Monday, May 22, 2017
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, September 23, 1916:
As our friends who are present for the meeting of the Building Association have not heard the recent lectures held here, I will not continue today with the subject that has now occupied us for some time. Instead, I will digress and speak during these days of things that can contribute to a wider understanding of what has already been presented but that can also be understood to some extent by itself. I want to touch quite briefly upon a leading thought that has been brought forward. It is, indeed, somewhat comprehensible from the whole character of spiritual science, but it is deepened when one adds to one's understanding the facts that have been presented in our recent studies. This thought can be expressed as follows. Human history can only be considered in its true reality when one learns to know the individual forms of the actuating spiritual powers that stand behind it, just as one can only get to know nature when one knows in its true form what works and lives behind sense perceptions.
We have frequently emphasized that the science of the spirit is related to what is commonly called science today much in the following way. Modern science, which has been pursued by mankind — rightly and for good reasons — for three or four centuries, resembles a description of single letters that are printed or written on a sheet of paper. At best, it resembles the phonetic or grammatical rules by which these letters are grouped into words or united to form sentences. What we call the laws of nature can be compared with phonetic or grammatical rules. Thus, if we were to examine a printed or written page and say that we can see first a stroke upwards to the right, a stroke going down to the left and so on, and then describe the other letters and perhaps even the rules pertaining to phonetics or grammar, this way of relating ourselves to a printed or written page would resemble what is correctly called science today. But if we were to do no more than observe in this way, our relation to the printed or written page would be completely inadequate because we can also read. Here, we pass on from mere observation and description of what is on the page to the meaning of the words. We can only learn to know this meaning when we advance from describing what meets the eye to what our faculties — our mind and its power — can make of it. By these means, we unite ourselves with the spirit that is ruling and working within these little beings that we call letters.
In contrast to ordinary science, spiritual science seeks to read the facts of the world, not merely to describe what is seen. When we have learned to do so, both the facts of nature and history, inasmuch as they first show themselves to us in forms that we can describe in movements or inner laws, are, figuratively speaking, like letters that can be read. In this domain the meaning of existence is revealed, that is, the meaning of life and all human activity insofar as the revelation is necessary to man. We also seek in this way the meaning of historical evolution and the concrete forces that stand behind it, conjuring it out of itself, as it were, just as a writer conjures forth from his thoughts what we afterward read from the dead characters set down on the written or printed page.
Now, we have tried to study the fundamental meaning of this modern age, which we describe as the fifth post-Atlantean cultural epoch. We know that it begins approximately in the period that is also described by external history as the transition from the Middle Ages to modern times. With the exception perhaps of its very last centuries, but including the fourteenth and perhaps part of the fifteenth, we look upon this period of the Middle Ages as belonging to the fourth post-Atlantean cultural epoch, calling it the Greco-Latin in accordance with the fundamental character of its spiritual and material life. It begins in the eighth century before the event of the Mystery of Golgotha.
If we consider the evolution of humanity only in the way that ordinary history does — this, too, has often been spoken of here and elsewhere — we then easily arrive at the idea that human evolution, to the extent that it can be spoken of at all, has always consisted of man as we know him today and has always progressed more or less in the same way. When one looks back, one imagines that one sees historical evolution in such a way that the human being remains unchanged and just about the same. Such a view does not hold good for a real spiritual observation of history, as we know. The truth is that humanity changes considerably as time passes. The man of the tenth or twelfth centuries of the Christian era differed more radically from the man of the present time than is believed today when people are so little inclined to look into mankind's evolution. If one considers the whole configuration of the social life of the soul, the way of thinking and the very manner of life, then this difference becomes manifest not only among the educated in whom problems of world conception, science and knowledge play a part, but is also seen in the simplest, most primitive men. Although the world knows little of it, the simplest farmer today is, in his whole configuration of soul, an essentially different being inwardly from the man of the eighth, ninth and tenth Christian centuries.
Again, we can say of the modern age also, which, as it has evolved from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, bears essentially the character of the present, that it completed the first small segment of its course approximately in the middle of the nineteenth century. As we have often mentioned, this is an important point in time. I have frequently drawn attention to a saying that is used incessantly, yet is completely false when understood in the way it is usually meant. Nature, it is said, knows no leaps. In reality, however, we see how life makes leaps everywhere. It really only progresses through leaps. Speaking in the Goethean sense, it is a leap when, through metamorphosis, the leaf of a plant develops from the root, the flower petal again from the leaf and the organs of the fruit from the petal. It is, however, conveniently prejudicial to believe that human history proceeds without leaps. Such is not the case. Human history advances in great undulating waves that do not simply follow the one upon the other. Rather, at certain times what comes later places itself abruptly beside the earlier. Men, however, are not accustomed to observe things accurately or it would strike them that in the sphere of evolution powerful forces are to be observed that by means of breaks and periods, with wave-like depressions and elevations, bring evolution forward.
One could say that the conclusion of a particular evolutionary process was reached in the year 1840, that is, in the middle of the nineteenth century. In the period from the fifteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth, humanity was evolving quite distinct faculties that were not present in the same way in an earlier period. One is entirely mistaken if one believes, for instance, that the Copernican world conception or the art of printing could just as well have appeared in human evolution in an earlier century than the one in which they did. The progress of human evolution is just as organic as individual human development. Just as the child of twelve or thirteen lacks the capacity to do things in the world that might be done by a man or woman of thirty five, just as faculties must evolve in the life of an individual in accord with his age, it is also the same with humanity. The special faculties that came to the fore in Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler and later in the scientists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, did not formerly exist. In fact, they correspond to a particular period of human evolution that falls within those centuries. The Greeks or Romans could not have looked at the world similarly because the faculties for doing so were simply not in existence in their time. The individual human would not be perfected if he did not gradually evolve faculties suited to each period of life; neither would humanity become complete in its way if faculties, whose foundations already exist in man's general nature, did not gradually emerge. That these faculties develop, that mankind gradually puts forth what lies within its being is the fundamental fact of human evolution.
Now, what is the nature of these special faculties that evolved in man from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries? They are mainly the forces making possible an intellectual grasp of the world through reason. Nowadays, people on the whole believe that the Ptolemaic world conception belonged to the Middle Ages. Then came the Copernican. We believe we have made wonderful progress. Those in the Middle Ages were really quite foolish to accept anything so imperfect as the Ptolemaic world conception and now we, at last, have the true view.
