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Essays in the History of Religions by Joachim Wach


Joachim Wach was born in 1898 in Chemnitz, Saxony and died in 1955. Wach insisted there was a definite distinction between the history of religion and the philosophy of religion. He felt an inquiry into the difference must be carried out by employing the religo-scientific method (Religionswissenschaft). Published by Macmillan Publishing Company, 866 third Avenue, New York, NY 10022, in 1988. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.


Master and Disciple: Two Religio-Sociological Studies


Only there man’s nature is sustained where the
darksome offering is retained.
--Der Stern des Bundes

The disciple is not above his master.

--Matt. 10:24

The Master and Disciple -- The Teacher and Student

The disciple is always associated with a master, the student with a teacher. Let us speak of an ideal teacher-student relationship based solely on subject matter and not on the personalities of the teacher and student. The bond is constituted through common interest in the object of study; the student respects the teacher as the possessor and mediator of certain crafts, a body of knowledge or an accomplished skill; he considers him worthy when this treasure is great and significant and when the teacher is willing to give of it freely.

It is not the person who is admired and esteemed, but a certain faculty, a skill, knowledge, or capability. The human prestige is entirely dependent upon the inherent relevance and respect, the importance and value of the object of study. The student admires in the teacher the greatness and significance of his learning; and his merit consists in his willingness to give freely of this treasure. The student is dear to the teacher to the extent that he is willing to open himself to the teacher’s communication; the student’s value depends on his individual success or failure to appropriate the subject matter. This entire relationship is born and lives by means of the common interest in the object of study. A diversion from it results in the disintegration of the relationship between them. From this we can understand the replaceability of the person; any given teacher like any given student is replaceable; if he is not, it is merely that none can actually be found to take his place.

The relationship of the master to the disciple is found where the tie is personal -- not based primarily on subject matter; the individuality of the master and the disciple consequently gains central significance. The master does not enjoy this esteem because he conveys something useful, something transferable from his possession to the disciple; it is not the result of the fortunate possession of a particular artistic skill. Rather, the significance for the disciple rests in the master’s personality, whose very character and activity are individual and irreplaceable. Corresponding to this the choice of the disciple is grounded in the master’s inclination, which grows out of a deep conviction regarding his "calling" to discipleship. The favorite disciple is not he who advances or shows promise of advancement toward mastering the common subject matter (which may also be there but is not decisive in this relationship); he is the one with whom the master cultivates a profound personal relationship. The disciple understands the master; the student understands the teaching -- the skill of the teacher. A student makes himself what he is by his own individual effort. A disciple is chosen; he is called to understand the master. The disciple must be touched to the core by his personality. The beloved master must be an essential part of his own existence.

The teacher and student, united through a bond of work on a common task, form a series of links in which the student in his own proper time will also become a teacher. Conversely, the master and disciple in themselves represent the beginning and the end, a cosmos in itself; the disciple will never become a master. Accordingly, the teacher heads a school; the master forms a circle around himself. The teacher gives of himself to the student without receiving anything in return; personal relationship means nothing to the teacher, but the master-disciple relationship at its very core is one of mutual significance. The master becomes a master only in relationship to a disciple. Here we are not emphasizing a merely verbal correlation but rather a profound fact: that the master only becomes fully aware of the sense of his mastership in its highest and final form through a perceptive and comprehending disciple, and it is the disciple who ordains his master to mastership. The master reads his calling in the eye of his disciple, just as the disciple hears destiny speak in and through the master.

The teacher gives of his knowledge, of his ability; the master gives himself. What the master is to the disciple, he is through his existence, that is, if he is to be master, he must be himself. What he is, he had achieved through his own development; and what he has become through this development is always actually present in its totality. Therefore, what he has to say is always existentially significant; it must be understood from the standpoint of existence, for it pertains to the total man. The disciple understands the master only when he understands him in the context of existence. Fundamentally this means that the master must renounce all hope of being fully understood, because to understand him fully would mean to become the master, to know the great mystery of renunciation, to know that the highest fulfillment is possible only in another person. This is the melancholy awareness of all masters -- that no heirs are provided for the master, that the sweetest and best fruit which ripens for him never can be given away, because whoever comes to himself indeed comes only to himself. This characterizes the attitude of the master: a touch of gentle resignation, of understanding kindness, and of silent grief.

The most sacred moment in the relation of the master to his disciple comes when the master finally turns the disciple back to himself; it reveals the significance of the master for his disciple; it is the moment in which the relationship is most intimate. Yet, at the same time, it is that moment in which the master appears most remote: above the relationship of master and disciple is written the word "farewell." It is the specific tragedy of the master’s life that he is destined to direct everything toward this parting. Instead of completely drawing to himself, he must completely thrust away; instead of moving from distance to the intimate unity, he must move in the opposite direction.

Therefore the master can only love his disciple with a tinge of sadness. The disciple does not understand the master, though the master means everything to him; he loses himself in the greatness of the master and seeks to comprehend him existentially. His highest goal is to be most intimately related to this master. So "he follows after him," until the hour of decision comes, which always must be the hour of parting; then the disciple despairs either of the master or of himself. He must choose either himself and take leave of the master, who was dearer to him than all things, or he must deny himself, continuing to love the master, and so destroy completely the master’s labor. The master will love this disciple because of this devotion, but the disciple who left him will not be forgotten by him. This is the double recognition which is earned by the master’s character. On the one hand, his sacrifice, even though not understood, is still effective and bears fruit, for what has proceeded out of the existence procreates and remains living in existence; and, on the other, the consequences of love remain even into solitude, reverence, and faithful service, enjoying the severity of the task. Therefore, when the evening of life comes for the master, and the friends of his best years go their ways, the disciple remains with him. The disciple performs the service of love for him, not because he knows what really constitutes the mystery of the final loneliness which no love shares and no understanding can brighten, but because he has fully realized that his place is here.

The teacher survives in his work; the master survives in those who have experienced his influence and bear witness to him. All others can only surmise it. The disciple testifies to what the master was to him when he speaks of his master: as he has seen the master, so he paints his picture that it might be imprinted on the memory. He alone possesses the full value of the image, and others are dependent on him for their view of the master. And as he, in order to make known the beloved figure, tries to transmit the features of the master’s character to others, so also the other disciples do it, in fact all who surround the master. In them burns the desire to share what they have known by firsthand experience, and they are eager to tell others. But the secret of the master is really the influence of his personality; and only he who has experienced it can evaluate it. So from the beginning the labor of the disciple carries the germ of the tragic necessity that it must fail. Whoever saw the master cannot communicate the experience which he alone had; any talk of it is bound to fail. Each story concerning the master is a legend which has its own action and time. The legend itself changes when it is once established along more universal lines and has received a form that is easily apprehended; as such it reaches those who come after, for whom it becomes tradition and history. But what passes between men in life must be experienced directly.

