Siddhartha Gautama

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One of the first representations of the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama in the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, Pakistan (Kushan period, 1st–2nd century AD)

Siddhartha Gautama (Sanskritm., सिद्धार्थ गौतम Siddhārtha Gautama, also Siddhattha Gotama) (b. 563 BC in Lumbini in present-day Nepal; † 483 BC in Kushinagar, India), also Shakyamuni (Sanskritशाक्यमुनि śākyamuni "the sage of the Shakya lineage"), is the historical Buddha and, through the teaching (Dharma) he gave, the founder of Buddhism. He is also called the Gautama Buddha.

The nature and task of the Buddha from Rudolf Steiner's point of view

Wotan and Buddha

„At the same time that Jewish prophethood exists, in the centuries before Christ, we find here the reference to a great ancient Atlantean Initiate, to Wod-Wodha-Odin. This is a modernised Atlanteanism in a new form, an atavism, a throwback to Atlanteanism. And this is happening everywhere, over in Asia too. In Asia, the W is a B, Wodha = Bodha = Buddha. Over in Asia, Buddhism is the same phenomenon that appears as a recoil into the Atlantean time. Hence we find Buddhism most spread among the remnants of the Atlantians, among the Mongol peoples. And where it appears most grandly, columnar, in Tibet, there we have a modern, monumental expression of ancient Atlantean culture.“ (Lit.:GA 93a, p. 260)

„This individuality of Wotan - we are speaking within a community of disciples of spiritual science and therefore such a mystery may be touched upon here - this individuality which really taught as Wotan in the mysteries of the Germanic peoples, is the same one which later reappeared on the same mission as Buddha. No other individuality has been the one who mediated the connection between our world and the higher worlds as Buddha than the one who once wandered over the regions of Europe and whose memory has been preserved in Nordic Europe under the name of Wotan.“ (Lit.:GA 105, p. 173)

„And it is very interesting that the latest occult researches which have been carried out in Western occultism in recent years have led us to recognise that there is a very important connection between European culture and the Buddha forces. For a long time these Buddha-forces have been working in from the spiritual worlds, especially on everything that is unthinkable in Western culture without the specifically Christian influence. So all those world-view currents which we have seen develop in the last centuries up to the nineteenth century are, in so far as they are occidental spiritual currents, all permeated by the Christ impulse, but the Buddha always worked in from the spiritual world. Therefore we may say that the most important thing that European humanity can receive from the Buddha today must not come from the transmission of what the Buddha gave to humanity half a millennium before the Christian era, but from what he has become since then. For he did not stand still, but advanced; and it was precisely through this progress as a spiritual being in the spiritual worlds that he was able to participate in the most eminent sense in the further development of Western culture. This is certainly a result of our occult research, and it is precisely this result which harmonises in a wonderful way with much of what we have encountered before this important influence was precisely investigated again. For we know that the same individuality which appeared as Gotama Buddha in the East had once before worked in the West, and that certain legends and traditions which attach to the name of Bodha or Wotan have to do with the same individuality as Buddhism has to do with Gotama Buddha in the East; so that, in a certain sense, the same scene has been reoccupied which had been prepared before by the same individuality in relation to the development of mankind.“ (Lit.:GA 131, p. 176f)

