Humanity and the Christ Impulse

From Anthroposophy

This topic page is on the theme of discerning the signs of impact of the Christ Impulse on the evolutionary development of mankind.

Where can we discern such signs, or what could be such signs? Where to look, and how to look? So these signs may bring hope, and support faith.

Introduction

The Mystery of Golgotha or 'turning point of time' is said by Rudolf Steiner to be the central event in the evolution of the solar system. Yet its impact is like other things in nature that we can only see if we consider a different timescale than our natural perspective of viewing the world from a single human life, or a few generations.

An illustration is a time lapse movie of a seed growing and a flower blossoming over the seasons of one year. That captures the process so its unfoldment becomes very visible and can be followed, whereas if we gaze at a flower one full day, minute to minute, we would see no such process.

Similarly the impact of the Christ Impulse will unfold over vast evolutionary periods, reaching well into future planetary stages of evolution, Future Jupiter and Future Venus. For the current planetary stage of evolution called Earth, we can consider its impact for the next great Sixth epoch. On such evolutionary scales, millenia are like seconds or minutes of gazing the flower mentioned above. And because we are 'only' two millenia after the Mystery of Golgotha, we are still in the very early stages of seed development of the Christ Impulse which will unfold and flower in far futures.

Another viewing angle is to take a mirror-view perspective, considering periods before and after the central Mystery of Golgotha to compare the nature of the human being as a spiritual entity under development, and hold this to what can be learned about the Development of the I. For example, we can compare the third Egypto-Chaldean cultural age to the current fifth cultural age, the fourth Atlantean epoch to the future sixth epoch, and so on. From the available descriptions, one can contemplate the life of humanity as a whole, and the soul life of the individual human being, and relate this to Unification (and see also Christ Module 1 - Unification of humanity).

For the above, it is important to realize that the workings of the Christ Impulse take place in Man's higher triad, corresponding to what we currently call Man's (and humanity's) subconscious. Therefore the Christ Impulse flows in humanity 'under the surface' of the ocean of physical reality and human history, as the major influencing undercurrent that is changing and transforming the evolving humanity through the natural rhythm of Impulses from waves of reincarnating souls.

Aspects

[elements to be developed]

key characteristics

  • selflessness, selfless love, giving and wanting to give (instead of receiving or wanting to receive)
  • compassion
  • personal sacrifice for moral ideals, and as related to the Golden rule - upto martyrship

spreading of Christianity as religion

evolutionary

  • development of conscience
    • "Christ is most intimately united with Man's conscience. Conscience flows into the human soul as if from a higher world, bringing higher significance than Man's own individual moral. From the impulses which spring from the conscience of individual human souls, Christ draws his physical body." (Christ Module 19 - experiencing the Christ#1912-05-08-GA143)
  • development of empathy - as a first step of compassion
  • the role and impact of the Golden rule in religions worldwide, from approx. the 6th century BC onwards

19 and 20th century

  • philantropy (the desire to promote the welfare of others, especially by generous donation of money to good causes)
  • international humanitarian aid
    • eg in cases of nature disasters or intervention in civil wars
    • organizations (NGOs) such as
      • medical
        • Red cross (founded 1863)
        • Doctors without borders (Médecins sans frontières) (founded 1971)
      • political - human rights
        • Amnesty International (re human rights) (founded 1961)
      • more/others
        • Unicef (United Nations Children's Fund) - humanitarian and developmental aid to children (founded 1946)
        • Oxfam (injustice of poverty) (founded 1942)
        • Greenpeace (Earth, environmental) (founded 1971)
    • foreign development aid (more here)
  • ideas and philosophy
    • theology of hope (1964) - Jürgen Moltmann (1926-), Ernst Bloch (1885-1977), see also Virtues#Note 2 - On Hope
    • Charles Taylor and ao moral reasoning (attempt by human beings to make sense of their moral experience)
  • various initiatives
  • interventions (not the focus of this topic page)
    • the Christ Impulse also impacts the development of humanity through the workings of the White Lodge and the Bodhisattvas
    • furthermore (and related), Rudolf Steiner has highlighted interventions in the course of history and certain decisive moments, examples: a) the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 between Maxentius and Constantin; b) the role of the Maid of Orleans or Joan of Arc in the Hundred Years' war between the kindoms of France and England between 1337-1453, specifically the battle of Reims in 1429. More on these on: The Christ Impulse from the 1st to the 20th century

Inspirational quotes

1915-02-21-GA159, about historical events related to the Christ Impulse (the 'submarine quote')

