For the Advancement of the World 1: Michael’s Call1

When the Creed speaks of “the world”, what exactly does it mean? In this text, we find a direct connection between the 1st and the 6th sentence. The 1st sentence speaks of an almighty divine being, spiritual-physical, as the ground of existence of the heavens and of the earth – going before His creatures like a Father. The 6th sentence speaks of “fatherly deeds of the ground of the world” – of this world, “the earthly world” into which the Christ in Jesus entered is a part. The world which is in need of “advancement” is the world in which Christ works as “the Lord of the heavenly forces upon earth”.

Not only will Christ, according to the Creed, try to wrest (“through their bearing”) human beings from the death of matter, as the 7th sentence says. The 2nd sentence has already set out our human task, which we can attain through Him, which is to re-enliven dying earth-existence. For this purpose, human beings are wrested from the death of matter, in order that the foundation of our existence on earth itself may be wrested from death – an activity in which we human beings will be able to participate.

The holy Spirit, in order to heal in a spiritual way the human condition, which is called “the sickness of sin within the bodily nature of mankind”, has been instrumental in helping Christ to incarnate (according to the 3rd sentence). Since His resurrection, through Him healing Spirit can work. Now all those who are feeling the Christ within themselves, who are aware of the health-bringing power of Christ, may hope for the overcoming of the sickness of sin (the 8th and 9th sentence).

On the one hand, the words of the Creed evoke a mystery: the mystery of a dying earth-existence, which has its existence in a fatherly divine being, the ground of the world – a being whose deeds are in need of fulfillment by the Son, become Lord of the heavenly forces upon earth. They also make us aware of human beings who will find their earthly task, when wrested from the death of matter and carried by the health-bringing power of Christ. Such human beings will be working for the advancement of the world.

Our daily connection with the world around us is founded on a life-sustaining rhythm of breathing: breathing in, breathing out, breathing in … and sometimes it takes a good slap on the back of the newly born child to get it going (and quite some pain to disappear at the end of life, for those whose bodies won’t let them go). We also know a life- and soul-sustaining other rhythm, the rhythm of waking and sleeping, of going out from the world of the senses to a world beyond, once more returning here, and so on.

When we are awake, we move within a material world which to us is phenomenal, appearing in the many phenomena surrounding us. But in its essence, this material world can be compared to the rainbow and the way it appears in our world. Our material world of the senses is of the order of the rainbow, appearing to our senses, because behind it spiritual beings are living and working.2 Sleeping, we move into this world, which as Rudolf Steiner says “squirts forth” the sensory world. This world “behind” the world of our senses is a centripetal world, tending towards its center; a cold, numbing, petrifying world. When we are awake, by the way, we are able to go “inside” ourselves, encountering impressions, memories, dreams – all, as it would seem, phenomena in a non-material way. That’s why mystics like to go inside, looking for “God”, for “the divine spark”. But we should not kid ourselves: inside ourselves we find no spiritual processes, we find only material processes. Any “inner sparks” are simply products of material processes, in the way of will-o’-the-wisps, of that ignis fatuus, that mock-fire one finds in bogs as a product of organic material processes. That may be why the advice given to those who are going to pray: “Go inside your inner room and shut the door” (see Mt 6:6). Which means: go consciously inside your own spiritual being, keeping “outside” that phenomenal spiritual world which exists because of your bodily existence.

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