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Four Mystery Plays

Rudolf Steiner e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

Mystery Plays
Main Index
Cover Sheet
1. Portal
Scene 1
Scene 2
Scene 3
Scene 4
Scene 5
Scene 6
Scene 7
Scene 8
Scene 9
Scene 10
Scene 11
2. Probation
Scene 1
Scene 2
Scene 3
Scene 4
Scene 5
Scene 6
Scene 7
Scene 8
Scene 9
Scene 10
Scene 11
Scene 12
Scene 13
3. Guardian
Scene 1
Scene 2
Scene 3
Scene 4
Scene 5
Scene 6
Scene 7
Scene 8
Scene 9
Scene 10
4. Awakening
Scene 1
Scene 2
Scene 3
Scene 4
Scene 5
Scene 6
Scene 7
Scene 8
Scene 9
Scene 10
Scene 11
Scene 12
Scene 13
Scene 14
Scene 15

Four Mystery Plays

The Guardian of the Threshold

Scene 1

A hall in a prevailing tone of indigo blue. The ante-chamber to the rooms in which a Mystic League carries on its work. In the centre a large door with curtain. Above it is the Rosy Cross. On each side of the door two pictures which represent, beginning from the right of the stage, the Prophet Elijah, John the Baptist, Raphael, the poet Novalis. There are present, in lively conversation twelve Persons, who in one way or another take an interest in the activities of the League. Beside them: Felix Balde and Doctor Strader. (see notes)

Ferdinand Fox:
A most unusual summons 'tis indeed,
That draws us here together at this time.
It comes from men, who ever hold that they,
From all Earth's other children separate,
Are honoured with a special spirit-aim.
Yet now, 'tis said, their spirit-eyes behold,
That in the world's plan they must be bound close
With men whose spirit is unconsecrate;
Who face life's fight in their own strength alone.
I ne'er felt drawn towards such spirit-ways
As find their chief resource in secrecy;
I only care to hold fast to sound thought,
And to the commonsense of human minds.
This Spirit-League by which we now are called
Means not through this same call that we should be
Initiated in its higher aims.
It will thro' mystic dim word-portraiture
Keep us but in the Temple's outer courts;
And use our powers but as the people's voice —
A cunning plan to strengthen its own will.
So shall we merely be the helpers blind
Of men who from the spirit heights above,
Look down to lead us on with beckoning hand
They do not hold that we are ready yet
Even to take one step that might lead on
Toward their holy Temple's treasure-house,
Or to the spirit-light in which they dwell.
When I observe the true state of this league
It seems I see but pride and self-deceit
Clothed in a prophet's robe and humble dress.
And so 'twere surely best to shun each thing
That here is offered us in wisdom's garb;
That we at any rate may not appear
To strive without due proof against the work
Which is so highly prized by many men;
So would I counsel you at first to hear
What aim this wisdom-teacher hath in view
And then to follow simple commonsense.
Who takes such sense as guide within himself
Will not be led astray by tempting lures
Which from the Mystic Temple issue forth.

Michael Nobleman:
I do not know, I cannot even guess
With what strange spirit-gift these men are dowered
Who now desire to find a bridge to us.
But still I know well several honest men
Within the ranks of this same Spirit-League.
Strictly they guard the secret of the fount
Whence this their knowledge is supposed to come;
But that the fountain whence they drink is good,
Their life and deeds make manifest to all.
And all that from their circle issues forth
Bears on its face the mark of truest love.
So may we well believe the aim is good
Which leads them in this special way to men,
To whom the mystic path is strange and new,
But in whose souls the instinct for the truth
And honest goals of spirit-life find place.

Bernard Straight:
Caution would seem to me our duty now.
I think the mystics find the time draws nigh
Which brings an ending to their sovereign power.
Reason will scarcely ask in future times
What dreams of truth these holy temples had.
If this league tells of goals of such a kind
As have seemed wise to mankind's general thought
Then it were good to join our lot to theirs.
Yet they had better shun the mystic's robe
If they would truly pass the portal by,
Which, like some barrier of heavenly light,
Conceals their sacred shrine from worlds profane.
For in that world 'twill be of small account
What value each shall put upon himself.
No higher value shall each one receive
Than universal judgment granteth him.