The [Christ] impulse lives in the subconsciousness, as if ships go on the sea, but the important matters take place in submarines.

see more on: The Christ Impulse from the 1st to the 20th century 1924-08-27-GA240

the Christ moving from East to West in hearts of men, through Greece, Northern Africa, Italy, Spain, across Europe .. while over in the West He was working through nature.

see more on: Christ Impulse - meeting of two streams

Illustrations

Lecture coverage and references

1918-11-03-GA185

Strange as it may seem this appears at first sight to be a doctrinal dispute. But it is a doctrinal dispute only in the eyes of modern man. In the first centuries of Christianity it had deeper implications, for Arian Christianity, based on the relationship between the Son and the Father, as I have just indicated, was something natural and self-evident to the Goths and Langobards—all those peoples who first took over from Rome after the fall of the empire. Instinctively they were Arians. Ulfilas's translation of the Bible shows quite clearly that he was an adherent of Arius. The Goths and Langobards who invaded Italy were also Arians, and only when Clovis was converted to Christianity did the Franks accept Christianity. They adopted somewhat superficially the doctrine of Athanasius which was foreign to their nature, for they had formerly been Arians at heart.

And when Christianity hoisted its Banner under the leadership of Charlemagne everyone was instructed in the creed of Athanasius. Thus the ground was prepared for the transition to the Church of Rome. A large part of the barbarian peoples, Goths, Langobards, etcetera, perished; the ethnic remnants who survived were driven out or annihilated by the Athanasians.

Arianism lived on in the form of sects; but as a tribal religion it ceased to be an active force. Two questions now arise:

  • first, what distinguishes Arianism from Athanasianism?
  • Secondly, why did Arianism disappear from the stage of European history, at least as far as any visible symptoms are concerned?

see also further on topic page 325

1924-03-16-GA235

Christianity, in its Roman form, spreads upwards from Rome, from the South, starting from Greece; this impulse is made manifest later on by Ulfila's translation of the Bible, and so forth.

And then, enclosing this European civilisation as it were with two forked arms, we have Islam (Mohammedanism). Everything that history tells concerning what was done by Charles the Great to further Christianity must be considered in the light of the fact that while Charlemagne (748-814) did much to promote Christianity in Middle Europe, at the same time there was flourishing over yonder in Asia that illustrious centre of culture of which I have spoken, the centre of culture around Harun al Raschid.

[see Reconquista topic page]

When we look at the purely external course of history, what do we find? Wars are waged all along a line stretching across North Africa to the Iberian Peninsula; the followers bringing the Arabic influence come right across Spain and are beaten back by the representatives of European Christianity, by Charles Martel [edito: birth name of Charlemagne of Charles the Great], by Charlemagne himself.

Then, later, we find how the greatness of Islam (Mohammedanism) is overclouded by the Turkish element which assumes the guise of religion but extinguishes everything that went with the lofty culture to which Harun al Raschid gave the impetus.

1924-03-19-GA353

on 'Three forms of Christianity'

see also: Reconquista#1924-03-19-GA353

Today I'd like to go into more detail about the later part of the time when Christianity spread. If we look at Christianity today, it has three forms. These have to be considered if we want to find the right way of tracing what really happened because of the Mystery of Golgotha, considering the ideas that are held today.

...

[Crusades -> Protestantism]

the region where Christianity arose, in Palestine, with Jerusalem, was particularly sacred to the Christians. Many made pilgrimages there from all parts of the West, which called for great sacrifices. Many people were extremely poor and it was hard for them to get the means together for the journey to Palestine to visit the Holy Sepulchre, as it is called. And they made the journey! When the Turks came, the journey became dangerous, for the Turks extended their rule to Palestine and maltreated the Christian pilgrims. The Europeans then wanted Jerusalem to be freed so that people might go there. They wanted to set up their own European rule in Palestine and therefore undertook those great campaigns called the Crusades. These did not achieve what they were meant to achieve but they reflect the war, the battle, between western Christianity and also eastern Christianity on one hand and Turkish Islam. Christianity was to be saved in the face of a Muslim religion grown Turkish.

