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Archive for May, 2016

Whitsun: the Festival of the Holy Spirit

In beautiful language, Rudolf Steiner writes that if there had existed a person who could have watched the earth from the vantage point of outer space through long ages of time, that person would have perceived one moment when the aura of the earth suddenly, and dramatically changed. That, he writes, was the moment of the crucifixion of the Jesus on Good Friday, when the blood of the Sun Being, who lived in Jesus as a man, fell upon the earth and entered it as a new medicine. At that moment, the earth was imbued with limitless vitality, with the Life, Light and Love of the Creator. Though the drops were but few, the aura of the earth began to glow, and this radiance has grown—and continues to grow– more powerful, more beautiful and more radiant with every cycle of the seasons.

When the Creator entered the earth as a human being, he placed himself directly into this material world. Here, he allowed himself to be crucified. Then, by continually affirming His spiritual nature, He was able to overcome Death, embracing it with the love of the spiritual world. The seed-force of the spirit now lives as spiritual potentiality right in the heart of the material world. As this seed-force continues to grow, it touches and changes all the substance of the earth.

Yet before His crucifixion, Christ told his disciples that still one more blessing would come to them after His death. He told them that he would send to them the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Something more was to be given to the human race than what was given to the material world.

Fifty days after Easter, the 12 disciples and Mother Mary were gathered together in the Upper Room, to mark the Jewish festival of Pentecost. They were filled with longing and sadness because they could no longer feel the Christ, who had been with them physically for three years. Although they had experienced the Resurrection, they could not directly perceive him in their midst.

It is said that as they shared their urgent longing for Him, the atmosphere of prayer in the room became charged. Suddenly the room was filled with flames of fire, as if a thunderstorm had broken into the room. Each individual vividly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit “descending upon him” and then working inside his own mind, comforting him and clarifying for him the entire meaning of the Christian mystery. Each person had an individual experience, within his or her own consciousness, and yet each could understand the other person with perfect clarity. The mood of transformation and en-lightenment was palpable, for each person was changed profoundly.

Later, when they left the room and walked the streets, they were able to speak about their experiences in such a way that everyone else could understand them. In fact, the story speaks of how the disciples eventually journeyed to other lands, and it was as if they each had become multi-lingual, able to describe in any and all languages what they had experienced. Through the activity engendered by the Holy Spirit, they were able to inspire others to understand the working of the Christ within themselves, with all persons, and on the earth.

What is significant about this story is that the experience created the possibility for each person to know in his or her own self the truth about the spiritual world. This represents a next step in the evolution of humanity. Until this point, human beings had experienced how the Spirit worked upon them from the outside. Humans felt that the spiritual world was “up there,” “beyond them,” in another sphere. As our human consciousness evolved, we needed to be taught about this divine spiritual world by the great teachers who walked with us and led us in prayer and ritual. We were taught to be obedient and mindful of the right ways of living to honor and respect our Creator, even when we could feel our own perception of the spiritual world fading. Spiritual experience became rules, became dogma.

This was the human condition until the event of Whitsun. For the Easter event was not complete until one more step was taken: to become completely self-aware spiritual beings, each person needed to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in their own core.

It is said that the Holy Spirit has worked upon humanity in different ways through the ages. In ancient times, it was revealed through outer thunder and miracles, through the voices of the prophets and kings. In our age, however, the age of the Consciousness Soul, the Holy Spirit now sparks human beings from within. We are each tasked with finding in ourselves the voice of the Spirit. This voice speaks in a different way to each person, and yet unites us all. It is a voice that can and will bring all of humanity together, in which we all become conscious of how the Creator Spirit lives in and on the earth and unites all persons, totally irrespective of the names of religions that seemingly separate us. And however difficult our lives are in these turbulent years of the 21st century, those who seek will be able to find the reality of the seed-forces of Life and Light and Love that have been laid in the earth.

We human beings have only just begun to understand what it will mean to truly be a human being. If we can imagine the immensity of the spiritual world, the limitless consciousness and power of the Creator, we can realize that the possibilities of our future evolution are unlimited. We, too, can become like gods, for we were made in His image.

Through the gift of Easter, we have been vouchsafed a promise that we need not be bound by the chains of death. We will find a way forwards, back to the Creator.

Through the gift of Whitsun, we will not only be carried towards this future: we will become individually conscious in it. Through this, the Creator being evolves towards his perfection. For through this, those beings whom S/He created will themselves be able to evolve limitless consciousness, and perfectly mirror the Creator’s infinite nature.

 

“The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre-
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.”

            T.S.Elliott