As a matter of fact, those people think but little in accord with reality who are not willing to admit that when we are as far removed in time from Copernicus as Copernicus was from Ptolemy, men will again have a different concept of the heavens. The development of humanity is in constant flux and by that time, the Copernican system will be regarded just as the Ptolemaic system was regarded by the Copernicans. Even though it gives the impression today of being pure nonsense when one says another world conception, which will differ as much from the Copernican as the Copernican from the Ptolemaic, will replace the Copernican world conception in future, this truth is nevertheless quite evident to those who have an inner comprehension of what lives and weaves in the growth of humanity. The special method of applying merely the intellect to natural phenomena in an external way, which has created the natural science of the last three or four centuries, represents the faculty that belongs to those centuries. It is clear to those who know how humanity advances that mankind was actually ripe from the middle of the nineteenth century on for the gradual development of other faculties. But man must increasingly take his own affairs in hand. More than in any previous age he is given the task today of doing something toward adding fresh faculties to those gained in the last three or four centuries. Why have these faculties arisen that can keenly, penetratingly and logically master the outer surface of phenomena so that they can then be expressed in natural laws? For what purpose have these faculties appeared that penetrate so little below the surface of things, yet observe so meticulously and scientifically all that lies on the surface? They have appeared because only by their means can man go through a certain stage of his development.
In earlier ages man had other faculties. When we go back in historical evolution, we find that the further we go the more possible it was for man to look into the spiritual world. But the faculties he then had were not such that he could use them in freedom. They were more or less involuntary. The force enabling him to reach a certain knowledge came over man in earlier ages somewhat in the way in which the desire for sleep overtakes a man. It was, however, a force that entered the spiritual world. In order for man to take a step forward toward achieving the faculty of making free decisions and developing freedom, he had to be separated from the forces that, in earlier times, brought him nearer the spiritual world but also allowed him less freedom. Man had to pass through a period of development in which he was shut off as by a veil or sheath from the spiritual world so that he might become freer. To be sure, this development is still far from complete but a first stage reached its conclusion in the middle of the nineteenth century. Those who know something of the spiritual life behind the sensory life recognize that since that time it is a growing necessity for other forces to be added to those of observation and knowledge based on mere intellect. These other forces slumber in the human soul and must be developed, even as the forces have evolved that have brought humanity to achieve the great advances of the last three or four centuries.
Thus, it is for the sake of freedom that humanity has gone through the intellectual development of the last three or four centuries. This intellectual development has led to a conception of the world that is materialistic in a far-reaching sense. It is a materialistic conception that is still in full force wherever a conception of the world penetrates extensively or intensively into world affairs. However much it may be said in scientific circles that materialism has already receded, those who imagine it to have withdrawn often do not have the least idea how deeply and firmly they themselves are still held in materialistic concepts. The materialistic outlook, which is in its way admirable, has emerged in the last three or four centuries. It is not to be criticized because man has need of it, but it can, however, never advance beyond a grasp of the dead and lifeless. Were the intellectual conception of the world alone to hold sway in human earthly evolution, man would only understand the dead and lifeless. All understanding of life and the living, to say nothing of the spiritual, would be lost. The lifeless alone can be the object of the kind of scientific study that has made such magnificent progress in the last three or four centuries. Those individuals, however, who know what is necessary for humanity have gradually become fewer during this time. They understand why it is that since the middle of the nineteenth century a certain longing has arisen, as if through some inner process in man, to know something about the spiritual worlds. The peculiar thing is that this longing took a form that was in harmony with the materialistic feeling of the age. Man wanted to learn to know the spirit in a materialistic way, since habits are lost far less rapidly than longings. It was along materialistic lines that man wished to find the spirit, and this materialistic knowledge of the spirit was often fostered and generously bestowed even by those who really know what is necessary for humanity. Hence there arose the various materialistic branches of science that set out to prove that spiritual activity lies behind the sense world. All that has been set going in order to arrive at knowledge of the spiritual through the hypnotic element, the element of suggestion, and even through spiritism or spiritualism, as it is called, is nothing but an attempt to research the spirit by materialistic means.
Humanity had become accustomed to recognize as true only what had been verified by means of investigation in a laboratory or clinic. Now, in the same way, through external operations following precisely the pattern of the natural scientific method, a method was elaborated that should give manifest proof of the spirit. Important results have undoubtedly been attained on this path. In addition, of course, there has been a good deal of charlatanism and swindling. Indeed, we know that certain learned men and scientists who must be taken seriously have devoted themselves to these matters because they have felt it necessary to show man, who must otherwise fall prey to materialism, that a spiritual world exists, surrounding us just as does what we see with our eyes and grasp with our hands. So, in the course of human evolution after the middle of the nineteenth century, we have these efforts to make men understand that there is a spiritual world around us just as there is a world that we perceive with our senses.
We have spoken many times of the value of knowledge that is obtained by dulling the forces of mind and soul that are right for our age, so that man is made into an instrument in a mediumistic way for letting all sorts of spiritual realities and facts enter the sense world. As I say, we have repeatedly spoken of the worth — or lack of it — of these methods. Today I want to make clear what meaning it had for historical evolution for men to wish to kill off and cripple just what it is right for them to possess in this present time; that is, full conscious insight into the spiritual world, and, turning from this, to become an instrument through which what is really around us spiritually emerges in the physical world. It corresponds to a deep necessity in historical evolution because conscious thinking, through what it had to become in the last three or four hundred years, had been one sided in its development. Thought had become attenuated and consequently also powerless because it had to stop short at the surface of things in order to create human freedom. But for this reason thought was quite unable to penetrate below the surface.
It was the intention to drive out thought and to guide the human soul back to its primitive constitution, in this way meeting the difficulty of the thinking that had become powerless in the new age and could no longer find strength to penetrate into the spiritual world. As a result, something arose that is far more widespread than the ordinary person imagines, that is, the search for the spirit along materialistic paths. With the expulsion of conscious knowledge in which, regarding the spiritual world, they had lost confidence, men wished to dip down into the spiritual world through a subconscious knowledge and a lowering of consciousness. There were always, however, other persons who did not enter into this phenomenon of the time merely instinctively as did the ordinary scientists and most spiritists or spiritualists, but who knew, nevertheless, what was going on. Such persons have always existed. They had great expectations of the movement just described. In general, one can say that those persons who have preserved an exact knowledge of the spiritual world during the last three or four centuries, and even up to today, fall into different groups. There are those who expected nothing from such a materialistic way of research into the spiritual world; but there are also those who hoped that from it men would come to the conviction that a spiritual world does exist in our environment. Nevertheless, none of this group was sufficiently knowledgeable to be able to see why this approach must be in vain.
