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Terry Boardman - The Enigma of Canon XI

Terry Boardman - The Enigma of Canon XI

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Published by Piero Cammerinesi
Steiner, Anthroposophy
Steiner, Anthroposophy

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Published by: Piero Cammerinesi on Mar 20, 2012
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05/13/2014

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The Enigma of Canon XI
 
The 'Abolition' of the Spirit – The Year 869 & ItsSignificance in the Destiny of Europe
 This article first appeared in
New View 
magazine Second Quarter Spring 2008 At the Christmas Conference for the refounding of the Anthroposophical Society Dec.24
th
1923 – 1
st
Jan. 1924 , RudolfSteiner restored to western culture something thathad been lost for nearly 1100 years, namely, the threefold image of Man – once knownas the Trichotomy - the image of Man as consisting of body, soul
and spirit 
. This hadbeen missing since the year 869, when it was deviously 'abolished' by fiat of a ChurchCouncil. In the years 1916-1924 Steiner laid ever greater emphasis on the historicalsignificance of the 8
th
Ecumenical Council of Constantinople 869
(1)
, which is usually completely ignored in conventional histories, and which, he often said, had "abolishedthe human spirit". By that he meant the Council had denied the separate existence ineach individual of a
spiritual 
soul through which the individual could seek communion with the spiritual world; instead, the individual was to depend on the Church and itshierarchy for guidance. The 11
th
Canon (ruling) of the Council closed off for westernersthe individual's path to the spiritual world, which remained open in Asia throughmeditation and other spiritual practices.
 The Council of 869
 What was the real significance of the year 869, and what was the context in which the Council took place? There is not the space here to go into the momentousevents happening in the
spiritual 
 world at that time, which Rudolf Steiner describes inconsiderable detail in various places; we shall restrict ourselves to the earthly plane.
(2)
On the surface, the 8th Ecumenical Council (869-870)
(3)
had oneoverriding purpose – the joint effort by the Byzantine Emperor Basil I (867-886) andthe Roman Pope Adrian II (867-872; also known as Hadrian II), for very differentreasons, to discredit and seal the overthrow of the Orthodox Patriarch ofConstantinople, Photios, which is why it is sometimes known as the anti-PhotianCouncil. Basil 's reasons were short-term and political; having come to power in acoup he needed to unify the empire behind him; he also needed western aid indefeating the Saracens and wanted to out-manoeuvreRome in controlling Bulgaria –but carefully. The stridently anti-Roman Photios was an obstacle to Basil 's aims. For his part,Adrian sought to establish papal precedence over the patriarchs of the Eastand also to impose Rome 's spiritual suzerainty over the Slavic peoples and thepeoples of the Balkans. Like Adrian 's predecessor Pope Nicholas I ('the Great', 858-867), Patriarch Photios was keen to evangelise the Bulgars, Slavs andtheVarangian Rus (Russians) Patriarch Photios, and disagreed strongly with Rome on various theological issues such as the understanding of the Trinity. Heand Nicholas were the two greatest leaders their respective churches produced in the9
th
century, and their wills crossed mightily. In 867 Photios evenexcommunicatedNicholas , who had, however, died beforehand. For Rome, then, thestruggle against was above all a matter of establishing the spiritual authority of theLatin West over Constantinople and the Eastern Church and of having its authority recognised too among the peoples of eastern Europe. The 8
th
Ecumenical Council met in ten sessions 5
th
Oct. 869 – 28
th
Feb. 870 inConstantinople's greatest imperial church, that of Hagia Sophia (the Holy Spirit). Atthe first session there were, unusually, only 30 clerics present from both Empires ofEast and West; by the last session the number had risen to 103, still not great by previous standards of such meetings. In order to attend, all were required to signbeforehand an extraordinary document, the
libellus satisfactionis,
an oath ofobedience recognising the primacy of the Pope in Rome , for this was a Council utterly dominated by the Latin Church, imposing its will on the East. The proceedings were
 
overseen by a Roman Cardinal and directed by three papal legates who had broughtfrom Rome the documents agreed on at a synod there in the summer and which they intended to have the eastern clergy at Constantinople simply approve. The documentsbrought from Rome consisted of a long Definition text and 27 Canons. All the canonsthe others deal for the most part with matters of church administration, except for theshort Canon 11 which relates to a matter of dogmatic theology. Sandwiched, like thedevil in the detail, between two other innocuous Canons, it anathematises thedoctrine of "the two souls", and even that phrase is mentioned only once. Thecomplete text reads:
Though the old and new Testament teach that a man or woman has one rational and intellectual soul, and all the fathers and doctors of the church, who are spokesmen of God, express the same opinion, some have descended to such a depth of irreligion, throughpaying attention to the speculations of evil people, that they shamelessly teachas a dogma that a human being hastwo souls, and keep trying to prove their heresy by irrational means using awisdom that has been made foolishness.Therefore this holy and universal synod is hastening to uproot this wicked theory now growing like some loathsome form of weed. Carrying in itshand the winnowing fork of truth, withthe intention of consigning all the chaff to inextinguishable fire, and makingclean the threshing floor of Christ, inringing tones it declares anathema the inventors and perpetrators of suchimpiety and all those holding similar views; it also declares and promulgates that nobody at all should hold or preserve in any way the written teaching of the authors of this impiety. If however anyone presumes to act in a way contrary to this holy and great synod, let him be anathema and an outcast from the faith and way of life of Christians.
 