The teacher knows that his work remains; the master lives in the knowledge that nothing of what he gives can remain. The teacher gives a definite subject matter; the master provides only stimulus. In the disposition of the master, the significance of the moment is important; as for his attitude, the whole problem of time is of prime importance. From the recognition of transitoriness and of change comes the understanding of the need for the right moment. "Kairos" is the key term here: therefore no eternity can bring back what was missed before; only the sacred hour begets the sacred knowledge; therefore many hours must be nourished from this one. The teacher, carefully measures his time and dedicates as much as he is able to the task of teaching -- worry for fear that his task will not be accomplished would never occur to him, since he knows that after him his students will become teachers in turn, and so he will live on. But the master would never worry about his time or his own security in any sense. Now and then, at ease, he gives all he has. All the sweetness of the moment, with its immediate demands, its unending horizon, the weight of a thousand possibilities, the apprehension of death and perishability, loosens the heart and tongue; and it is as though nothing had been before, and as though nothing will ever be again. It can happen only once; it is unique. And as only one being can produce this one thing in this one particular moment, so it is possible to produce it only in one person, in the disciple who is awake in the decisive hour. Then both the world and all time around them are swallowed up; through the transitory human frailty shines the eternal, before which all humanity and human accomplishments are futile. A faint notion of the divine is dawning, which never is revealed to mere effort, not even the most persistent.

This means that the master’s life is filled with activity and unrest, while that of the teacher moves along in serene security. This is indeed the distress and mystery of this disposition, the fact that it can never be permitted "to forget itself" -- neither in surrender nor in service, so that it is continually giving of itself. Whenever it gives, it gives out of a depth in which living powers are always operative and in which there is always life, which means that there is continual conflict. The teacher is consumed by his task, his work; the master consumes himself. "And as you consume yourself, you are full of light." The teacher has the truth which he wants to promulgate -- or else he is on the way to finding it; but the master has nothing which he can give to all.

The teacher meets the student in the area of the subject matter: he teaches him to cultivate the soil, and they work on the ground together. Or the student sits at the feet of the teacher, who speaks to him from his lofty height. The master would raise his disciple up to himself; he would raise him higher, even above himself: they never meet on the same plane. The teacher and student have something in common on which they work together and which unites them. The master and his disciple are either completely united or not at all, and they live with each other in this relationship day in and day out. The teacher praises the swift foot, the skilled hand, the sharp eye, and the keen intellect of the student; while in the master’s eye there are no such distinctions. For him, body and soul remain undivided. A standard and a measure are held up to the disciple: to exist, which means to live from a central norm; and this norm is the very living body of the disciple. Such is the meaning of the master’s requirement, that the body also love beauty.

To be the typical student and to belong to the same school as one’s teacher is a unifying experience. The point of contact which expresses the common bond between teacher and student also provides the foundation upon which the school is established. In this joint enterprise everything that is primarily objective is in the foreground, and where subjectivity plays a part, it is only accidentally interwoven in this relation between person and thing. Everything individual -- all personal effort and striving -- recedes to the background and is of no validity or interest.

Discipleship is different: being one of a group of disciples under a master is no basis for mutual love; rather it is often the basis for hate. From the beginning it seems impossible that someone else should have a part in the relationship that ties the disciple to his master (it is a condition which has its foundation in the incomparability and uniqueness of individuality), so, in principle, no way leads from one of them to another. Convinced that he is devoted to and open to the master as no other is, the disciple feels a passionate conviction to claim his master’s love in preference to all else and all others. Thus, the human, the all-too-human emotions of envy and jealousy arise. Of course such emotions are also known among students, but they are not intrinsic to scholarly activity. The sinister act of the disciple, who from jealousy betrays the master, is the most shattering expression of this impulse, and it is conceivable only in such a relationship.

Let us compare now discipleship with the school when each is deprived of its head: here the situation is nearly reversed. Within the school, embittered disputes are raised concerning the "authentic interpretation" of the legacy left by the teacher; a contest concerning a successor sets in; the fellow student who becomes the opponent will be fought more desperately than the most wicked enemy. But this is not so among the disciples who are deprived of their master. In the true spirit of their master those who are left behind -- who often possess entirely different individualities -- are brought together through the image which is sacred to each of them. Moreover, the personal distress, common loneliness, and concern over the future produce a great unity. The work of the master will not continue, since no one can continue it except he who began it. And where it appears as though this did occur, a new master has arisen or a school has been assembled about a teacher.

The name of a powerful teacher is associated with his work, and in it his reputation is secured. The personality of the master lives on as an effective force. Of both, however, the word of Daniel has been spoken: They shall shine as the splendor of the heavens.

On the Meaning of the Master’s Life

This essay is about the master and disciple. Our concern is not with the specific content of the teachings proclaimed by the exalted masters. Rather, the following discourse will deal with the meaning and value of the master’s life, the "existence" of the master.

First let us consider the tradition of Buddhism regarding its master. We are told that one night, in the forest of Urvela, Gotama -- while he was lost in solitary meditation, going through continually higher states of ecstatic self-renunciation -- attained release and revelation of this release. In this sacred moment he grasped the knowledge about the suffering of the world, the sources of suffering, its annihilation and the way to its annihilation. The night in which the Buddha attained this knowledge -- as he was seated under the tree -- is the holy night of the Buddhist world; in this night Gotama became the Buddha. The creatures of all the worlds were elated; gods and men shouted with joy. As the saving wisdom in the blessed and most holy Buddha appeared, the radiant sunrise of release became manifest for all creatures.

Four times seven days the fasting Buddha relished the bliss of release. Into this period of time, tradition places a temptation. Underlying this story is a profound thought -- the Buddha is tempted to keep his insight to himself:

Why disclose to the world what I won in difficult struggle?
The truth remains hidden from those filled with craving and hate.
It is laborious, mysterious, deeply hidden from ordinary wit.
It cannot be seen when earthly striving darkens the mind with night.

Note, while the exalted one was considering this, his heart was inclined to persist in peace and not to proclaim the teaching. With profound insight and wonderful psychological understanding the great temptation is recognized and described here -- the temptation which will at one time face everyone who is enlightened (Wissenden): to remain silent, to lock within his innermost being that which he has attained through tedious struggle and to remain in the joy of enlightenment. It is not only the fear of exposing himself or of being misunderstood and misinterpreted which suggests this; it is the concern regarding those who are not able to grasp it, who would be utterly destroyed by having knowledge to which they are not equal. For as it is said in one of the texts: The preacher rescues those who believe him and annihilates those who do not believe him.

The tradition of Buddhism reveals that in this moment, in which the destiny of millions upon millions is decided, Brahman Sahampati himself came down from heaven to beg the conqueror to preach the truth. Finally the Buddha complies with this request.

Let the gate of eternity be opened to all.
Whoever has ears let him hear the word and believe.
In order to avoid vain effort, I have not yet proclaimed the noble word.

Later tradition held that Mara, the Buddhist Satan, appeared to the enlightened one after the latter spent the first seven days in silent contemplation. The evil one knew that earthly pain and pleasure could no longer seduce the Buddha, so he tempted him to enter Nirvana immediately. Then the Buddha alone would escape him; but all other beings would remain without release and would still belong to him.

The cunning and strength of the tempter, however, came to nought; Buddha turned him away; Mara left "the perfected one." The later texts report that the prince of darkness again drew near to the Buddha when he was an eighty-year-old man -- this same Mara who, following other tempters, had attacked the pious one while he was toiling in ascetic discipline before his enlightenment. The Buddha, so reports this remarkable tale, was staying with Ananda near the town of Vesali. There the old man was moved by a longing for the beauty of the world. He showed his disciple the loveliness of nature, saying that if he wanted, he could remain alive for a world-period. Ananda did not understand the hint because Mara darkened his understanding. Though he implored the master to remain, the enlightened one had previously decided differently; nothing was able to hold him back any longer from entering Nirvana at the appointed respite. But he also rejected Mara’s wish to depart from the world immediately before his task was entirely accomplished.

The older texts know about ever new attacks by Mara; in the later ones it is different. There the divine master with that single decisive victory attains the sambodhi, the highest enlightenment -- henceforth nothing can tempt him. This is the conception of a time which recognized the perfect one as a mediator, a redeemer in a specific sense. That moment has an uncanny world-shaking significance: the resolution of the Buddha is conceived to preach to all beings the revelation in which he has found peace. The Mahayana Buddhists have built a religion of belief on that solemn promise of the redeemer.

Immediately after he had resolved this, the enlightened one began his teaching activity. The first disciples appear. Is it possible to tell more impressively and stirringly the first episode of the master’s life than does the religious biography of the Buddha -- to describe the beginning of that blessed, yet painful, time which appears in the master’s existence as the growing consciousness of sacrifice? With the consciousness of his mission this existence begins -- with the moment of enlightenment in which a higher and more difficult calling, the task, become recognized as destiny. In this sense the master’s existence implies an understanding won through lonely, difficult struggle: the understanding of the mission to be called to a special task. This consciousness of a particular mission may be a sudden inspired enlightenment, or it may come as a realization gained by painful, laborious struggle.

This involves, first, a knowledge of the essence of things and the destiny of the world, and, second, a knowledge of his personal mission, the activity through which the chosen one should influence human destinies. The decisive point, we repeat, is the call to "understanding." Everything works together to lead "the called-one" to this understanding: earthly and heavenly powers, the natural and physical modes of existence, the driving psychical powers, the inner impulse and outer guidance, the perception of the world and its experiences, the secret revelation which lies in the consciousness of his own being. Here we are not concerned with the specific contents of that knowledge which in each instance will be an experience of the ultimate religious and metaphysical mysteries. Before all else we should keep in mind a double truth, already mentioned -- that with the objective knowledge of the structure of the world, something subjective is given, namely, the nature and function of one’s own being in it. It is meaningless to ask which comes earlier or later; both are knowledge of the first order; neither of them is derivable from or follows the other. Rather, of decisive significance is the nature of that interpenetration [of subjective and objective cognition]. It is primarily the consciousness of a unique metaphysical significance which makes this connection so intimate.

Hereafter we will distinguish the master from the prophets. Both fulfill a "mission," so this characteristic, by which one often characterizes the prophets, does not entirely separate the prophet from the master. But while the person of the prophet in itself is not of decisive significance for the proposed mission, the master is the carrier of a metaphysical meaning. In view of the continual process of the world, more people are dependent on the master than on the prophet, in whose place -- according even to his own conviction -- another person could have been called just as well.

The significance of the master is certainly not always a metaphysical one in a strict sense. It is very often only one of eminence, as could be said, for example, of the figure of the Buddha. He was destined to be the one who would discover and proclaim the holy truth. In Buddhism particularly, we can discern a growing tendency to absolutize the significance of the master’s person: he became divine in the "northern" schools; pious believers even multiplied his person ad infinitum. According to them, there had always been "enlightened ones," Buddhas; and there are continually those who are predestined to be such, Bodhisattvas. Indeed, we experience the strange spectacle that, after passing a certain point, this absoluteness again became relative through the introduction of a Bodhisattva mythology. This mythology in itself was intended to serve the purpose of glorifying the unique one [Buddha], but it finally associated countless greater and lesser gods and holy beings with him. As in Buddhism so in Islam (though in itself viewed from the self-consciousness of the prophet-founder -- which we see so clearly)1 there were [at first] only a few suggestions of this nature. Then the development took a similar direction in making the person of the prophet absolute; especially in Sufism his cultic veneration stimulated fantastic and unusual results.

Here we do not have to inquire into the factors which together and in particular forced the development in this direction. For Islam this examination has been done through Andrae’s portrayal of "the person of Mohammed." Here we see that the development of the prophet-cult in Islam does not conflict with the view of two originally and essentially different types: the prophet and the master. The opposition against the prophet-cult, which attributed a metaphysical significance to Mohammed within the Moslem religious community itself, is certainly important; yet the justification regarding our essential distinction can hardly be doubted. The consideration of the particular kind of charisma -- upon which Max Weber has placed special emphasis in his religious-sociological treatise -- is not decisive for us. We proceed from the experience of the respective personality; we will not only analyze it psychologically but understand it in its full intention by showing its meaning for the master’s whole existence and the consequences of the master’s life.

Instead of recognizing the meaning and role of each person in light of his effectiveness in providing a metaphysical value, let us consider the crucial element to lie in the consciousness in itself. It is the peculiar driving force in the master’s existence -- the ground out of which his whole attitude toward the world, his whole thought and activity, must be understood.