Those students of spiritual science who expected nothing from this materialistic approach had good reasons for this, which have been justified by the consequences that have arisen from this entrance — rather, this hoped for entrance — into the spiritual world. Take all that has come about on this path, go through all that has come to light from the most primitive beginnings of amateur mediums and mediumistic seances to the subtlest things that certain scholars have brought about in this sphere — go through all this and you will find that by far the greatest part of what has happened consists in the fact that experiences have been gathered of which those through whom the experiences were gained said they had received them from the spirits of the dead. Far and away the greater number of the experiences were described as emanating from the spirits of men who had died. Little is to be found that has not been described as originating in this way. This was certainly a great surprise to those acquainted with spiritual knowledge who had looked on this development with good will. That the mediums should say that what they brought to light was obtained from the spirits of the dead was something that must have caused the greatest surprise because it was the last thing one would expect when one really considered the evolution of humanity. Something quite different would have been expected.
What was to be expected was that by these means a knowledge would come about of the spiritual world that, at the present time, surrounds us while we are alive. That is what one might have expected to find by making experiments, for example, as to how one man affects another, how the men of the present are linked together by secret threads invisible to ordinary science, how in one soul things arise that originate from quite another soul. In reality, a network of spiritual connections is drawn from soul to soul. Inasmuch as we stand within the world — if, for instance, we are standing here, then we do not merely see the light, the surroundings, people as they are externally and physically, but inasmuch as we are in the world, spiritual threads or currents pass every moment from soul to soul in the most varied manner. One gets nowhere if one speaks in general terms of some sort of connection between souls that is distinguishable by the senses. The solution is to be found by thinking of individual threads or streams between all the different souls. We are actually surrounded by a spiritual world just as we are by a physical one. That this should emerge is what might have been expected, but little indeed has come out concerning this. Throughout the sixty or seventy years during which attempts have been made to enter the spiritual world by materialistic paths, least of all has been learned about the living connections linking men with one another. The mediumistic manifestations and revelations have always referred to the spirits of the departed. Nor, in truth, could anything else happen by this method. Why? What, then, had actually been happening through this attempt to enter the spiritual world?
As a matter of fact, nothing had been achieved other than the knowledge of what comes to light if one expels the best qualities of the new age from human consciousness and leads man back to earlier times, to subconscious conditions of soul. The remains of this subconscious condition that had carried over into the new age were now laid bare. It was this that was revealed. Just consider, then, that a quite definite consciousness had been prepared and developed in the last three centuries. This consciousness had veiled the spiritual world and by so doing had taken away the power of direct connection with it. But nothing had been done toward developing new forces for new connections with the spiritual world. Nothing had come out but the old connections, which went in the direction of that to which they had been linked earlier. They did not unite with what was living in the contemporary environment but with death, with the lifeless. This was so because the direction of man's evolution in the last three or four centuries and more has so determined the character of his soul that it is really particularly adapted for the knowledge of the dead and lifeless. Here in the material world, through the kind of knowledge that belongs to modern times, one learns about the lifeless. Through the forces that one draws up from the deep underground of the soul, one does not know about the living but the dead. Thus, all these experiments did not open up a path to the living men of the spiritual, but to what is dead, to what one finds as dead in the spiritual world.
What is the nature of this dead element? It is not human beings, that is to say, the souls who, speaking spiritually, are our contemporaries. So, if we take such an experiment as has been described, undertaken in 1870, let us say, it would not, through laying bare the subconscious soul forces, have given a connection with the living present. In fact, it would not have made a connection with the living souls of 1870, but only with what had remained behind from these living, progressing souls — in other words, with the loosened remnants that were gradually disintegrating in earthly existence but that were still active. To be sure, the mediums always interpreted things in such a way that they claimed relationship to the dead who were spiritually still living. That was, however, a misinterpretation. In reality, it was not a matter of the souls as they then were, but of what they had been in ages past, or, respectively, what they had become after these remnants had been long ago loosened from the souls. Recollect how I have explained what Goethe represents in the Lemurs scene and you will know that much of what is released from the soul at death continues to exist. It was only with what is really dead and does not live on with the living soul that one could connect oneself with the spiritual world through that materials [materialistic] pathway.
If, through contemporary science, one reached a knowledge of the material, the lifeless, the dead, so also through this spiritual longing that had to be satisfied along materialistic paths one reached nothing but a knowledge of the dead though, to be sure, it was a knowledge of the super-sensible. Contemporary materialistic science found only the external dead. This apparently spiritual but, from their methods, actually materialistic science found the super-sensible dead. From this one could learn something immensely significant, that in the middle of the nineteenth century an age had closed; that humanity needed new forces of development if it would enter the truly living; that for a period of time only those forces had been brought to their zenith that lead to the dead, lead in all fields to the lifeless and to knowledge and worship of the lifeless.
One only gives such things their rightful place if one does not merely let them work on the soul abstractly and intellectually, but when one receives them in their deep moral significance and lets them make a sort of moral impression on the soul. Indeed, we are shown that although these intellectual powers with which man has made such splendid progress have brought him to a certain summit of attainment. Yet, they are only fitted for approaching the lifeless. The content of human soul life could gradually only be directed to what is dead. To him who can perceive the course of man's evolution, it is unquestionably clear how the foremost currents of modern thought lead more or less directly to a cult and worship of the lifeless; the working that is felt in respect of the outer material natural order where such wonderful progress has been made is but a cult and worship of the dead. Why are people so gripped by the last cantos of Hamerling's Homunculus? Because, after Hamerling has shown how modern mankind is really hastening into a sort of homunculus era, he shows what it signifies for man, in respect of the great cosmic mysteries, to try to lift himself above gravitation through purely mechanical forces. His last canto shows us the dirigible, the Zeppelin before it existed, and all that was still in the future. At the same time, he makes us aware of what is linked with this extreme mechanizing, which is to say, the killing, the homunculizing, of life in the development of human civilization.
Spiritual knowledge, however, has never died out; it is always safeguarded somewhere, and there are individuals in every age who are able to obtain it. It was saved even through the period in which it counted for least, from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries, being preserved like a fine thread. Those of whom I spoke as holding no expectations from the materialistic path into the spiritual world perceived something else as well. They were of the opinion that our modern way of feeling and thinking, as it has developed in the last centuries, can be further trained and developed so that out of clear-headed materialistic methods a knowledge then can develop gradually that which can even work in a sufficiently penetrating way to get under the surface of things and into the spirit. That is what the real method of spiritual science ought to be — to enter into the spiritual world along the same path that man has entered into nature during the last three or four centuries. All that is necessary is a further development of the scientific habits that mankind has evolved in this period. The point is that in a corresponding way, through a real exertion and effort, avoiding indolence, man has to develop further the thinking habits already evolved.
