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The Difference between Eastern and Western Initiation and Rudolf Steiner's Initiation

This is the only shot that portrays Rudolf Steiner in the state of profound clairvoyant perception during an Esoteric Lesson in 1907.

This article aims to shed light on the diversity of the path between the Eastern theosophical and Western anthroposophical way, also through its precursors, the esoteric Christianity and the Rosicrucian way.

To begin with, it is necessary to describe first what came first: the Eastern initiation of Theosophy was present from the very beginning of the ancient Indian era, but the content of this tradition comes even from Atlantis.

But just as the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West, so the Eastern initiation has given way to the Western initiation. Western initiation was born on the shores of the Mediterranean through the incarnation of Christ and the subsequent Mystery of Golgotha, became esoteric Christianity and then came to Europe as a Rosicrucian initiation.

Let us now see the details.

Initiation in Theosophy

In Theosophy thirteen initiatory levels are distinguished, mainly outlined by Alice Bailey, based on the writings of the founder of the Theosophical Society, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Human beings proceed along the initiatory scale through successive earthly incarnations, what is reincarnated through various personalities is the individuality that through the causal body has the power to implement good or evil. Causing negative karma slows down the process of evolution, which must be gradually compensated for. The first four levels are attainable by human beings before they reach Enlightenment. The purpose of initiation is to expand the consciousness to higher and higher levels, and the wisdom thus gained can be used for the good of the world. In fact, beyond the fourth level there is the possibility of becoming one of the Masters of Ancient Wisdom who are also known as Ascended Masters, human beings who have been freed from karma but who help those human beings who are left behind. Blavatsky recognized seven of them, while according to Bailey they reach about sixty.

Bailey's initiation levels are an extension of Blavatsky's theosophical levels. They begin with level zero, the "probation" to which most of humanity belongs and continues ascending:

  1. Spiritual birth: it is the total experience of the physical and etheric body.

  2. Baptism: is the total experience of the astral body.

  3. Transfiguration: it is the total experience of the mind, therefore the initiate becomes clairvoyant and clairaudient.

  4. Crucifixion (or Enlightenment): it is the experience of previous lives (karma) and gives the degree of Arhat, detached from the necessity of incarnation. Spiritual powers are also manifested that have effect in the physical world (siddhi).

  5. Resurrection: it confers the first degree of Ascended Teacher, which is manifested to help humanity. The Arhat possesses spiritual powers such as teleportation, bilocation, and levitation, but only in a certain space. According to Leadbeater and Bailey there are 43 Masters at this level of initiation including Master Jupiter.

  6. Ascension (or Mastership): gives the second degree of Ascended Master, in this category are gathered the seven masters of which theosophy speaks. They are also called the Chohans of the Seven Rays, they direct the powers of the rays on Earth: Koot Humi, El Morya, Paul the Venetian, Serapis Bey, Hilarion, Jesus and Saint-Germaine, to which is added the catalyst Djwal Khul who brings the Seven Rays to the seven Chohans. They possess spiritual powers such as teleportation, bilocation and levitation anywhere on Earth.

  7. Bodhisattva (or Avatar or Christ Consciosness): at this level we find the Maitreya (the Master of the World) whom the Hindus call Kishna, the Zoroastrians Peshotan, the Jews Messiah, the Islamic Iman Mahdi, the Christians Christ. There are also two leaders of the seven "radical races", Chakshusha Manu progenitor of the Atlantis Race and Vaivasvatu Manu progenitor of the Fifth Root Race (ours). As well as Maha Chohan, head of the Seven Chohans.

  8. Buddhahood: at this level of initiation there are the Three Pratyeka Buddha who direct the impulses of the Seven Rays (i.e. planetary archetypes) from Sanat Kumara to Djwal Khul towards Earth, they do not interact with humanity except by channeling the Seven Rays. They communicate entirely with telepathy, they can move in interplanetary space and the nearby interstellar space, having activated the transpersonal chakras or chakras above the seven microcosmic.

  9. Deity: the being at this level is Sanat Kumara, the "Lord of the World", the deity who presides over life in our cosmos. He is called both the Eternal Youth and the Ancient of Days, because he brings together all the opposite and opposite polarities. His consciousness is one with life on Earth. He is omniscient within the Earth and capable of manipulating great quantities of matter, materializing it and dematerializing it, through fohat, the foundation of existence of matter itself. It is responsible for the cyclical destruction and creation that takes place on the planet, but it can interact even outside our planetary chain influencing other solar systems to a certain extent.

  10. Planetary Logos: also called the Spirit of the Earth, is Gaia, the living planet. It is the voice that speaks through Sanat Kumara with whom it is in constant telepathic communication. Previously at this level he was a Deva from another solar system, before incarnating as Earth at the beginning of the Creation of the Earth itself.

  11. Solar Logos: also called the Spirit of the Sun, Helios gives his vital impulses to the Earth. From him flow the Seven Rays, diffused by the light of the Sun in its spiritual aspect.

  12. Galactic Logos: it is the being that maintains the existence of our galaxy, coordinating more Suns among them. It is known by the name of Averran.