From Bodhisattva to Buddha

„The last of the Buddhas is the one who was incarnated, that is, embodied, in the son of King Suddhodana - in Gotama Buddha. The Indian looks at other Buddhas and says to himself: 'Since the time when mankind stood on the height of the spiritual world, a whole number of Buddhas have existed; since the last decline of the world, five Buddhas have appeared. - The Buddhas always mean that humanity should not sink down into the Maja, but that again and again something of the ancient wisdom should be brought, from which it can draw again, but because humanity moves in a descending sense, this wisdom is lost again and again, and then a new Buddha must come who will bring again such a down payment. The last one was Gotama Buddha. Now before such a Buddha, if we may speak trivially, ascends to the Buddha-dignity through his various lives, he must come to another dignity: to the dignity of a Bodhisattva. The Indian world view also sees in the royal son of Suddhodana, in Gotama Buddha, up to his twenty-ninth year, not a Buddha but a Bodhisattva. This bodhisattva, who was born into the royal house of Suddhodana, rose through the efforts of his life to that inner enlightenment which is symbolically described as "sitting under the bodhi tree" and is then expressed in the "Sermon of Benares". In his twenty-ninth year, this Bodhisattva ascended to Buddha-dignity through these processes and could now, as Buddha, again bring to humanity a last remnant of the ancient wisdom, which the following centuries - according to the Indian view - may consume again. When humanity will have descended so low that the wisdom brought by this last Buddha will have been consumed, then another Bodhisattva will ascend to the Buddha-dignity, the Buddha of the future, the "Maitreya-Buddha", who, according to the Indian world-view, is expected for the future.“ (Lit.:GA 60, p. 385f)

„Gautama Buddha was previously a being who could live in such a way that he could always embody himself in earthly bodies of the corresponding cultural periods without claiming to use everything in this human organisation. This being had no need to go through real human incarnations. But now an important turning point occurred for the Bodhisattva, namely the necessity to become acquainted with all the destinies of the human organisation in an earthly body into which he had to enter completely. There was something for him to experience that could only be experienced in an earthly body. And because he was a higher individuality, this one embodiment was enough for him to really see what could develop out of this human body. For other human beings, the situation was such that they now had to gradually develop the inner faculties through the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh periods of post-Atlantean cultural development. The Buddha, on the other hand, was able to experience in this unique incarnation all that was possible for him to develop. What people will bring forth as "conscience", and what will become greater and greater, he foresaw, as it were, in his first germ when he lived through his incarnation as Gautama Buddha. Therefore, immediately after this incarnation, he could ascend again into the divine-spiritual worlds and did not need to go through a second incarnation later. In this one incarnation he was able to indicate like a great guiding force what the human beings will develop out of themselves in a certain field in the future cycles. This happened through the event that is indicated to us in the "Sitting under the Bodhi Tree". At that time, after his special mission, the teaching of compassion and love, which is contained in the " eightfold path", dawned on him...

This is, to paraphrase a little, that great event which in Oriental culture is called "the becoming Buddha of the Bodhisattva". When this Bodhisattva, who had never really incarnated in the past, was twenty-nine years old, the son of Suddhodana was struck by the individuality of the Bodhisattva, which had not yet fully taken possession of him, and he experienced the great human doctrine of compassion and love.

Why did this Bodhisattva, who then became the Buddha, incarnate in this very people? Why not, for example, within the Greco-Latin people?

If this Bodhisattva was really to become the Buddha of the fourth post-Atlantean cultural period, then he had to bring something future. Now man, through his consciousness soul, when it will develop, will become ripe to recognise gradually out of himself what the Buddha gave as a great suggestion. The Buddha had to have already developed the consciousness soul at the time when people had only developed the intellectual or mind soul. So he had to use the physical instrument of the brain in such a way that he overcame it, overcame it in a completely different way than a man who had advanced to the Greek-Latin cultural period. The Greek-Latin brain would have been too hard for him. He could only have trained the intellectual soul in it; but he had to train the consciousness soul. Therefore he needed a brain that had remained softer. He used the soul, which was to develop later, in an instrument which had previously been the custom of mankind and which had survived among the Indian people. There you also have a repetition: the Buddha repeats a human organisation from before with a soul ability from after. To this degree, the things that go on in the development of humanity are necessary. And the Buddha had the task, in the 5th to 6th century before our era, of immersing the consciousness soul in the human organisation.“ (Lit.:GA 116, p. 21ff)

