision could be directed into infinite spheres, wherein are the Spirits of the higher hierarchies;

but the portal was the Spirit of Wisdom, the Sun-spirit of Wisdom.

As the sun is related to the planets, so is the Sun-spirit of Wisdom related to the Spirits of Motion who, on their part, express themselves in such Spirits as the one who inspired Buddha. H. P. Blavatsky intended to express this in her theory; it would never have occurred to her to identify any of the planetary Spirits of Motion with the Christ.

... It would be a breach if we did not know through our basic teaching how to distinguish between

  • those Spirits who guide the growth of humanity in the course of successive periods of time and reached the summit in spirits such as Buddha, and
  • that Spirit to whom all the rest, even Buddha himself, have alluded, and who is the unitary spirit of the whole earth-evolution, just as the sun is the unitary body of the whole planetary system. This unitary spirit must, in the sense of the fourth post-Atlantean period of civilisation, be designated as the Christ.

In the solar system we cannot, in the ordinary sense, speak of two Suns and say that the Sun which at one time covers the Ram is not the same Sun which covers the Goat at another time; we must be quite clear that it is the same Sun which passes through all the signs of the Zodiac; but that there are different planets, which pass through the Zodiac.

We must also be clear on the following point. We must distinguish:

  • the Christ Spirit, who passes through the spheres of the different civilizations of the whole evolution of humanity on the earth, and who has always been recognized by all religions when they attain their climax,
  • the spirits of the different spheres which reached their summit, as it were, in their great individualities, even as Buddhism reached its climax in Buddha.
1912-04-14-GA136

[SoW]

According to this the moon, so to speak, is designated as the starting-point of the forces working upon humanity as the opponents of Lucifer. Jahveh, or Jehovah, is the opponent of Lucifer. The secret doctrine of the ancient Hebrews looked up to the Sun, saying: In the Sun work the invisible Spirits of Wisdom who are only visible to spiritual, not to physical sight. The latter sees the principle of Lucifer raying down. What is to be seen externally as the sun principle is Lucifer; but therein works secretly, invisible to physical vision, everything attainable through the Spirits of Wisdom, who form the gateway to it.

One of these Spirits of Wisdom separated and sacrificed himself, and has taken up his abode upon the moon in order through his activity there to curb the light and also to counteract the spiritual work of Lucifer. Hebrew antiquity saw in Jehovah an Ambassador of those true exalted spirits to whom vision is opened through the Spirits of Wisdom, if the sun is looked upon with spiritual sight. Hebrew antiquity justly concluded that Jehovah must continue to work from the moon until humanity has become inwardly mature enough to perceive and feel at least a little of that which gradually in the course of evolution will be both seen and understood — that from the same sun proceeds not only the physical part of Lucifer, but also the dissemination of that of which the Spirits of Wisdom are the portal.

Thus to the ancient Hebrew there appeared in Jehovah that which is similar to the Spirits of Wisdom in the sun, and we can say:

  • just as the sunlight is reflected from the moon in space, so to the ancient Hebrew who really knew, Jehovah was the reflection of that Spiritual Being Who, when man shall have become sufficiently mature, will ray down from the sun, and Whose appearance was foretold by the Holy Rishis, Zarathustra, and the worshippers of Osiris.
  • Just as in space sunlight is reflected from the moon, so Jehovah is revealed as a reflection of the principle of the great Sun-Spirit Whom you may designate by whatever name you will — Vishvakarma, as the ancient Indians called him; Ahura Mazdao, as He was called by Zarathustra, Osiris by the ancient Egyptians, or as the Christ, as He is known to the fourth post-Atlantean period of civilisation — that is, the esoteric comprehension of Jehovah. He is Christ reflected by the moon-principle and because reflected in time, Christ announced prophetically. Hence in St. John's Gospel we come across a passage which otherwise can never be understood, in which it is said that Moses spoke of Christ. Actually, he spoke of Jehovah, but it is Christ, prophetically announced. This passage, in which Jehovah is mentioned is referred to because the bearer of the Christ wishes to point out that in antiquity Jehovah is but Christ foretold.

