UNDISCOVERED GENIUS

A commentary on the history, contexts, and meanings of the word "genius."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

25 Before Abraham Was, I am

25 Before Abraham Was, I am

Today's text comes from two places in the 8th chapter of John:


John 8:25: 
"Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning."

and:

John 8:58:
"Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am."

It is a truism that the Gospel of John is set apart from the Synoptic Gospels of Mathew, Mark, and Luke. For one thing, it is thought that the Gospel of John was written long after the Synoptic Gospels were assembled; but the main distinction is that there seems to be a higher level of mystical content in John from the very outset:

John 1:1: 
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

It is my unauthoritative opinion that the Gospel of John is much more concerned with the things that Jesus SAID as opposed to the Synoptic Gospels' emphasis on what Jesus DID. There are many more tales of miracles, and travels, and activities in the Synoptic Gospels than in John, and there may be a reason for this: it may be that the higher vibrational resonance of John is intended more for the higher level initiates than for the more popular audience of the Synoptic narratives and parables.

A good example is the subject of today's sermon, the I AM Presence, which is one of the most complex conceptual entities in the Bible, appearing prominently in both the Old and New Testaments; it is also one of the Christian concepts that appears most often in many other world religions, including the many varieties of so-called "New Age" religious philosophies. The idea that "Before Abraham was, I AM" has powerful ramifications on our own personal sense of spiritual identity, and raises many questions about the structure of spiritual reality. The Christ Impulse speaking to the people through through Jesus, the perfect God-Man, must necessarily raise the question of the character of our own anomalous spiritual personalities, and of our unique place in the vast continuum of spiritual time and space.

Our first internet commentary comes from Barnes' Notes:

John 8:58:
"Before Abraham was - Before Abraham lived, I am"

The expression I am, though in the present tense, is clearly designed to refer to a past time. Thus, in Psalms 90:2:

"From everlasting to everlasting thou art God."

Applied to God, it denotes continued existence without respect to time, so far as he is concerned. We divide time into the past, the present, and the future. The expression, applied to God, denotes that he does not measure his existence in this manner, but that the word by which we express the present denotes his continued and unchanging existence. Hence, he assumes it as his name, "I AM," and "I AM that I AM,"

Exodus 3:14-15:
"And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations."


 Compare Isaiah 44:6:
"Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."

There is a remarkable similarity between the expression employed by Jesus in this place and that used in Exodus to denote the name of God. The manner in which Jesus used it would strikingly suggest the application of the same language to God. The question here was about his pre-existence. The objection of the Jews was that he was not 50 years old, and could not, therefore, have seen Abraham. Jesus replied that he had existed before Abraham. As in his human nature he was not yet 50 years old, and could not, as a man, have existed before Abraham, this declaration must be referred to another nature; and the passage proves that, while he was a man, he was also endowed with another nature existing before Abraham, and to which he applied the term (familiar to the Jews as expressive of the existence of God) I AM; and this declaration corresponds to the affirmation of John 1:1-3:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."


-- that he was in the beginning with God, and was God. This affirmation of Jesus is one of the proofs on which John relies to prove that he was the Messiah, to establish which was the design of writing this book.


John 20:31: 
"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."

Of course, in looking for commentaries on the I AM, it was no surprise to find that Martin Luther had something to say. In Luther's, as in other commentaries, I found that  much has been made of the detail about Abraham; that Jesus was descended from Abraham seems to have been of particular importance to the Jews, and this detail will prove to be not without relevance when we get further down to the subject of DNA:

Martin Luther
Sermon for the Fifth Sunday in Lent; John 8:46-59

"13. Likewise Christ also says here in replying to the Jews, that Abraham and the prophets still live and they never died, but have life in the midst of death; they however only lie and sleep in death. For "Abraham," he says, "rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad." Thus, the prophets also saw it. Where and when did Abraham see it? Not with his bodily eyes, as the Jews interpret it, but with the sight of faith in the heart; that is, he recognized Christ when he was told in Gen 22:18:

"In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed."

