Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Michael Stream

As to Michael in particular, it is believed from the sense of the letter that he is one of the archangels; but there is no archangel in the heavens. There are, indeed, higher and lower angels, also wiser and less wise; and in the societies of angels there are governors who are set over the rest; but yet there are no archangels in obedience to whom others are held by any authority. There is no such government in the heavens, for no one there acknowledges in heart anyone above himself except the Lord only; this is what is meant by the Lord's words in Matthew: Be not ye called teacher, for one is your Teacher, Christ, but all ye are brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for one is your Father, who is in the heavens. Neither be ye called masters, for one is your Master, Christ. He that is greatest among you shall be your minister (Matt. 23:8-11). But by those angels that are mentioned in the Word, as "Michael" and "Raphael," administrations and functions are meant, and in general, limited and certain departments of the administration and function of all the angels; so here "Michael" means that department of angelic function that has been referred to above, namely, the defense of that part of the doctrine from the Word that teaches that the Lord's Human is Divine, and that man must live a life of love to the Lord and of charity towards the neighbor that he may receive salvation from the Lord, consequently that department of function is meant that is for fighting against those who separate the Divine from the Human of the Lord, and who separate faith from the life of love and charity, and who even profess charity with the lips but not in the life. [3] Moreover, in the Word "angels" do not mean angels in the spiritual sense, but Divine truths from the Lord (see above, n. 130, 302), for the reason that angels are not angels from what is their own [proprium], but from the reception of Divine truth from the Lord. It is the same in respect to archangels, who signify that Divine truth, as has been said above. Angels, moreover, in the heavens do not have such names as men on earth have, but they have names expressive of their functions, and in general, to every angel a name is given according to his quality; this is why "name" signifies in the Word the quality of a thing and state. The name Michael means, from its derivation in the Hebrew, "who is like God;" therefore Michael signifies the Lord in relation to that Divine truth that the Lord is God even as to the Human, and that man must live from Him, that is, in love to Him from Him, and in love towards the neighbor. Michael is mentioned also in Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1, and signifies there like as here the genuine truth from the Word, which will be for those who are of the church to be established by the Lord; for "Michael" means those who will favor the doctrine of the New Jerusalem, the two essentials of which doctrine are, that the Human of the Lord is Divine, and that there must be a life of love and charity. - Emanuel Swedenborg, Apocalypse Explained 735

Verse 16. And the earth helped the woman; and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast out of her mouth, signifies that reasonings from falsities in abundance, which the dragonists produce, fall to nothing before the spiritual truths rationally understood, which the Michaels, of whom the New Church consists, bring forward. By "the earth," which helped the woman, is signified the church as to doctrine (n. 285); and because the reasonings from falsities, which the dragonists produce, are treated of, they are truths from the Word, by which "the earth," that is, the church, "helps the woman;" by "opening her mouth," is signified to adduce those truths; by "the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth," are signified reasonings from falsities in abundance (n. 563); by "swallowing up" is signified to make them fall to nothing; by the Michaels are meant the men of the New Church; by "Michael," the wise therein; and by "his angels," the rest. [2] Since in the New Church this dogma is rejected, that the understanding is to be held captive under obedience to faith, and in the place of it, this is received, that the truth of the church should be seen, in order that it may be believed (n. 224); and since truth cannot be seen otherwise than rationally, therefore, it is said, from truths rationally understood. How can any man be led by the Lord, and conjoined with heaven, who shuts up his understanding in such things as relate to salvation and eternal life? Is it not the understanding which will be enlightened and taught? And what is the understanding closed by religion, but thick darkness, and such thick darkness as rejects from itself the illuminating light? Again, who can acknowledge any truth and retain it, unless he sees it? What is truth not seen but a voice not understood, which, with sensual corporeal men, is usually retained in the memory, but cannot be with the wise? The wise, indeed, cast out empty or unmeaning words from the memory, that is, such as have not entered from the understanding; as that one God consists of three Persons, also that the Lord, born from eternity, is not one and the same with the Lord born in time, that is, that one Lord is God and not the other; and again, that the life of charity, which consists in good works, and likewise in repentance from evil works, effects nothing to salvation; a wise man does not understand such things; therefore from his rationality he says, religion does not effect anything. Is not religion to shun evil and do good? Must not the doctrine of the church teach this, as also what a man should believe, that he may do the good works of religion from God? - Emanuel Swedenborg, Apocalypse Revealed 564

We know that as we are surrounded here by the three kingdoms of outer Nature, the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms in the physical world of sense, so we are surrounded in the spiritual world by the higher kingdoms of which we have spoken in so many connections as the kingdoms of the Hierarchies. Even as we descend into the kingdoms of Nature, beginning with man and coming down to the animal kingdom, so, as we ascend to the super-sensible, we come to the kingdom of the Angeloi. The Angels have the task of guiding and protecting the individual human being as he passes from earthly life to earthly life. Thus the tasks that fall to the spiritual world in relation to the individual human being, are allotted to the Beings of the kingdom of Angeloi.