„The Buddha has the task of preserving the culture of the sentient soul from the preceding epoch, from the third, into the fourth. What the Buddha proclaims, what the disciples of the Buddha take into their hearts, is that which is to shine over from the third post-Atlantean cultural period, which is the cultural period of the sentient soul, into the fourth, into the time of the intellectual or mind soul. So that the time of the intellectual or mind soul, the fourth post-Atlantean cultural period, is warmed through, glowed through, illuminated by the Buddha teachings, by what the time of the sentient soul, still permeated by clairvoyance, has brought forth. The great conservator of the culture of the sentient soul into the culture of the intellectual or mind soul is the Buddha.“ (Lit.:GA 139, p. 88)

Sitting under the Bodhi tree and temptation by Mara

„Whoever consciously enters into his envelope nature on waking, gets to know this lesser guardian of the threshold. And basically, for the mystical life, it is only a question of whether this lesser guardian of the threshold does us as human beings the favour of numbing us to our own inner being, so that we cannot descend there and direct our ego towards our surroundings, or whether he lets us through the gate and lets us enter our own being....

And what is symbolically described for the great Buddha as sitting under the Bodhi tree is nothing other than the descent into one's own inner being through the gate that otherwise closes this own being to us...

What the Buddha experienced when he descended into his own being is described in Buddhism as the so-called temptation of the Buddha. In the sense of this story of temptation, the Buddha describes how even such beings that he loves approach him at the moment when he wants to enter mystically into his own inner being. He describes how they seem to approach him, asking him to do this or that, for example, to undertake false exercises in order to enter his own inner being in a false way. We are even presented with the figure of the Buddha's mother - in his spiritual vision he sees her - who asks him to begin a false asceticism. Of course, this is not the real mother of the Buddha. But this is precisely the temptation, that for his first developing vision, not the real mother, but a mask, a maya, an illusion confronts him. But he resists. Then he encounters a number of demonic figures, which he describes as greed, as it corresponds to the feeling of hunger and thirst, or as passions, urges, pride, arrogance, vanity, avarice. They all approach him - how? Well, in so far as they are still in his own shell nature, in his astral beingness, in so far as he has already conquered them in his strong moments, in sitting under the bodhi tree. And in a wonderful way we are shown in this temptation of the Buddha how all the powers and forces of our astral body, which are there because we have made ourselves worse and worse through the descending evolution of humanity in the course of successive incarnations, assert themselves. In spite of the fact that he has already risen so high, he can still see them and must now, by the last ascent to the heights, conquer the last things that are present as tempting demons for his astral body.“ (Lit.:GA 124, p. 95f)

„Whoever advances to a certain degree in the Sankhya or Yoga philosophy without having developed what the Buddha had gone through before, whoever wants to advance to the pure heights of the divine spirit through logical thinking without first having attained the moral sense in the sense of the Buddha, is then faced with that temptation which the Buddha went through in a trial temptation and which is indicated to us as the temptation by the demon Mara. There man comes to a place where all the devils of arrogance, vanity and ambition prevail. This is what the Buddha came to know. The figure of Mara, of vanity and ambition, stood before him. But because he was at that high level of a Bodhisattva, he recognised him and was immune to him. And he knew to say to himself: if people continue to develop in the old way, without the new influence of the teaching of love and compassion, without receiving this self-acting moral sense, then, since they are not all Bodhisattvas, they must fall prey to this demon Mara, who sinks all the forces of arrogance and vanity into the souls. This is what the Buddha experienced in himself when he went through the Sankhya and Yoga philosophies to their last consequences.“ (Lit.:GA 114, p. 47)

Reincarnation

„In what has been handed down from Buddha - and again this is no mere legend - you have the stages Buddha reached in passing through his own being, of which he himself says: 'When I had reached the stage where I had enlightenment - that is, where he could feel himself a member of the spiritual world - I had reached the stage where I saw the spiritual world lying like a spreading cloud, but I could not yet distinguish anything in it, for I did not yet feel perfect. Then I came a step further. Then I no longer saw only the spiritual world lying like a spreading cloud, but I could also distinguish individual formations, but I could not yet see what they were, for I was not yet perfect. Again I climbed a step higher and now not only found differentiating beings, but I could know what they were.