Then he saw and understood that Christ, born of his seed through a pure virgin, so as not to be cursed with Adam's children but to remain blessed, should suffer for the whole world, cause this to be preached, and thus overwhelm the whole world with blessing etc. This is the day of Christ, the dispensation of the Gospel, that is the light of this day, which radiates from Christ as from the sun of righteousness, and shines and enlightens the whole world. This is a spiritual day, yet it arose at the time Christ was on the earth in the flesh, a day like Abraham saw. But the Jews understood nothing about such a day because of their carnal minds, and hence they reviled Christ as a liar.


14. Therefore Christ proceeds farther and gives the ground and reason why it is just his Word and not the word of anyone else, that giveth life, and says it is because he was before Abraham, or in other words, because he was the one true God. For if the person who offered himself as a sacrifice for us were not God, it would not help or avail anything, even if he were born of the Virgin Mary and suffered a thousand deaths. But the fact that the Seed of Abraham, who gave himself for us, is also true God, secures blessing and victory for all sinners. Therefore Christ speaks not of his human nature that they saw and experienced; for they could easily see he was
not yet fifty years of age, and did not live before Abraham. But with that nature by which he existed long before the time of Abraham, by which he existed also before all creatures and before the whole world. Just as he was man according to his spiritual nature before Abraham, that is, in his Word and in the knowledge of faith was he in the saints; for they all knew and believed that Christ, as God and man, should suffer for us, as is written in Heb 13: 8:

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yea and for ever;"

and in the Revelation of John 13:8:

"The Lamb of God that hath been slain from the foundation of the world."

Yet now he is speaking here especially of his divine nature.


15. But here reason is terribly offended and becomes mad and furious because God should become man; this reason cannot harmonize and understand. And this is the article of faith to which the Jews still in our day can not reconcile themselves, hence they cannot cease their throwing stones and their blasphemy. But Christ also continues on the other hand to hide himself from them and to go out of their temple, so that they cannot see nor find him in the Scriptures, in which they search daily. Again, this narrative is not a little terror to all who are so foolhardy about the Scriptures and never approach them with a humble spirit. For even in our day it happens that many read and study in the Scriptures and yet they cannot find Christ, he is hid and has gone out of the temple. And how many there are who say with their mouth that God is become man, and yet they are without the Spirit in their hearts; who whenever tested, prove that they were never in real earnest. This is sufficient on this subject."

Thus, Luther, at the same time, makes much of Jesus' descent from Abraham, and yet repudiates that descent as rendered invalid by virtue of the virgin birth; a birth which insulated Jesus from the contamination of Adam's curse. The kicker of the passage, however, is the bit about how:

"For even in our day it happens that many read and study in the Scriptures and yet they cannot find Christ, he is hid and has gone out of the temple."

According to Luther, Jesus was born a Jew, was raised in the Jewish tradition, but has left them far behind (or is it ahead, since, BEFORE Abraham, he WAS?). The truth of Jesus' teaching is a secret kept from the Jews by their own unwillingness to see it--how fortunate we are to be so gloriously conscious of it.

We read the following from the Adam Clarke Commentary:
John 8:58:

Before Abraham was, I am - The following is a literal translation of Calmet‘s note on this passage:

“I am from all eternity. I have existed before all ages. You consider in me only the person who speaks to you, and who has appeared to you within a particular time. But besides this human nature, which ye think ye know, there is in me a Divine and eternal nature. Both, united, subsist together in my person. Abraham knew how to distinguish them. He adored me as his God; and desired me as his Savior. He has seen me in my eternity, and he predicted my coming into the world.”

On the same verse Bishop Pearce speaks as follows: 

“What Jesus here says relates (I think) to his existence antecedent to Abraham‘s days, and not to his having been the Christ appointed and foretold before that time; for, if Jesus had meant this, the answer I apprehend would not have been a pertinent one. He might have been appointed and foretold for the Christ; but if he had not had an existence before Abraham‘s days, neither could he have seen Abraham, (as, according to our English translation, the Jews suppose him to have said), nor could Abraham have seen him, as I suppose the Jews understood him to have said in the preceding verse, to which words of the Jews the words of Jesus here are intended as an answer.”