But now it may be asked why there are so many who, in spite of knowing something of the spiritual world, have remained silent concerning it. It must be repeatedly emphasized that spiritual knowledge was always there. Although it had to be developed in different ways in different ages, it has always existed. Why, then, have so many people been afraid to impart this spiritual knowledge? It has been disseminated in our circle because the recognition of the need to do so outweighs everything. In fact, however, only certain portions of spiritual knowledge can be imparted, as you know, and that only on quite definite grounds. You see, spiritual knowledge was also in existence in another and more unconscious or subconscious form before the Mystery of Golgotha. Then, man was connected with the spiritual world in a more instinctive way than is possible for him without injury today. Moreover, a great portion of mankind was omitted because the way to the spiritual world was only open to those who received fitting preparation. These individuals were prepared in a way that would not occur to those who speak of a preparation for science consisting of intellectual knowledge.
Today men are of the opinion that the moral qualities of one who is to receive instruction are of secondary importance and that knowledge does not depend on moral qualities. In ancient times, this was absolutely different. Then, when knowledge was communicated through the mysteries, it was imparted only to those who had undergone a special and strict moral discipline. Nothing beyond at most mathematical knowledge, with which one can do but little harm, or literary knowledge could be reached without undergoing strict moral discipline. Things were only imparted to those deemed to be fitted for them after they had undergone a certain severe moral test. First came the training toward virtue and then the communication of wisdom. Training in virtue and, in particular, the training of moral courage was an absolute necessity and it was held to be of paramount importance. Owing to lack of time, I cannot enlarge upon this today, but there was a conviction that knowledge can only benefit the world when what can be done by a man who knows, is done only by one who is good. However improbable it seems to people who look on earlier ages as barbaric and think that nowadays we have made such wonderful progress — so wonderful, in fact, that thousands are bathed in blood every week — in those earlier ages there was a conviction that no one should be allowed to make use of knowledge in what they did until he had undergone the strictest moral discipline. Those who had not were to live merely instinctively, led by those who had undergone the moral training and discipline.
The modern age is not adapted for directly applying such a principle. Just imagine how such a principle might be realized today when everyone says what he knows as soon as possible — or even has it published — and no one can prevent it. It would be illusory to think that anything, social institution or whatever, could stop it. Today is the day of publicity. What, then, must replace this older principle of only allowing men who had undergone moral discipline to attain Knowledge? It must be replaced with the assurance that the imparted knowledge itself must contain a certain force that brings forth good through itself, actually and really to bring forth of itself what is good.
The entire spiritual scientific movement must aim at achieving this. All knowledge entering the world through the science of the spirit must be so ordered that it engenders the good through itself and its own force. You will say that the efforts that have been made in modern times with the treasures of knowledge inherent in the science of the spirit have not yet completely realized this goal. No, because everything has to work its way through its various hindrances. The hidden feeling of the good in spiritual science has, however, been the reason that it has been fought not only with logic but also hatred. You will ask, “But do not all reasonable people really desire the good?” As it is generally understood nowadays, one could say, “Yes, all reasoning people desire the good.” But what really counts is not that someone thinks he would like the good or that he desires it, but that he wills it, that he absolutely will have it. That is the point. If one considers the achievements of modern civilization from the point of view of their moral defects, those moral defects that work in the lifeless, one will find that the world needs a wisdom that, along with being wisdom, also causes good. Materialistic science, however, is indifferent to good and evil. It uses what it creates from matter just as well for good as for evil, serving one just as willingly as the other.
Here, again, we have a point where, if we look at the world as a whole and its course of development, we can perhaps see the necessity for the science of the spirit. It is not enough to shut ourselves away in a little circle and form a world conception. The smallest circles are surrounded on every side by the great network of human evolution. Let us look at the manifest results of European civilization in the last three years. If we do not follow an ostrich policy but with truly throbbing hearts enter lovingly into our surroundings, we shall see these results and grasp what they are bringing us. Because the one or other of us is protected from what rages against Europe today is no reason for turning away from the terrible state into which modern civilization has been hurled. It is there, as present fact.
It may be useful at this point to comment on a new publication. A book, good of its kind, has lately been written that endeavors to judge from the standpoint of human feeling and moral perception the problems that have agitated the world during the last two years. It is a good book, recently published, that tries to show with a certain all embracing survey how man can escape from the evil network of blood and hate in which modern civilization finds itself. It was written by a Chinese author whom I mentioned to some of our friends four or five years ago as an important personality when his first book on European conditions was published. This new book by Ku Hung Ming, a highly cultured Chinese, is good and contains much that is objective. It reveals a man who avoids the mistakes that many make; a man who stands aloof from these errors.
Many people have opinions today; many give vent to one or another opinion about the conditions of our age. The greater part of what is presented, however, is not said in order to give expression to what people really think but to deafen themselves to what actually exists. We see streams of hatred flow over the world. Why are they set going? Why is this or that said? Do you imagine that those who say, “The Pope should excommunicate a whole nation,” and energetically demand it, think that they have really reached this conclusion from objective events? Do you believe that these people possess the calm of objective knowledge? They say it to deafen themselves so as not to have to admit to themselves what should be admitted. A great part of what is said today is intended to close one's ears. Some people will not admit to themselves what they really ought to admit. They say one thing or another merely to avoid saying what they ought to say.
This Chinese, Ku Hung Ming, does not proceed in this way. He says, “When one sees what has developed in Europe, what has happened there and the forces that are at work, one can do nothing but admit that things had to come about as they have. In its one sided cultivation the materialism that developed in the nineteenth century was bound to lead to these consequences and it is bound to lead even further, ending in the final downfall of European culture.” Ku Hung Ming is quite convinced that European culture must go under if Europeans refuse to become like the Chinese and if Chinese conditions do not spread over Europe. The only salvation for European culture, so he says, is for Europeans to become Chinese, that is, become Chinese in their souls. Much of what he says is deeply impressive. One should not take it lightly that a wise man of today can find no way out for European culture other than finally merging it all — everything in it that has led it ad absurdum — in good Chinese principles. I will not elaborate Ku Hung Ming's ideas on the methods for making Europe Chinese. Of course, we should see at once that we cannot become Chinese or return to the position of Chinese culture, but if there were no other way out than the one Ku Hung Ming sees, then that would be better than to continue on the path that European culture has taken. It would definitely be better. It would be better to become Chinese than to proceed further on the course that materialistic civilization has pursued thus far, because disintegration would be inevitable. Do not believe, however, that it can be prevented by any of the old means and methods.