Many people then went to Asia to fight. What did they find there? The Crusades started in the twelfth century and continued for some centuries, and so they were in the middle of the Middle Ages. What was the first thing the people who went to Asia as Crusaders would see? They saw that the Turks are fearsome enemies to face. But when a Crusader looked around a bit on days when there was no fighting, he might find some strange things. He might have met an old man who had withdrawn to his poor hovel somewhere and did not concern himself with Turks, Christians or Arabs but had shown remarkable faithfulness in continuing the culture, the wisdom and religious knowledge of earlier pagan times. The Turks had paid no regard to this. Official civilization had eradicated it; but there were many such people. And so the Europeans got to know much of the old wisdom that no longer existed in Christianity. This they brought with them to Europe on their return.

Imagine how things were at the time. Earlier on, Arabs had come to Europe via Italy and Spain, bringing their art and a scientific thinking that spread and has become our modern science. Now the ancient wisdom from the East was brought back and the two became mixed. As a result, something special developed in Europe.

You see, the Roman Church adopted the ritual, using it less, however, than the eastern Church did. It adopted the ritual but also went strongly into teaching. But in the old Church teaching, religious instruction was connected with the person. It remained such until the time of the Crusades. Instruction consisted in what was proclaimed from the pulpit and approved by the Councils that were held. And apart from this there was also the 'New Testament', as it was called, the Bible. People who were not priests were, however, forbidden to read the Bible, and this was strictly enforced. It was considered a terrible thing for someone to want to read the Bible in those earlier times before the Crusades. It was not permitted. The lay people, the faithful, therefore had only what the priests taught, they did not have access to the Bible.

The science brought by the Arabs and the ancient wisdom of the East made many people feel: ‘This is something the priests who are giving instruction do not know. There is a great deal more wisdom than is taught by them.’ And a tendency, an intention arose to read the Bible oneself and get to know the New Testament. Protestantism, the third kind of Christianity, developed out of this, with Luther its special representative, though the intention was there even before he came.

...

[Trinity]

Each of the three forms of Christianity had one main aspect.

  • Eastern Christianity had the Father God, though he was called the Christ.
  • The Roman Catholic Church of the west had the Son God, merely looking up to the Father as an old man with a long beard who would still appear in their paintings, but they would not speak much of the Father God.
  • And Protestant Christianity had the Spirit God. They would discuss questions such as 'How do we free ourselves from sin? How can we be healed of sin? How does Man justify himself before God?' and so on.

Christianity originally had one God represented in three figures. It fell apart into three confessions. Each of them has a piece, a genuine piece, of Christianity.

It will not be possible, however, to regain original Christianity by putting the three pieces together. It has to be found again by people finding the right powers in themselves, as I began to show the other day. I wanted to mention this today so that you may see how hard it is to come back to original Christianity. If you ask Christians in the East: 'Which is the true Christianity?' they will say, 'Everything that relates to the Father,' and they will call the Father 'Christ'. If you ask people in the Roman Catholic Church what is the essence of Christianity, they will speak of everything connected with the sinfulness of man, the evils of human nature, and that human beings must be redeemed from their suffering, and so on. They will speak of everything connected with the Son, the Christ. If you ask Protestant Christians about the essential nature of Christianity they will say: 'It all has to do with the principle of gaining health in the will, letting the will be healed, and justification before God.' They speak of the Holy Ghost, calling him the Christ.

This is how everything we have today has come about. People did not think: 'We must now bring together the three different aspects of Christianity.' They said: 'We don't understand any of this any more!' This has created the mood we have today, and the need to find Christianity again.

Discussion

The goal of this topic page is to develop the view that there is a progressive evolution with steps, landmarks, symptoms or signs, that can be discerned, that are related to the development of the Human I but also the pivotal effect of the Mystery of Golgotha (MoG).

Signs are the appearance of conscience and empathy for the other human being, the caring for other human beings (individually and/or sub-populations in need), the growing consciousness in humanity that all human beings are of equal rights and we are all connected on a small planet, etc.

Rudolf Steiner described characteristics of future cultural ages and epochs, and one can clearly connect these as furthering the above evolutionary lines, eg growing consciousness of karmic consequences of one's actions (furthering conscience), not being able to see the pain and need in another being but feeling it as one's own (furthering empathy), etc.

Elements of future times

The Christ Impulse is about Man's higher triad and bodily principles, and specifically budhi or life-spirit.

Below some extracts from the topic pages for the sixth cultural age (manas) and sixth epoch (budhi). We can hold these to Man's bodily principles and Man's higher triad, as these characteristics map to the structural developmental goal of a time period. See Schema FMC00.130 and eg Schema FMC00.486

For budhi, see also Schema FMC00.481.