We then go on up to the kingdom of Archangeloi, who have the most varied tasks. Now it is one of their tasks to guide and direct the fundamental tendencies of successive ages in relation to man.
Thus for about three centuries before the end of the eighteen-seventies, there was what we may call the dominion of Gabriel. For one who studies the evolution of humanity, not on the surface as is customary today, but in the depths, this dominion of Gabriel is expressed in the fact that the deepest and most important impulses in the process of humanity during that time were implanted in those forces which we may call the forces of heredity. Never were the forces of physical inheritance that work through the generations so important as in the three centuries preceding the last third of the 19th century.
Let us see, my dear friends, how this expresses itself. We know that in the 19th century the problem of heredity became the most pressing and important in the consciousness of men. Man felt how his qualities of soul and spirit are dependent on heredity. It was as though at the last moment he came to feel what had been holding sway in human evolution as a real Law of Nature in the 16th, 17th, and 18th, and in a great part of the 19th century.
During that time it was so indeed: man carried even into his spiritual development the qualities he had inherited from his parents and ancestors. During that time those qualities became especially important which are connected with physical reproduction. Again we find an outward sign of this fact in the great interest which was felt at the end of the 19th century in the question of reproduction and indeed in all sexual questions. In the centuries to which I have just referred, the most important spiritual impulses had approached humanity in this way, they had sought for realisation through physical inheritance.
Now the age in which Michael leads and guides humanity will stand in complete contrast to all this. I mean, therefore, the age that began at the end of the seventies of the last century, — the age in which we are, and the impulses of which are interwoven with what we are also learning to know as the new Age of Light beginning in the 20th century. For the streams of these two impulses work together.
Today we will dwell upon this question: What is the characteristic feature of an Age of Michael? I say, of an Age of Michael. For the spiritual guidance and leadership to which I have just referred is as follows. It is always so: one of the Beings of the kingdom of Archangeloi has the spiritual leadership in human evolution for about three centuries, in that region where civilisation is predominantly taking place.
Gabriel, as I said, had the leadership in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. His place is now taken by Michael. There are seven of these Archangels who lead humanity, and thus the several guidances of the Archangeloi recur in cyclic order. We today, who live in an Age of Michael, have every reason to call to mind the last Age of Michael which happened in the spiritual guidance of mankind.
The last Age of Michael preceded the founding of Christianity, preceded the Mystery of Golgotha. It came to an end in ancient times approximately with the deeds of Alexander and with the founding of the philosophy of Aristotle.
If we follow out all that took place in ancient Greece and the surrounding countries for about three hundred years before the time of Alexander the Great and Aristotle, we find ourselves once more in an Age of Michael. An Age of Michael is characterised by many different conditions, but especially by this, that in such an age the most spiritual interests of humanity (according to the particular disposition of the time) become predominant. In such an age especially, a cosmopolitan, international character will permeate the world. National distinctions cease.
Now it was above all in the Age of Gabriel that the national impulses within European civilisation, with its American appendage, became so firmly rooted. In our Age of Michael, in the course of the next three centuries, these national impulses will be completely overcome. This is the case in every Age of Michael: a common feature runs through all humanity — something of an all-human character, as against the special interests of single groups or nations.
In the last age of Michael's dominion on the earth, before the Mystery of Golgotha, it found the following expression. Out of the conditions that had taken shape in ancient Greece there arose that mighty historic tendency which led eventually to the campaigns of Alexander. In the campaigns of Alexander, Grecian culture and civilisation was carried, with extraordinary genius, right into Asia and Africa, and spread through many nations and peoples who until then had adhered to quite different things. This stupendous deed found its culmination in what was then founded in Alexandria. It was a great cosmopolitan movement, seeking to give to the whole of the then civilised world the spiritual forces that had gathered on the soil of ancient Greece. Such are the things that happen under the impulse of Michael, and that happened then too under his impulse.
Now those who took part in these earthly deeds, done in the service of Michael, were no longer upon the earth during the time of the Mystery of Golgotha. All the beings who belonged to the realm of Michael — no matter whether they were disembodied human souls, transplanted by death into the spiritual world when the Michael Age had run its course, or whether they were souls who never incarnated upon the earth — they all were united in a common life within the super-sensible world, in the time when upon the earth the Mystery of Golgotha was taking place.
We must make fully present to our heart and mind the facts that lie before us here. If we choose the aspect of the earth, my dear friends, if this earth is our standpoint, then we say: Humanity on the earth reaches a certain point in earthly evolution. Christ, the lofty Spirit of the Sun, is arriving on the earth, incarnating in the human being Jesus of Nazareth. Those who dwell on the earth experience the fact that Christ, the great Spirit of the Sun, arrives among them. But they have little knowledge that could really cause them to understand the greatness of the stupendous and unique event.
All the more knowledge have those disembodied souls who are gathered around Michael and who are living in the realm of the Sun-existence in worlds above the earth. All the more do they know how to value what is taking place, as they witness it from their different aspect. These souls witnessed what was then taking place for the World, from the Sun. Christ who had hitherto worked within the realm of the Sun, who had only been attainable in the Mysteries when they ascended to the Sun-existence — Christ now departed from the Sun to unite Himself with earthly humanity upon the earth. This was what they witnessed.
It was a mighty and awe-inspiring event, above all for those who belonged to the communion of Michael. For, those who belong to the communion of Michael have a peculiar connection with all that represents the cosmic destinies proceeding from the Sun. They had to take their leave of Christ, who until then had had His dwelling-place in the Sun and was thenceforth to take His place on the earth. This is the other aspect.
But there was another thing connected with it, which we can only rightly understand if we take the following into account. To think — to live in thoughts that spring forth from within — as we do today, was impossible for the men of ancient times. They might be wise, indeed infinitely wiser than modern humanity, but they were not ‘clever’ in the sense of cleverness today. Today we call a man clever who is able to produce thoughts out of himself, who is able to think logically — to bring one thought into connection with another, and so forth. In olden times there was no such thing — no such thing as Thoughts independently produced. The Thoughts were sent down to the earth at one and the same time with the Revelations that came to man from the spiritual world. Man did not think and ponder, but he received the spiritual content by Revelation, and he received it in such a way that the Thoughts came with it. Today we think and ponder about things. In those ancient times the impressions which the souls received brought the Thoughts with them. The Thoughts were inspired, not self-made Thoughts. Now he who ordered the Cosmic Intelligence which thus came to man along with the spiritual Revelations — he who ordered this Cosmic Intelligence, who had, so to speak, dominion over it, — is the same spiritual Being whom we, when we make use of our Christian terminology, call the Archangel Michael. He had to administer the Cosmic Intelligence in the cosmos.
We must make clear to ourselves what this really means. It is a fact that such human beings as Alexander the Great, though in a somewhat different context of ideas, had a distinct consciousness of the fact that their thoughts came to them by way of Michael.
True, the spiritual Being whom we mean, was called by a different name. We are making use of the Christian terminology, but it is not the terminology that matters. Such a man as Alexander the Great regarded himself as none other than a Missionary of Michael, an instrument of Michael. He could think in no other way than this: Michael is acting on the earth, and I am the instrument through which he acts. Such was the conception, and this gave him the strength of will in deed and action. Nor did a thinker in that time think differently than thus, that Michael was working in him and giving him the thoughts.
Now this too was connected with the descent of Christ to the earth: Michael and his hosts witnessed not only the departure of Christ from the Sun, but above all they saw how Michael himself was gradually losing his dominion over the Cosmic Intelligence. Quite distinctly they saw from the Sun that revelations would no longer come to men from the spiritual world with the content of Intelligence. They saw that the time must come when man himself must reach his own intelligence on the earth. It was a significant and incisive event to see the Intelligence pouring down, as it were, to the earth. By and by, I if may use this expression, the Intelligence was no longer to be found in the heavens; it was let down to earth.