Francesca Humble:
So much that here I needs must listen to
Sounds like the words of those poor blinded men,
Who cannot see the noble spirit-light
Which streams from every consecrated shrine
In rays of wisdom to the outer world
To comfort and to heal the souls of men.
He only in whose heart this light doth shine,
And pierce with warming glow his inmost soul
Can recognize the true worth of this hour,
Which opens up the mystic's solemn realm
Even to those who feel themselves too weak
To reach, through deep soul struggle, to the high
And consecrate abodes of spirit-light.

Mary Steadfast:
Many sure signs show plainly much must change
Within those souls who strive to follow close
The Spirit's guidance, in their daily life.
But little can be said which goes to prove
That mystic ways can lead on to those ends
Which bring strong powers into the souls of men.
It seems to me that what our time requires
Is leaders, who by using nature's powers
Can join dexterity to genius,
And working thus amidst the things of Earth
Fulfil their purpose in. the world of men.
Such men do search for roots of spirit-work
Deep in the mother-earth of truth itself,
And thus are kept from idle wandering
Along the path away from human health.
Feeling myself possessed with this idea
I recognize in Doctor Strader's self
The powers which for such guidance of the soul
Are better suited than the mystics' are.
How long path man with sorrow had to feel
That thro' the great inventions of machinery
Full many a fetter has been riveted
On the free spirit-instinct in his soul.
But now a hope Both rise within the breast
Whereof none heretofore can e'er have dreamed.
In Strader's workshops we can see, in small,
The working of those wonders, which, in great
Shall soon transform the meaning of technique
And free its shoulders from that heavy load
Which in our day Both weigh on many souls.

Indeed such words as these are full of hope
About my seemingly successful work.
'Tis true there yet remains the bridge to pass
Between experiment and actual use,
But all that science up till now can show
Proves it is technically possible.
The author of this work may be allowed
To speak here freely of the hopes he bears
As to the service it may render man.
He begs to be forgiven any words
That sound vainglorious to the general ear,
They only shadow forth the feelings whence
The strength for this work flows into his soul.
We see how in man's daily life on earth
The workings of emotion and the soul
Disperse and lapse into a soulless state
The more the spirit masters all the powers
That it can find within the realm of sense.
Each day the work grows more mechanical,
Which makes for worth in life; and through such work
Man's life itself becomes mechanical.
Many have sought with painful diligence,
Devising methods that might prove of use,
So that the arts of cold machinery
Might no more lame the soul-life of mankind
Or prove a hindrance to true spirit-aims.
But little was achieved through all this strife
In which one question only seemed of weight,
How man should act towards his fellow-men.
I have myself spent many a solemn hour
In thinking out this riddle of man's life.
But ever did I find such thought produced
No fruit of any value for real life.
I felt myself draw near the bitter thought
That cosmic fate hath foreordained the lot
That victory in this material realm
Must ever be to spirit-paths a foe.
Release from this bewilderment of thought
Was brought me by a seeming accident.
It was my lot to make experiments
In matters from such questions far removed;
When suddenly there flashed across my mind
A thought which showed me where the right path lay.
Test followed close on test, until at last
Such powers were gathered there in front of me,
As in their full expression shall some day
Through application purely technical
Restore that freedom to humanity
In which the soul may find development.
No more shall men be forced to dream away
Their whole existence plant-like, fashioning
In narrow factory rooms unlovely things.
Industrial powers will be so dispersed
That every man shall have what he may need
To keep him in his work, in his own home
Arranged by him, as he may think it best.
I thought it well to speak first of this hope
So that it may not seem quite out of place
To say, what I must say, about this call
Which now the Rosicrucian Brotherhood
Issues to men who stand outside their league.
'Tis only when a human soul unfolds
And finds its own true being in itself
That those fine instincts, which from endless time
Draw spirits each to each, can have full scope.
And therefore, only he will think aright
Who recognizes that this call conforms
To signs, which we have learned to know full well.
The brotherhood in future will bestow
Its highest treasures freely on mankind
Because all men will learn to long for them.