  13. Cosmic Logos: also known as "Alpha and Omega", it is the being that maintains the existence of all created universes. It can also be called God.

Initiation in theosophy

A further expansion of these levels can be found in the writings of Bailey's disciple, Benjamin Creme. These same levels can also be found today in the so-called "Teachings of the Ascended Masters", an integral part of contemporary New Age through Elisabeth Clare Prophet. However, we will not consider them here, since this concept of the Masters does not add anything essential to the theosophical knowledge, and rather water it down with simplistic notions, to say the least.

In this series of initiatory levels we can note a first group of six levels which concern initiation proper, while the next six concern the evolution towards new forms of existence on the scale of being. The seventh level of initiation (Bodhisattva) is the link between initiation proper and spiritual evolution. The relationship between the levels of initiation and those of spiritual evolution is shown by the first three of the Seven Cosmic Rays, the archetypes of cosmic evolution (which in Anthroposophy are called Seven Metamorphoses of the Earth).

The Solar Logos (eleventh initiatory level) is divided into:

  1. First Appearance: Will, represents the Father.

    • Sanat Kumara: Lord of the World (9th initiatory stage)

    • Manu (7th)

  1. Second Aspect: Wisdom, represents the Son.

    • Buddha (8th)

    • Maitreiya (7th)

  1. Third Aspect: Activity, represents the Holy Spirit.

    • Maha Chohan (7th)

Divided into the Three Main Rays, we find the Seven Masters of Ancient Wisdom:

  1. First Ray:

    • Master El Morya (6th)

    • Master Jupiter (5th)

  1. Second Ray:

    • Master Koot Humi (6th)

    • Master Djwal Khul (6th)

  1. Third to Seventh Ray:

    • The Venetian Master (6th)

    • Master Serapis (6th)

    • Master Hilarion (6th)

    • Master Jesus (6th)

    • Master Saint-Germain (6th)

The Seven Rays and the Masters of Ancient Wisdom

Initiation into Anthroposophy

There is a first preparatory phase in which the concentration in the waking consciousness is stimulated and, subsequently, there are the following degrees of understanding of the oversensitive:

  1. Imagination: when the I penetrate the astral body and produce clairvoyance. It culminates in the understanding of spiritual images. This degree is the "conscious dream", which penetrates the animal element;

  2. Inspiration: when the I penetrate the etheric body and produces clairaudience. It culminates in the understanding of spiritual language. It is the degree of "sleep without conscious dreams", which penetrates the vegetable element;

  3. Intuition: when the ego penetrates the physical body and produces Clairsipience. It culminates in the experience of spiritual beings. It is the degree of "conscious trance" that penetrates the mineral element.

One can distinguish Initiation when one has at least reached the degree of Inspiration. Therefore, the Initiate is the one who understands and has direct experience of spiritual beings. Therefore, both in dreaming and in sleep and trance, the individual consciousness of the Initiate remains completely intact.

Anthroposophical Initiation: one can speak of initiation only when one has passed from Imagination to Intuition.

In addition, Steiner, in the last chapter of his lecture series The Wisdom of the Rosicrucians, reports two parallel initiatory paths, both of seven levels, which may be suitable for two different types of Western souls. The first is Christian-esoteric initiation and the second is Rosicrucian initiation. Both, in turn, are compatible with the anthroposophical way.

The Christian-Esoteric Initiation

The initiatory path of esoteric Christianity follows the events of the life of Jesus Christ, according to seven levels or stages. It literally comes to life from the Gospel of John, the most spiritual, which must be used by the disciple as a true manual of meditation. It is the only gospel in which every word must be taken literally, just as every word of Christ is the one truly spoken at the time of his incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospel of John allows the disciple a real journey through time.

The precondition for this initiatory path is that one has faith in the existence of the Son and that he, as the guide of the Spirits of the Fire (Archangels) during the Old Sun, was incarnated in Jesus of Nazareth according to the words:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

The meditation will have to be conducted every morning for months, until the words "Full of dedication and truth," so that the soul of the disciple can penetrate to the depths. After that, you will arrive at the seven stages of the initiation proper, shown from John's Chapter 13 onwards. It is a question of meditating on the sufferings suffered by Christ and the mysterious events that occurred after his death on the Cross. The seven stages of Christian-esoteric initiation are:

  1. Washing of the Feet: Just as the plant is grateful to the mineral soil for its own life, so the animal is grateful to the vegetable. Man must be grateful to all three Kingdoms of Nature that have sacrificed themselves for him to be a human being. Thus Christ gives a good example: the Creator washes the feet of the creatures closest to him, the 12 apostles. How would we feel? This is the meditation for this first stage. The disciple of esoteric Christianity will feel outwardly his feet immersed in water, while inwardly he will see himself washing the feet of the 12 apostles.

  2. Scourging: The second meditation teaches that physical pain and soul suffering must always be faced, even if they come from all directions, without pause. How would we feel? Every pain that is inflicted is in fact a test to be overcome in order to expand one's consciousness according to love. Externally, the disciple's body is crossed by spasms, tingling and contractions while internally he sees himself scourged instead of Christ.