The knowledge which "the called-one" receives is a tragic one. Its content is tragic; the nature of the world and his own being are felt to be full of sorrow. But this knowledge can also be called tragic in its effect on the existence itself of the master. Because this knowledge is tragic, the struggle in which the calling becomes evident is so hard; in it the thought of sacrifice is affirmed for the first time. The chosen one knows that he struggles, discerns, suffers, and succeeds by renouncing himself; he struggles, suffers, and succeeds for others. As it was stated by the poet: The fruit of the tree is not for the tree. Therefore, as expressed in the words of the Buddhist teachings, the last great temptation is to remain a savior for one’s self, a pratyeka-buddha, and to reject the terrifying call of the samyaksambuddha -- to become a redeemer for all. A grandiose thought! In the midst of a suffering, fighting, turbulent world caught in tumultuous struggle, there is this one man who grasps the great thought of peace and knows about redemption in the midst of the chaos of meaninglessness and despair -- one man who has found a meaning. This is the picture which the buddhist legends portray for us. The Buddha, surrounded by the fury of the elements and hosts of assaulting demons and spirits, is sunk in deep comtemplation while beholding the secrets of the holy truth.

To have this insight means loneliness. The beatitude of this tremendous knowledge is balanced by a dreadful, exalted, echoless silence. Four times seven days the Buddha continued to delight in the perception which he had gained. Again and again the sermons, which are handed down to us in the holy texts, make reference to this loneliness.

Knowledge creates loneliness and abandonment; but this does not incite the decision to share it. The chosen one feels sorry for the erring and searching men whom he henceforth sees in the light of the full perception. The desire to be a deliverer moves him: he would bring peace to them, for which they yearn; he would teach them. Will they be able to comprehend what he has to say to them? "It is difficult, mysterious, deep, hidden from the crude senses," thought the Buddha. We understand the struggle in which the impulses contend with each other: to remain silent or to speak out. But the thought of sacrifice is so intimately merged with the very nature of the master’s existence, it hardly seems possible that the decisive "Yes" could not emerge, sealing the master’s sacrificial path.

When Jesus knew himself as the Messiah, he knew the necessity of his own sacrificial suffering. We do not know the exact point in his life in which this consciousness came upon him, unless we would accept the baptism in the Jordan -- where, according to Scripture, the Spirit of God came upon him -- as the breakthrough of this consciousness. From the earliest beginning of his public appearance he is conscious of his particular mission; from the first his words and work are overshadowed by the destiny which he took upon himself in an unknown hour, by the knowledge which preceded this resolve to sacrifice. To this hour, as also to that other mysterious copa (hour), point all those profound words -- for example, concerning the ransom money in Matthew; and the words of deep suffering found in John: "I give up my life for the sheep," and "No one takes it from me, but I give it up by myself." Up to the climax in which he realized a singlemindedness with his destiny -- as it is expressed in the so-called High-priestly Prayer (John, chap. 17) -- is a high resolve whose confirmation is the fulfillment: "It is finished." But between those two moments, the unknown first and this last, temptations continually seized the Chosen One. We know about it from the story of the temptation according to Matthew and Luke; we learn of it in that short, most clearly delivered story of Matthew about Peter’s request: "Lord, preserve yourself. . . ." (This is the memorable situation corresponding to the conversation of Buddha with Ananda near Vesali.) But above all it is in the shattering account of the struggle in Gethsemane and the confirmation in the Letter to the Hebrews. The cognition of the nature of the world and of the metaphysical significance of one’s own self in it; the knowledge about the mission; the "Yes" to destiny; the sacrificial thought; and the last struggle and hesitation are clearly portrayed in that passage from Luke’s Gospel: "I am come to cast a fire upon the earth; would that it were already kindled. I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!"

Let us consider antiquity: Did not the Greeks know about Chiron, the wise centaur, who instructed Achilles in playing the lyre; who introduced the mortal son of the immortal gods to the knowledge of the mysteries, guiding him out of the darkness of the Dionysian natural existence into the Apollonian kingdom of light; who showed him the way of transitoriness to immortal existence, himself a delivered deliverer? Before us stands Empedocles, the old philosopher of Agrigentum, who has ever and again found admiring disciples up to the present time: the prophetic thinker and seer, the leader of those pious ones, whose heart longs for the redemption -- whom Hoelderlin, a man very close to the Greeks, has given to us anew. In this magnificent poem everything that is decisive for the existence of a master becomes clear to us: the knowledge about the suffering of the world, the recognition of the calling, the "Yes" to it, the "Yes" to destiny, the thought of sacrifice, the temptation, the anxiety and hesitation before the final decision. Indeed, here it is expressed in the ancient Greek idiom:

Divine nature is manifested
Divinely only through Man; thus again
The race which attempts so much recognizes it.
Yet when the mortal, whose heart divine nature
Filled with its delight, has announced it,
Oh, let it break that vessel in pieces
Lest it serve to other uses
And divine things become human works.

There is no more profound expression of the masterdisciple relationship than that given by Hoelderlin in the relation of Empedocles-Pausanias. Hardly anywhere is the tragic aspect in the master’s existence brought to a more moving expression. Or let us consider Socrates, who, according to Nietzsche, is an ambiguous figure in antiquity. Is not also Socrates a "master" in the sense we are attempting to develop? Something of the exalted sorrow is spread over his being and works, which comes from the knowledge of the metaphysical condition of the world, the calling and the end. The later thinker Søren Kierkegaard, who probably most profoundly understood him, spoke once of the midwifery "of Socrates as the highest relationship between men." "Because," according to him, "between man and man [midwifery] is the highest, the [engendering] belongs to God." This throws a light on the inner existence of Socrates; one side of the master’s life is profoundly characterized: the resignation in the highest sense, the sacrificial thought. Certainly Socrates specifically rejects thereby all claim to a metaphysical significance of his person; but is he not Greek? He is not only teacher, mediator of knowledge and capability, adviser, leader in ethical and political concerns, but, as his death shows -- which must be interpreted as the emerging of the master’s sacrifice -- he is also a master in the highest sense of the word. In this way Plato had also understood him.

The melancholy and gentle sadness which characterize the life of the master show his readiness for sacrifice; it appears even in the serenity of fulfillment, as in the ancient piety of Empedocles, toward destiny. It shines through the irony of Socrates. It forms the dark-gold background against which the radiant words of Jesus are set off. It is the "Yes" to destiny -- the once-spoken; yet, ever again in the master’s life it must be repeated, until the end, until the fulfillment. It is this "Yes" which is ever present and which surrounds every deed and word of the master with a touch of deep sorrow. Thus we learn that the master also is bound; the task which he undertakes acquires ultimate dimensions from God, from destiny. The whole existence of the master signifies a growing-up to this call; through his entire existence the argument with the highest authority continues; the hour of the call is only its most intense concentration.