Felix Balde:
The words just spoken have been wrung from out
A soul, which hath been given to our times
To grace the realms of sense with life's true worth.
And in this field I doubt if any one
With Doctor Strader could compete to-day.
But I myself trod very different paths
To find out what is needful for the soul.
So I, too, beg your leave to speak a word.
Fate hath made clear to me that I must search
Among those treasures, which disclose themselves
To every man within his inmost soul.
Therein I seemed to find true wisdom's light
Which can full well illuminate life's worth.
The mystic pupilship was given me
In solitude and contemplation deep.
And thus I learned that all that makes man lord
Of this strong realm of sense, doth only serve
To blind his being, and condemn mankind
To search in darkness for the way of life.
Aye, e'en those gems of knowledge which the use
Of reason and of sense hath found on earth,
Are but faint gropings in a darkened realm.
I know it is the mystic way alone
That can direct our steps to life's true light.
Myself I stood upon that path of truth
As one who strives without a helping hand;
But all men cannot struggle thus alone.
The knowledge gained by sense and intellect
Seems like a body left without a soul
When it doth set itself defiantly
Against the light that since Earth's dawn hath streamed
From sacred temples of true mystery.
Ye therefore ought in gratitude to grasp
The hand that beckons from the Temple now
Upon whose threshold roses full of light
Girdle significant the sign of death.

Louisa Fear-God:
A man who feels the worth of his own soul
Can but rely upon his own ideas,
If he desire to know the spirit-worlds
And find himself therein in very truth.
Whoe'er can give himself, with blindfold faith,
To outside guidance, first must lose himself.
Aye, e'en that light, which deep within himself
A man may feel as highest wisdom's power
Claims spirit-recognition only when
Its truth admits of proof within itself.
This light may be a danger to a man
If he draws near thereto without such proof.
For often on this path the soul mistakes
For a true picture, of the cosmic depths,
Fancies begotten from its unconscious wish.

Frederick Clear-Mind:
Fully to understand the mystic way
Each man must trace its impulse in himself.
Who, ere he enters on the search, doth form
In his own soul a picture of the goal,
Whereto that search must lead, is sure to find
Instead of truth, delusion's fantasy.
For, we may say, that each true mystic should
Thus hold himself toward the goal of truth
As one who from a mountain-top would gaze
Upon the beauty of a distant view.
He waits till be has gained the utmost height
Before he tries to picture all the scene
Whereto his pilgrimage hath guided him.

Ferdinand Fox:
At such a time as this we should not ask
How men should hold themselves toward the truth.
The brethren of the league will not require
To hear about such things from men like us.
It hath indeed already reached mine ears
That an occurrence of a special sort
Hath forced the league to turn and think of us.
Thomasius, who came some years ago
Beneath the influence of a spirit-stream,
Which sets itself to follow mystic aims,
Hath learned just how to use such forms of thought
As in our time compel men's confidence,
And hang them, as a mantle, round that lore
Which, it is claimed, to seers is revealed.
In this way he was able to succeed,
And gain approval from both far and near
For writings which had borrowed logic's garb
But which, in fact, contained but mystic dreams.
Even inquirers of acknowledged worth
Are with the message of the man inspired
And so lend colour to his present fame,
Which grows, I fear, in dangerous degree.
Initiates did dread this line of thought
Since it must needs destroy the fixed idea
That wisdom is their sole prerogative.
And so they try to shelter 'neath their wing
That which Thomasius is giving forth.
Indeed, they wish it to appear as if
They knew already in the years gone by
That such a message would just now be sent
To serve in building up their own great work.
If they succeed now at this present time
In drawing us with craft into their net,
They will make clear unto the world at large
That powers of destiny did wisely send
Thomasius with his message at this time
So that belief in their significance
Might with the commonsense of man combine.

