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The Speeches of the Guardians Parsed

Sept. 2010

{The text within [brackets] is mine; the rest is Steiner's, through the translator. -- RM}

Knowledge of the Higher Worlds X

Chapter: "The Guardian of the Threshold"

[The speech of the Lesser Guardian seems to me to fall into two parts: the first concerned with the nature of karma, and the second with the nature of the Threshold itself. Thus, I see two cycles, and they both seem to be sevenfolded.]

[Cycle 1]

[1.1 -- Here is a statement of the thesis: the way that karma has worked in the student's life until this meeting.]

Hitherto, powers invisible to thyself watched over thee. They saw to it that in the course of thy lives each of thy good deeds brought its reward, and each of thine evil deeds was attended by its evil results. Thanks to their influence thy character formed itself out of thy life-experiences and thy thoughts. They were the instruments of thy destiny. They ordained that measure of joy and pain allotted to thee in thine incarnations, according to thy conduct in lives gone by. They ruled over thee as the all- embracing law of karma.

[1.2 -- And here is an antithesis, an opposing principle: the change that will come in the working of the student's karma (if he crosses the Threshold).]

These powers will now partly release thee from their constraining influence; and henceforth must thou accomplish for thyself a part of the work which hitherto they performed for thee.

[1.3 -- Now follows the synthesis of the opposing principles: the past working of karma is transformed into the new working.]

Destiny struck thee many a hard blow in the past. Thou knewest not why. Each blow was the consequence of a harmful deed in a bygone lie. Thou foundest joy and gladness, and thou didst take them as they came. They, too, were the fruits of former deeds. Thy character shows many a beautiful side, and many an ugly flaw. Thou hast thyself to thank for both, for they are the result of thy previous experiences and thoughts. These were till now unknown to thee; their effects alone were made manifest. The karmic powers, however, beheld all thy deeds in former lives, and all thy most secret thoughts and feelings, and determined accordingly thy present self and thy present mode of life. But now all the good and evil sides of thy bygone lives shall be revealed to thee. Hitherto they were interwoven with thine own being; they were in thee and thou couldst not see them, even as thou canst not behold thine own brain with physical eyes. But now they become released from thee; they detach themselves from thy personality.

[1.4 -- And here is the element of "beholding" in this cycle; Steiner (or the translator) even uses that very word. Here is a visual experience: "*See* this . . . ."]

They assume an independent form which thou canst see even as thou beholdest the stones and plants of the outer world. And . . . I am that very being who shaped my body out of thy good and evil achievements.

[1.5 -- Steiner, as a dramatist, now has his "character" conceptualize for the reader the archetype, the Platonic Idea, of the Lesser Guardian.]

My spectral form is woven out of thine own life's record. Till now thou hast borne me invisibly within thee, and it was well that this was so; for the wisdom of thy destiny, though concealed from thee, could thus work within thee, so that the hideous stains on my form should be blotted out. Now that I have come forth from within thee, that concealed wisdom, too, has departed from thee. It will pay no further heed to thee; it will leave the work in thy hands alone. I must become a perfect and glorious being, or fall a prey to corruption; and should this occur, I would drag thee also down with me into a dark and corrupt world.

[1.6 -- Then the archetype is individualized; the implications for the student himself are indicated.]

If thou wouldst avoid this, then thine own wisdom must become great enough to undertake the task of that other, concealed wisdom, which has departed from thee. As a form visible to thyself I will never for an instant leave thy side, once thou hast crossed my Threshold.

[1.7 -- All this leads to the culmination of the cycle: the new working of karma and the consequences of the student's failure or success.]

And in [the?] future, whenever thou dost act or think wrongly thou wilt straightway perceive thy guilt as a hideous, demoniacal distortion of my form. Only when thou hast made good all thy bygone wrongs and hast so purified thyself that all further evil is, for thee, a thing impossible, only then will my being have become transformed into radiant beauty. Then, too, shall I again become united with thee for the welfare of thy future activity.