(4)
  This Canon was not at all discussed by the Council; it simply went through 'on the nod'. Why was it inserted at all? It has often been implied that this was aimed at Photios who was allegedly teaching this doctrine, but in fact, there is no real evidence that hedid. He denied pre-existence and reincarnation, but did in one place distinguishbetween a higher spiritual soul and a lower animal soul
(5)
Apart from this, his writings show no other sign nor is he know in the Orthodox tradition for being aparticular firm representative of the two souls doctrine. However, he was very muchinterested in the question of the Holy Spirit, and between 860 and 869 he did strongly advocate the cult of the Virgin Mary, which in the East was always somehowconnected with the feminine Sophia being in the Old Testament sense of the femininedivine wisdom (ruach – spirit, wind, breath)
(6)
. Also, in 868 the two great Orthodoxmissionaries Cyril and Methodius, who had been sent out on their missions into theBalkans and beyond by Photios arrived in Rome, where they were treated well by Pope Adrian and Anastasius but where Cyril died (14 Feb. 869). Significantly, Photios is notmentioned in the Canon as having actually taught the two souls doctrine, though thesix other Canons that criticise him do not fail to take him specifically to task on other matters.
 
Canon 11seems tohave been"slipped in". Itseems not tobelong to the whole whenread incontext. Thisis but thebeginning ofthe mystery.For it is thesourceof Steiner 'scontentionthat precisely here, in thisCanon XI, theChurch "abolished the spirit", and moreover, in Christendom's great church of the Holy Spirit. (left) The teaching of the two souls can be traced back to the
threefold 
picture of the humanbeing shared by the Greeks – the Trichotomy. Aristotle spokeof
pneuma
(spirit)
psyche 
(soul)
,
and
soma
(body). This idea, the reflection of ancient wisdom and real insight is also reflected in the teachings of St. Paul ; in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 for example, he speaks clearly of
pneumatikos anthropos (spiritman)
,
psychikos anthropos (soul man)
, and
 somatikos anthropos (bodily man)
. By the 4
th
century, however, this threefold picture of Man was beginning to crumble asmerely rational intellectualism developed and spiritual insight declined. Human beings were beginning to feel that they had their own ideas, instead of experiencing divinebeings thinking in them or through them as with the Greeks and earlier cultures, butgreater intellectual development meant confusion and disputation as each insisted onhis own understanding. The threefold nature of the spiritual world, and especially theHoly Spirit in man and world was no longer understood, especially in the West. There were however, Gnostics in the East who maintained that Man had two souls, ahigher spiritual one that lived in the light of spiritual reason and a lower one thatresponded to the needs of the body. Ultimately, this doctrine of the two souls was thelast remnants of the knowledge that the individual human being has his own spirit(the higher 'soul'), a spirit that in its essential being is not the same as the soul. In aneffort to rid themselves of these troublesome Gnostic views, the Church Fathers had in382 at the
Synod of Rome 
pronounced the anathema on the views of Apollinaris ofLaodicea, who had declared that there was never human consciousness in Jesus ."There are no two Sons," he declared, "such as God's Son of Nature, that is, of God, anda Son of Grace, the human being from Mary ." After the 4
th
century, and particularly inthe West, real understanding of what had happened at the Baptism in the Jordan(Epiphany) faded away, so that Roman clerics in the 9
th
century could misuse adecision made in Rome in the 4
th
century, ignore the context in which it was made (i.e.understanding of the Baptism), and twist Apollinaris' denial of the human nature of Jesus into a denial of the spiritual nature of Man. This amounts to the one sin whichChrist said would never be forgiven, the sin against the Holy Spirit.
(7)
  The way this was done in 869 was so devious that it was hardly perceived any longer by most clergy as the new dogma slipped in over the ensuing decades and centuriesunder the threshold of consciousness. At only one other Council did the dogma of thesingle soul and of a dichotomous human nature (body and soul only) raise its head;this was the Council of Vienne (1311-1312) that condemned the Order of the Knights Templar. The 11
th
Canon in 870 thus signified the anathematisation of the individual'sequivalent experience of the the Whitsun experience, the second baptism thoughthe fire of the Holy Spirit through union with one's own spirit being; westernindividuals were not to be allowed this experience. "The spirit was notspoken
against 
in 869-70; it was simply no longer mentioned."
(8)
 

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