With his works the author of the Grail Message offers each person assistance to be able to mature into an inwardly secure, strong personality. In his lectures on the basic questions of being human — touching on life and death, fate and justice, God and His Creation — a conclusive World-view is revealed, which through its completeness and consistency provides a firm anchorage of knowledge.
In 1936 Abd-ru-shin said of his aim:
“My aim is of a spiritual nature!
But I am bringing no new religion, I do not wish to found either a new church or any sect, but in all simplicity I give a clear picture of the automatic activity in Creation, which bears the Will of God, and from which man can clearly recognise what ways are good for him.”
In line with this leading thought, Abd-ru-shin wanted the focal point to be his Message but never to be seen in person as central to the Grail teaching. He rejected any personality cult. He clearly and unmistakably bade his readers: “Heed the Word and not the bringer”.
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Abd-ru-shin was born on 18th April 1875 in Bischofswerda (Saxony) and christened Oskar Ernst Bernhardt. In the security of his parental home he experienced a happy childhood and adolescence, followed by a business training and professional independence in Dresden.
In the following years Oskar Ernst Bernhardt travelled extensively and developed more and more from a businessman into an acknowledged author. His literary work comprises travel books, novels and narratives, among others. As a member of the Association of German Playwrights he also wrote dramatic works, several of which were successfully premièred in Leipzig and elsewhere.
After having lived in Switzerland and America for a time as well, Oskar Ernst Bernhardt journeyed to London in 1913. There he was caught up in the outbreak of the First World War and in 1915 was interned on the Isle of Man. In spring 1919 Oskar Ernst Bernhardt was able to return to his homeland where he then became aware of his actual life’s task. This he recognised in mediating to others from the comprehensive Creation-Knowledge that he bore within himself.
For the Grail Message, which he wrote down from 1923 — at first as what were called “Gralsblätter” (Grail pages) and also public lectures, later in book form —, Oskar Ernst Bernhardt used the pen-name Abd-ru-shin.
This name consists of Persian-Arab elements meaning “Servant of the Light” or “Son of the Light”. It was chosen with reference to a former earthlife, and was henceforward to be inseparably linked with his Work.
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In 1929, a year after Abd-ru-shin had found that earthly home on Vomperberg in Tyrol (Austria) where he intended to complete his Grail Message, he felt obliged to comment critically on the Nazi ideology.
Thus he said it is “unworthy of a true human being” to discriminate between races, nations or religions:
“That is too petty, and unworthy of the true human being. Do these people believe that they may one day enter the Kingdom of God with national colours and anthems? […] Besides, how one-sided are these racialists, who attempt to judge merely by outer things, by gross matter, whereas the actual man is the spirit, which alone is decisive. And this spirit is older than the present and the former physical body. Just let us consider it in the purely earthly sense: A good man will always be the same, even when he changes his clothing repeatedly. In his everyday attire he is exactly the same as he is in his Sunday clothes. It is no different with the spirit, the actual man.”
Fanaticism and denominational dogmatism are incompatible with the Grail Message, which as a fundamental condition, presupposes the willingness to think independently, objectively and impartially.
In 1938, straight after the seizure of power by the Nazis in Austria, the “Grail Settlement” on Vomperberg, Tyrol, which in the meantime had come into being, was expropriated without any compensation. On 12th March Abd-ru-shin was arrested and later, from September 1938, placed under surveillance by the Gestapo — at first in Schlauroth near Görlitz, then in Kipsdorf/Erzgebirge.
With that, Abd-ru-shin’s beneficent work was terminated; those in authority at the time denied him any further activity in fulfilment of his Mission. On 6th December 1941 Abd-ru-shin died in consequence of these measures. His earthly cloak was interred on 11th December 1941 in his birthplace, Bischofswerda. Only in 1949 could it be transported in state to Vomperberg, when after the end of the war the Grail Settlement had been restored to Abd-ru-shin's widow, Maria Bernhardt, by the authorities.
There are numerous impressions from those who were able to make Abd-ru-shin’s personal acquaintance and who were deeply moved by his simple naturalness, but also by his majestic and at the same time kindly manner. A report in a Munich newspaper in 1933 recounts: “There is something mysterious about him that speaks out of the clear, keen and yet kindly glance of his eyes, and is like a greeting from luminous distances …”
During the latter years of his life Abd-ru-shin made a final rearrangement of the individual lectures of his Grail Message. He thus formed that “final authorised edition” which has remained his spiritual legacy — and also the actual testimony of his personality.