This "Yes" implies the renunciation of the splendor and happiness of the world, of home and of love, of all ties and associations; to offer one’s self for sacrifice is, in a higher sense, necessary; to participate in the coherent development of events as destiny has determined. This renunciation is expressed most comprehensively by the Buddha. Ever and again in the Holy Scriptures we meet the explicit abandonment of all earthly happiness, symbolized in the story of Prince Gotama’s encounters with, and his flight from, the world. At first sight this seems to be no painful resignation, since everything from which the Enlightened One turns away is indeed empty, vain, and idle. Here psychological interpretation must go deeper, for it is precisely this which is the difficulty of the knowledge to which the chosen one is called: that before its gaze all the glitter and glory of the world became nothing. The Chosen One sees that mankind lives cheerfully and painlessly; the old world sprouts and blooms continually ever anew; life goes on, in the ups and downs of its natural rhythm. But he also knows that all this is not the "true," not the decisive; it is not that upon which all depends. In the hour of his calling he experiences the mystery that from now on raises his existence to the tragic level, which makes it lonely. From the time this knowledge is awakened in him, he is excluded from this eternal play, from the cheerful thoughtless pleasures of everyday life, from ordinary happiness. It is very profound that the tradition had the Buddha grow up in worldly splendor and earthly delights; he must know them before they become shallow to him.

Profound and beautiful also is the late story, which we have previously mentioned, concerning the temptation at Vesali. Here life itself seduced the aged man; the beauty of the world threatened to draw him into its spell. But the world can be no enduring place for him. The master’s existence is one of loneliness. "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." He does not know the intimate fellowship in which the members of the family circle gather; he is homeless also in this sense. To become a disciple of Buddha means to renounce everything: parents and kindred, wife and child, house and home. Jesus said to the disciples: Whoever leaves his house, or brothers and sisters, or father or mother, or wife or child for my name will receive a hundred fold and inherit eternal life. It sounds even harsher in Luke: Anyone who follows me and does not hate his father, mother, wife, child, brothers, sisters, and also his own life -- he cannot be my disciple. And from the same we read: Whoever does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Even the love of women cannot bind the chosen one. Neither condemnation nor contempt of a woman and marriage is thereby expressed -- although such features are found -- but it is the renunciation in favor of the noble task resulting from the knowledge of the reality of things. Once Ananda asked the Buddha -- who himself left behind a wife and a small son in order to reach his aim, and who according to Udana explicitly praised Sangamaji when he had deserted his wife and child -- "How should we, Lord, behave in regard to a woman?" -- "You should avoid seeing them." Ananda: "If we, however, do see them, Lord, what should we do then?"-- "Do not speak with them." Ananda: "If we must, however, speak with them, Lord, what then?" "Then you must be watchful of yourself." The master himself had rejected all passion of worldly love when the daughters of Mara tried to seduce him.

One cannot fail to recognize that those passages in the holy texts, which unwittingly and without intent touch this relationship, keep the woman disciple both inwardly and outwardly at a certain distance from the master. None of the women disciples, as the texts tell us, is near to the dying master. The Divyavadana tells us a temptation story of Ananda, who is blamed because -- as the Cullavagga reports -- he permitted women at the corpse of Buddha, who by their sorrow defiled the corpse. "O Criton, let someone take this woman home," said Socrates, as Xantippe appeared in the prison to take her final leave of him. Empedocles, according to the magnificent poem, also removed himself from his female disciples before he entered his final course; nothing is left to them but the mourning of his departure and the realization of their loss.

We know from the Gospels the appreciation that Jesus had for the womanly disposition. There are many episodes reported, especially in John, concerning his relationship with women, which a later time changed to the ascetic. This later tendency is found in the well-known expression, attributed to John by the so-called "Apostolic Church Regulation":

When the master prayed over the bread and the cup, and blessed them with the words: This is my body and blood, he did not permit the women to stay with us (Martha said, on account of Mary, because he saw her smiling. Mary said: I laughed no more). And he said this to us before, when he taught: The weak are saved through the strong.

Next to him, Peter, above all, is portrayed in a later time as having particular hostility toward women. "I am afraid of Peter," expressed Mary in the gnostic writing Pistis Sophia, "because he threatens men and hates our sex." But we do not have to reduce ourselves to the apocryphal writings of the New Testament to observe the basic thrust of this onesided emphasis. As the master was without a home, so he never fell in love with a woman. This the Church Fathers, knew: Justin, of course Tertullian (who emphasized this to its fullest), Clement, and Origen. ("The power of the self-controlled, the victorious crown of the virgins, the good judgment of the once married.") So Jesus is called.

We have seen already that a later period portrays him as recommending this asceticism to others. Thus, to the Record of John, the Lord himself through his appearance prevented John, who was in the process of entering matrimony, from getting married -- one story which is parallel to the account of Ananda’s temptation and the intervention of Buddha. The mysterious saying in Matt. 19:12 may have given a point of reference permitting such an interpretation. From the Gospel of the gnostic Marcion we learn that the Jews in their court proceedings rebuked Jesus because he broke up marriage and destroyed the bonds of family life. "The ascetic Gotama," said the people, "has come to bring childless times, widowhood, and ruin of the racial stock."

All this cannot surprise us. The master rejects even this earthly bond for himself. Through his call to knowledge, he steps out of the ever continuing cycle of reproduction in which nature knows itself as being eternal in its creatures. In nature all things call to one another -- as Schopenhauer says: Today as yesterday, we are always all together.

The renunciation is joined at bottom with the mission. It is not important whether and how far the master systematizes it and makes it a requirement; it is imminent in the master’s existence. From this perspective it is also proved once more that loneliness is essential to this existence.

No one can share this loneliness with him; even the disciples cannot. For an instant -- as we saw -- the temptation to hold back his knowledge, to side-step the difficult path together with all misunderstanding and disappointment, overcomes the master. Nothing like this is reported to us concerning Jesus. But is it false to suppose that he, who in the final hour prayed: "Lord, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me," also knew the desire to be freed from this path of sacrifice -- he who continually experienced with deepest grief how little those closest to him understood? Nevertheless the master knows that everything -- all his suffering, his agony -- is in vain and that his sacrifice is futile unless he succeeds in planting the truth in one soul that has opened itself to him.