  3. Crowning of Thorns: the third meditation concerns our most sacred and spiritual part, what we would never question is instead publicly mocked. How would we feel? The disciple must accept that his most sacred part is not accepted by others, without opposing it. He will feel a circle on his head that corresponds to seeing himself crowned with thorns instead of Christ.

  4. Crucifixion: one must consider the body a mere object that we carry with us like so many others. It is necessary to break the identification of the I with the body, so that it is placed below its spiritual principle. When we have meditated enough on this feeling, by objectifying the body, signs will appear in the flesh in correspondence to the wounds inflicted on Jesus Christ on the cross: it is the "blood test" followed by the so-called stigmata. There are five of them: two on the hands, two on the feet, one on the right side. Usually only some redness is visible, but it can bleed, without becoming infected. They can be permanent or transient, and are usually given on Good Friday. Internally you will feel helpless, suspended above the cross.

  5. Mystical Death: the meditative feeling develops that the disciple is part of the whole, that his being belongs to the cosmos as if it were his limb. As this feeling grows, a veil of darkness falls around the consciousness so that nothing is perceived. The consciousness now feels the pains of all creation as its own. It is the descent into Hell that can remain for a long time (becoming the so-called depression). When one reaches the culmination of this experience, one reaches the foundation of existence, the I, so that one sees the spiritual world: the tearing of the veil.

  6. Burial and Resurrection: when the disciple in a meditative state feels his body as an object made up of the same substances as the whole Earth, then he feels buried in the earth. Every mineral, vegetable or animal, will be as close to him as his own body. He will have finally entered into the Soul of the World which is the soul of Christ according to the words, "He who eats my bread, tramples on me with his feet.

  7. Assumption: it is the celestial journey that takes place at the moment when the soul abandons the reflex thinking of the (lunar) brain for the spiritual thinking of the (solar) ego. It is not possible to describe its sensations.

This inner way is particularly suitable for those who are closer to the "contemplative life": it is the way of the mystics who encounter the inner Christ through the feeling of the soul, in the microcosm. Meditations must have as a constant the feelings of humility and devotion. Once the disciple's soul is attained, it rises within the spiritual world. It is a way to the past, i.e. it brings back the sequence of events immediately preceding the Turning-Point of Times, to that 33 A.D. in which the descending parable of humanity's evolution became ascending again. It is a true Imitatio Christi that allows to relive step by step the events that led to the Mystery of Golgotha while maintaining today's consciousness. It requires a sabbatical period, of retreat from active life, especially in rural areas, high mountains, or vice versa in desert and sparsely inhabited areas, close to sacred places. After reaching the seventh stage, one can return to live in society.

The Rosicrucian Initiation

However, in our life today, this path is becoming less and less practicable, due to the growing challenges that Ahriman's attack is posing from within Western civilization. In Western initiation man must actively fight in the spiritual war against Ahriman and place Lucifer at the service of Christ. Western man cannot afford to escape from the community that requires his irreplaceable presence.

For this reason Christian Rosenkreuz, already in the Middle Ages, performed the task necessary for the evolution of mankind to formulate a second initiation that leads to the same results but following the "active way". The Confraternity of the Rosicrucians founded by him made a gift to humanity of this new way of initiation, external, which had already been prepared in the Christian school of Dionysius the Aeropagite. It consists of seven stages which, unlike the Christian-esoteric way, can be approached in an individual order, with the exception of the first (study) and the last (divine bliss). It is one which, while maintaining a firm consciousness of the I, turns to the future states of evolution, unlike the Christian one, which turns to the past. The Rosicrucian initiate therefore anticipates all the stages of evolution that humanity will pass through only in the distant future.

Steiner describes it as a way of balance between Christianity and Indian yoga and for this reason also called "Western yoga":

  1. Study: Rosicrucian study consists of pure thoughts, taken from the spiritual worlds. These have nothing to do with the representations aroused by the senses in the material world. Through the study of the facts of the spiritual world the Rosicrucian way develops in the disciple powerful feelings that correspond to those same facts. From pure thought one arrives at pure feelings. Therefore, in the Rosicrucian school there is no dependence upon the teacher, but the spiritual facts themselves are masters. Finally, study leads to living thinking, so that each thought will germinate and flourish in the next one in a non-arbitrary order. The author thus takes second place to the content that he wants to communicate and that he can express for himself.

  2. Imaginative Knowledge: one must experience material reality as an expression of spiritual reality, so that when one observes a physical object one sees this as a symbol of a spiritual being. Every mineral, vegetable or animal will therefore be the expression of spiritual beings who communicate their essence through their manifestation. Just as man possesses body, soul and spirit; so Earth possesses them and expresses itself exactly as man. The result is a healing spiritual pedagogy: the imaginative knowledge acts on the etheric body and this balances the blood circulation.

  3. Inspirational Knowledge: it is the ability to read concatenated sets of symbols that constitute "occult writing". The links that link these symbols are experienced by the disciple as the making of sentences, of songs, which reflect the cosmic order. The spiritual word speaks to the soul of the disciple who finally learns to organize by himself sets of symbols, words and colors that echo the Music of the Spheres because they derive from it.