This was fulfilled especially in the first Christian centuries. In the earliest Christian centuries we still see those human beings who were capable of it, having at least a few glimpses of what was flowing to them with the content of Intelligence as revelations from beyond the earth. This went on even into the 8th or 9th century A.D. Then came the great moment of decision. It came in such a way that Michael and those who belonged to him, no matter whether incarnate or discarnate, must say to themselves: “Men upon earth are beginning to become intelligent themselves — beginning to bring forth their own power of understanding from within them. The Cosmic Intelligence can no longer be administered by Michael.” Michael felt that the dominion over the Cosmic Intelligence was passing from him — falling from his grasp. While down below — looking down on to the earth — they saw this new age of Intelligence, beginning from the 8th or 9th century onwards. Men were beginning to form their own thoughts for themselves.
I have already described, my dear friends, how in certain special Schools — for instance in the great School of Chartres, — they handed down the traditions of what had once been revealed to men, steeped in the Cosmic Intelligence. I described to you how much was achieved in the School of Chartres, especially in the 12th century; and I tried to indicate how the administration of Intelligence on the earth literally passed over to individual members especially of the Dominican Order. We need only look into the works that arose out of Christian Scholasticism — that wonderful spiritual stream which is so entirely misunderstood today, by its supporters no less than by its opponents, because they do not observe its really important feature. We need only look into these Scholastic works and see how they wrestled to understand what is the real and deep significance of Concepts — of the content of Intelligence — for mankind and for the things of the world. The great conflict between Nominalism and Realism was developed especially in the Dominican Order. The ‘Nominalist’ sees no more than names in general concepts. The ‘Realist’ sees in them real spiritual content, made manifest in the things of the world. The whole of Scholasticism is a wrestling of mankind for a clear understanding of the Intelligence that is pouring in. No wonder that the main interest of those around Michael was directed above all to what was unfolding upon the earth in this Christian Scholasticism. In all that St. Thomas Aquinas and his pupils, and many other Schoolmen, were bringing forth, we see the earthly stamp and impress of the Michael stream of that time — the Michael stream, the administration of Intelligence, of the light-filled Spiritual Intelligence.
And now the Intelligence was here on earth. Now man had to strive for clarity as to its meaning. Looking down from the spiritual world, on to the earth, one could see how that which had belonged to the realm of Michael was now unfolding down below, outside of his dominion, for it was unfolding in the beginning of the dominion of Gabriel.
The Wisdom of Initiation — the Rosicrucian wisdom which was going forth at that time — consisted in this, that one had a certain clarity of understanding for these facts.
Especially in that time of history it is important to see how the earthly and the super-sensible are connected. Outwardly the earthly life looks as though it had been loosened, cut off from the super-sensible, — and yet it is connected. You can see how it is connected from what I described in our last lectures.
The super-sensible facts that here follow, can only be described in pictures, in Imaginations. They cannot be put into abstract concepts. They must be livingly described. Therefore I must now describe what happened in the beginning of the age when the Spiritual Soul, and with it the Intelligence, enters in and becomes a part of humanity.
Several centuries had passed since Michael, in the 9th century A.D., had seen arriving on the earth what had hitherto been the Cosmic Intelligence. He now witnessed its further course on earth. He saw it flowing onward now on earth, especially in Scholasticism. This was below. He on the other hand gathered around him those who belonged to his realm in the domain of the Sun. He gathered them all — human souls who happened to be in the life between death and a new birth, and those, also belonging to his realm, who in their own evolution never enter into human bodies yet have a certain connection with mankind. You may imagine, those human souls especially were there, whom I have mentioned as the great teachers of Chartres. Among the greatest who at that time, at the beginning of the 15th century, were in the hosts of Michael and had their deeds to do in the spiritual world, — among the greatest of them was Alanus ab Insulis. But all the others too were there, those whom I have named as belonging to the School of Chartres. United with them were the others who by now had returned to the life between death and a new birth, who had come back again from the Order of the Dominicans. Souls, therefore, belonging to the Platonic stream were intimately united with souls who belonged to the Aristotelian times. All these had experienced and undergone the several impulses of Michael. Many of them lived in such a way as to have witnessed the Mystery of Golgotha, not from the earthly aspect, but from the aspect of the Sun. And at that time, at the beginning of the 15th century, their situations in the spiritual world were fraught with peculiar significance.