I've been thinking quite a bit about the business of the Hindu/Buddhist versus the Christian religious orientation; I think orientation is really the only proper word for it; the word implies that there is more than one way of looking at things. On the one hand, it is absolutely true that, since Jesus came to my rescue as a healer way back in 1983, I have been a devout, uncompromising Christian-- I have cultivated a personal relationship with Jesus, prayed to Jesus, depended on Jesus, believed in Jesus, and enjoyed Jesus' protection and influence. However, at the same time, I must confess that I have retained certain pagan attitudes as elements of my Theology; it's all a part of my desire to stay broad-minded, and inclusive rather than exclusive.  This . . . flexibility, let us say . . . has set me apart from so many professing born-again Christians, who willingly, nay, enthusiastically condemn more than half the world, (i.e. followers of other religious beliefs), to the fires of Hell, just because they don't express their religious beliefs in the same language I do. It's not that I don't believe in Hell--I do--but I have been unwilling to condemn the rest of the world over what might really end up being a semantic disagreement. One of the things about my mother's Christianity that pissed me off, when I was young, was her   insistence that everybody that wasn't a Christian was going to go to Hell. That was something that I could not handle.

Even C. S. Lewis, a man who could never be confused with a namby-pamby, or Pantheist Christian, made allowances for differences of opinion at this basic level. At the end of The Last Battle there appears the following conversation between Aslan and a Calormene soldier--a soldier who, though born an enemy of Aslan, was, at heart, a friend:

“Then I fell at his feet and thought, surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him.”

“But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me.”

“Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?

The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him.

For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him.Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him.

And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.
Dost thou understand, Child?

I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days.

Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou shouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek."

In my case, I tried to do what so many New Age people do--I tried to subsume Buddhism and Hinduism under a generic umbrella of Christianity--I tried to make them equal in my mind. I included Jesus as one more in a long line of saints who are sent by the so-called Ascended Masters. The "Ascended Masters" are one of many organizations whose existence is proposed by New Age Philosophical cults; others are Scientology, Eckankar, Rosicrucianism, Theosophy, and Steiner's Anthroposophy, just to name a few. 

The Great White Brotherhood of St. Germaine is another (related) New Age organization--it is the one that I first came in contact with, when I started getting religion; through this organization's teaching, Jesus became, to me, one more great saint in long line of saints. Furthermore, I have to confess that I still hold to that argument somewhat. However the enlightenment that I have been getting from the Steiner lectures on the Bhagavad-Gita and the Epistles of Paul has really turned me around quite a bit; through those lectures, I can see that Christianity is a truly significant step forward in the spiritual evolution of Humankind, and that Jesus' claim to be the ONLY begotten Son of God is a whole lot more true that I used to think possible.

There are other Steiner works in which he places Jesus in a superior hierarchical relation to Krishna, Gautama Buddha, and so on; but I never saw as clearly, as I now see, that Jesus brought a new concept into the world that is of incalculable revolutionary importance; through His power as the Anointed One, and the sacrifice of His Holy Blood shed for Humankind, the kingdom of God is now available for humans to enjoy here on Earth. It is one thing to say that the human spirit is and always has been an eternal thing--that before Abraham was I AM; but to have the I AM look you in the face and proclaim His Presence in the here and now of mundane existence--THAT IS A BIG DEAL--AND A NEW DEAL.

According to Hindu philosophy and Buddhist philosophy, life is a veil of tears; Buddhist monks spend their lives in meditation, renouncing the illusions of maya, and attempting to escape this veil of tears by sidestepping it and entering a higher world of spirit; detachment is the key--do not become attached to anything, and you will never be disappointed, and the higher vibrations of spirit will dominate your life--even if your whole life is spent in a dream as illusory as the dream of maya you are renouncing.

We all want the higher vibratory world of spirit--this is what sehnsucht  is all about; but Jesus came to teach us that the act of renunciation, the invalidation of physical life, is a negative act. I can see, now, that Jesus brought a revolutionary message to the world: the message that, although the world of the physical is Maya, is illusion, it is still an illusion created by spirit, and we can make it real by simply validating it--by penetrating the spiritual essence of it, and watching it ripen into reality before our physical eyes, just like a story becomes a myth, just like a symbol becomes an archetype. As I said last week:

"The apparent contradiction is not actually a contradiction; it's just like how, when we figure out how to say something, we're not really expressing truth as much as we are merely finding a way of articulating an expression that our puny literal consciousness abilities can appreciate. Likewise, an action is a so-called "elected invention" that is ultimately futile, but which we perform anyway, because, as Jesus says, we can see the reality even in the maya. In the Hindu philosophy all reality is maya, so all actions are maya; but Jesus says, "Yeah, it's maya, but it's also real, it's also there, and because of that we can validate it and cherish it give life to it, as yet another dimension of spiritual reality… Not a lower dimension but another dimension.