In the cases of Jesus and Buddha, the election of the disciples followed immediately after the decisive experience of the call. Buddha enlisted his first disciples in Benares; they were the five pious devotees who before his enlightenment had practiced asceticism with him. "In that time there were six holy men in the world, Buddha himself and the five disciples." Jesus went out and called those whom he wanted to draw unto himself: "Follow me!" It has been justifiably emphasized -- that by using this means of selection, Jesus promoted a principle of selection in which the choice was not based on personal worth but in which a fellowship of destiny predominated. He did not choose the most distinguished, the best, the most able; he chose those to whom his heart turned out of a deep sense of inner affinity. Despite the character of the fellowship which developed around the master, there existed a definite relationship between the master and each of the disciples which was determined by the individual nature and personality of the disciple. The image which one disciple forms of the master is necessarily different from the image formed by any other; it is colored through his "relative a priori"--regarding individuality, temperament, and disposition. On the other hand, seen from the point of view of the master, the disciples constitute a unity. There are, no doubt, types of disciples: a type of Jesus-disciple, of Buddha-disciple, and there is a type of Hellenic, or Sufist, discipleship.

The disciples have a threefold significance for the master. They are first of all the "representatives of mankind" -- ignorant mankind. In spite of all initiation and all association with the master, they remain in need of instruction to the end: they can never understand the master, never basically comprehend the idea of sacrifice. In part they belong to the master; in part to "the world"; and therefore a cleavage continues to exist between the master and themselves which makes the master lonely. He knows about it, but he is glad that those whom he loves are spared from the gravity and, burden of the knowledge which is laid upon him. Therefore he blesses them; but in difficult hours of temptation he suffers.

Second, the disciples are the master’s companions. Insofar as they are capable, they are near to him. They share his outward existence and try to make it easy. They are always in readiness, and in some particularly high and choice hours we find them in closest association with the master. Then he discloses part of his being and his knowledge to them -- as much as is possible for them to grasp. Out of this human need for men who are near him, the Jesus of the Acts of John says to the disciples: "I need you, come to me" -- a word which almost sounds blasphemous to a person who sees only the representative character of the disciples.

Third, the disciples are the apostles of the master; they are the proclaimers of his "teaching." As such they do not interest us here, because this essay deals with the relation of the master and disciple primarily in regard to the master’s existence.

The varied significance of the disciples is clearly distinguished in the historical individuality of each of Jesus’ disciples -- as we learn to know them from the canonical and apocryphal writings of the New Testament. Nowhere do we find the "representative" aspect of the disciple stronger, deeper, and more impressive than in the figure of Peter. We shall recall only two of those unforgettable episodes between the Lord and the follower disciple which illustrate what we have been saying: the rescue of the sinking Peter (Matthew, chap. 14) and Peter’s betrayal (Luke, chap. 22). John the Evangelist appears in the incarnation of the conception of the companion, the disciple friend. We know from Scripture that the Lord loved him: "John," the Lord says to him according to the Acts of John (chap. 98), "there is one who must hear this from me, because I need one who should hear it."

Once more let us turn back to the figures of antiquity. Certainly in regard to the crucial elements there is a similarity in the significance of the disciples for the master. It appears clearly in the touching and beautiful characterization of Pausanias, whom Hoelderlin has depicted as a companion to Empedocles: the only person who is close to the master, to whom the master inclines himself lovingly and trustingly, and yet whom he must so often instruct and correct, who cannot understand the highest and final thing -- the necessity and the loneliness of the sacrifice. Yet he calls him "Son! Son of my soul" -- the only human being he loves. It appears in Socrates, from whose circle of disciples so many a character and name are known to us. And like Socrates, also in Zarathustra -- as has been shown to us again recently in a profound manner -- and in whom the last of our great thinkers [Nietzsche] envisioned for himself the "ideal master."

Concerning the sravakas, the circle of disciples which assembled about the Buddha, it is said that there were only types, not individuals -- as in the following account:

Each of the great disciples is just like another so that each
is hard to distinguish from the other; each is a model of highest
purity, highest inner peace, highest devotion to Buddha.

The representatives of the suffering and erring world are the ones whom the enlightened one instructs ever and again.

Some of them, however, come to life for us: Condanna, the confessor; Sariputta, one of the disciples who is allowed to hear a word similar to that spoken by the Lord to Peter: he compares him to the eldest son of a world ruler, who, following the king, together with him sets in motion the wheel of rulership which this king lets roll over the earth; his friend Maha-Moggallana, the possessor of mysterious miraculous power, whose beautiful account of being called is passed on to us in the Mahavagga. Further, there is Kassapa, the former barber of Upali, a true apostle; Rahula, the Buddha’s son; Devadatta, the Judas Iscariot of Buddhism; and Ananda Upatthaka, a friend and companion of the exalted one as no other, of whose temptation and confirmation the texts tell us, as in the great sutra concerning the end of the master.

A later period put the most varied teachings and sayings into the mouths of these disciples. Ever and again the well-known figures appeared and preached their sermons to the honor of the master or for the conversion of the ignorant and wavering. As in a chorus, their voices are heard in the Theragata, the "Monks’ Hymns." The disciples’ words which are handed down to us in the Sutta-Nipata sound like a common confession:

To him my spirit looks, as if my eyes could see him
By night by day, fixed without fatigue.
Reverently dedicated to him, I wait for the morning.
From him, I feel, I cannot be separated,

There has been far too little interest in the disciples of Jesus. At all times the most earnest, the most impressive, and the most fruitful concern for them has been shown by artists. These --especially the German masters of the high Middle Ages, but also the later Italians -- have understood the wonderful fascination of those figures, who, coming out of and disappearing into the dark, surround and accompany the figure of the Redeemer. The disciples remain halfway between individuals of flesh and blood and impressive, carefully stylized types. In the first century after the coming of the Lord there was a strong interest in those who had surrounded him during his lifetime, and a rich and interesting literature testified to it. Thus we follow Peter and participate in his struggle with Simon, the magician; we hear of the tragic fate of his daughter and experience his cruel crucifixion. We follow John, the eternally pure apostle of Asia, in his wondrous deeds; we get to know the extraordinary illumination which he received, and we see his joyful end. We accompany Bartholomew in his struggle against the Indian idols; we see James the son of Zebedee contending with a sorcerer and converting the Spaniards, and James the son of Alphaeus, the courageous and upright witness, hurled down from the pinnacle of the temple, praying for his enemies in the words of his Lord. We see Matthew suffer the most terrifying tortures for his Lord’s sake. We are led into the dangerous and difficult situation into which Andrew brought himself by his strict asceticism; we experience the terrible martyrdom of Philip, the apostle to Asia Minor; and we travel with the apostle Thomas way over to India in order to learn of his wonderful experiences and deeds. We follow Simon the Zealot to Babylonia and Persia -- Simon, who already as a boy was permitted to hear the promise of the future master. Thus many things are communicated to us concerning life of the master and his intimate relationship with his disciples.