[Cycle 2]

[2.1 -- This is the theme of the second cycle: the nature of the Threshold itself.]

Yet my Threshold is fashioned out of all the timidity that remains in thee, out of all the dread of the strength needed to take full responsibility for all thy thoughts and actions. As long as there remains in thee a trace of fear of becoming thyself the guide of thine own destiny, just so long will this Threshold lack what still remains to be built into it. And as long as a single stone is found missing, just so long must thou remain standing as though transfixed; or else stumble.

[2.2 -- And this is the "conflicting" element, a warning against presumptuous rashness.]

Seek not, then, to cross this Threshold until thou dost feel thyself entirely free from fear and ready for the highest responsibility.

[2.3 -- Here is an explanation of this conflict: a history of how the student's timidity and irresponsibility have always been with him and how they have worked.]

Hitherto I only emerged from thy personality when death recalled thee from an earthly life; but even then my form was veiled from thee. Only the powers of destiny who watched over thee beheld me and could thus, in the intervals between death and a new birth, build in thee, in accordance with my appearance, that power and capacity thanks to which thou couldst labor in a new earth life at the beautifying of my form, for thy welfare and progress. It was I, too, whose imperfection ever and again constrained the powers of destiny to lead thee back to a new incarnation upon earth. I was present at the hour of thy death, and it was on my account that the Lords of Karma ordained thy reincarnation. And it is only by thus unconsciously transforming me to complete perfection in ever recurring earthly lives that thou couldst have escaped the powers of death and passed over into immortality united with me.

[2.4 -- Now the reader is again given something to "behold", a visual experience; The Guardian, or Steiner, even uses the word *visible*.]

Visible do I thus stand before thee today, just as I have ever stood invisible beside thee in the hour of death.

[2.5 -- The Guardian now states the essence, the archetype of the Threshold.]

When thou shalt have crossed my Threshold, thou wilt enter those realms to which thou hast hitherto only had access after physical death.

[2.6 -- This (general) essence is now individualized by a delineation of the consequences for the student himself.]

Thou dost now enter them with full knowledge, and henceforth as thou wanderest outwardly visible upon the earth thou wilt at the same time wander in the kingdom of death, that is, in the kingdom of life eternal. I am indeed the Angel of Death; but I am at the same time the bearer of a higher life without end. Through me thou wilt die with thy body still living, to be reborn into an imperishable existence. Into this kingdom thou art now entering; thou wilt meet beings that are supersensible, and happiness will be thy lot. But I myself must provide thy first acquaintance with that world, and I am thine own creation. Formerly I drew my life from thine; but now thou hast awakened me to a separate existence so that I stand before thee as the visible gauge of thy future deeds - perhaps, too, as thy constant reproach. Thou hast formed me, but by so doing thou hast undertaken, as thy duty, to transform me.

[Here Steiner interrupts the Guardian's speech with his (RS's) own comments and explications about the student's new, coming relation to death, group spirits, and so on. Then the speech resumes with the final, culminating element.]

[2.7 -- This final warning is the "upshot" of the cycle, and indeed of the whole speech.]

Step not across my Threshold until thou dost clearly realize that thou wilt thyself illumine the darkness ahead of thee; take not a single step forward until thou art positive that thou hast sufficient oil in thine own lamp. The lamps of the guides whom thou hast hitherto followed will now no longer be available to thee.

[This drama is ended after the "lines" with Steiner's description of the final "action".]


Knowledge of the Higher Worlds XI

"Life and Death: The Greater Guardian of the Threshold"

[In this speech of the Greater Guardian I find only one cycle, but somewhat more complicated than the cycles of the Lesser Guardian. The student has passed the Threshold and is already a "citizen" of the supersensible world. The overall theme is the student's new responsibilities, and the Greater Guardian confronts the student with this speech.]

