You may be surprised to learn what Jesus's Sermon on the Mount was really about
(i.e., what Steiner said it was really about). I suspect Jesus would be surprised, too.
In order to prove that everything fits together neatly in his theory of everything, Anthroposophy,
Steiner fundamentally changed everything — distorting it all to make it all fit.
Some individuals find the results impressive; others find the results farcical.
Steiner reworked the Sermon to make it, in part, a set of prescriptions intended to offset
the darkness and evil of Kali Yuga, the Dark Age running from 3101 BC through 1899 AD.
"More than three thousand years had passed since the beginning of Kali Yuga or Age of Darkness. What is the significance of this age? It was the era in which it was normal for man to depend solely upon what was accessible to his senses, and also upon his brain-bound intellect. Only such things as were experienced by these means could be known and understood in the dark age of Kali Yuga ... During Kali Yuga, however, something did occasionally penetrate into the physical world from spiritual realms. As a rule, it did not come from the good powers, but was of demoniacal nature. All the strange illnesses described in the Gospels, where people are referred to as possessed, are attributable to demoniacal forces. In them we must recognize the work of evil spirits ... [T]he spiritual world has gradually become completely closed to man's normal consciousness, so that all knowledge has had to be drawn from the world of the senses. If this process had continued unabated, all possible connection with the spiritual world would have been lost to him.
"...From [John the Baptist] comes the powerful admonition: ‘Alter the disposition of your soul, for the Kingdoms of Heaven are near. The disposition of soul is come upon you through which you will enter a relationship with the descended Christ. The times have been fulfilled.’
“Christ Jesus Himself expressed, in the most penetrating thoughts, the fulfillment of the times in the Sermon on the Mount, as it is called ... To [his disciples] He disclosed that man, in ancient times, could become God-imbued during states of ecstasy. While outside his ego, he was blissful and had direct experience with the spiritual world from which he could draw spiritual and health-giving forces. But now — so said Christ Jesus to His disciples — a man can become God-imbued who becomes permeated within himself with the God and Christ impulse, and can unite himself as an ego with this impulse. In the past, he alone could ascend to spiritual spheres who was filled with divine streamings from them. Only he, as possessor of the spirit, could be called blessed. Such a man was a seer in the old sense and he was a rare personality. The majority of the people had become beggars in the spirit. Now, however, those who sought the Kingdom of Heaven could find it through their own egos." — Rudolf Steiner, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT (Anthroposophic Press, 1978), lecture 2, "The Sermon on the Mount", GA 107. All of the Steiner quotations, below, come from this lecture.
The Sermon on the Mount (detail)
by Fra Angelico.
Before hearing more from Steiner, here’s a brief refresher. In the Sermon on the Mount, as relayed in the Bible, Christ pronounces blessings on many deserving human souls. Here are His words, in the passages known as the Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[Matthew 5:3-11 (King James Version)]
Steiner changes the words spoken by Jesus, turning Jesus into a sort of early Anthroposophist. Steiner does not so much explicate the teachings of Jesus, he puts new words in the mouth of Jesus, words that correspond to Anthroposophical doctrines.
Here are some of the Beatitudes as reworked by Steiner, along with some of Steiner's explanations. The lessons Steiner offers involve the various “members” of the human constitution. [See “What We’re Made Of”.]
Beatitude 1 (Blessed are the poor in spirit):
“All the members of [man’s] being — the physical and etheric bodies, the sentient, rational and consciousness souls, the ego, and even the higher soul members — receive new life through the nearness of the Kingdom of Heaven. These teachings are in complete accord with the teachings of primeval wisdom.
“In order for an individual to enter the spiritual world in earlier times, the etheric body had to be slightly separated from the physical body, which was thus formed in a special way. Christ Jesus therefore said in regard to the physical body, ‘Blessed are the beggars, the poor in spirit, for if they develop their ego-ruled bodies in the right way, they will find the Kingdom of Heaven.’”
Beatitude 2 (Blessed are they that mourn):
“Of the etheric body He [i.e., Christ] said, ‘Formerly, men could be healed of illnesses of the body and soul by ascending into the spiritual world in a state of ecstasy. Now those who suffer and are filled with the spirit of God can be healed and comforted by finding the source, the comfort, within themselves.’”
Beatitude 3 (Blessed are the meek):
“Of the astral body He said, ‘In former times those whose astral bodies were beset by wild and tempestuous passions could only be subdued when equanimity, peace and purification streamed to them from divine spiritual beings.’ Now men should find the strength within their own egos, through the in-dwelling Christ, to purify the astral body on earth. Thus, the new influence in the astral body had to be presented by saying, ‘Blessed and God-imbued in their astral bodies are those who foster calmness and equanimity within themselves; all comfort and well-being on earth shall be their reward.’”