We learn much that is believable and unbelievable -- the repulsive and the attractive. Who could not but be grasped by the descriptions which the Acts of John -- the most beautiful and profound of those mysterious writings -- gives to us of the last gathering of the Lord with his disciples, culminating in the account of the magnificent hymn which those intone who are united in the ecstatic cult dance. The writings of the heretical groups, particularly, know how to tell the most miraculous things. The disciples enjoy high, indeed extraordinary, esteem in these circles; they are given a kind of metaphysical meaning as it is already indicated in that passage which the Ephraim Commentary passes on to us: "I have chosen you before the existence of the world"; and this esteem is expressed in the gnostic Pistis Sophia in the most elaborate manner. All this is late stylization as it is active in the developing legends of the masters.

More beautiful and true than those superhuman exaggerated miracle workers and saints are the infinitely more lifelike figures of the disciples in the Gospels. In the former we find a parallel to the description of the disciples as seen in the Mahayana Sutras (I mention only the Saddharma-Pundarika, the Lotus of Good Religion). A later apology, which did not understand the importance of simplicity, believed that it must excuse its humanity. Compared to the simple account of Luke, how clumsy and inwardly untrue rings the report of the Acts of Peter, seeking to interpret the denial by Peter, explaining that "godless dogs" had duped him and lured him into a trap. The idea of "disciple" demands that the pure "human-ness" be expressed. The Lord himself, according to the Acts of Peter, said in regard to the disciples: "qui mecum sunt, non me intellexerunt,’’4 We understand the deep necessity of this incomprehensibility (cf. also Luke 9:49 and 50). It is very possible that occasionally sorrow and bitterness came upon the master when he called to mind the human, all-too-human, nature of, those about him; but he knew that it could not be otherwise -- and therefore was good. "I have yet many things to say to you," says the Christ of St. John, "but you cannot hear them now."

With an understanding gaze of love the master embraced these men who were permitted to share one destiny with him. He blessed their purely human nature; but in the pangs of his loneliness when thinking of the sacrifice, he felt their distance from him; he longed for their sympathy -- which he could not have. There is no deeper, no more moving, illustration of this situation than the story of the struggle in Gethsemane as Matthew has given it to us. The master asks them: "Could you not watch with me one hour?" And then it reads: "and again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And he left them and went away from them again and prayed. But the third time he called to them: ‘The hour is at hand.’"

In the anticipation of his destiny the Lord spoke again and again about his suffering and the mystery of the sacrifice. "But they understood none of these things; this saying was hid from them, and they did not grasp what was said." All discipleship is blind. Beside the denial of Peter and the flight of the disciples at the capture stands the confession of Peter and the communion of the last supper. The magical and compelling appearance of the master is always for the disciple the last support and the highest challenge; therefore, the proud triumph and the deepest fall are always so close together. The master can do everything in order to acquaint the disciples with the mysteries of the teaching; but one thing he cannot do: he cannot produce the impetus for them, the stirring of the soul by which they will be free. For Socrates, the [midwifery] is the highest activity; the [engendering] belongs to God.

From this we learn a new tragic element in the life of the master -- the knowledge that everyone has to walk the last stretch, the hardest way, alone; that he, who gives the best which he has to the men whom he loves, must leave them here -- yes, even drive them away. The master takes upon himself that which is most difficult. No one is permitted to sense how difficult that is. The mysterious word of Mark sounds like an allusion to it: "Can you drink the cup which I drink? Can you be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" The master waited for this impetus in the soul of the disciple. This is the interpretation of the mysterious relation between the Lord and the one who betrayed him, a silent understanding which is expressed in the imploring words of the master: "What you must do, do quickly."

It belongs to the task which the chosen one undertakes in the hour of his call to keep this greatest difficulty secret. Bertram, in the chapter significantly called "Socrates" of his beautiful book on Nietzsche, also explores this problem with reference to his hero; he discusses the final silence which is laid upon the existence of the master; indeed he goes further and speaks of the deception involved.

This is a Greek twist, but it points out a feature in the life of all masters. The power of the example depends upon this deception, which is, in the deepest sense, instructive. It is the secret of his power to redeem. The nature of the world, the somber truth, is recognized -- and banished. The sadness, which must overpower everyone who encounters it unarmed, is checked; a redemption is found. But no one must know how difficult the struggle was, or how deep the suffering: Bis die Lasten der Lotse zuehlt, die Leichen nicht mit 5(Klopstock). There is something of deception, of a tender, careful deception, in this knowing kindness, in the melancholy wisdom which the disciple experiences with the master. As the profound word of the Lord proclaims it, which he says in the Acts of John to the favorite disciple: "What you are, you will see -- that, I will show to you. But what I am, that alone I know, no one else. What is mine, let it be mine; but what is yours, receive through me!"

Also in this aspect, the master’s existence makes a demand; and as his whole existence is only the progressive manifestation of a deep and mysterious tragedy, there is no "master-figure" which does not disclose this in both large and small respects -- this demand is dialectical from the very beginning. It is the master’s will to draw close to himself and rise above himself. Therefore he demands the self-delivery of the disciple: the sacrifice of the body, of the spirit, of all his possessions. He guides him on the way; he is -- here we see the transition to the teacher, indeed to the mystagogue and head of a school -- the leader, the father, the rescuer. In this sharply defined characteristic we understand the relationship in the ancient mysteries, in Sufistic union, and in the Hindu, especially Shivaistic, guru-practice. The (father), the sheik, the guru, the zaddick: as a guide of souls, as a door to salvation, they demand the complete devotedness of the disciple, of the "son." The Murid is the son of the sheik, which signifies here more than a simple simile: "As the body is conceived in the womb of the mother through the father’s seed" -- so it reads according to Ibn Arabi -- "so also with the heart in a spiritual birth." The spirit of the Murid is conceived in the womb of his soul, through the "in-breathing" of the sheik. It is at this birth that Isa -- Jesus -- was aiming with the phrase: "He who is not born twice will not enter the kingdom of heaven." The Murid must obey his spiritual father perinde ac cadaver [as through the body]. "The true disciple," says Dhu’n Nun, "must obey his master more than God himself."