As a matter of fact, spiritual science has always been somewhat in agreement with the opinion of Ku Hung Ming — not regarding Chinese civilization but rather the first part of his statement. It therefore fosters, as its great ideal, drawing knowledge from the spiritual world that leads back into it, and that also can make men good through its own force; that is, a knowledge working morally through its own force and engendering moral impulses. So, as scientists of the spirit our answer would not be, like Ku Hung Ming's, to “become Chinese,” but rather to seek by paths of spiritual science to bring about the fructification of European culture because that is actually the only way it can be brought about. This striving toward new sources of human knowledge and activity is absolutely necessary for European humanity. The bitterest tears could be shed over much that meets one today when a book such as that of Ku Hung Ming is read, for these times of ours are more grave than many believe. There are many things in human life that separate man from man, and it is from this separation of souls that all the frightful conditions we are experiencing come. This separation will only be overcome through a knowledge that conceives of the human being beyond all divisiveness, through a knowledge that is for every single human being. All those divisions upon which men build their feelings today are actually only valid here in the physical world. When one sees the sympathy and antipathy poured out today, and when one sees that they come only from the unspiritual, then in all this outpouring of sympathy and antipathy one also recognizes the denial of the spirit.
All racial hatred, for instance, is really also a fight against the spirit. Because this age of ours is so strongly inclined to fight against the spirit, it therefore possesses this talent for racial hatred. Here is one of the deepest secrets of our present spiritual culture; the only way out is through the living grasp of the spirit.
Just think how, the moment we fall asleep and our ego and astral body leave behind our physical and etheric bodies, we are in a world where all that leads to sympathy and antipathy simply does not exist. In the moment that follows falling asleep we are united with those whom we look upon from the consciousness of our time with the deepest antipathy. We must pass through their souls in the realm of interpenetrability. We can rage as we will and hurl tirades of hatred against this man or that, but as soon as we fall asleep and enter the realm where all interpenetrates, we must pass through the souls of those we hate. The facts concerning such actual realities must now be made known. What I have just said is elementary, but if one enters more and more into the knowledge of actual reality, then the very entering possesses the force to create the impulse of the good. One only learns to know the real significance of hatred and unfounded antipathy in the world when one sees their effects in the spiritual world. He who knows what hate is in the spiritual world ceases to hate lest he put himself straight into the service of certain evil powers.
Since a larger number of friends than usual is gathered here for the meeting of the Building Association, I especially wished to speak about these earnest matters today. Those who have heard my last lectures will be able to connect what has now been said with what we studied before. Even if it has been no more than a digression, it can nevertheless throw light on many impulses that are being enacted in the world historical evolution of the present time.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
In Life-Threatening Times
You spirit of my life, guarding companion,
Be the goodness of heart in my willing,
Be human love in my feeling,
Be the light of truth in my thinking.
Be the goodness of heart in my willing,
Be human love in my feeling,
Be the light of truth in my thinking.
Du Geist meines Lebens, schützender Begleiter,
Sei Du in meinem Wollen die Herzensgüte,
Sei Du in meinem Fühlen die Menschenliebe,
Sei Du in meinem Denken das Wahrheitslicht.
Sei Du in meinem Wollen die Herzensgüte,
Sei Du in meinem Fühlen die Menschenliebe,
Sei Du in meinem Denken das Wahrheitslicht.
Steiner translation by Robin Mitchell. Thank you, Robin!
Inner Impulses of Evolution. Lecture 3.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, September 18, 1916:
It is extraordinarily difficult to speak of the conditions that were alluded to in the previous lecture because, in more recent times, in our age of materialistic thinking, the ideas and concepts for doing so are largely lacking. They must first be acquired through spiritual science. The information that can be given is, therefore, more in the nature of indications. Moreover, there is a further reason, which is determined by the whole development of our modern culture. This further reason that causes certain difficulties in treating conditions that are hidden behind the threshold of knowledge from modern man is that, on the whole, he has become somewhat lacking in courage. If one wishes to avoid actually using the word cowardly, one cannot say it differently. He has become weak in courage. The modern person much prefers his knowledge to give him nice pleasant feelings, but that is not always possible. Knowledge can fill us with inner satisfaction even when it does not convey exactly pleasant matters, because these — well, unpleasant things belong to truth. In every case one should find satisfaction in truth since even regarding the most terrible truths one can experience a kind of feeling of upliftment. As I have said, however, modern man is much too weak in courage for that; he wants to feel uplifted in his own way. This, too, is connected with secrets of modern existence that will become clearer in the course of such studies as we are now undertaking.
The particular faculties of which we have spoken, namely, the unfolding in our thought and deed of free imaginations and an attitude toward the world based on the primal phenomenon, can only be acquired by modern man when a veil is drawn over certain processes that are occurring, when they don't easily reveal themselves. Thus, it is also a necessary part of the evolution of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch that man does not understand certain things that thrust themselves into our sense world from the subsensible and super-sensible worlds. Most important events that are enacted around us before our very eyes are, in fact, not understood at all by modern man. In a way, he is protected from understanding them because he can only properly evolve the two faculties mentioned above under this protection. Foundations for his understanding of these events, however, have already begun to be laid. They have now progressed so far that evolution cannot continue to advance without reference being made, with a certain care and caution, to these matters.
Modern man, with his experience of what happens around him and of what he himself does and sets going, has but feeble reflections of what is surging and welling up in his own subsensory nature. At best, it emerges from time to time in frightening dream pictures, but they, too, are only feeble. What is happening in the subsensible is unknown to the man of today, and under normal circumstances he knows little of the super-sensible. Beneath what we modern people experience in the soul lies something that one can only describe as eruptive forces. It can be compared precisely with the world one experiences when standing on volcanic ground; you only have to set fire to some paper to have smoke burst out everywhere. If through the smoke you could see what is swirling and bubbling down below, you would then indeed realize what sort of ground you were actually standing on.
It is the same with modern life. We observe that Ernest Renan writes his Life of Jesus, and we see it as we see a solfatara or volcanic landscape. We see what David Friedrich Strauss writes, and we describe it as calm and peaceful. We see what Soloviev writes and we describe that too as calm and peaceful. All of this is written calmly as if we have not yet lit a piece of paper to see the eruptive impulses of humanity living and working beneath the soil.
A great deal has really been said with these few words. It only needs to be systematically thought through and you will see that it is so. What we described at the end of our observations yesterday we see is like living over a volcano. It is, however fully in accord with the purpose of evolution to see things so peaceful and harmless. That is good because beneath this peacefulness and harmlessness the very faculties that we need in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch are being developed. In most people they are not developed consciously, though in spiritual science the endeavor must be made to do so. Hence, it becomes necessary from time to time to indicate with care and caution the things one becomes aware of when one kindles that little piece of paper. Why is all this so? In the first place, because the ahrimanic powers have something quite different in mind for the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. In the fourth post-Atlantean culture they were greatly disillusioned through the Roman evolution, as we described in the last two lectures. They did not attain their goal and therefore have prepared still worse onslaughts for our fifth post-Atlantean epoch, for they mean to try again to achieve their purpose.