Casper Hotspur:
This Mystic League is bold to make the claim
That it alone must ever guide mankind:
It proves thereby what small account it takes
Of all that can be won for man's true weal
Just by sound commonsense, for we may say
That 'tis now proved that nature and the soul
Can be explained as things mechanical.
And 'tis indeed a check to all free thought
That Doctor Strader with so clear a brain,
Should countenance this mystic fallacy.
Who thus doth master powers mechanical
Should not indeed lack insight, to perceive
That e'en to gain true knowledge of the soul
All mystic learnings needs must be destroyed.
Yet this false science, which Thomasius
Is giving forth to-day to all the world,
Enables e'en extreme sagacity
To reconcile itself with wildest dreams,
When once it falls a victim to that snare.
If through strict training in the way of thought,
Most natural to man, Thomasius
Had for this work of his prepared himself,
Instead of studying the mystic art,
He might have plucked full many a noble fruit
From wisdom's tree through his own inborn gifts.
Instead of which upon the way he chose
Naught but disastrous error could occur.
No doubt the brotherhood may like to think
Such error can be turned to their account.
It finds acceptance, since it seeks to show
That science now bath giv'n souls strong proof
Of knowledge only found in dreams before.

George Candid:
That it is possible to speak such words
As we have just been forced with pain to hear,
Shows clearly how that insight which flows forth
From spirit-life bath scarce indeed begun
To grow at all 'midst all our modern thoughts.
Turn your eyes backward o'er the flight of time
And see what things lived in the souls of men
Before the science which is now in flower
Was even able to reveal its seed.
Then you will find that this same Mystic League
Doth but to-day fulfil a work which then
Was traced beforehand in the cosmic scheme.
We had to wait until Thomasius
Had finished this great work he had in hand.
The way is new by which the spirit-light
Illuminates through him the souls of men.
And yet this light did ever work in all
That men have dared to make upon the Earth.
But where, then, was the source of all this light
Which, tho' souls knew it not, could shine so clear?
We find all signs point to the mystic art,
Which dwelt in secret consecrated shrines,
Before mankind let reason be its guide.
The Spirit League which now bath called us here
Will gladly let the mystic light stream forth
On that bold work, which out of human thought
Strives to the knowledge of the spirit-world.
And we, who, in this hour so big with fate,
May stay awhile on consecrated ground,
Shall be the first who, uninitiate,
Shall see the torch of God from spirit-heights
Leap down into the depths of human souls.

Mary Dauntless:
Thomasius, indeed, needs not the shield,
The Rose-Cross Brothers have in mind for him,
If in an earnest scientific way
He can portray the pathway of the soul
Through many earthly lives and spirit-realms.
This work kath now revealed the light on high,
To which they say the mystic temples lead,
E'en unto men who erstwhile had to shun
The very threshold of such sacred shrines.
Such recognition doth he well deserve
As he already hath so richly found
Because he gave that freedom unto thought,
Which was denied it by the mystic schools.

Erminia Stay-at-Home:
The Rose-Cross Brothers can in future live
But in the recollection of mankind.
That which they call for, at this very time
Will soon gain consciousness of its own power
And undermine the Temple's fundaments.
They boldly wish to join in future days
Reason and science to their sacred shrine.
Thomasius, therefore, whom so willingly
They now admit into their Temple's midst
Will count hereafter as their conqueror.

I have been sorely blamed because I think
That he acts well, who holds himself prepared
To further, in close union with the league,
The work which through Thomasius is fulfilled.
One speaker took objection to my views
And held I ought to know how dangerous
The mystic's true soul-searching may become.
I often felt I best could understand
The spirit-way when I gave up myself
Completely to the influence binding me
To mechanisms which I made myself.
The way in which I stood toward my works
Hath shown the meaning of the sacred shrine.
And while I was at work, I often thought:
‘How do I seem to one who only tries
To understand the working of those powers
Which I put into things mechanical?
And yet what might I be unto a soul
To whom I might reveal myself in love?’
I have to thank such thoughts as these that now
The learning which from mystic circles springs
Reveals itself to me in its true light.
And so, though not initiate, I know
That souls of gods can in the sacred shrine
Reveal themselves in love to human souls.