For later planetary stages, see oa: Christ Impulse at planetary chain level

sixth cultural age
  • this sixth cultural age will be radically different and as spiritual as our current fifth has been material, an age that will see the development of brotherhood among men, clairvoyance and creative power (1906-06-14-GA094)
  • the first of three key characteristics of this age of the spiritual self (1915-06-15-GA159): moral quality and social life in which brotherliness prevails
    • the most highly cultured will not only feel pain such as is caused today by the sight of poverty, suffering and misery in the world, but such individuals will experience the suffering of another human being as their own suffering .. the well-being of the individual will depend entirely upon the well-being of the whole.
  • this age will know the true Christianity (not the one of the current or past cultural ages), centered around the sacred Golden Triangle (or Man's higher triad, consisting of spirit-man, life-spirit, and spirit-self or atma, buddhi and manas) and the knowledge of reincarnation and karma, united with Christianity (again). A symbol will no longer be the crucified Son of God, but the cross encircled by roses (re Symbol of rose cross).
  • a developmental goal for the sixth cultural age with the help of the Christ Impulse is "to help the world to overcome the last vestiges of the principle of nationality." (1917-01-22-GA174)
sixth epoch
  • at the time of the sixth epoch, Christianity will be expressed in its most complete form (1904-11-11-GA093)
  • Man will no longer make a distinction between his own well-being and the well-being of the whole, through a force that will live in his heart, a Kundalini force that will grow and developed in the next sixth cultural age of the current fifth epoch (1904-10-28-GA092)
  • It will become possible, and then only gradually, for the human body to receive into itself the Christ Principle from childhood onwards without years of preparation (1904-12-30)
  • Man will develop the faculty of memory (and full remembrance on previous lives), a fourth major faculty of the Human I after Thinking Feeling Willing, and realize that Christ himself is present in the power of memory (1914-03-07-GA152), as related to the sixteen petalled throat chakra consisting of two vortexes that will be concluded evolutionary around the first and fourth cultural ages of the Sixth epoch (1904-11-05-GA089 and Schema FMC00.092). When the throat chakra is fully developed "the human word goes over directly into the stream of the wheels" .. "Man will give his word to the astral world, and anything he will say then will have an immediate effect on others: another person will feel every word, and the kindness that is expressed in a word"
  • the connection with Manicheism, currently a preparatory stream, preparing the form for true Christianity in the sixth epoch; the sixth epoch will have "the task of drawing evil back into the continuing stream of evolution through kindness" and "communities who foster peace, love and passive resistance" (1904-11-11-GA093)

Physiologically

The below gives a short script for the interested student, as an approach into study:

Notes WIP - draft work area

Potential ideas/elements

  • new terms and paradigms appearing as indicators/pointers
    • emotional intelligence (term originated 1964 and became widespread 1995) as related to empathy
    • social and interpersonal intelligence
  • personal sacrifice for moral ideals, and as related to the Golden rule - upto martyrship; sacrifice and martyrs - use of examples in culture (beyond religion) .. when the soul strength of moral ideals and compassion rise above an individual's fear of death
  • distinguish elements that are not MoG but development of the I
    • to be refined: movement away from family blood relationships and love and tribes, towards larger communities like nations and unions of nations, the leaving behind of race and ever-more mixing of people and souls
  • examples of philantropy
    • John Earl Fetzer (1901-1991) was an American radio and television executive, listed in 1986 by Forbes magazine as one of the 400 wealthiest people in the United States. He created the Fetzer Institute. Examples of work done there
      • commissioned and published 'What Does Spirituality Mean to Us? A Study of Spirituality in the United States'
      • similar for 'love and forgiveness in the arts'
    • an example of lesser known people 'behind the scenes': Joseph van Leer (1880-1934) supported the anthroposophical impulse with financial means
  • examples of initiatives of people with a mission


Small note - What has changed in 50 years 1975-2025?

Man has developed a more independent autonomous thinking and discernment. In the past media were very influential, they have grown to become even more so, but one can also see that a certain independence of opinion and judgment has grown in part of mankind. Things are not readily accepted or believed in current times in the same way, a they were accepted by authority of established powers, be it the teacher, the local priest, politicians. It does not mean people don't have to 'undergo' to a certain degree in the same way, but something else is developing, whereby each individual person decides for him/herself what he believes and puts at the center of his life as most important - irrespective of the forcing framework and organized forces and influences of the established worldly powers.

Illustration: see scene in movie V for Vendatta where people in a living room watch TV and say 'they are lying'.

Related pages

References and further reading