Now I have already mentioned that something is coming to expression from two sides, even geographically, that will burst like a storm into our calm and peaceful evolution in this fifth post-Atlantean epoch, predisposed as it is to calm and peace. I pointed to one of these directions when I told you how Genghis Khan was inspired by the priest who had seen a descendant of the “Great Spirit” of old Atlantis. I also indicated how a certain ahrimanic attack was launched from the West through all that followed the discovery of America. It has been overcome in a certain respect but continues to live on in it as a resistant force. One must not think that things that are not seen are not there. Because what the ahrimanic powers took in hand in the Western Hemisphere did not come to outer physical earthly reality, our fifth post-Atlantean culture has been saved from the first attacks. But it goes on living in a sort of spectral form. It is there and impresses itself into men's impulses. People know nothing of it, however, and are unaware that it lives in and inserts itself into their impulses. Now it is only through placing pictures side by side that I can really lay a foundation for concepts that you must gradually create and form for yourselves in meditation. It would not be easy to find concepts in the present fund of ideas to explain what actually lives in the urges and impulses below the threshold. They push up, to be sure, into the ordinary soul life but they are normally covered over and unperceived in modern normal life.
Upon the soil of the Western Hemisphere that was now trodden through the discovery of America, quite special conditions had gradually been taking shape in the course of past centuries. The general population inhabiting those parts was far from attaining the qualities that had meanwhile been developed in the Eastern Hemisphere of Europe and Asia. A people lived in the West who stood far removed from the intellectual capacities that had evolved in the Eastern Hemisphere, but among them were a great number of individuals who had been initiated into certain mysteries. Before the discovery of America, there were mysteries of the most varied kind in the Western Hemisphere and they had a large following for the teachings that came from them. Like a single central power whom all followed and obeyed, a kind of spectral spirit, a descendant of the “Great Spirit” of Atlantis, was revered. This spirit had gradually assumed an ahrimanic character because he still worked with forces that had been right in Atlantis or were already ahrimanic there.
When the Atlantean spoke of his “Great Spirit,” he expressed it, as we have seen, in a word that sounded something like the word “Tao,” which is still preserved in China. An ahrimanic, caricatured counterpart appeared in the West as opponent of the “Great Spirit Tao” but he was still connected with him. He worked in such a way that he could only be made visible through atavistic, visionary perception but whenever they desired his presence, he always showed himself to those persons connected with the widespread mysteries of this cult so they could receive his instructions and commands. This spirit was called by a name that sounded something like Taotl. Taotl was thus an ahrimanic distortion of the “Great Spirit” — a mighty being and one who did not descend to physical incarnation. A great many men were initiated into the mysteries of Taotl but the initiation was of a completely ahrimanic character. It had a quite definite purpose and goal, which was to rigidify and mechanize all earthly life, including that of humans, to such a degree that a special luciferic planet, which has already been referred to in these studies, could be founded above earthly life. The souls of men could then be drawn out to it, by force and pressure.
As we described yesterday, what the ahrimanic powers were striving for in the civilization of Rome was only a feeble echo of what those who, under the leadership of Taotl, set out to attain, and this in much fuller and wider measure by means of the most frightful magical arts. The goal they aimed to achieve was to make the whole earth a realm of death, in which everything possible would be done to kill out independence and every inner impulse of the soul. In the mysteries of Taotl the forces were to be acquired that would enable men to set up a completely mechanized earthly realm. To this end, one had, above all, to know the great cosmic secrets that relate to what works and lives in the universe and reveals its activities in earthly existence. You see, this wisdom of the cosmos is fundamentally in its wording, always the same, because truth is always the same. The point is, however, whether or not it is received in such a way that it is employed rightly.
Now this cosmic wisdom, which was intrinsically not evil but held holy secrets hidden within it, was carefully concealed by the initiates of Taotl. It was communicated to no one who had not been initiated correctly by the Taotl method. When a candidate had been initiated in the correct way, the teaching concerning the secrets of the cosmos was then imparted to him. Now, it was necessary for him to receive these secrets through initiation in a quite definite mood of soul. He had to feel in himself the inclination and desire to apply them on earth in such a way that they would set up that mechanistic rigid realm of death. It was thus that he had to receive the secrets. Nor were they communicated except on one special condition. The wisdom was imparted to no one who had not previously committed a murder in a particular manner. Moreover, only certain secrets were communicated to the candidate after the first murder, but further and higher secrets were imparted to him after he had committed others.
These murders, however, had to be committed under quite definite conditions. The one to be murdered was laid out on a structure that was reached by one or two steps running along each side. This scaffold-like structure, a kind of catafalque, was rounded off above and when the victim was laid upon it, he was bent strongly back. This special way of being bound to the scaffold forced his stomach outward so that with one cut, which the initiate had been prepared to perform, it could be cut out.
This kind of murder engendered definite feelings in the initiate. Sensations were aroused that made him capable of using the wisdom later imparted to him in the way that has been intimated above. When the stomach had been excised, it was offered to the god Taotl, again with special ceremonies. The fact that the initiates of these mysteries lived for the quite specific purpose that I have indicated to you, imparted a definite direction to their feelings. When the candidates to be initiated had matured on this path and had come to experience its inner meaning, they then learned the nature of the mutual interaction between the one who had been murdered and the one who had been initiated. Through the murder, the victim was to be prepared in his soul to strive upward to the luciferic realm, whereas the candidate for initiation was to obtain the wisdom to mould this earthly world in such a way that souls would be driven out of it. Through the fact that a connection was formed between the murdered and the initiated — one cannot say “murderer,” but “initiated” — it was made possible for the initiated to be taken with the other soul; that is, the initiated could himself forsake the earth at the right moment.
These mysteries, as you will readily admit, are of the most revolting kind. Indeed, they are only in accord with a conception that can be called ahrimanic in the fullest sense. Nevertheless, certain feelings and experiences were to be created on earth by their means. Now, naturally, the evolution of the earth would not continue if, over a considerable part of its surface, mankind and an interest in mankind should completely die out. The interest in humanity, however, did not quite die out even there because other and different mysteries were founded that were designed to counteract the excesses of the Taotl mysteries. These were mysteries in which a being lived who did not come down to physical incarnation but also could be perceived by men gifted with a certain atavistic clairvoyance when they had been prepared. This being was Tezcatlipoca. That was the name given to the being who, though he belonged to a much lower hierarchy, was partly connected through his qualities with the Jehovah god. He worked in the Western Hemisphere against those grisly mysteries of which we have spoken.