Katharine Counsel:
The noble words which Doctor Strader speaks
About the sacred shrines must surely find
An echo in those souls which stand outside
The gates through which initiates may pass,
But yet are counted worthy to receive
The lore initiates do strive to teach:
It is not difficult to understand
Why our forefathers held to the belief
That mystics were the enemies of light.
It even was denied their souls to guess
What hidden secrets lay within the shrine.
All this is changed to-day. The Mystic Light
Is not entirely hid, but tells the world
As much as uninitiate folk may know.
And many souls, who have received this light
And been revived thereby, have felt forthwith
A rousing up of soul-powers, which before
Worked in them, as in sleep, unconsciously.

(Three knocks are heard.)

Felix Balde:
The owners of this place will soon approach
And ye will hear what they desire to say.
But if ye wish to understand their words
And to receive through them the light yourselves
Ye must not by pre-judgment blind yourselves.
The power of the initiates will now
Prove itself mighty, wheresoe'er it finds
Good hearts and wills prepared to offer up
Erroneous fancies to the light of truth;
But where the will hath grown through error hard
And thus hath slain the sense of truth itself,
This power will there be proved of none effect.

Ferdinand Fox:
Such words as these might be of use to one
Who through self-contemplation did desire
To find himself within his inmost soul.
But at the first appearance of this league
'Twere better to hold fast to those reports
About this kind of spirit-brotherhood,
Which may be credited historically.
From them we see that very many men
Have been enticed into the holy shrine
By secret words, which led them to believe
That in these temples, step by step, the soul
Could from the lowliest grades of wisdom rise
Up to the heights where spirit-sight is gained.
Who followed such inducements soon perceived
That in the lower grades he could see signs
Whose purport offered him much food for thought.
He dared to hope that in the higher grades
The meaning of these signs would be disclosed,
And wisdom be revealed: but when he reached
Those higher grades himself, he found instead
That masters knew but little of those signs
And did but speak about the world and life —
Nothing but meaningless and barren words.
If he was not deceived by these same words
Nor yet was tricked by their futility,
He turned himself away from such pursuits.
And so at this time 'tis perhaps of use
To listen to the judgment of the past
As well as unto edifying speech.

(Again three knocks are heard.)

(The curtain is drawn back, and there enter the Grand Master of the Mystic League, Hilary True-to-God; after him, Magnus Bellicosus, the Second Preceptor; Albertus Torquatus, the First Master of the Ceremonies; and Frederick Trustworthy, the Second Master of the Ceremonies. The persons who were before assembled group themselves on each side of the hall.)

Frederick Trustworthy:
Dear friends, this moment, when you join us first
At this our temple's ancient holy gates
Is most significant for you and us.
The call which we have given to you now
Was strongly laid upon us by the signs
Which our Grand Master could discern full well
In the wise plan of earth's development.
There it is very plainly shadowed forth
That at this time the service wise and true
Of this our sacred Temple must unite
With universal commonsense of man,
Which seeks for truth far off from mystic paths.
Yet in the plan were also signs to show
That ere this consummation could be reached,
A man must first arise who understood
How to bring knowledge, built on commonsense
And reason only, into such a form
As truly to comprise the spirit-world:
This now bath happened. To Thomasius
The lot has fallen to produce a work
Based on that very science, which to-day
All men demand. This work in their own tongue
Doth bring full proof of spirit-worth, which men
Could only find in mystic paths before,
And in the temples of initiates.
This work will now become the binding link
That you with us unites in spirit-life;
Through it will ye be able to discern
How firm the base on which our teaching rests.
And through it, too, ye will receive the power
To take from us that knowledge with free will
Which is confined to mystic paths alone;
And so, in living fruitfulness, that Life
Can now unfold itself, which doth unite
The universal commonsense of man
With all the customs of the sacred shrine.