At the end of the lectures on the Bhagavad Gita Steiner proclaims the singlemost important revolutionary contribution Jesus made to the evolution of Humankind: that the Christ Consciousness is available to EVERYONE. Steiner makes the distinction between the Hindu principle that physical reality is maya, illusion, and is therefore to be transcended through renunciation, and the completely new affirmation of spirit IN THE FLESH that was the primary thrust of Jesus’ entire career. Though His incarnation and sacrifice, His blood shed onto the face of Mother Earth, Jesus ushered in a completely new epoch, an epoch of Heaven on Earth. Jesus did away with the futility of human existence by affirming the spirituality and validity of maya; of course the mundane dimension is an illusion, but, so what? What articulation of spirit does not fall short of the infinitude of its source? The fact that we are all tiny foci of an infinite personality does not make us insignificant, but rather makes us glorious realities in a universe in which levels of reality constantly intertwine and comingle! That Jesus was Man and God is our inspiration not our condemnation! Jesus came into the world not to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved!"


The problem with any articulated form is that it is only an approximation, that it is only symbolic--the limits of its finite definition never allow it to go far enough to tell the whole tale. It takes the open-ended, unknowing power of faith to realize the ultimate truth of anything, and once a thing has achieved its ultimate form, we can't understand it anyway. You have heard me speak the word "mythological" many times: a story or an event becomes "mythological" when a single articulated form, or plot, or situation, becomes illuminated by the resonance of infinity; an archetypal symbol is just such a thing; an archetype is a form, dictated by the consciousness of man, that is universal enough to enter the the collective unconscious (or consciousness, take your pick) and become an element of language, while still resonating with eternal rays. For us to think of life as a veil of tears--for us to long for heaven as a better place than here-- is to deny the existence of the I AM Presence. The I AM says that now, before Abraham was in the past, now, before Abraham will be in the future, I Am. I Am now, in the present is the glory of Christianity, and Jesus' gift to the world.

Next time we will take a deeper look at how the I AM Presence interpenetrates the Eternal Now. For now let us close with this prayer: Jesus, thank you for motivating John the Beloved to invite us to contemplate the infinite. Help us stretch our minds around this inconceivable immensity, and find ourselves, at last, in your cradling arms. Amen.

Monday, October 15, 2012

24 Right Action

24 Right Action

My two previous sermons have been on the truth and how it sets you free. We have determined that truth's bottom line on the mundane plane is right action; infinite freedom on earth is achieved through right actions. The question is what is right action? I mean what exactly do we do, or not do?

It's a slippery slope because, even though we want clear, steadfast rules to live and act by, the dictates of spirit in terms of right action are the same as for belief--they are different for everyone. That is not to say that the infinite, static, immutable essence of spirit is somehow fickle, and changeable, or that the Mind of God is in any way double- or triple-minded; but, rather, it is to say that the precise words, with which spirit will manifest in the human mind, will differ, from one mind to another, as much any other aspect of unique human individuality will differ from one to another; we are all anomalous little corners of the Godhead, so there will, therefore, be subtle if not dramatic differences between one person's right action and another person's right action.


From JollyNotes.com we read:

"Our actions are usually a reflection of who we are. Our actions should reflect what we profess to believe. We should act on our word. We should remember to always take the right actions even when it’s difficult – We should “walk the walk”, not only “talk the talk”.  We should think carefully before we act. We should treat others the same way we ourselves would like to be treated. Children and adults alike are watching and learning from our actions. Remember that in everything we say and do, we are ambassadors for God. And finally, sometimes God  tells us – enough with the prayers – Now I need you to ACT!"

From the same site we get the following scripture readings:

Colossians 3:23
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

Ecclesiastes 9:10
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”

Luke 6:45
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
From the web article, Bible Teaching That Educates the Mind and Directs the Feet by Sid Cates, we read:

    •    Prov. 23:7:
    •    For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.

    •    Dan. 1:8:
    •    But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.