Then there arose under the leadership of Michael something which we may call, as we must use earthly expressions, a super-sensible School. What had once been the Michael Mystery — what had been told to the Initiates in the ancient Mysteries of Michael, and must now become different, since the Intelligence had found its way from the cosmos to the earth — all this Michael himself now gathered up, expressing it again with untold significance to those whom he had gathered around him in this School of Michael. For it was a super-sensible School of Michael at the beginning of the 15th century. All that once lived as the Michael Mystery in the Sun Mysteries now became alive again in super-sensible worlds. It was a wonderful summing-up of the Platonism that had been continued in the Aristotelian manner, and of all that Alexander the Great had carried into Asia and down into Egypt. It was expounded how the ancient spirituality still lived in this. In this super-sensible School all the souls took part who had ever been connected with the stream of which I have now been speaking to you in many lectures. I mean the souls who are now predestined to belong to the Anthroposophical Movement, — whose karma, as it takes shape, leads them to the Anthroposophical Movement. For all that was taught in that School was taught from this point of view, that in the evolution of humanity below, the Michael principle must thenceforth be developed in a different way, namely through the Intelligence of the human soul itself.
It was pointed out how at the end of the 19th century (in the last third of this century) Michael himself would once again assume dominion upon the earth. Throughout the intervening time since the age of Alexander, the six other Archangels would have fulfilled their several dominions. Now a new Michael Age would begin. But this new Michael Age must be different from the others. For the other Ages of Michael were such that the Cosmic Intelligence had always expressed itself in the common sphere of humanity. But now, — thus said Michael in super-sensible worlds to his pupils, — now in the new Michael Age something quite different would be required. For what Michael had administered for men through many aeons, pouring it into earthly existence in living inspirations, this had now fallen away from him. But he was to find it again when at the end of the seventies of the 19th century he would begin his new earthly rule. He would find it again at a time when, to begin with, an Intelligence bereft of spirituality had taken root among men. And he would find it in a peculiar condition, — most intensely exposed to the Ahrimanic forces. For in the very time when the Intelligence was descending from the cosmos to the earth, the aspirations of the Ahrimanic powers grew ever greater, striving to wrest the Cosmic Intelligence from Michael as soon as it became earthly Intelligence, striving to make it dominant on earth alone, free of Michael.
Such was the crisis from the beginning of the 15th century until our day — the crisis in the midst of which we are, which expresses itself as the battle of Ahriman and Michael. For Ahriman is using all his power to challenge Michael's dominion over the Intelligence that has now become earthly. And Michael, with all the impulses that are his, though his dominion over the Intelligence has fallen from him, is striving to take hold of it again on earth at the beginning of his new earthly rule, from the year 1879 onwards. Human evolution stood at this decisive point in the last third of the 19th century. The Intelligence, formerly cosmic, had become earthly, and there was Ahriman, wanting to make it altogether earthly. He wants to make it continue in the way that began during the age of Gabriel, making it earthly, making it an affair only of the human communities of blood — an affair of the generations, the forces of reproduction and inheritance. All this Ahriman desires.
Michael came down towards the earth. He could alone desire to find again, on earth, what had had to take its own course in the intervening time in order that man might attain Intelligence and Freedom. He could alone desire to find it again in such a way that he might take hold of it on earth and become, within the earth once more, Lord of the Intelligence that is now working within mankind. Ahriman versus Michael: Michael finding himself obliged to defend against Ahriman what he had ruled through the aeons of time for the benefit of humankind. Mankind stands in the midst of this battle; and among other things, to be an anthroposophist is to understand this battle to a certain extent at least. It shows itself everywhere; in its true form it is there behind the scenes of the historical events, but it shows itself even in the facts that lie manifest before us.
My dear friends, those who were in that super-sensible School of Michael partook in the teachings which I have outlined so very briefly. The teachings they heard were a repetition of what had been taught in the Sun Mysteries since ancient time. They were already a prophecy of what was to be achieved when the new Age of Michael began. They were an inspired call, a solemn challenge to those who are gathered around Michael, to hurl themselves into his stream and take hold of his true impulse, to the end that Intelligence may once again be united to the being of Michael. - Rudolf Steiner, Karmic Relationships Volume 3, Lecture VII

1 comment:

  1. Phil minor. Would be interested in reading more or even getting a notification when you post more. Good job, man. Interesting material