  4. Preparation of the Philosopher's Stone: these are breathing exercises inspired by the archetype of rhythm imprinted in the cosmos itself. The body of man has been given as a gift to the Human Kingdom by the Animal Kingdom and since his body is animal in nature, he needs the Vegetal Kingdom in order to breathe. Plants through photosynthesis produce oxygen, man breathes oxygen and returns carbon dioxide which is absorbed by plants to produce their body. The philosopher's stone, at this level of the esoteric path, corresponds to producing within man a sort of photosynthesis, such as to produce oxygen. This function will then become an organ which, in the future evolution of mankind, will allow it to evolve from the present existence of the body from mineral to vegetable.

  5. Correspondence between Macrocosm and Microcosm: one must perceive one's complex existence as a reflection of what was previously outside of it. Every internal organ of the human body derives from beings previously scattered throughout the primordial world. Thus the etheric and astral body which are envelopes formed by the ether and the cosmic astral during the descent of the I. The human soul was at first one with the divine soul, from which it then detached itself, closing around the individual spirit, the I. Everything that was exterior is interiorized. Everything that is outside is also inside and thus the macrocosm lives within the microcosm.

  6. Life within the Macrocosm: the Rosicrucian disciple must read the world outside himself like a book, it is the Book of Nature. In every part of creation, in every creature he will have to see the workings of God through meditation. He will therefore discover that in the macrocosm is contained the key to understanding the microcosm, and vice versa. In reading this book, however, he must never dissolve his own consciousness but keep it firm so that he can recognize the divine in the things of the world.

  7. Divine Bliss: When one experiences the microcosm as a reflection of the macrocosm, when every material manifestation becomes an expression of spiritual beings, then pure thoughts are combined with pure feelings, arousing the final state of divine bliss.

The initiatory path of the Rosicrucians privileges the "active life" and therefore is the path of the scientists who meet Christ in the macrocosmic nature, in the very foundation of matter. Natural science itself is the foundation of the esoteric rosicrucian way: when one knows the reality of Nature without stopping at its literal meaning, one arrives at its intimate spiritual meaning. From the spirit in science one arrives at the spiritual science.

Initiation Esoteric Christianity Rosicrucianism

From Initiation to Evolution

However, in our comparison between Eastern and Western initiation, we can see that in theosophical initiation the initiatory levels are interpenetrating with those of evolution, so at a certain point initiation also includes the ascent to a spiritual plane. However, to shed further light on the question of Western and Eastern initiation, it is good to distinguish initiation and evolution.

  1. Initiation: it is a rebirth of the disciple on the spiritual plane, to higher and higher levels, which are precisely the initiatory levels. The initiate, while remaining at the same level of external evolution as human beings, transcends ordinary consciousness and anticipates the evolutionary stages of future humanity. For example, at the level of Imagination, the disciple experiences the state of consciousness of angels, while remaining in human form. At the state of Inspiration the initiate experiences the state of consciousness of the archangels, at that of Intuition of the Archai.

  2. Evolution: it is a succession of stages in the scale of being that are reached in sequence by the wave of existence that crosses the planetary chain of evolution, from the Creation of the world to its end. The wave of existence therefore crosses cosmic days and cosmic nights. For example, the wave of existence of us human beings has passed through a mineral (Ancient Saturn), then vegetable (Ancient Sun), animal (Ancient Moon) and finally human (present Earth). Later it will ascend to the plane of the angels (Future Jupiter) and so on.

These two processes are intertwined in the symbol of the Ancient Mysteries of the Caduceus of Mercury:

Mercury is the Greek Hermes, and the Egyptian Thoth, the god messenger of the gods and psychopompus, a link between man and the divine: Hermeticism is the school of Hermes that teaches how to achieve initiation. On the caduceus are represented the seven stages that make up the process of evolution of the cosmos. Macrocosmically, the turns of the two snakes around the winged stirrup represent the seven metamorphoses of the Earth. The black serpent represents the descending current of spiritual evolution, towards the incarnation in matter. We have therefore:

  1. Ancient Saturn

  2. Ancient Sun

  3. Ancient Moon

  4. Mars-Earth

In these first four phases (the Earth is divided into two halves, Mars and Mercury), we have the formation of the human being as we know him today. The white serpent instead represents the ascending current of spiritual evolution, towards the spiritualization of matter:

  1. Mercury-Earth

  2. Future Jupiter

  3. Future Venus

  4. Future Vulcan

Humanity passes through the coils of the two serpents first moving away from God and then returning to Him (the winged apple of the stirrup), while the disciple of esotericism, through initiation, arrives directly to God through the central way, the "narrow way", here divided into four "initiations" (Preparation, Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition) that pass through the two evolutionary halves composed by the two serpents of past (black) and future (white) evolution. The initiate contemplates both the past (Christian-esoteric initiation) and the future (Rosicrucian initiation).

This happens through the activation of the channels of force of the human body which in yoga are called "nadi": microcosmically, the descending serpent in matter (black) is called "ida" and carries the lunar forces; the ascending serpent in spirit (white) is called "pingala" and carries the solar forces. In the center is present "sushumna" the channel to which initiation appeals, uniting solar and lunar forces in the chemical wedding.