And this now goes so far that he himself saw his archetype, which has descended from incarnation to incarnation, and could see it in the right relation to the spiritual world. That is the one path, the mystical path, the passing through one's own beingness up to the point where that boundary is broken through, beyond which the spiritual world can then be reached. On this path one part of the leaders of humanity attains that which such individualities must have in order that they may give impulses for the further development of humanity.“ (Lit.:GA 124, p. 98f)

Nirvana

„You will find, if you look at the Buddha's teachings in earnest, nowhere any real intimation of the nature of the spiritual world. Therefore, the term there for the spiritual world in the Nirvana teaching is a really negative one. It is true that Buddha demanded that he who wants to ascend to the spiritual world should free himself from attachment to the physical world; but in the whole Buddha teaching you will not find any description of the spiritual world that is in any way prominent, as it was previously given, for example, in the Brahman teaching, which still had heirlooms of the old times.“ (Lit.:GA 140, p. 16)

The Nathanian Jesus Boy and the Nirmanakya of the Buddha

See also: Nathan Jesus and Nirmanakaya

When the Nathanian Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Nirmanakaya of Buddha Shakyamuni overshone him. The Nirmanakaya appeared as a multiplicity of beings revealed in the host of Angels who announced the birth of the Jesus boy to the shepherds in the field:

„The Nirmanakaya of the Buddha appeared to the shepherds in the form of the angelic hosts. Then the Buddha shone forth in his Nirmanakaya and thus revealed himself to the shepherds.“ (Lit.:GA 114, p. 72)

Later, when the Nathan Jesus was in his 12th year and, with sexual maturity, shed his youthful astral mother-sheath, the Buddha's Nirmanakaya united and interpenetrated with it and was itself rejuvenated. Through his rejuvenated supersensible body, the Buddha was able to give his teaching in a completely new, childlike, fresh way, thus inspiring the writer of the Gospel of Luke.

„Where, then, did the great vitalising power of the body of Jesus come from? It came from the great Mother Lodge of Humanity, directed by the great Sun Initiate, Manu. Into the child born to the parents named Joseph and Mary in the Gospel of Luke, a great individual power was infused which had been nurtured and cared for in the great Mother Lodge, in the great Solar Oracle. The best, the strongest of those individualities was poured into this child. Which individuality? If we want to know the individuality that was sunk into the child Jesus at that time, we must go far back into the time before the Luciferic influence on humanity, before the Luciferic influence reached into the astral body of man. This Luciferic influence came to mankind at the same time as the primeval pair of men, the main human pair, populated the earth. This human pair was strong enough to overcome the human substance, so to speak, so that it could embody itself, but it was not strong enough to resist the Luciferic influence. The Luciferic influence approached, extended its effects also into the astral body of this principal couple, and the consequence was that it was impossible to let all the forces that were in Adam and Eve also flow down into the descendants, through the blood of the descendants. The physical body had to be allowed to reproduce down through all the generations, but something of the etheric body was retained in the leadership of humanity. This was expressed by saying: "Men have enjoyed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that is to say, what came from the Luciferic influence; but it was also said: 'Now we must deprive them of the possibility of also enjoying the tree of life! That is to say, a certain sum of powers of the etheric body was retained. These did not flow down to the descendants. So there was a certain sum of powers in Adam that were taken from him after the fall. This still innocent part of Adam was kept in the great Mother Lodge of humanity, was nurtured and cared for there. This was, so to speak, the Adam soul, which was not yet touched by human guilt, which was not yet entangled in that which caused human beings to fall. These primal forces of the Adam individuality were preserved. They were there, and they were now conducted as a "provisional I" to where the child was born to Joseph and Mary, and in the first years this child Jesus had within him the power of the original progenitor of earth-manhood.“ (Lit.:GA 114, p. 88f)

„But these are not all the facts through which we can understand the wonderful mystery of Palestine, that is only one side. We now understand who was born in Bethlehem, after Joseph and Mary travelled there from Nazareth, and who was announced to the shepherds. But that is not all. At the beginning of our era, many strange and significant things happened to bring about the greatest event in the development of mankind. In order to understand what gradually led up to this great event, we must consider the following.