    •    Luke 6:45:
    •    A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

    •    Rom. 10:10:
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

"These verses point out the importance of a right heart in producing right actions. These verses do not discount the importance of hearing, learning, or memorizing God's Word. Nor do they imply that a "made-up mind" cannot produce right actions. There is no doubt that someone who makes up his mind to do right can do it, for a while. They clearly indicate, however, that a purposeful heart is the foundation for right actions, not a purposeful mind.

Nevertheless, the mind plays a vital part in right actions. The "gateway" to the heart is through the mind. If we as Bible teachers want our students to walk rightly, our teaching must not only educate the mind but reach the heart."
Something must be said concerning the effect the heart has on the will. The will is a spiritual entity that we have not spoken of enough; the will is linked in philosophy with desire, and as far as it goes with the ineffable sehnsucht of C. S. Lewis; the desire for God that brings future heavenly grace into the present. Thus, the joy of right action is realized in the manifestation of heavenly desires in the earthly plane. These realizations are not possible without the action of will on the literal consciousness; there must first be a resolution of mind, and then the body will act accordingly. We have spoken of faith as a literal image that becomes enlightened with heavenly energy through the open door of the “cloud of unknowing”; perhaps the will is the mechanism by which this literal image is created?

Remember this quote from The Screwtape Letters:

"He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles."


Remember, also, that spiritual manifestations, on the mundane level of the cosmic hierarchy, are essentially arbitrary, are essentially fictions which the infinite writes on the crusty, inflexible slate of time, for the benefit of Man's puny powers of literal understanding. The choices spirit makes in our sphere of comprehension are not essential, but, rather, symbolic, hence the sense of mythological reality with which all spiritual experience resonates.

The following lengthy quote is from Rudolf Steiner's commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. In the shortest possible summary: the Bhagavad Gita is a poetic section of the Mahabarata, the sacred Hindu "bible", so to speak, and is a record of the conversation between the warrior Arjuna and the Hindu Christ figure, Krishna, just before the great battle between the Pandu family and the Kuru family--a battle that will unmake the world. The main thrust of the Steiner section echoes what I have just said about the essential arbitrariness of action, but draws connections between action and destiny; it also attempts to draw a parallel between the ancient Hindu text and the more recent letters of Saint Paul:


The Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of St. Paul, LECTURE III, 30 December, 1912

"Only when we consider these life-connections do we realise how the laws of destiny work in the conceptions of the world. In the background of such great revelations, such great world-philosophies as the Gita and the Epistles of St. Paul, we are confronted by the ruling of these laws of destiny. We might say: if we look behind the Gita and the Epistles of St. Paul, we can see the direct ruling of destiny. How can we trace destiny in the Epistles?

We often find indicated in them that the real salvation of soul-development consists in the so-called “justification by faith” as compared to the worthlessness of external works; because of that which the soul may become when it makes the final connection with the Christ-Impulse, when it takes into itself the great force that flows from the proper understanding of the Resurrection of Christ. When we meet with this in the Epistles, we feel, on the other hand, that the human soul may, so to say, be thrown back upon itself, and thus be estranged from all external works and rely entirely on mercy and justification by faith. Then come the external works; they are there in the world; we do not do away with them because we turn from them; we join forces with them in the world. Again destiny rings out to us in all its gigantic greatness. Only when we look at things in this way do we see the might of such revelations to mankind."

[Sidebar: The subtleties of the Faith/Works dichotomy have not always been clear to me. I have not always understood how good works might not be a good thing; I have have recently come to understand that good works are kind of like good words: you may say something nice and not really mean it, and this amounts to less than nothing both for the recipient of the compliment and for you--empty words are like plastic cartons with nothing in them, and will not hold anything up under the light of honest day; I, myself, would rather not bear the weight of empty vessels than parade around displaying toy medals on my sleeve, the evidence that people need to lie to me to make me feel good; people might as well make little cooing sounds like pigeons than actually construct false sentences out of well-meaning lies. Likewise, you may do something nice for the wrong reasons and end up paying the price for that falsehood as well--in short, my conclusion is that all our thought, words, and deeds must be essentially, technically, and eventually justified by faith.

