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A READER'S JOURNAL
The Ahrimanic Deception
Lecture in Zurich, Oct. 27, 1919
Published by Anthroposophic Press, NY in 1985
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2003
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In this lecture Steiner lays out the 6,000 year plan of Lucifer, Christ, and Ahriman for humankind. Lucifer was incarnated the third millennium B. C. in the Far East of China, Christ was incarnated in the Middle East in the middle of the time period, and Ahriman will be incarnated in the third millennium A.D. in the West. This is a marvelous symmetry and balance which makes it also easy to remember. Without Christ in the center providing the necessary balance, we would be in a dilemma, having to choose between the spiritual inflation of Lucifer and the spiritual deflation of Ahriman. Without Christ's balancing influence, we are led either to the airy folly of Icarus (ancient metaphor) or the computerized soul-less zombies of Dennett (modern metaphor).
In this lecture Steiner was sharing the mysteries of the ancient traditions, to which he has direct access via his supersensible perceptions.
[page 2] When a man of today learns to know something of this original wisdom, he is astounded at the depths of the realities to which it points. Yet in the course of the studies we have been pursuing for many years, it has been shown that this widespread wisdom-teaching of ancient times must always be contrasted with the understanding of life and the world that was possessed by the old Hebrew people and bore a completely different character.
In every epoch, this is true — the ancient wisdom will be different from the current wisdom or wisdom of the time, even though the understanding of life and the world changes upon our entry into each new century and millennium due to the course of the evolution of consciousness. In each new culture, with each different level of understanding, humans will hold the ancient wisdom as flawed unless they find a way to comprehend its truth directly. In Rudolf Steiner, as in no other human being, we find someone who was willing and able to present the ancient wisdom to us as a science, in a way accessible to scientists of all persuasions. And when one, as a scientist understands the deep reality presented by Steiner's presentation of this ancient wisdom, one does not have to change one's scientific beliefs one whit, one iota, but instead one can add an entire dimension to one's understanding of science by encompassing the spiritual world as well as the physical world.
In the early centuries after Christ Jesus's deed on Golgotha, humans "understood the Christ through what they had received from Lucifer." Those who did were called Gnostics and their mode of thought was permeated by Luciferic forces. (pages 4 and 5) On the opposite end of the spectrum is our modern day in the beginning of the third millennium after the deed on Golgotha in which Ahrimanic forces are rampant that urge humans to understand Christ, not as a cosmic being come to Earth, but rather as the 'simple man Jesus of Nazareth.' Thus the cosmic being of Christ is ignored and the deeds of the Christ are deemed those of an ordinary human being who just happened to do extraordinary things that we should admire.
[page 5] The more the man Jesus of Nazareth could be regarded as an ordinary human being, one belonging to the ranks of other noted personalities, the better it pleased a certain materialistic trend of modern theology. Of the supersensible element of the Event of Golgotha, modern theology is willing to recognize little, very little.
There is another impulse now that is growing stronger, an "impulse from a supersensible Being different from the Being of Christ or of Lucifer." That Being is Ahriman, who can equally be called "sub-sensible," Steiner hints. How do these three Beings inter-relate with us humans?
[page 6] Lucifer is the power that stirs up in man all fanatical, all falsely mystical forces, all that physiologically tends to bring the blood into disorder and so lift man above and outside himself. Ahriman is the power that makes man dry, prosaic, philistine — ossifies him and brings him to the superstition of materialism. And the true nature and being of man is essentially the effort to hold the balance between the powers of Lucifer and Ahriman; the Christ Impulse helps present humanity to establish this equilibrium.
The superstition of materialism! Was there ever a more apt term for the folly of the flat Earth scientists of today, not those that literally believe the Earth is flat, but those materialist-minded scientists who look at the Earth from one perspective only, who in effect take a photo of one view of the Earth, one view of the cosmos in which the Earth is immersed, and paste this flat photo up above their altar to materialism and worship it.
[pages 9-10] What the ideas of Galileo, Copernicus, have brought to mankind is grand and mighty, but not an absolute truth, by no means an absolute truth. It is one aspect of the universe, one side from a certain standpoint. . . . The only right view — according to spiritual science — is to realize that all that is accepted by way of mere world-mathematics, mere world-schematism of a mechanical order, does not furnish man with absolute truth about the universe, but with illusions.
The physical view of the world is just one point of view; the mathematical view of the world is a convenient and useful way of interpreting the physical world from another point of view. It is the point of view that is fostered and nurtured by Ahriman and a point of view that by its very success inspires humans to believe that it is the true view of the cosmos, rather than simply one point of view. Those who have invested their entire life in worshiping one point of view, believing it to be the whole point of view, the entire truth, do not want to hear that their life has been infused with a superstitious illusion, and Ahriman would be loath to inform them of that nuance of their existence.
[page 10] Ahriman has the greatest possible interest in instructing men in mathematics, but not in instructing them that mathematical-mechanistic concepts of the universe are merely illusions. . . . that they are only points of view, like photographs from one side.
Superstitious materialistic scientists are in the same position as the man who went to dinner at Antoine's, a gourmet restaurant in New Orleans. He ate the printed menu of food selections and complained about the food. Illusions of reality, like the printed menu, are useful because they help us to understand one side of reality. Unless we learn to discern the difference between our illusions of reality and the reality to pointed by those illusions, however, we are in danger of starving our immortal souls by consuming a continuous diet of cardboard menus.
"Why don't you just tell them the truth?" some well-meaning person might ask. Steiner minces no words when he answers that question.
[page 7] People nowadays flee the truth, and one cannot give it to them in an unvarnished form because they would ridicule it and scoff and jeer. But if one gives it to them through the "Threefold Social Organism" as one now tries to do, then they will not have it either — not the majority, at any rate. The fact that people reject these things is just one of the means which the Ahrimanic powers can use and which will give Ahriman the greatest possible following when he appears in human form on earth.