Nadi and caduceus: a) Ida, the descending energy in matter; b) Pinagala, the energy that ascends to the spirit; c) Sushumna, the central energy that ascends to the spirit; d) Ida, pingala and sushumna intertwine in the seven chakras, forming the caduceus of microcosmic Mercury.

From the meeting of the three nadis, the seven chakras are formed that cross the astral body following the spine, the force that flows there is called the kundalini snake. In the eastern way the kundalini is activated from bottom to top (body > soul > spirit), in the western way from top to bottom (spirit > soul > body). Evolution and initiation are so closely connected in esotericism.

Having made this clarification, also in anthroposophical initiation there are such levels of the "scale of being" but they are listed separately as a sequence of states that "a wave of existence" passes from one planetary chain to another. Steiner speaks thus of the evolutionary chain to which the present man belongs, indicating both the past and the future evolutionary levels. Just as today the Kingdoms of Nature stand alongside man, so the higher stages stand alongside the lower ones, all contributing to the advancement of cosmic evolution. It is divided into seven stages that cover the same evolutionary path indicated in the 13 levels of the Eastern tradition of the Theosophical Society:

scale levels of Being

  1. Elemental Spirits: the "little people" are in the evolutionary stage preceding the human one; they are composed of etheric-astral substance. They are followed by an ascending sequence of gnomes, wavers, sylphs, and finally the salamanders, whose fiery nature contains a hint of Ego. When the elemental spirits acquire a physical body they pass to the next evolutionary level of Adam.

  2. Adam: that is, the present human beings composed with the four elements of the Earth. Between this evolutionary level and the next, the seven levels of Christian-esoteric and Rosicrucian initiation are grafted. When the I completely penetrates the astral body to form the Spiritual Self, we move on to the next level, the Adam Kadmon.

  3. Adam Kadmon: that is, human beings with an astral body purified into the Spiritual Self, that is, at the end of the initiation degree of Imagination. They do not possess a physical body, they are the present human beings already at the degree of evolution of the Future Jupiter. The Adam of Light marks the return to the universal, androgynous man, forming the soul of the superior human group, in which all its parts maintain full consciousness.

  4. Bodhisattva: that is, human beings with an etheric body purified in Vital Spirit, at the end of the degree of Inspiration. They are the present human beings already at the degree of evolution of the Future Venus. The Bodhisattvas include the 12 Masters of Wisdom and Harmony of Feelings, who can descend to Earth or other planets to bring evolution back on the predetermined path.

  5. Nirmanakaya: a Buddha of compassion who renounces Nirvana to remain bound to the karma of Earth. They are the present human beings already at the degree of evolution of the Future Volcano. They have a purified physical body in Man-Spirit, at the end of the Degree of Intuition. In his "body of emanation or manifestation" ethereal-astral, he appears as a "friend of angels", able to accompany the great spiritual events: the Buddha appeared as Nirmanakaya during the birth of the child Jesus of Luke's Gospel within the heavenly host of angels.

  6. Pitris or Angels: this level contains all the Spiritual Hierarchies, from the Angels of the first choir to the Seraphim of the ninth choir. At this level are the Seven Archangels and the other Spirits of the People, the Spirits of Time (Zeitgeist). Among the most sublime entities, whose entity is composed of several angelic hierarchies, we can find the Seven Elohim creators of the world, the Four Living, the Divine Sophia and the Mystical Lamb.

  7. Gods: at this level there are the three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit also called the Three Logoi. They reside in Eternity and manifest themselves in the course of evolution in particular ways. Christ, as the Solar Spirit manifested on Earth, is the Son.

If we want to make a direct comparison between Eastern and Western initiatory levels, we must now interpolate between Western initiatory and evolutionary levels. In the second level of evolution of being, at the Adam stage, we can place the seven steps of Christian-esoteric or rosicrucian initiation, and then continue with the subsequent stages of the evolutionary chain to which man belongs.

If we interpolate in this way the seven evolutionary levels of the "ladder of being" with the seven initiatory levels of the western esoteric path we obtain the correspondence with the 13 levels of the Eastern theosophical initiation:

Level Being scale esoteric Christianity Rosicrucian

The Differences between Eastern and Western Initiation

We must now relate these levels to the initiatory levels of anthroposophy. To do this we must keep in mind the difference in order of Western initiation (Rosicrucian or anthroposophical) compared to Eastern initiation (theosophical): whereas Eastern initiation starts from the bottom (physical body) and arrives at the mental body; Anthroposophical-Rosicrucian initiation goes in the opposite direction, it starts from the top, that is, from the I and arrives at the physical body, which being the most dense is the one where the highest spiritual forces operate.

In general, theosophical-eastern initiation leads to detachment from the physical world, while anthroposophical-western initiation leads to the manifestation of the spirit in the physical, and thus to "creation from nothing". The Eastern way aims to disperse the consciousness in Nirvana, the Western way to expand the consciousness of the I, until the spiritual worlds are understood. The Eastern way leads to disinterest in matter considered only illusion of the Maya, while the Western way (incorporating alchemy) works on matter to spiritualize it. This is the process that has allowed Steiner to found so many absolutely new directions.