Back to Steiner:]
"First of all, a distinction is made between what men have to do in the ordinary world. It is indeed a grand situation in which the Gita places this before us. Arjuna has to fight against his blood-relations. That is his external destiny, it is his own doing, his Karma, which comprises the deeds which he must first of all accomplish in this particular situation. In these deeds he lives at first as external man; but the great Krishna teaches him that a man only becomes wise, only unites himself with the Divine Eternal if he performs his deeds because they themselves in the external course of nature and of the evolution of humanity prove to be necessary; yet the wise man must release himself from them. He performs the deeds; but in him there is something which at the same time is a looker-on at these deeds, which has no part in them, which says: I do this work, but I might just as well say: I let it happen.  One becomes wise by looking on at what one does as though it were being done by another; and by not allowing oneself to be disturbed by the desire which causes the deed or by the sorrow it may produce.

“It is all one,” says the great Krishna to his pupil Arjuna, “whether thou art in the ranks of the sons of Pandu, or over there among the sons of Kuru; what ever thou doest, thou must as a wise man make thyself free from Pandu-ism and Kuru-ism. If it does not affect thee whether thou art to act with the Pandus as though one of them, or to act with the Kurus as though thou were thyself a son of Kuru; if thou canst rise above all this and not be affected by thine own deeds, like a flame which burns quietly in a place protected from the wind, undisturbed by anything external: if thy soul, as little disturbed by its own deeds, lives quietly beside them, then does it become wise; then does it free itself from its deeds, and does not inquire what success attends them.” For the result of our deeds only concerns the narrow limitations of our soul; but if we perform them because humanity or the course of the world require them from us, then we perform these deeds regardless as to whether they lead to dreadful or to glorious results for ourselves. This lifting oneself above one's deeds, this standing upright no matter what our hands may carry out, even — speaking of the Gita situation — what our swords may carry out or what we may speak with our mouth; this standing upright of our inner self regardless of all that we speak with our mouth and do with our hands, this it is to which the great Krishna leads his pupil Arjuna.

Thus the great Krishna directs his pupil Arjuna to a human ideal, which is so presented that a man says: “I perform my deeds, but it matters not whether they are performed by me or by another — I look on at them: that which happens by my hand or is spoken by my mouth, I can look on at as objectively as though I saw a rock being loosened and rolling down the mountain into the depths. Thus do I stand as regards my deeds; and although I may be in a position to know this or that, to form concepts of the world, I myself am quite distinct from these concepts, and I may say: In me there dwells something which is, it is true, united to me and which perceives, but I look on at what another is perceiving. Thus I myself am liberated from my perceptions. I can become free from my deeds, free from my knowledge and free from my perceptions."

Of particular interest to me is this idea:
". . . a man only becomes wise, only unites himself with the Divine Eternal if he performs his deeds because they themselves in the external course of nature and of the evolution of humanity prove to be necessary; yet the wise man must release himself from them. He performs the deeds; but in him there is something which at the same time is a looker-on at these deeds, which has no part in them, which says: I do this work, but I might just as well say: I let it happen."

It has often been suggested that great works of art "just happen"; of course it must not be forgotten that it takes years of disciplined study and concentration to make possible that effortless divine exhalation which is the great artist's stock-in-trade, but, as Yeats says in the poem Adam's Curse:
"I said, ‘A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught."

It must also be remembered that the moment of epiphany that illuminates the long-sought-after poetic line always comes from above--the poet would be a fool to claim ownership of the thing because he knows that he has merely opened the door in his own soul for the inspiration to flow through.

And again, as C. S. Lewis reminds us, in The Screwtape Letters:

“The Enemy wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour's talents--or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall.”

It will readily be seen how this relates to sehnsucht and will: if we base our actions on the divine impulse which comes through faith, our minds open to the possibilities of the mythological dimension and merely act out a script that has already been written since before the world began.

John 1:1
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Thus, the Word of God has been dictating our actions since before we were made. As we have discussed before, this does not negate the possibility of free will, but it assures us that, if we conform our personal will to the will of the Father, we will always act from the heart, and never err in judgment or effect. The Word is the wind of spirit, whither it bloweth we know not, but it is good, it is always good. We question not, we only act, we only perform the script as faithfully as our powers of comprehension allow.

One question raised by the passage:
“he performs his deeds because they themselves in the external course of nature and of the evolution of humanity prove to be necessary”
is that of “what is necessary?” Does the wind of spirit answer this question as well? I think maybe yes and no; but there is another wrinkle added by Saint Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 12:4-31
"4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.
15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."