However, here we immediately meet that other dimension: the master points not only to himself; he also directs the disciple away from himself. We think of Socrates, whose harsh and severe method of wonderfully invigorating irony provides a beautiful example of the effect on his disciple, whereby he directs the disciple away from himself and to the disciple himself. This is evident also when in the activity of Buddha’s instructing the disciples, a strict distance is kept which seems to deny the later interpretation which the members of the "Great Church" were inclined to apply to the master. How otherwise are we to understand the synoptic accounts of the majestic authoritative words of Jesus: "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone"; even unto the requirement of faith, which implies the highest spontaneity and activity of the soul.

Up to now our investigation has led to the consideration of the relation between master and disciple with special regard to the life of the master. We will now point out the two great possibilities which a master can realize. As the most significant historical expression of these possibilities, one might, on the one hand, consider the ancient Greek master of the Empedocles-Socrates type and, on the other, the master of the Gospels who perhaps remains the most sublime example. Søren Kierkegaard has seen the precise difference more clearly than anyone else and expressed it with the eloquence and depth peculiar to him in his Philosophical Fragments. It is preceded by the motto: Is a historical point of departure possible for an eternal consciousness? How can such a point of departure have any other than a mere historical interest? Is it possible to base eternal happiness upon historical knowledge?

The figure of the master lives in the heart of the disciples. So long as he dwells in their midst, the image grows and takes on form. Through this image each disciple is able to focus his own experience, which is enriched stroke by stroke from a living center. This growth occurs according to the law and rhythm of the natural reciprocal influence and the dynamic of the relation between man and man. With the exhaustion of the living fount, the process of the formation does not stop; but along with this continuing process, from now on, a petrification occurs under a different law of construction. Imagination and personal experience are replaced by productive fantasy, which continues to shape the further development of the image. The magical circle of individual life is broken through. In the interchange of dialogue and in the proclamation it becomes expanded. The "objective" character of the image, its social reception, demonstrates that it is on the way to becoming myth. With its reception it is modified in new ways: just as the individuality of the disciples was decisive for the selection, combination, and elaboration of the objective facts, so now the same conditions are effective in the contribution which everyone who seeks to perpetuate the image makes to its alteration. Love and hate shape it. Continually, this image is active, and out of its action it receives a new splendor. The enemies continually oppose it and produce thereby the "black myth," the opposite to the glorification. Jesus is a son of the Devil according to Mandaren. Schools and factions are built. The basic reason for the separation and union of adherents is the nature of the image of the master which lives in the heart. In addition to these, in a strict psychological factor, objective factors operate: tradition, inertia, assimilation, deterioration, etc. All the combining factors which are necessarily connected with the verbal and written formulation -- the misunderstanding and new meaning, interpretation and stylization -- enter in.

Let us illustrate this by recalling the variation, the characteristic similarities and differences of the images of Jesus according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. How decisive for Paul’s image of Jesus -- besides the individuality of Paul -- is the fact that he is a "disciple at second hand"! Is it necessary to remind one’s self of the memorable example of the Platonic and Xenophonic Socrates?

Not only do the individualities influence the change of the images; it would be an important problem of the philosophy of history in the study of the history of religions to search out the influences, the categories, through which a precise "relative a priori"-- to use Simmel’s expression -- acts upon the shaping of the "images": national, tribal, race, class, sexmembership. The wise Buddha becomes the world-savior of Mahayana, the Japanese Amitabha, the Chinese Fo; the Christ of Aryan Christians is certainly a different one from him who belongs to Syrian or Egyptian Gnosticism. Rules always govern the change of these images. Certain basic elements persist; certain features are drawn more heavily here or there. From the history of the portrayals of Christ we can perceive the fluctuation of rationalistic and mystical, worldly and eschatological, theomorphic and anthropomorphic conceptions. But all these are later speculations which presuppose the myth upon which they act in an expanding, deepening, enlarging manner and whose change they influence.

Decisive, on the one hand, is the history of the origin of the myth; it falls into the period which circumscribes the first attempt at fixing the image, on the other. Here, again, the first appearance of the disciple-at-secondhand, the follower, marks the division of the "original" fellowship from later times. To a certain degree, the first experience always remains esoteric; with the arrival and solicitation of followers, the esoteric experience becomes more or less an exoteric event. At the time of the first written formulation, however, something entirely new -- a minimum criterion, so to speak -- is created, to which the most daring allegories and stories, the most addicted to miracles and fantasy, must still have to conform through danger of being expelled. From here on the distinction of historical and unhistorical becomes important -- a distinction which in a second stage becomes identified, emphasized, and limited by the canonical and non-canonical. We observe a similar development in the artistic portrayal, the gradual evolution of a canonical type, which always showed a differentiation effected by relative a priori as to race, epoch, country, etcetera.

The disciple’s experience of the master is a social one; however much it may be differentiated in other respects, it is a form of social experience. It exhibits the laws of communities as such. The corresponding sociological category is the group (der Bund), as we lately have been so beautifully shown.6 Certain attitudes which determine the action of the members of this circle either for or against one another are applicable only out of a background of communal character. The movements of the members of the circle toward or away from one another find their meaning only in the meaning of the group. Such were the relations of the disciples as told by Mark and Luke, which have wrongly been interpreted solely as a shameful competition for supremacy. The realization of the outward constitution of this association here -- be it loose or very strict -- is unimportant. There will always be disciples who are closer to the master than all others, as were John and Ananda and the witnesses of Jesus’ transfiguration or his last struggle. And around the smaller and smallest circle there will be another one. On a higher level the circle has the same double meaning for the master as for the disciple; it represents humanity, and it is the union of friends in which the master, finds the comfort and strength which allows the lonely one to experience human fellowship. The circle is the supporting and nourishing ground out of which everyone who belongs gains his strength; it is the concrete revelation of the "power" of the master. Attracted by this power, moved by it, and defined through it, the disciples assemble in a circle around the master; followers and helpers assemble in ever wider circles. This is the power of which Goethe spoke when he said that God continually remains active in higher nature in order to draw the inferior near unto himself.

 

Notes:

1. Tor Andrae, Die Person Muhammeds in Lehre und Glauben seiner Gemeinde, 1918.

2. "The power of the self-controlled, the victorious crown of the virgins, the good judgment of the once married."

3. Hans Blüher, Die Aristie des Jesus von Nazareth (1921); see especially chap. xi.

4. "Those who are with me do not understand me."

5. "Until the pilot tallies up the freight, he does not count the corpses who died [in the fight of truth]."

6. "Die Dioskuren," Jahrbuch für Geisteswissenschaften, I (1922), 35-105.

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