The teachings of Tezcatlipoca soon escaped from the mysteries and were spread abroad exoterically. Thus, in those regions of the earth, the teachings of Tezcatlipoca were actually the most exoteric, while those of Taotl were the most esoteric, since they were only obtained in the manner described above. The ahrimanic powers sought to “save” humanity, however — I am now speaking as Ahriman thought of it — from the god Tezcatlipoca. Another spirit was set up against him who, for the Western Hemisphere, had much in common with the spirit whom Goethe described as Mephistopheles. He was indeed his kin. This spirit was designated with a word that sounded like Quetzalcoatl. He was a spirit who, for this time and part of the earth, was similar to Mephistopheles, although Mephistopheles displayed much more of a soul nature. Quetzalcoatl also never appeared directly incarnated. His symbol was similar to the Mercury staff to be found in the Eastern Hemisphere, and he was, for the Western Hemisphere, the spirit who could disseminate malignant diseases through certain magic forces. He could inflict them upon those whom he wished to injure in order to separate them from the relatively good god, Tezcatlipoca. The powerful onslaughts were thus prepared in the West that were to be made upon the world of human impulses.
Now at a certain time a being was born in Central America who set himself a definite task within this culture. The old, original inhabitants of Mexico linked the existence of this being with a definite idea or picture. They said he had entered the world as the son of a virgin who had conceived him through super earthly powers, inasmuch as it was a feathered being from the heavens who impregnated her. When one makes researches with the occult powers at one's disposal, one finds that the being to whom the ancient Mexicans ascribed a virgin birth was born in the year 1 A.D. and lived to be thirty-three years old. These facts emerge when, as stated, one examines the matter with occult means. This being set himself a quite specific task.
At this same time in Central America another man was born who was destined by birth to become a high initiate of Taotl. This man had in his previous earthly incarnations been initiated as described above and through the fact that he had many, many times repeated the procedure involving the excision of the stomach, which has been described to you and which there is no need to recapitulate, he had been gradually equipped with a lofty earthly and super-earthly knowledge. This was one of the greatest black magicians, if not the greatest ever to tread the earth; he possessed the greatest secrets that are to be acquired on this path. He was faced directly with a momentous decision as the year 30 A.D. approached, namely whether or not, as a single human individual, to become so powerful through continuous initiation that he would come to know a certain basic secret. Through knowledge of this secret he would have then been able to give such a shock and impetus to the coming evolution of man on earth that humanity in the fourth and fifth post-Atlantean epochs would have been thrown into terrible darkness, with the result that what the ahrimanic powers had striven for in these epochs could have come into existence.
Then a conflict began between this super-magician and the being to whom a virgin birth was ascribed, and one finds from one's research that it lasted for three years. The being of the virgin birth bore a name that, when we try to transpose it into our speech approximates Vitzliputzli. He is a human person who, among all these beings who otherwise only moved about in spirit form and could only be perceived through atavistic clairvoyance, in actual fact became man, so the story goes, through his virgin birth. The three year conflict ended when Vitzliputzli was able to have the great magician crucified, and not only through the crucifixion to annihilate his body but also to place his soul under a ban, by this means rendering its activities powerless as well as its knowledge. Thus the knowledge assimilated by the great magician of Taotl was killed. In this way Vitzliputzli was able to win again for earthly life all those souls who, as indicated, had already received the urge to follow Lucifer and leave the earth. Through the mighty victory he had gained over the powerful black magician, Vitzliputzli was able to imbue men again with the desire for earthly existence and successive incarnations.
Nothing survived from these regions of what might have lived on if the mysteries of Taotl had borne fruit. The forces left over from the impulse that lived in these mysteries survived only in the etheric world. They still exist subsensibly, belonging to what would be seen if, in the sphere of the spirit, one could light a paper over a solfatara. The forces are there under the covering of ordinary life, which is like the surface crust of a volcano.
So, on one side, what came from the inspirer of Genghis Khan entered into the forming of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch and, on the other, what worked on as the ghost or spectre of the events that had taken place in the Western Hemisphere. No more than a feeble echo was left of this when the Europeans discovered America. But it is even known in ordinary history that many Europeans who set foot on Mexican-American soil were murdered by the decadent priesthood, which, though no longer as evil as in earlier times, still cut out the stomach, as I described. This was the fate of many Europeans who trod the soil of Mexico after the discovery of America, and the fact is even known to history.
In Vitzliputzli these people revered a Sun being who was born of a virgin, as I have said. When one investigates it occultly, one finds that he was the unknown contemporary in the Western Hemisphere of the Mystery of Golgotha. One can, indeed, also describe these things superficially as modern people like to do to avoid giving pain. If, however, one desires real knowledge, the one must cast a fleeting glance upon these concrete facts of the past, as we have done today. Yes, when we regard this modern human soul, we see how below, in the direction of the subsensible, and how above, in the direction of the super-sensible, it is exposed to great and serious dangers, and how forces play in that remain unknown. Yet it is good that they remain unknown because it is only in this way that the fifth post-Atlantean epoch can develop. The veil must be lifted now so that consciousness may be added to what still remains unconsciousness, because enough time has passed since America has been discovered. Otherwise, if consciousness did not gradually enter, these forces would become paramount, and the relatively beneficent conditions of the time of unconsciousness would turn around and become the curse of humanity. After all, many things, which in the way they have made their appearance have proved a benefit, bear the inherent tendency to become a curse to mankind.
I wished to indicate to you by means of this description the sort of things that are surging and seething beneath the surface. Now let us leave this sub-earthly region and again consider the earthly, but without trying to make any immediate connections in thought between the two realms; we can do that later. Let us consider the question as to how that most remarkable and brilliant Life of Jesus by Ernest Renan was written in such a way that Jesus is depicted as a man who went about on earth as I have described. Such a gifted personality as Renan was not conscious of the ground on which he wrote precisely this life of Jesus. Such a work was written out of quite definite impulses but they remain in the unconscious. The impulses out of which this book was written can be considered collectively as one fundamental impulse or instinct that so far has produced only what is good — within certain limits, relatively good — because it is an excellent work of its kind. Many other things have been done out of this same instinct. I have only chosen this one example in the sphere of knowledge but one could also choose examples from life. Here, however, one would come into spheres where people are easily irritated.
Renan's book is written out of a fundamental impulse that tries to attain a specific object, namely, to observe purely externally what we know as man, to view him solely as he is when placed out into the world. I have chosen this example of the life of Jesus because, actuated by this instinct, Renan here approaches the most sacred personality of humanity and describes Him in such a way that He stands before us only as outer personality. Should it go on increasing indefinitely, where would this natural impulse eventually lead us? It would lead to a point where men would no longer be inclined to look into their own souls when they observe the world. Renan has gone so far that he no longer trusts himself to look into his own inner self when he speaks of Christ Jesus. He speaks only of the historic figure and endeavors to perceive Him externally. This comes from the instinct to lose oneself gradually in mankind and so come to see each person in the world only outwardly, no longer responding to what is reflected into one's soul from another human being.
