The Ten Commandments and Sermon on the Mount by Rudolf Steiner

Published by Anthroposophical Press in 1978

Book Notes by Bobby Matherne ©1995

The Ten Commandments-- A Lecture given in Berlin on November 16, 1908:

Nowhere is Steiner's dedication to furthering the understanding of the evolution of consciousness more apparent or more important than in this lecture. In his words "it is the word and soul value that the whole thing had in its own time that is important." (italics mine) To understand Steiner's interpretation of each commandment one must use one's active imagination and project oneself into the time of Moses. This requires one to shed the evolution of consciousness that has occurred since then.

Steiner's major thrust is the first commandment, which, in his view, admonished the Hebrews that their lives had dramatically changed by the adding of the ego body to their astral, ether, and physical bodies. The ego body was the "I AM" and was ineffable, i. e., not capable of being expressed by any of the lower three bodies. The astral body could not express it in thoughts or words. The ether body, in feelings, and the physical body in material form. The lower three bodies were associated with the three lower kingdoms of animal, plant, and mineral, so the admonition made taboo any idols or representations of God in animal, vegetable, or mineral form. Thus Moses' anger at the sight of the Golden Bull, representing both the mineral and the animal kingdoms at once. As for the third or astral kingdom, the realm of thoughts, the Hebrews were not allowed to speak the name of God (the I AM) because that used the functions of the astral body. Egypt of that time was in bondage to the three lower realms of astral, ether, and physical and thus the "I AM" had of necessity to lead its chosen people out of the bondage of Egypt. Once in the desert, they could begin to experience the wonderful new force of the ego that had entered them and completely changed the structure of three lower bodies by completing the quaternary of bodies of the evolved human -- the highest evolution at that time. That brings us to the first commandment, which ends with "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (KJSV) Thus did the new ego body represented by the new "I AM" (God) clearly state the superiority of the ego body over the lower bodies, the other gods.

Steiner dispatches the remainder of the commandments in like fashion. A brief summary of his treatment of each follows.

Second: Create no false impressions of the ego. True impressions will keep you strong and healthy.

Third: "What lives in you as 'I' created the world in six days and lived within Himself on the seventh day."

Fourth: The new ego force will be a legacy to your descendants.

Fifth, Sixth, Seventh: These proscribed activities weaken the ego power in you. Avoid them.

Eight: Speaking falsely weakens your ego power. Avoid that.

Nine, Ten: Strive for the love of another, not his possessions, for envy weakens your ego power.

The other key point made by Steiner was that the Jewish people were told to become a people of rabbis, of priests. Whereas formerly only rabbis and great healers had an individual "I AM" that spoke to them to pass on to the common people, thenceforth the common people were to possess an individual "I AM." Moses was one such great leader, and, as must happen during a paradigmatic shift, the bridge to a new paradigm must be built upon the foundation of the old paradigm. All churches would do well today to acknowledge this point of Steiner's to discard the view of the priest as an essential link to God, and rather to present the priest as a dispensable part of the journey to our individual living "I AM" from now on.