Thus we see that these things are in accord, and that what we have heard to-day is connected with what was said in the last lecture; and that in what we call the external light and its bearer we must recognize something which is in opposition to the spiritual principle which is at the normal point of its evolution, and which appears to us as the spiritual center of our planetary system.

It is not a question of names, but of recognizing the whole significance of this Principle.

1914-03-05-GA152

lecture also covers Sibyls, Christ moving from East to West, 800 year periods

freely translated from the German version (not book translation)

To understand this being, we need to go back a long time in the development of Earth and mankind. ... Before [...] this being had participated from the spiritual world in the development of Man, but never lived in a physical human being. This being had lived in the times when bodies for human beings were being created, lived along in the Old Saturn stage, when the seed for Man's physical body was being made .. in the Old Sun and Old Moon stages, when the etheric and astral bodies were developed, lived along also in the smaller periods of evolution when these large development stages were recapitulated. When the human I descended in the Lemurian epoch into the three sheaths of Man, then this being stayed behind in the spiritual worlds as part of the divine Man, and did not participate in the development of the I in these three sheaths, and the temptations through the luciferic-ahrimanic influence.

1914-06-01-GA152 the quotes below are specifically regarding the 'descent' of Christ to Earth, investigating how he passed through the different hierarchies. Other lectures where we find this described are eg

This greatest of earthly events was prepared for by three supramundane acts, one taking place in the old Lemurian period and two in the Atlantean. Although these three preparatory events occurred in the supramundane sphere, their power descended to the Earth; we shall try to understand the effect of these forces upon human evolution.

...

Mankind has preserved some memory of how human passion and human thinking were harmonized at this period by forces that descended from supramundane worlds, but the sign of this memory is not rightly understood.

...

I admit that it may seem strange when I say that this great Being was ensouled three times in an archangelic form, and then incarnated in a human being. It would seem a more orderly progression if between His ensoulment as an archangel and His human incarnation He had taken an angelic form. So it may seem to us. Yet, even though it is claimed that the statements of spiritual science are fictitious, truly it is not so. You may gather this from corroborative evidence. If you ask me how it happens that Christ did not descend from hierarchy to hierarchy and only afterward to Man — if you were to ask me that, I could only answer that I do not know, for I never make theoretical combinations. The facts adduced by spiritual research are that Christ chose three times an archangelic form, leaving out the angelic form, and then made use of a human body.

I leave it to future research to determine the reason, which I do not yet know, though I do know that it is true.

...

Christ, as the great Sun Spirit, descended from superphysical worlds through the Mystery of Golgotha in order to find a dwelling in the souls of men. Spiritual science is to be the message, telling how Christ may find that dwelling in human souls. If Christ will find His abode in men's earthly souls, then the Christ power will stream back from the earth's aura into the worlds that He forsook for the salvation of mankind, and the whole cosmos will be permeated through and through by Him.

1917-12-23-GA180

talks about the virgin birth, and a specific celestial configuration on the night between 24 and 25th December of the year 1 AD, and the appearance of the Sun in Virgo.

A truth, intimately united with human aspiration and for centuries closely associated in the human heart with the festival whose modern symbol is the Christmas tree, is expressed in the words that have resounded ever since the time of the Mystery of Golgotha ... “et incarnatus est de spiritu sancto ex Maria virgine” (“and is born of the Holy Spirit from the Virgin Mary”).

Most of the people of today seem to attach just as little significance to these words as they do to the Easter mystery of the Resurrection. We might even say that the central mystery of Christianity, the resurrection from the dead, appears to modern thought, which is no longer directed to the truths of the spiritual world, just as incredible as the Christmas mystery, the mystery of the Word becoming flesh, the mystery of the virgin birth. The greater part of modern humanity is much more in sympathy with the scientist who described the virgin birth as “an impertinent mockery of human reason” than with those who desire to take this mystery in a spiritual sense.

Nevertheless, my dear friends, the mystery of the incarnation by the Holy Spirit through the Virgin begins to exert its influence from the time of the Mystery of Golgotha; in another sense it had made itself felt before this event.