Within the ancient Hebrew people there was the Davidic family. Those whom we call the "Davidic families" all traced back to their progenitor David. You can see from the Bible that David had two sons, Solomon and Nathan (2 Samuel 5:14). Two lineages, the Solomon line and the Nathan line, are therefore descended from David. If we therefore disregard the intermediate links, we can say: At the time when our era begins, the descendants of both the Solomonic line and the Nathanian line of the Davidic family are present in Palestine. And there is a descendant of the line which we call the Nathanian line of the Davidic family, a man named Joseph, living in Nazareth. He has for his wife a Mary. And there is a descendant of the Solomon line of the Davidic family living in Bethlehem, who is also called Joseph. It is no wonder that there are two people from the family of David, both named Joseph, and that both are married to Mary, as the Bible calls her. So we have two pairs of parents at the beginning of our era in Palestine; both bear the names Joseph and Mary. One set of parents traces their descent to the Solomonic line of the family of David, that is, to the "royal line"; the other set of parents, the one in Nazareth, traces their descent to the Nathanian line, that is, to the "priestly line". This latter pair of parents from the Nathanian line had the child I described to you yesterday and today. And this child provided such an astral womb that could be taken up by the Nirmanakaya of the Buddha. At that time, when the child was to be born, this pair of parents from the Nathanian line went from Nazareth to Bethlehem - as Luke says - "for the estimation" (Luke 2:4–5). This is what the genealogical register of Luke's Gospel describes to us.

The other parents, who did not originally live in Nazareth - one only has to take the Gospels literally - lived in Bethlehem, and this is described to us by the writer of the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 2:1). The Gospels always describe the truth - there is no need to be clever about it - and through anthroposophy people will again come to take the Gospels literally. To this pair of parents of Solomon's line a child is born who is also called Jesus. This child also has a powerful individuality within its body. But this child first had another task - the wisdom of the world is profound - this child was not to be called to deliver the youthful powers to the astral mother's womb, but it was called to bring to humanity that which one can only bring if one is a mature soul. This child was so guided by all the forces that came into consideration that it could be the embodiment of that individuality which once taught Ahura Mazdao in Persia, which once could give up its astral body to Hermes and its etheric body to Moses and which reappeared as the great teacher of Pythagoras, as Zarathas or Nazarathos, the great teacher in ancient Chaldea: it is no other individuality than the individuality of Zarathustra. The I-ness of Zarathustra was re-embodied in the child of whom Matthew the Evangelist tells us that he was born of a pair of parents, Joseph and Mary, who came from the royal line, from the Solomonic line of the Davidic family, and who originally already dwelt in Bethlehem.“ (Lit.:GA 114, p. 92f)

„The stature, the outer form, what expresses itself directly in the outer form, and "the serious leading of life", what is connected with the character of the I, that man inherits from the fatherly element. That is why the Solomonic Jesus had to inherit power above all from the fatherly element, because it was always his mission: the transfer into the world of that which radiates divine powers around the world in space. The writer of the Gospel of Matthew expresses this as grandly as it can be expressed. That a special individuality will incarnate is proclaimed from the spiritual world as a significant event, and it is not proclaimed to Mary but to the Father, to Joseph (Matthew 1:20-21). Behind all this are hidden the deepest truths; one must not take such things as coincidental. - The Jesus of the Nathanian line was passed on by the inner qualities inherited from the mother. Therefore, the Jesus of Luke's Gospel had to be proclaimed to the mother, and we also see in Luke's Gospel the proclamation to the mother (Luke 1:26–38). That is how deeply the facts are expressed in the religious scriptures.“ (Lit.:GA 114, p. 105f)