Magnus Bellicosus:
Our brother's words have made it clear to you,
That we have been induced by solemn signs
To call you to the Threshold of our Shrine.
The Master soon will speak to you and show
The deeper reasons for thus calling you.
But first I must, so far as may be meet,
Tell you of this great man, whose work hath made
Our present union possible to-day.
Thomasius gave himself to painting's art
Until he felt an inward spirit-call
To take up science as his work in life.
His gifts which were so great and so unique
Within the region of the painter's art,
Were first developed when he passed within
The spheres devoted to true mystic lore;
These led him to the Master, and, through him,
He learnt the first steps in that world of truth
Where wisdom teaches spiritual sight.
Upborne to spirit-heights and thus infilled
With great creative power, he painted then
Pictures, which seem indeed like living men.
That which would soon have driven other men
To strive amain toward the highest goal
Upon the beaten track of art — all this
Was but a fresh incentive to his soul
To use hard-won success in such a way
As might prove best for welfare of mankind.
He saw full well that spirit-science must
First find a firm foundation, and for this
The sense for science and strict reasoning
Must be released from mania for set form
Through contact with an artist mind, and gain
The inward strength to realize the truth
Of world-relationship in life and deed.
And so Thomasius hath offered up,
A willing off'ring to humanity,
The artist-power, he might have used himself.
O friends, read ye aright this man's true soul;
Then will we understand our mystic call
And hesitate no more to follow it.

Hilary True-to-God:
In that same Spirit's Name, which is revealed
To souls within our sacred shrine, we come
To men who until now might never hear
The word which here doth secretly sound forth.
Those Powers which guide the purpose of our Earth
Could not in its beginning be revealed
To all humanity in their full light.
As in the body of a child, the powers
Through which it learns to act and use its mind,
Must gradually ripen, and grow strong
So must humanity unfold itself
As one great whole throughout its earthly course.
The impulse in the soul which later on
Might worthy prove to gaze on spirit-light
In higher worlds, first lived unconsciously.
Yet in the Earth's beginning there were sent
From out the higher kingdoms of real life
Exalted spirit-beings, who might act
As wise instructors of humanity.
In mystic holy shrines did they employ
Those mighty spirit powers, which were poured forth
In secret into souls which could know nought
Of their exalted leaders or their work.
Then later from the ranks of men themselves
These masters wise could choose for pupils those
Who by well-tested lives of self-denial
Had proved that they were ripe to be ordained
Into the mystic aims and wisdom's lore.
And when the pupils of those early seers
Could guard in worthy way the good and. true,
Then those sublime instructors turned their steps
Back to their own especial realms of life.
These pupils of the gods then chose out men
Who might succeed them in the guardianship
Of spirit-treasures; and in such a way
The treasures were passed on from age to age.
Until the present time all mystic schools,
If they are such in truth, have really sprung
Prom that which first was founded from on high.
Humbly we cherish in this very place
That which our fathers handed down to us.
We do not ever speak about the dues,
Which through our office we inherited,
But only of the favour shown to us
By those great spirit-powers, who chose weak men
As mediators, and entrusted them
With treasures which bring forth the spirit-light
In souls of men: and 'tis our lot, dear friends,
To open to you now this treasured store.
For signs which in the plan of all the worlds
Can clearly be discerned by spirit-eyes
Show most propitious at this very time.

Ferdinand Fox:
From distant worlds, it seems, the reasons come
Which should convince us that 'twere meet that we
Should join ourselves to you, and in this way
Should be the first to give the impetus
To this great work Thomasius gives the world.
However grand what thou hast spoken sounds,
It cannot drown in hearts of homely men
The thought that such a work will take effect
Through its own power, if it should prove to hold
Within itself what souls of men require.
If this work prove important, it will be,
Not through the things the mystics offer us,
But since true science comes to the support
Of spirit-knowledge, and doth prove it true.
If this be really so, what use is there,
If mystic approbation paves the way,
And not th' intrinsic merit of the work?

Albertus Torquatus:
The science which is opening on the world
From such foundations as Thomasius laid
Will neither gain nor lose through such applause
As we or ye may choose to render it.
And yet thereby a way can now be found
By which mankind may study mystic lore.
It would accomplish only half its work
If it should show the goal, but not the road.
And now it rests with you to understand
That now at last the moment hath arrived
For reason and the mystic path to join;
And to the spirit-life of this our world
To give thereby the power which can but work
When it reveals itself in season due.


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