Here, the natural impulse of primal phenomenon perception is carried to an extreme: The outer world is to be perceived without stirring the inner life in any way. The one-sided perfecting of this impulse aims at a human society in which people only see each other externally when they meet. In many respects the immediate present shows us how far the impulse has gone because it is already assumed today that people are to be understood less and less from their inner qualities of soul and more and more purely externally. The false cultivation of the idea of “nation,” in particular, stamps a man with nationality — an external condition when compared with the inner soul nature. He is then judged in accordance with this nationality and is thereby moulded in life so that he comes to be regarded only as belonging to a certain nation rather than for his own character and qualities. This is one of the forces that does great service to his natural impulse. By these means earthly humanity would tend to be enclosed increasingly within national boundaries, which would become impassable in the future. Thus, out of this first impulse, the picture of each human being arises as he stands merely externally in the world.
Now let us look at the other impulse. It would be such that through it one would consider inner experience only, paying no attention to the external man and perceiving only what can be lived through inwardly, what can be directly felt in the soul. If one makes this impulse a criterion of knowledge regarding the figure of Christ Jesus, then interest in the Jesus figure would naturally decline and would center only on the Christ being. Should this impulse spread, there would be no interest in Jesus as an historical figure but only in study of the Christ being. It is the opposite of the other impulse and it, too, is now striving to become general in earthly humanity. Should it succeed, people would pass one another by, each brooding inwardly over himself in a rich life of soul. They would pass each other without even feeling the need to understand the individual character of those around them. Everyone would only desire to live in the home of his own soul, as it were. In the sphere of knowledge this impulse inspired Soloviev in his treatment of the most sacred Being of humanity. He had interest only in the Christ and not for the historical Jesus.
You see the two extremes toward which modern man is tending. The one is the impulse, the instinct, only to view the world from outside, to carry the primal phenomenon to an extreme. The other is to conceive of the world only inwardly in free imaginations. All this is in its beginnings and up to the present has developed in admirable, beneficent ways, but it also has a strong tendency to become the reverse. Just as Renan's Life of Jesus is a masterpiece of external description, so are Soloviev's representations of the Christ Being the highest that could have been created in this sphere in the present day. They are wholesome impulses. Nevertheless, they represent the urge that, in its one-sided cultivation, would drive back each man into his own house.
In contrast, a knowledge must arise through the science of the spirit, a knowledge that can be embraced in two statements that I should especially like to inscribe into your souls today. The first is: A man can never come to a really good, upright, strong personal inner life without having the warmest interest in other men. All inner life that we seek remains false and seductive if it does not go hand in hand with a kindly interest in the character and qualities of other people. We ought straightway to take it for granted that we find ourselves inwardly as man when we take an interest in the characteristics of others. Entering with love into the individualities of other people, which is at times united with a deep experience of the tragedy of life, is what can bring us to self-knowledge. The self-knowledge we seek through delving into ourselves will never be true. We deepen our own inner nature by meeting other people with full interest. But this statement as it has now been expressed here, implies something that cannot be directly carried into effect because it must interact with the other statement.
The other statement is: We never gain a true knowledge of the outer world if we do not resolve to examine the universally human in ourselves and learn to know it. Therefore, all natural science of modern times will be a purely mechanical science and knowledge, not true but false, inverted, unless it is based on the knowledge of man. In the science that was described by me as “occult science” in the book An Outline of Occult Science, the knowledge of the outer world was sought for together with the knowledge of the human being. We find the inner through the outer, the outer through the inner.
I will bring forward next time what remains to be said regarding certain present-day phenomena as they come to light in other works such as the so-called Life of Jesus by David Friedrich Strauss. Today, I should only like to add that when, twice seven years ago, our impulse to form a theosophical movement began to work — the movement later became anthroposophical — the intention was that all the activity that went on in this movement would be founded on these two principles: The without should kindle self-knowledge; the within should teach knowledge of the world. In these two statements, or rather in their realization in the world, lies true spiritual insight into existence and the impulse to real human love, to a love filled with insight. A realization of what lies in these statements should be sought for through our Society. If in these twice seven years all had come to pass that has been striven for, if the opposing powers in our time, had not been strong enough to hinder many things, then today I should have been able to speak of certain secrets of existence quite differently from the way in which it is possible to do so. Then this Society would have become ripe enough for things to be said in its midst today that could be spoken nowhere else.
In that case, there would also be a guarantee that these secrets of existence would be safeguarded in the right way. What has happened in our Society has shown, however, that it is precisely in the matter of safeguarding things that it fails, fails through all manner of contrary interests that have attached themselves to the movement. There is really no longer a safeguard today — at least, no thorough safeguard that what is said among us is not made use of, and, as frequently has happened, clothed by many persons in such feelings, in any way they please in the outer world. Since this is so, when we examine the Society, we find that, in looking back over the twice seven years, in many respects it has remained behind. Such introspection should not lead to a loss of courage but it should lead us to be discontent with revelling in the possession of a certain degree of knowledge, and also to developing that deep earnestness in life that will lead us to accept truth in the form in which it must be communicated in our age. When it is possible for outstanding members of our movement who are writers to think in the manner revealed recently, then it is clear that other and deeper impulses must now awaken within the souls of those who find themselves in our Society than have awakened hitherto. We do not join together merely to possess agreeable facts of knowledge. Rather should it be that we unite together in order to carry on a sacred service to truth in the interest of mankind's evolution. Then, indeed, the right knowledge will come to us. Then these facts will not be restrained by all sorts of prejudices.
At any rate, let us receive at least into our hearts this ideal that perhaps even yet such a Society may arise as is necessary in the wide world of prejudice — a Society that permeates and interpenetrates our times. What I am saying is naturally not directed in the slightest degree toward anyone in particular, nor toward any single soul among us. Its intention is solely to emphasize the ideal of knowledge of our epoch, the ideal of the service of mankind we should recognize as necessary. With the same warmth with which I spoke here about eight days ago. I should like again today to stress what must not be forgotten in our circle, namely, that it is essential to modern humanity for a group of people to exist to whom it is possible to speak in the most open and candid manner of the whole content of truth that needs to be revealed today without stirring up prejudicial emotions! We must accept it as our Karma that enmity has lifted up its head in our circle, enmity from out of the unintelligent feelings, ideas and customs of the time. We should not be deceived for a moment: this is our karma. Then, from the very recognition of it the impulse for the right will arise. In particular, we must not so often forget as quickly as we do what we receive, nor let so much of what is put into concise sentences embracing truths separately explained, merely pass over us. Rather, let us preserve it all in our hearts. In our circle the longing to forget often what is most important of all, is widely diffused. So we have not yet become the living organic Society that we need, or rather that humanity needs. To achieve this it is necessary above all that we should acquire a memory for what we can learn through life in the Society.