Rudolf Steiner ~ Egyptian Myths and Mysteries

Ancient and Modern Cultural Streams and their Spiritual Connections

Spiritual Connections between the Culture-streams of Ancient and Modern Times.

The first of a series of talks, this one given on September 2, 1908.

(Note: I just realized I posted a picture of Damian’s along with a text from Rudolf Steiner a couple weeks ago. I was listening to the Steiner recording about Egypt, started thinking about Damian’s great Egypt pictures … and … twenty minutes later … )

If we ask ourselves what spiritual science should be for men, then presumably, out of all sorts of reactions and feelings that we have developed in the course of our work in this field, we will place the following answer before our souls: Spiritual science should be for us a path to the higher development of our humanity, of all that is human in us.

Thus we set up a life-aim, which in a certain way is self-understood for every thinking and feeling person, a life-aim that includes the achieving of the highest ideals and also includes the unfolding of the deepest and most significant forces in our souls. The best men in all ages have asked themselves how man can rightly bring to expression what lies within him, and to this question the most diverse answers have been given. Perhaps none can be found that is terser or more telling than the answer Goethe gave out of a deep conviction in his Geheimnisse:

“From the power that binds all beings
That man frees himself who overcomes himself.”

Deep meaning lies in these words, for they show us clearly and pregnantly what lies at the heart of all evolution. This is that man develops his inner feeling through rising above himself. Thereby we lift ourselves, so to speak, above ourselves. The soul that overcomes itself finds the path that leads beyond itself to the highest treasures of humanity. This lofty goal of spiritual research should be borne in mind when we undertake to treat such a theme as the one that is to occupy us here. It will lead us beyond the ordinary horizons of life to sublime things. We will have to survey wide reaches of time if we take as our subject an epoch stretching from ancient Egypt down to our own day. We will have to pass millennia in review, and what we gain therefrom will really be something connected with the deepest concerns of our souls, something that grips our innermost soul-life. Only apparently does the man who strives toward the heights of life remove himself from his immediate surroundings; just through this he comes to an understanding of his daily concerns. Man must get away from the troubles of the day, from what his routine brings to him, and look up to the great events of the history of the world and its peoples. Then for the first time he finds what is most sacred for his soul. It may seem strange to suggest that connections, intimate connections, should be sought for between our own time and ancient Egypt, when the mighty pyramids and the Sphinx appeared. It can at first seem remarkable that one should understand his own time better by directing his gaze so far back. But just for this purpose we are going to look backward over much wider and more comprehensive epochs. This will bring the result we seek: The possibility of transcending ourselves.

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