In this passage we see that right action is not always individual action; we see that sometimes we may perform the Will of God more efficiently by working together than by striking out on our own; we may come to understand that the Christ-Impulse is a binding, synthesizing power that reveals our true anomalous selves IN EACH OTHER. Thus, WHAT IS NECESSARY might be an end that we, with our individual vision cannot even perceive as a whole, but only in part. Just as we see ourselves in a glass darkly, the ultimate ends of Human evolution may not be apparent to even the most prophetic-minded of us. The necessity of an act must come from the inward impulse of the Christ pressing outward, from our inner to our outer realities. The necessity of an action can only be discovered in the script that was written for us “In the Beginning”.

We must always guard against the influence of "the crowd" in supplying us with easy group answers to difficult personal questions, but that does not mean that there is no power in joining forces with each other when the cause is just and the way is straight and clear. Sometimes the "right" in right action is so obvious that there can be no doubt as to what the proper course should be for one and all. These moments are rare, but, when they appear, the power manifested by like-minded men bound together by a single righteous purpose can be staggering and overwhelming.

Now, on a different note: I’m sure that there are many who come to these sermons of mine, which are filled with material from such diverse sources, many of which might easily be termed “new age”, Steiner not the least among them, and ask, “How can these sermons be Christian?” I tell you, this doubt could not be more unfounded. It is true that the writings of Steiner are replete with new age material and terminology, etheric bodies, Atlantean epochs, and so on; you can take or leave this material—it is not central to Steiner’s main message—how can a name for something immaterial come between us and the truth of spirit which defies definition or nomination?

But you have to understand this one important thing—no one venerates and worships Jesus more that Rudolf Steiner; the main objective of Steiner’s teaching is to put the various world religious beliefs in perspective, a perspective which presents the devotee with a long, long continuum of evolutionary levels to contemplate, but which centers Christianity at the culminating peak of this cosmic process.
Concerning the question of right action, Steiner points out an apparent contradiction between what Krishna says and what Jesus says: Krishna instructs us to act without desire, to act without validating the act and just let it happen, thereby allowing it to enter the mythological domain--to Krishna we are all individual pieces of a giant cosmic puzzle whose pieces must ultimately make no sense; on the other hand, Jesus tells us that, if we work together, we bestow purpose on our actions. So, on one hand, our actions are purposeless and on the other hand our actions have purpose. Both these things are true--but Jesus' slant on things is a bit more radical than any idea of reality brought forth before His time.

The apparent contradiction is not actually a contradiction; it's just like how, when we figure out how to say something, we're not really expressing truth as much as we are merely finding a way of articulating an expression that our puny literal consciousness abilities can appreciate. Likewise, an action is a so-called "elected invention" that is ultimately futile but which we perform anyway because, as Jesus says, we can see the reality even in the maya. In the Hindu philosophy all reality is maya, so all actions are maya; but Jesus says, "Yeah, it's maya, but it's also real, it's also there, and because of that we can validate it and cherish it give life to it, as yet another dimension of spiritual reality… Not a lower dimension but another dimension.

At the end of the lectures on the Bhagavad Gita Steiner proclaims the singlemost important revolutionary contribution Jesus made to the evolution of Humankind: that the Christ Consciousness is available to EVERYONE. Steiner makes the distinction between the Hindu principle that physical reality is maya, illusion, and is therefore to be transcended through renunciation, and the completely new affirmation of spirit IN THE FLESH that was the primary thrust of Jesus’ entire career. Though His incarnation and sacrifice, His blood shed onto the face of Mother Earth, Jesus ushered in a completely new epoch, an epoch of Heaven on Earth. Jesus did away with the futility of human existence by affirming the spirituality and validity of maya; of course the mundane dimension is an illusion, but, so what? What articulation of spirit does not fall short of the infinitude of its source? The fact that we are all tiny foci of an infinite personality does not make us insignificant, but rather makes us glorious realities in a universe in which levels of reality constantly intertwine and comingle! That Jesus was Man and God is our inspiration not our condemnation! Jesus came into the world not to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved!

