Nature of the ‘I am’

The Nature of the ‘I Am’

Program notes:

The Nature of the “I Am”

Secrets of the Threshold, by Rudolf Steiner, Lecture VI, Munich, August 25, 1913, GA 147“Our true ego is actually our constant companion within us, but when we meet it on the threshold of the spiritual world, it is there in a remarkable way, in fact one can say, decked out quite peculiarly. There on the threshold our true ego is able to clothe itself in all our weaknesses, all our failings, everything that induces us to cling with our whole being either to the physical sense world or at least to the elemental world. Thus we confront our own true ego on the threshold.”

Background to the Gospel of St. Mark, Kyrios, the Lord of the Soul, Lecture XI, Munich, December 12, 1910, GA 124

“In ancient days man was endowed with a kind of clairvoyance and through the forces of his soul was able to rise into the divine-spiritual world. When this happened he was not using his Ego, his ‘I’, at the stage of development it had then reached; he was using his astral body which contained the powers of seership, whereas the forces rooted in the Ego were only gradually being awakened by perception of the physical world. The ‘I’ uses physical instruments, but in earlier times, if a man were seeking revelation, he used his astral body, seeing and perceiving through it. The process of evolution itself consisted in the transition from use of the astral body to use of the ‘I’. The Christ Impulse was to be the most powerful factor in the development of the ‘I’. If the words of St. Paul: ‘Not I but Christ in me’ are fulfilled in the ‘I’, then the ‘I’ is able to grow into the spiritual world through its own forces, whereas formerly this was possible only for the astral body.

Man once used his astral body as an organ of perception, but the astral body became less and less able to serve that purpose. When the time of Christ’s coming was drawing near, it was losing its power to see into the spiritual world. Man could no longer be united with that world through his astral body and the ‘I’ was not yet strong enough to reveal it. There could be no sudden change from the time when man felt his astral body becoming unreceptive to the spiritual world, becoming barren and desolate, to a time when the ‘I’ was kindled into activity through the Christ Impulse.

As the result of a certain influence from the spiritual world, a few human beings were able to experience in the astral body something of what was later to be seen and known by the ‘I’. Egohood was prepared for, anticipated as it were in the astral body. It was through the ‘I’ and its development that man became Earth-Man in the real sense. The astral body properly belonged to the evolutionary period of the Old Moon, when the Angels were at the human stage. Man is at the human stage on the Earth. On the Old Moon it was appropriate for man to use his astral body. Everything else was merely preparation for the development of the ‘I’. The earliest stages of Earth-evolution proper were a recapitulation of the Old Moon-evolution, for man could never become fully man in the astral body; on the Old Moon it was only the Angels who could reach the human stage in the astral body. And just as the Christ lived in earthly man in order to inspire his ‘I’, so there were Angels who, having reached the human stage on the Old Moon, prophetically inspired man’s astral body as a preparation for Egohood. In order that man might be prepared for Egohood, it was necessary that in exceptional conditions, and through grace, certain individuals should be inspired to work on the Earth as Angels; although they were men, the reality was that Angels were working in and through them.

Such an event in the history of humanity actually took place when the Individuality who had lived in Elijah was reborn as John the Baptist. An Angel entered into the soul of John the Baptist in that incarnation, using his bodily nature and also his soul to accomplish what no human being could have accomplished. In John the Baptist there lived an Angel whose mission was to herald in advance the Egohood that was to be present in its fulness in Jesus of Nazareth.”

Lecture XII

“In earlier times men possessed a natural clairvoyance, moreover that through the astral body they were able to see into the spiritual worlds. The astral body gradually lost the power of vision and became inwardly dark but man’s progress lay in this very loss of astral clairvoyance. It was now to be made possible for the ‘I’ to function. Out of his Initiation-knowledge Isaiah might also have said: In those days men will speak only of their Ego and as long as that Ego is not filled with Christ it will be restricted to perception of the physical plane furnished by the senses and intellect. Men will be forsaken by the world of the spirit. But then Christ will come, bringing consolation, and human souls will be permeated more and more with the Christ Impulse so that they can again look upwards into the spiritual world. Before this is possible, however, they will experience the darkening of the astral body.

The very first beginnings of man’s physical body came into being on Old Saturn, of his etheric body on Old Sun, of his astral body on Old Moon; and the Ego evolves on the Earth. Until the astral body lost its clairvoyant powers and became dark, the Ego had at first to work in the darkness. Before Earth-evolution began in the real sense a kind of recapitulation of the Moon-evolution took place. During that period man’s astral body had developed to a stage where the activity of the whole Universe was mirrored within it. When the recapitulation of the Moon-evolution was completed the Ego began to enter into the process of evolution and Isaiah could say that Egohood would become more and more dominant on the Earth.”