Specifically we can see a difference in the Eastern (theosophical) and Western (anthroposophical) conception of the Masters. In anthroposophy, only five of the 12 Masters of Wisdom and Harmony of Feelings also called the Circle of the 12 Bodhisattvas have ascended, corresponding to the seventh level of theosophy. These five masters are waiting today, they will intervene in the evolutionary path of humanity only once they have reached the next earthly metamorphosis, the Future Jupiter. Seven of these Masters or Bodhisattva are active and correspond to the sixth degree prior to ascension in the theosophical list, as well as the seven Masters of Blavatsky.

Nevertheless, the most radical difference does not concern the Masters but the Being of Christ: being in anthroposophy one of the Three Persons of the Trinity, he is at a much higher level than the Bodhisattvas, who indeed operate under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It is in the passage between the Unveiled Isis and the Secret Doctrine, the founding texts of Blavatsky's theosophy, that we find a radical upheaval in attitude towards Christ. Rudolf Steiner clearly indicates that, while the Unveiled Isis contained revelations given by the Western Masters, and therefore was not hostile to Christ, in the Secret Doctrine these same Masters withdrew to make way for the Eastern Masters, Kuthumi and Morya, whose understanding of the world included only the wisdom of Atlantis, and therefore what had taken place before the Universal Flood, while they completely lacked understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha, so that Christ became a Master among many others.

The radical difference between the results of Eastern and Western initiation has historically culminated in the splitting of the Anthroposophical Society from the Theosophical Society: Annie Besant and Charles W. Leadbeater, the head of the Theosophical Society after Blavatsky, recognized in fact in Jiddu Krishnamurti the "new world master" who was to coincide with the return of Christ in physical form. The initiations to which Krishnamurti was subjected took place within the Order of the Star of the East, a section of the Theosophical Society of Adyar created especially for him. Steiner opposed this spiritual absurdity, arising from the lack of direct perception of Christ that the Eastern initiation caused, having remained in the days before the Mystery of Golgotha. In fact, Christ had already manifested himself, although not in the physical body, around the year zero: from the Resurrection onwards Christ manifested himself in the etheric world. Paul was "struck down on the road to Damascus" precisely by experiencing this new manifestation, the Etheric Christ. After the split between theosophy and anthroposophy, in 1929 Krishnamurti himself renounced the role imposed on him by the theosophical society, dissolved the Order of the Star of the East and disavowed the astral projections of Besant and Leadbeater. Adyar's theosophy from that moment on assumed a more social role, returning to the founding principle of the Universal Brotherhood without distinction and promoting the welfare and culture of the Indian people.

Bailey joined the Theosophical Society in 1917 and soon joined the New York Esoteric Section. Like Steiner, the Bailey became aware of the progressive decline of Adyar's theosophy under the leadership of Besant and Leadbeater. She wanted to restore the foundation work done by Blavatsky to continue from that point on. At that point she was contacted by Tibetan Master Djwal Khul, whose spiritual impulse was already at the basis of the foundation of the Theosophical Society of Blavatsky. She continued to carry on her form of theosophy through the communications of the Tibetan Master and her first works were appreciated by the theosophists. However, Bailey did not spare herself from criticizing the neo-theosophy of Besant. So much so that, raising doubts about the authenticity of the Tibetan Master's communications to the Bailey, Besant expelled her from the Theosophical Society along with her husband, the National Secretary of the American branch Foster Bailey.

At that point Bailey and her husband founded the Arcane School, which focused on the relationship between the Seven Rays, esoteric astrology and psychology. Compared to the theosophy involved in the Order of the Star of the East, Bailey took a big step towards the Western way. In fact, following the Western impulse of the Unveiled Isis, she restored even the most preponderant presence of Christ among the Masters, calling him "The Master of Masters", within her theosophy, without however reaching a full understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha, as was the case with Steiner. His conception of Christ in fact remains external and agrees with that of the return of Christ and the Masters exposed by Leadbeater, while Blavatsky already insisted on finding the "individual inner Christos". In more recent times, Bailey's theosophy would later turn into the New Age, in which the New Age is the Age of Aquarius.

The Christ of the Eastern and Western Masters

Theosophy, being the result of the communications of the Eastern Masters Koot Humi, Morya (Blavatsky, Besant) and the Tibetan Master Djwal Khul (Blavatsky, Bailey) was able to speak of Christ only as an external macrocosmic being, acting on Earth and on man from outside. The appearance of Logos is underlined. But it is very clear to understand why: Since the Oriental Masters ascended around the passage between the Atlantic and Post-Atlantic ages, in ancient Indian times, they could not communicate the whole truth about the Mystery of Golgotha, but only foreshadow it. In the Indian, Persian and Egyptian-Chaldaic epoch, Christ could only be found in the immensity of the macrocosm. We find this spiritualist conception of Christ in Gnosticism, which saw Christ only as a spiritual being who did not "dirty" his hands with matter. The disciples who within the theosophy were connected to the Eastern Masters remained therefore unaware of what happened in the three years of Jesus Christ's ministry. But the Son nevertheless descended into the heart of the Earth!