Thus, as fragments of the whole, we must cherish our relationships with other fragments of the whole, and work with them to further the ends of Heaven on Earth. This does not mean that we join with “the crowd”. In this one sense, the idea of thinking for yourself comes in conflict with the idea of banding together with like-minded people. In order for us to become one with the body of Christ, and not with the body of some false dogma, extreme care must be exercised to make sure we are in perfect agreement with our peers with whom we work and achieve. As mentioned earlier:

Colossians 3:23

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

We are instructed here not to work FOR men, but it doesn’t say not to work WITH men. The brotherhood of Christ is a powerful union of saints whose singleness of purpose must spring from the motivation of the Christ-Impulse. Only union with our peers on a spiritual level will reveal the truth and validity of our relationships. This takes a seriousness of intent and a closeness as intimate as any marriage: friends in Christ and friends in spirit, will not experience any dissonance on the deepest spiritual levels, although they may easily disagree on the semantics of their theology. In such a case they must be willing to abandon the semantics for the faith and hope transmitted to them from the cloud of unknowing, and go forth IN ACTION motivated by Spirit, each performing his rightful part, each submitting to the higher Will of the Father, as mediated to Man by the Son.

Even in the Pre-Christian philosopher, Plato, intimations of the Son are prophesied: in Plato's Republic is to be found a description of the tripartite soul; he divides the human being into three distinct levels of structure:
1. the highest is the intellect, the reason,
3. the lowest, the physical, the carnal, he calls desire, and
2. the middle he calls spirit, the middle ground, the  mediator between one's highest intentions and lowest animal drives.

Once again, it is is not difficult to see forming in the mind of pre-Christian Man the image of the Father, the logos, the infinite mind of God, in contradistinction with the low carnal desires mediated by Jesus, the perfect God-Man, who affirms the possibility of life-everlasting in every dimension of time and space.
In conclusion, let me reiterate some of the key points of this message:
1.    The dictates of spirit in terms of right action are the same as for belief--they are different for everyone.
2.    Our actions should reflect what we profess to believe.
3.    Ecclesiastes 9:10
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”
4.    "The "gateway" to the heart is through the mind. If we as Bible teachers want our students to walk rightly, our teaching must not only educate the mind but reach the heart."
5.    The will is linked in philosophy with desire, and, as far as it goes, with the ineffable sehnsucht of C. S. Lewis; the desire for God that brings future heavenly grace into the present. Thus, the joy of right action is realized in the manifestation of heavenly desires in the earthly plane. These realizations are not possible without the action of will on the literal consciousness; there must first be a resolution of mind, and then the body will act accordingly.
6.    The choices spirit makes in our sphere of comprehension are not essential, but, rather, symbolic, hence the sense of mythological reality with which all spiritual experience resonates.
7.    .". . . a man only becomes wise, only unites himself with the Divine Eternal if he performs his deeds because they themselves in the external course of nature and of the evolution of humanity prove to be necessary; yet the wise man must release himself from them. He performs the deeds; but in him there is something which at the same time is a looker-on at these deeds, which has no part in them, which says: I do this work, but I might just as well say: I let it happen."
8. Right action is not always individual action; we see that by working together we may perform the Will of God more efficiently than on our own; we may come to understand that the Christ-Impulse is a binding, synthesizing power that reveals our true anomalous selves IN EACH OTHER. Thus, WHAT IS NECESSARY might be an end that we, with our individual vision cannot even perceive as a whole, but only in part. Just as we see ourselves in a glass darkly, the ultimate ends of Human evolution may not be apparent to even the most prophetic-minded of us. The necessity of an act must come from the inward impulse of the Christ pressing outward, from our inner to our outer realities.
9. Though His incarnation and sacrifice, His blood shed onto the face of Mother Earth, Jesus ushered in a completely new epoch, an epoch of Heaven on Earth. Jesus did away with the futility of human existence by affirming the spirituality and validity of maya; of course the mundane dimension is an illusion, but, so what? What articulation of spirit does not fall short of the infinitude of its source?


Thus we close this series of sermons on right action by affirming that what we do comes from what we believe, and what we believe makes a difference. It's hard to say just what we ought to do at any given moment, and we can get pretty confused. But if we habitually turn to Jesus for direction I cannot see how we may fail to do the best we can. Even while all those around us are spinning in hellish confusion, the certitude of Jesus' wisdom and benevolence will provide a safe haven in the sea of madness.

Let us pray: Jesus, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Amen.