The Mission of the Buddha on Mars

Until about the 16th century, Mars was in a state of descending development and ever stronger materialistic impulses emanated from it. The impulses that Mars was able to give to the Earth and humanity by then gave rise in particular to modern materialistic natural science. After the Buddha had gone through his last earthly incarnation, he ascended to Mars to fulfil his new mission here, to which he had been called by Christian Rosenkreutz. At the beginning of the 17th century, he performed an act here in 1604 that has a similar significance for Mars as the Mystery of Golgotha has for Earth. He succeeded in calming the Martian forces and thus began an ascending development of Mars:

„On Mars, in the fifteenth century, the need had arisen to give the Martian culture an upward impulse. That was the great question before Christian Rosenkreutz and his disciples, how to give the Martian culture this impulse to ascend, for the salvation of the Earth also depended on the Martian culture. The great task before Rosicrucianism was to answer the question: What is to be done so that the Martian culture can ascend for the salvation of the Earth? The Martian beings could not have known what could serve their salvation, for only on Earth could one know what the state of Mars was. On Mars, the decline was not felt at all. It was therefore for the sake of a practical answer that the conference of which we have spoken met at the end of the sixteenth century. This conference was well prepared by Christian Rosenkreutz because his most intimate disciple and friend was Gautama Buddha, who lived in the spirit body. And at this conference it was announced that the being who had once incarnated on earth as Gautama Buddha would now, as a spiritual being, as he had been since he became "Buddha", move the scene of his activity to Mars. The individuality of Gautama Buddha was sent, as it were, from Earth to Mars by Christian Rosenkreutz. Gautama Buddha left the scene of his activity and went to Mars, and in 1604 the individuality of Gautama Buddha performed a similar deed for Mars as the Mystery of Golgotha did for the Earth.

Christian Rosenkreutz had recognised what it would mean for the whole universe if Buddha worked there, and what Buddha's teaching of Nirvana, the teaching that man should detach himself from the earth, would mean there on Mars. The doctrine of Nirvana was unsuitable for promoting the practical culture on earth. This was shown by the disciple of the Buddha, Francis of Assisi, that this doctrine turned its adepts into unworldly people. But what was unsuitable in Buddhism for promoting man's practical life between birth and death was of great importance for promoting his soul between death and a new birth. Christian Rosenkreutz saw that the teaching of the Buddha was the most suitable for what had to happen on Mars as purification. Just as the divine being of love, Christ, once dwelt on earth at a time and among a people who were not exactly close to this being of love, so the Prince of Peace Buddha ascended to Mars in the seventeenth century, where war and struggle prevailed, in order to fulfil his mission there. There, the souls were primarily warlike. A great sacrificial act was performed by the Buddha, like that of the bearer of the divine love being in the Mystery of Golgotha. It was a cosmic sacrificial act to be Buddha on Mars. There he was, as it were, the sacrificial lamb, and one can call it a kind of crucifixion for the Buddha that he allowed himself to be placed in this warlike environment. Buddha performed this deed on Mars in the service of Christian Rosenkreutz. Thus the great leading beings work together in the universe, not only on earth, but from one planet to another.

Since the time when the mystery of Mars was accomplished by Gautama Buddha, man has received other forces from Mars in the time between death and new birth than he did earlier, at the time of the decline of the Martian culture. And not only does man bring quite different forces with him from Mars into the new birth, but through the influence exerted by the spiritual deed of the Buddha, forces also flow to man from Mars when he is here engaged in meditation in order to come into the spiritual world. When the modern spiritual disciple meditates in the sense indicated by Christian Rosenkreutz, forces also flow in which the Buddha sends into the earth as the Martian Redeemer.“ (Lit.:GA 130, p. 320ff)

Literature

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References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.