Those who brought the symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the babe lying in the manger knew of the Christmas mystery of the virgin birth through the ancient science of the stars. The magi who brought the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh were, in the sense of the ancient wisdom, astrologers, they had knowledge of those spiritual processes that work in the cosmos when certain signs appear in the starry heavens. One such sign they recognized when, in the night between December 24 and 25, in the year that we today regard as that of the birth of Jesus, the sun, the cosmic symbol of the Redeemer, shone toward the earth from the constellation of Virgo. They said, “When the constellation of the heavens is such that the sun stands in Virgo in the night between December 24 and 25, then an important change will take place in the earth. ...

...

This was the belief held for thousands of years, and as the magi felt compelled to lay at the feet of the Holy Child the wisdom of the gods, the virtues of man, and the realization of human immortality, symbolically expressed in the gold, frankincense, and myrrh, something was repeated as a historical event that had been expressed symbolically in innumerable mysteries and in countless sacrificial rituals for thousands of years. There had been presented in these mysteries and rituals a prophetic indication of the event that would take place when the sun stood at midnight between December 24 and 25 in the sign of the Virgin, for gold, frankincense, and myrrh were also offered on this holy night, to the symbol of the divine child preserved in ancient temples as the representation of the sun.

Thus, my dear friends, for nearly two thousand years the Christian words, “incarnatus de spiritu sancto ex Maria virgine” have resounded in the world, and so it has been ever since human thought has existed on the earth. In our times we can now present the question, “Do human beings really know to what they should aspire when they celebrate Christmas?” Does there exist today a real consciousness of the fact that, out of cosmic heights, under a cosmic sign, a cosmic power appeared through a virgin birth — spiritually understood — and that the blazing candles on the Christmas tree should light up in our hearts an understanding of the fact that the human soul is most intimately and inwardly united with an event that is not merely an earthly but a cosmic earthly event?

...

Christianity has brought cosmic mysteries into association with the course of the year; on December 24 and 25 it celebrates a memory of the original constellation of the year 1, the appearance of the sun in the constellation of Virgo; this date in every year is celebrated as the Christmas festival. This is the point in time that the Christian concept has fixed for the Christmas festival. The Easter festival is also established each year by taking a certain celestial arrangement, for we know that the Sunday that follows the first full moon after the vernal equinox is the chosen day, though the materialistic outlook of the present time is responsible for recent objections to this arrangement.

1923-04-01-GA223 Quote A is about the descent to hell

These former divine companions confronted, as an inimical world, what even in earlier times was called “hell.” But the efficacy of these spiritual beings stopped short at the gates of hell. These spiritual beings worked upon Man. The forces of Man extend even into hell.

This signifies nothing other than Man's subconscious projection into the Ahrimanic forces in the wintertime and also into the ascent of these Ahrimanic forces in the spring.

The divine spiritual beings felt this as a world opposed to them. They saw it rise up out of the Earth and felt it to be an exceedingly problematic world. But they themselves had only a roundabout connection with it through Man. They could only observe it in a certain way. But because the Christ had descended to the Earth, had Himself become Man, He could descend into the realm of these Ahrimanic powers and overcome them. This is expressed in the Creed as 'the Descent into Hell'.

This Descent into Hell provides the opposite pole to the Resurrection. This is what Christ has done for mankind: By descending from the divine heights and taking on the form of Man, He became able actually to descend into the realm to whose dangers Man is exposed, into which the other Gods, who had not been exposed to human death could not descend. In His way the Christ gained the victory over death. And therewith entered, I might say, as the opposite pole of the Descent into Hell, the ascent into the spiritual world, in spite of the fact that the Christ remained on Earth. For Christ had so united Himself with mankind that he had descended to that to which mankind is exposed. During the winter and spring seasons, He could win for Man that which works out of extraterrestrial regions into the Earth again from St. John's to autumn.

Thus in the Easter thought we see united in a certain way the Descent into the region of Hell, and through this descent the winning of the heavenly region for the further evolution of mankind.


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