Thus we have that before the Mystery of Golgotha the initiates to the solar mysteries proclaimed:

Not me, but the Solar Spirit outside of me!

All this was reversed after the Mystery of Golgotha when Christ then became an inner entity, to the Earth and to man: the Spirit of the Earth and the Ego within man. For this reason the Crucifixion can in no way be identified with the Illumination of the Buddha: while the Gautama Buddha brought the doctrine of love to completion, Christ comes to Earth to incarnate cosmic Love itself. This is why Jesus Christ curses the fig tree: the ancient Eastern initiation, brought to a climax with the Buddha under the Bodhi tree (the fig tree) has now fulfilled its function and is only a stage on the path of the Western esoteric way. Therefore, if anything, it is the Transfiguration that corresponds to the Illumination. After death in the physical incarnation, he manifested himself in the resurrection as Christ in the Eteric World of Nature. Paul was the first to experience the Eternal Christ when he was struck by lightning on the road to Damascus, and he was thus able to proclaim:

Not I, but the Christ in me!

Thus the Western Masters, unlike the Eastern Masters, became participants in the events of Palestine: Master Jesus (Zarathustra) sacrificed his I and became the chalice in which the Solar Spirit Christ incarnated himself to fulfill his earthly mission. Master Christian Rosenkreuz (Saint-Germaine or Rakoczi) was incarnated as Lazarus. Lazarus resurrected, became John and from the Gospel he wrote in a cave on the island of Patmos derived esoteric Christianity, the first totally western way based on sentiment. But when the time was ripe Christian Rosenkreuz became incarnated even after the Mystery of Golgotha, in Germany, to insert the impulse of Damascus, of the Etheric Christ, in the western way Rose+Cross based on thought. Like Saint-Germaine in France, he gave rise to the School of the Grail within Freemasonry. Finally, the path of Master Christian Rosenkreuz became the basis of Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy. Christian Rosenkreuz was spiritually present during the laying of the foundation stone of the first Goetheanum, just as he was under the cross as Lazarus-John. For this reason in the Etheric World is imprinted the image of an altar on which Christian Rosenkreuz stands on the right with a blue stole, flanked by Rudolf Steiner on the left with a red stole. This is the image of the initiatory continuity between Rose+Cross and Anthroposophy, between Western Masters of the past and present.

The Maitreya Question

Moreover, in theosophy the Maitreya Buddha or Master of the World is the same entity as Christ, while in anthroposophy they are two distinct entities, the Christ being the Solar Spirit while the Maitreya is a spiritual being of the highest level present on the Nirvanic plane and serving the Son. In anthroposophy the Maitreya is a teacher who will come. The question of Maitreya's identification is extremely complex. Precisely in the misinterpretation of this future coming of Maitreya resides the maddening esoteric error committed by the Leadbeater and Besant: by identifying the future Maitreya with the Christ Being, they predicted his return on the physical plane as Jiddu Krishnamurti. But Christ will no longer come in physical form, but is already present in etheric form in the Astral World as Steiner states. The very name "Maitreya" is the Sanskrit version of "Mithra", the Sol Invictus, with the word "maitri" incorporated, that is, "universal love": this means that just as Mithra anticipated the descent of Christ, Love, into the body of Jesus of Nazareth, so the Maitreya Buddha will succeed the ascent of the Etheric Christ, from the Astral World towards his coming into the Mental World. Anthroposophy, among its tasks, has precisely that of preparing the ground for the future incarnation of the Maitreya Buddha

Rudolf Steiner pointed out that the Maitreya will be incarnated exactly 5000 years after the previous Buddha Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) that is, in the Sixth Post-Atlantic Era, following our fifth. In the Sixth Post-Atlantic Era the Maitreya will ascend to the step of Buddha ascending to Nirvana and no longer needing to incarnate himself, working from that moment on from the spiritual world as an Occult Master. However, before his ascension he will incarnate on Earth as Bodhisattva, a Master of Wisdom. As the Sixth Epoch is the Age of Aquarius, in many representations, the Maitreya symbolically holds a jug full of water just like Aquarius. The Maitreya's individuality has been embodied in almost every century. One hundred years before Christ he became incarnated as Jeshua Ben Pandira, a chief mentioned in the Talmud, who prophesied the coming of Christ in Jesus. He was stoned and then impaled, and because of this death of his as well as his nominal resemblance was confused with Christ himself in the theosophical realm. In the Incarnation as Maitreya he will be able to be recognized by the sudden change he will experience when he is 30 years old, up to the age of 33: but Steiner points out that, before this age, it will not be possible to recognize him even through clairvoyance because the metamorphosis he will undergo will be a reflection of the descent of Christ into Jesus during baptism, so that his being will come out totally transformed. However, something of his previous individuality will remain unlike the I of Jesus of Nazareth. His I will remain in the body, but will be penetrated by a very high entity (i.e. Mithra). The Buddha Maitreya will have the task of preparing humanity to understand the true impulse of the Etheric Christ so that morality may no longer be theoretical, but rather that thoughts are poured into morality itself. He will be a Master of the Moral Ether, that which will form the foundation of the 6th Metamorphosis of the Future Jupiter. In the Age of Aquarius it will no longer be possible for a man to be wise and at the same time immoral, there will be a correspondence between wisdom and morality.

Steiner expressed himself with these words (April 13, 1910 in GA 118):

He will be the greatest herald of Christ's impulse and will make the experience of Damascus possible for many.

The relationship between Christ and the White Lodge: as can be seen from this representation of the spiritual entities dependent on Christ, there are three levels which correspond to three Spiritual Worlds: a) Mahaparanirvana: where the forces of Christ and Sophia emanating directly from the Son in Eternity are located; b) Paranirvana: where the Manu are located; c) Nirvana: where the Maitreya Buddha is located; d) the World of Budhi: where the 12 Masters of Wisdom and Harmony of Feelings are located; e) the plan of the Brotherhood of the Grail.

The initiatic degree of Rudolf Steiner

It happens to read the completely unfounded rumor that Steiner "did not pass the third initiation". However, one must be careful: the "third initiation" of which theosophy speaks only corresponds to the passage between Imagination and Intuition following the Western way! This is the origin of this unjust voice about Steiner! Since Steiner certainly reached Intuition through the forces of his individual being, as evidenced by the absolute novelty of his work, it follows that his spiritual individuality is much higher than the "third theosophical initiation", but indeed reaches at least the equivalent of the sixth initiation in the Eastern classification.

Based on the immense esoteric corpus of anthroposophy, we know precisely that Steiner reached Intuition, that is, he met the highest spiritual being present at the moment on Earth, the Eternal Christ (that is, the "second coming" or "lightning on the road to Damascus"). Proof of this is the most extensive esoteric Christology ever conceived. As a result, he had the ability to control his etheric and astral body to understand both words and spiritual images, which he then returned and divulged with his lecturing activity: the words of spiritual beings were translated into mantras and verses, language with eurythmy, images with architecture and painting. Biodynamic agriculture was instead the result of his over-sensitive experiences with elementals, group souls (minerals, plants and animals) and angelic hierarchies. We also know that he had experience of his previous lives, but he kept them secret. Evidence of this was only discovered after his death. Previous incarnations include: Enkidu the savage appears from Gilgamesh, Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas.

Other confirmations of the immensity of Steiner's spiritual individuality come to us, for example, from the Inklings, the group of writers to which C.S. Lewis and Tolkien belonged, revolved around the anthroposophist Owen Barfield. They nicknamed Steiner "the greatest secret of the 20th century". It is not difficult to see how both Narnia and the Lord of the Rings draw clear inspiration from anthroposophy.

Even in the Masonic sphere, in 1905 he was recognized by Theodor Reuss, without the need for any "tiling" or any initiatory ceremony, the maximum operating degrees 33°, 90° and 96° within the Memphis-Misraim Rite. The initiatory tradition is that of the Egyptian Rite, the most esoteric Masonic tradition, which begins with the Egyptian Freemasonry of Cagliostro, and continues with Raimondo di Sangro Prince of Sansevero to pass to Giuseppe Garibaldi, who unified the Rite of Misraim with the Rite of Memphis. Steiner wrote his rituals and used them for the Second and Third Class of the Anthroposophical Society. To this Rite he gave the name of Cognitive Worship, which was celebrated within the Order of the Service of Misraim or Mystica Aeterna, which you can read in depth in this text of mine.

Now, no other esotericist has ever covered all the fields of knowledge and human experience like Rudolf Steiner, thus entering into the heart of the culture of the time, so much so that there are many initiatives that directly or indirectly refer to anthroposophy. He not only reformed his time, but also anticipated the present and the future by giving it in a form appropriate to the human being, so that only today can be understood some of his statements in the scientific-spiritual field.

From all this it follows that its level can only be higher than that of most esotericists (and initiates) in the history of mankind. Steiner is not only an esotericist, Steiner was an initiate with the ability to "create" an entire culture from his own independent and conscious experience of the spiritual worlds. To understand this, just go to an esoteric library and see the number, the breadth of the spectrum and the depth of Steiner's themes. To understand this new culture, it is enough to go to Dornach at the Goetheanum and see the uniqueness of his work and the worldwide activity that takes place there on a daily basis.

The anthroposophers take different positions on this subject: according to Judith von Halle and Hermann Keimeyer, Steiner was the last physical incarnation of the Master of Wisdom called "Serapis". According to Marie Steiner, he was the last physical incarnation of the Master Jesus. Still others (Herbert Wimbauer, Adolf Arenson and Heinz Eckhoff) consider him a superior entity to the Ascended Masters (in the Theosophical series, at the seventh initiation), namely the Maitreya Buddha, although Steiner himself presented the "question of the Maitreya" as if he was only one of his precursors.

Although these visions are different, they all agree: when we talk about Rudolf Steiner, we are therefore talking about a very high spiritual entity, at least to the degree of Master of Wisdom and Harmony of Feelings.

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