One of the principles that will lead us to a threefold social order as Steiner proposed is found in the concept of primary property by Andrew J. Galambos. Fully developed this concept, in my opinion, will lead to a view of freedom from all sides versus the current one-sided points of view, in which each person has a different definition of freedom, or a confused one, or worse, none at all. Fully developed this concept will lead to the implementation of Steiner's threefold order. Unfortunately, Steiner was not around to learn of Galambos's revolutionary concept, and I've found few people who have studied both Galambos and Steiner. What happens when I attempt to explain the principle of primary property to students of Steiner? Many of them scoff and jeer, using every sort of pejorative adjective. Here's one example, "Of all of Galambos's ideas this is easily the silliest, and for you, a supposed student of Steiner's to advocate it, is even more strange." These words come from someone who, as a supposed student of Steiner's, might be expected to recognize and avoid Ahrimanic influences better than others.
[page 7] This disregard of the weightiest truths is precisely what will build Ahriman the best bridge to the success of his incarnation.
Rick Pitino, a famous basketball coach, once said, "When you build bridges, you can keep crossing them." If you cross bridges during your daily waking life, experiencing life from a one-sided materialistic superstition, and you cross bridges during your nocturnal soul life (while asleep), experiencing the fullness of your soul life in the cosmos, you will feel a disconcerting incongruity between your waking materialistic life and your sleeping spiritual life in your soul.
[page 9] And much of the great discord felt by modern man is derived from the disharmony between what the soul experiences and what the waking consciousness acknowledges as its world-conception.
Through the well-known psychological phenomenon of projection, the disharmony one feels within, when it is not understood fully as coming from within, is projected out upon the world. People who feel this discord can be recognized by the way they bemoan the "disharmony and discord out there in the world."
When Marx wrote his doctrine, it spread quickly among the proletariat, but was firmly rejected by university science. Then it came to be accepted as a proven fact because Marx used all the methods of present day science.
[page 13] Middle-class circles have unfortunately had no Karl Marx who could prove the opposite for them . . . A middle-class, bourgeois-Marx would be fully able to prove the exact opposite by the same strict method. There is no sort of swindle or humbug about it; the proof would work out right. Whence does this come? It comes from the fact that present human thinking, the present intellect, lies in a stratum of being where it does not reach down to realities. One can therefore prove something quite strictly, and also prove its opposite.
We have built a bridge to understanding how a one-sided materialistic view of life can lead to egregious mistakes and error in our lives. Let cross that bridge once more as we look with Steiner at those who take a one-sided view of the world through the Gospel. In every town in America one can find a "Full Gospel Church" for whose members the Gospel is held to be the only way to view the spiritual world. This held belief is no longer appropriate due to the evolution of humankind and its consciousness in the past two millennia.
[page 16] The Gospel was given to those who lived in the first centuries of Christianity, and to believe that today the Gospel can give the whole of Christianity is simply a half-truth. It is therefore also a half-error which befogs people and thus furnishes Ahriman with the best means of attaining the goal and the triumph of his incarnation. How numerous are those who think they are speaking out of Christian humility, but in reality out of dreadful arrogance, when they say, "Oh, we need no spiritual science! The homeliness, the simplicity of the Gospels leads us to what men need of the eternal!"
Steiner reminds us that the Gospels were written back in a time when humans were permeated by a strength of Luciferic impulse which is no longer as strong for us today. Less we fall into the clutches of that dastardly troll Ahriman when we cross over his carefully constructed bridge, we must deepen our understanding of the Gospel with the insights of spiritual science. What is the alternative if we do not recognize the spiritual realities that the printed menu called the Bible points to? It is to paradoxically walk away from Christ by a study of the Gospels.
[page 17] To accept the Gospel as it is and as numberless people accept it today, particularly as it is taught today, is not a path to Christ; it is a path away from Christ.
Oh, they come to a Christ, Steiner says, but it is only a one-sided picture, a flat-Earth view of Christ, a hallucination of Christ that they come to, not the reality of Christ. Why, just look at what modern theologians say of Paul's experience on the road to Damascus, for example. They claim that Paul suffered a hallucination on the road to Damascus, not a direct experience of the reality of the Christ permeating the Earth with His cosmic being for the first time in history. Maybe we need a new revelation of Christ today? Steiner says, "No," and explains why.
[page 19] We have no need, however, of a new revelation; the time of revelations in the old sense is over. We need a new science, one that illumined by the Spirit. But men must have the courage for such a new science. . . . Mankind must be courageous . . . and say: secular science by itself leads to illusion, the Gospel by itself leads to hallucination. The middle way between illusion and hallucination is found only by grasping reality through the Spirit.
Thus, we must seek the reality of Christ as the balance point in our lives by which to avoid the extremes of Luciferic influences on one side and Ahrimanic influences on the other side. One way we can do this is to avoid placing too much emphasis on just one of the Gospels. There are four Gospels for a very good reason — to provide us with four perspectives of the spiritual reality that lies behind the Gospels. To emphasize but one Gospel leads to hallucination. Steiner says,
[page 20] A great wisdom lies in the fact that these four Gospels have come down to the civilized world. In this way man is protected from being caught up by some one stream, which will take possession of him — as in the case of so many members of sects — if he is influenced by one Gospel alone.
In these short twenty pages, Steiner has laid out the Ahrimanic deception like a patient on an operating table. With a brief CAT-scan we can view the inner workings of Ahriman as he strives to permeate our individual lives with his deception. We can ignore the results of Steiner's CAT-scan of Ahriman at our own peril. What we do with that information is up to each of us in freedom and light. What we do with that information will form the reality of our cosmos for all time.
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