[1.1 -- The thesis is stated: the student now has this new citizenship.]

Thou hast released thyself from the world of the senses. Thou hast won the right to become a citizen of the supersensible world, whence thine activity can now be directed.

[1.2 -- Then comes the antithesis: not exactly a direct contradiction, but a reference to the "opposing" principle, i.e. life in the physical world.]

For thine own sake, thou dost no longer require thy physical body in its present form.

[1.3 -- The "synthesis" of the first two elements is a statement of their immediate implication.]

If thine intention were merely to acquire the faculties necessary for life in the supersensible world, thou needest no longer return to the sense-world.

[1.4 -- And here is the turning point of the cycle: the "beholding". It is clearly marked with the very word and an evocation of a visual experience.]

But now behold me. See how sublimely I tower above all that thou hast made of thyself thus far.

[1.5 -- The archetype of this cycle is the Platonic Idea of "liberation" in the profound sense.]

Thou hast attained thy present degree of perfection thanks to the faculties thou wert able to develop in the sense-world as long as thou wert still confined to it. But now a new era is to begin, in which thy liberated powers must be applied to further work in the world of the senses. Hitherto thou hast sought only thine own release, but now, having thyself become free, thou canst go forth as a liberator of thy fellows.

[1.6 -- Now this archetype is individualized as a personal matter for the student. This element seems to me to be comprised of seven sub- elements, each bearing an analogous relation to the whole element as the seven elements do to the whole cycle.]

[1.6.1 -- The sub-thesis is stated, namely individual experience.]

Until today thou hast striven as an individual . . . .

[1.6.2 -- This (previous) statement is contradicted by the antithetical principle, namely coordination with the Whole.]

. . . . but now seek to coordinate thyself with the whole, so that thou mayst bring into the supersensible world not thyself alone, but all things else existing in the world of the senses.

[1.6.3 -- This contradiction is synthesized with their joint implication . . . .]

Thou wilt some day be able to unite with me, but I cannot be blessed so long as others remain unredeemed. As a separate freed being, thou wouldst fain enter at once the kingdom of the supersensible . . . .

[1.6.4 -- . . . . which is made concrete by an evocation of a visual experience: what the student would behold.]

. . . . yet thou wouldst be forced to look down on the still unredeemed beings in the physical world . . . .

[1.6.5 -- There follows the archetypal principle at work in this sub-cycle: the Idea of profound separation.]

. . . . having sundered thy destiny from theirs, although thou and they are inseparably united. Ye all did perforce descend into the sense-world to gather powers needed for a higher world. To separate thyself from thy fellows would mean to abuse those very powers which thou couldst not have developed save in their company.

[1.6.6 -- The past and future implications of this Idea are individualized for the student thusly --]

Thou couldst not have descended had they not done so; and without them the powers needed for supersensible existence would fail thee. Thou must now share with thy fellows the powers which, together with them, thou didst acquire.

[1.6.7 -- And . . . the upshot of this sub- cycle, the consequences of the possibility of profound separation, is this stern action of the Greater Guardian, stated in stern words.]

I shall therefore bar thine entry into the higher regions of the supersensible world so long as thou hast not applied all the powers thou hast acquired to the liberation of thy companions. With the powers already at thy disposal thou mayst sojourn in the lower regions of the supersensible world; but I stand before the portal of the higher regions as the Cherub with the fiery sword before Paradise, and I bar thine entrance as long as powers unused in the sense-world still remain in thee.

[1.7 -- The sequence of the elements of the whole cycle resume and culminate with the overall implications of the new "citizenship".]

And if thou dost refuse to apply thy powers in this world, others will come who will not refuse; and a higher supersensible world will receive all the fruits of the sense-world, while thou wilt lose from under thy feet the very ground in which thou wert rooted. The purified world will develop above and beyond thee, and thou shalt be excluded from it. Thus thou wouldst tread the black path, while the others from whom thou didst sever thyself tread the white path.

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