Beatitude 4 (Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness):
“The fourth beatitude refers to the sentient soul. The ego of him who purifies himself in his sentient soul and seeks a higher development, will become permeated with the Christ. In his heart he will thirst for righteousness; he will become pervaded with godliness and his ego will become sufficient unto itself ... Before an individual has developed the ego within himself, he must allow his sentient soul to grow into higher worlds to be able to perceive something there. But when he has developed himself in his rational soul, he can perceive the person next to him.”
Beatitude 5 (Blessed are the merciful):
“In the fifth beatitude the sentence structure will have to take on a special form. The subject and the predicate must be alike, since it concerns what the ego develops within itself. The fifth beatitude says, 'He who develops compassion and mercy shall find compassion in others.’”
Beatitude 6 (Blessed are the pure in heart):
“The next sentence of the Beatitudes refers to the consciousness soul. Through it the ego comes into being as pure ego and becomes capable of receiving God into itself. If man can elevate himself to such a degree, he can perceive within himself that drop of the divine, his ego; through his purified consciousness soul he can see God. The sixth sentence of the Beatitudes must, therefore, refer to God. The external physical expression for the ego and the consciousness soul is the blood, and where it brings itself most clearly to expression is in the heart, as expression of the purified ego. Christ said, therefore, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’ Thus, we are shown how in the most intimate sense the heart is the expression of the ego, the divine in man.
Beatitude 7 (Blessed are the peacemakers):
"Now let us advance to what is higher than the consciousness soul, to manas, buddhi and atman, or spirit self, life spirit and spirit man ... Man is not yet sufficiently evolved to take the spirit self completely into himself. In this respect he is still at the beginning of his development and is like a vessel that is gradually receiving it. This is indicated in the seventh sentence of the Beatitudes. At first, the spirit self can only weave into man and fill him with its warmth. Only through the deed of Christ is it brought down to earth as the power of love and harmony. Therefore, Christ says, ‘Blessed are those who draw the spirit self down into themselves, for they shall become the children of God.’ This points man upward to higher worlds."
Beatitude 8 (Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake):
“Further on, mention is made of what will be brought about in the future, but it will encounter in ever-increasing measure the opposition of the present time and be fiercely rejected. It is said in the eighth sentence of the Beatitudes, ‘God-imbued or blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake, For they will be fulfilled in themselves with the Kingdom of Heaven, with life spirit or buddhi.’”
In summary, Steiner gives a version of his doctrine that Christ Jesus is mankind's Prototype: He is the perfect human that all other humans should strive to emulate through the process of evolution. This centers on the development of new capacities — the sort of exact clairvoyance Steiner claimed to possess. The way to develop such clairvoyance is through the practices of Anthroposophy. In other words, the Sermon on the Mount was actually an endorsement of Steiner's own teachings, Anthroposophy.
"Thus, in the Sermon on the Mount the great message that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand is proclaimed. In the course of these events the mystery of human evolution was fulfilled in Palestine. Man had reached a degree of maturity in all the members of his being so that he was able with his purified physical forces to receive the Christ impulse directly into himself. So it came to pass that the God-man Christ merged with the human being Jesus of Nazareth and these united forces permeated the earth for three years with their powers. This had to happen so that man would not lose completely his connection with the spiritual world during Kali Yuga.
"Kali Yuga, the Dark Age, however, continued until the year 1899. That was a particularly important year in human evolution, for it marked the end of the five thousand year period of Kali Yuga and the beginning of a new stage in the evolution of mankind. Onto the old faculties present during Kali Yuga man would now develop new spiritual faculties. So we approach a period in which new natural capacities and possibilities for gaining access to divine spiritual worlds will awaken in man. Before the first half of the twentieth century has passed, some people will, with full ego consciousness, experience the penetration of the divine spiritual world into the physical sense world in the same way as did Saul during his transformation into Paul before Damascus. This will then become the normal condition for many people.
"Christ will not incarnate again in a physical body as he did in Jesus; now nothing would be achieved by it. It was dictated then by profound cosmic-earthly laws of evolution; otherwise, people would not have been able to recognize Him. But now men have evolved further and possess soul powers with which they can penetrate into the etheric. Thus, in future, Christ will become visible to mankind in the etheric and not in a physical body. From the middle of the twentieth century on, and continuing for the next twenty-five hundred years, this will happen more and more often. Enough people will by then have experienced the event at Damascus that it will be taken to be a common occurrence all over the world.
"We study spiritual science so that these faculties, which are at first barely perceptible, may not be overlooked and lost to mankind, and that those blessed with this new power of vision may not be considered dreamers and fools, but may instead have the support and understanding of a group of people who in their common purpose may prevent these delicate soul seeds and soul qualities from being roughly trampled to death for lack of understanding. Spiritual science shall indeed prepare the conditions whereby these faculties can flourish and thrive.”
— Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings