Article by Chris McAleer
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There have been rumblings in the distance, like far off thunder on a hot summer’s night. And in a heart here, and a mind there, a question is rising, “Did Steiner get it wrong?” This is a question about people beginning to perceive Christ in the etheric. Where are they? What is happening out there? Rudolph Steiner spoke quite strongly and powerfully about this subject. Essentially, it is the focal point of which the spotlight of this Age is now illuminating, and demanding an answer.
Since I overheard that conversation last year, that question too has sat inside me like a giant question mark. The question for me is a little bit different in my contemplations. I know that Rudolph Steiner didn’t get it wrong because I have seen Christ in the etheric, twice. Once as a child, when his presence and form drew near to me and communicated to me, and once as an adult just like Paul’s Damascus experience where he appeared as a mighty being of light.
The question for me is not, “Did Steiner get it wrong?” but “Why aren’t more people seeing Christ in the etheric?” This is a deeply serious question that we all must contemplate with the fullness of our being. Just as the physical incarnation of Christ was almost glossed over at the time of the event, and so few people bore witness, the same is happening with the etheric Christ. Unlike the physical incarnation of Christ which really only manifested physically for three years and has now become a deed for all time, the etheric Christ is present now and with us, and is longing and waiting for our acknowledgement and participation.
Over the past twelve years, my own Damascus experience has become a source of great inner meditation for me, and born out of that is this seriousness of “Why aren’t more people seeing Christ in the etheric?” I sense Christ standing on the other side of nature pushing mightily through the etheric into the seasons, but humanity seems to be sleep walking through them. I finally got an answer one night. I turned to the farewell and final lecture by Rudolph Steiner at the Christmas Conference in the book I had been reading.
The vast majority of human beings are not able to pass by the Guardian of the Threshold every night they go to sleep because they do not take anything of the spirit with them. They only have thoughts and concepts born out of the material world. The Guardian must bar their way into the spiritual realms where renewal and inspiration come from. If the Guardian were to let them in, they would become paralysed in their heads when they returned into the physical world. This is the sad and serious situation that Rudolph Steiner talks about in his farewell address. In effect, Rudolph Steiner sees people approaching the ‘Guardian’ in a sleeping state i.e. unconscious or subconscious. The matter becomes even more serious, for if this situation continues for too long, those born in the future will be born into a world that will be filled by barbarism and instincts alone, without ideas.
So here we have groups of human beings approaching the ‘Guardian’ in a sleeping state, not able to be renewed every evening from the higher spiritual realms, because fundamentally they do not even believe in the existence of the spiritual realms or its angelic beings. This is one reason why people are not perceiving Christ in the etheric. One has to be alert and ‘awake’ to sense or perceive the Christ drawing near in the etheric. One also has to know who the Christ is, and love Him in a heart filled with freedom in order to perceive Him.
On the other hand, I have come to know that Paul’s Damascus experience is not just about perceiving the Christ in the etheric but is actually about experiencing the ‘Guardian of the Threshold’ in a fully conscious waking state. That is the significance of Paul’s Damascus experience for this Age, of which the whole of humanity will have to experience over the next three thousand years. It is of particular relevance to Anthroposophists as Rudolph Steiner exhorts us to ‘have courage’ to be awake, not only when we confront the Guardian when we are sleeping, but to have courage to be awake for the great responsibility that we bear for this time.
And what is this great responsibility that we bear for this time. It is to ask ourselves the hard questions, instead of looking outward and externalising our responsibility on to others such as, “Did Steiner get it wrong?” The question is, “Why aren’t more people perceiving Christ in the etheric?” because Rudolph Steiner got it right, and what am I doing about it? How can we prepare ourselves and humanity to perceive the Christ in the etheric? There are so many things that we can do personally for ourselves in preparation, and to assist humanity in coming to understand the possibility of perceiving Christ in the etheric.
On a personal level, if I had not begun to meditate, for example, I may never have discovered my inner spiritual life. How many people out there are walking around fast asleep but may be a heart beat away from their inner development, all they may need is a little inspiration or encouragement. I remember vividly the first time I heard about the possibility of perceiving the Christ in the etheric and the story of the descent of the Cosmic Christ. It so filled me to overflowing because it resounded truthfully within my being.
Today, stories abound that Jesus Christ didn’t exist or that he did not fulfil the deed on Golgotha, or that he was just a man with a wife and kids. On the other hand, there is a great expectation that he will appear in the flesh again. There is a great push to diminish, discredit or vanquish Jesus and the story of the deed of Christ. It is time that people heard the truth about the Cosmic Christ, the Logos and the overshadowing of the man Jesus in the Jordan, just as they need to hear about the meeting with the Guardian who is the Christ, and perceiving Christ in the etheric. There is a tremendous need for humanity to hear about these truths at this time, for how will they sense his presence or perceive him if they do not even know who he is, or that he is there now.
Let me leave you with this final exhortation from Rudolph Steiner, “If we can face up to this in our soul in all earnestness during this Conference, then this Christmas Conference will send a strong impulse into our souls which can carry them away to do strong work of the kind needed by mankind today, so that in their next incarnation human beings will be able to encounter the Guardian of the Threshold properly, or rather so that civilization as a whole will measure up to the Guardian of the Threshold.”
1. The Christmas Conference 1 January, 8.30 in the evening