Friday, April 20, 2018
“Everybody wants to be somebody; nobody wants to grow.” — Goethe
"The heights of the spirit can be scaled only by passing through the gate of humility." — Rudolf Steiner
Humility is not thinking less of yourself,
It is thinking of yourself less. (AA Proverb)
"There is more value in the study of humility and in a single act of it than in all the knowledge in the world." — Saint Teresa of Avila
"Lack of humility is due to nothing else than lack of knowledge. A penetrating, comprehensive knowledge of man in his connection with the events of the world and of history will certainly not lead to excessive self-esteem; far rather it will lead the human being to look at himself objectively. It is precisely when a man does not know himself that there rise up in him those feelings which have their source in the unknown regions of his being. Instinctive, emotional impulses make themselves felt. And it is these instinctive, emotional impulses, rooted as they are in the subconscious, that make for arrogance and pride." — Rudolf Steiner
"In the beholding of God we do not fall;
in the beholding of ourselves we may not stand."
— Julian of Norwich
in the beholding of ourselves we may not stand."
— Julian of Norwich
Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
|The Altar of Humanity|
The Solar Plexus : The Manipura Chakra : The Stronghold of Manu
Au(m) : Gold — 13 ways of looking at my guru
#1: The Goldsmith
Swamiji has always served me as a father figure. As a resident at the Himalayan Institute, I'd seen him fry several people in public; in each instance I simply figured they must have had it coming. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition: one day out of the blue Swamiji lit into me! I was still burning a couple of days later when a Bible verse suddenly appeared out of the flames: "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." —Hebrews 12:6
I opened my Bible.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,
And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
(For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:
And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
For our God is a consuming fire.
"He [Swamiji] said, 'Isn't this a cremation ground?' referring to his ashram. 'You come here to be burned, and if you can't get that into your head, there's no point in your being here!'" —Swami Veda
Rudolf Steiner, from an Esoteric Lesson given in Berlin on November 6, 1905:
A in the sacred syllable signifies our lower individuality; U the master's individuality; M the force through which we want to develop ourselves up to him.
|"He must increase; I must decrease." — John 3:30|
"I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." — Galatians 2:19-21
“Everybody wants to be somebody; nobody wants to grow.” — Goethe
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, October 23, 1905:
Today may I say a few things relevant to some of the questions which have been coming before your souls recently. Today may I amplify something which may have been provoked [in your minds] by remarks made in the last few days. Much has been said about the relationship of occultism to theosophy, of esotericism to theosophy, and so on; but nothing has been said yet about the relationship of theosophy to everyday life. I already indicated a week ago that I wished to say a few words precisely on this subject; (Note 1) and that I might direct your attention rather less to higher vantage points but rather speak about how occult perception directly influences everyday living. Not only is our perspective directed into distant time and space by the theosophical world outlook, but in addition we can gain a quite different explanation of everyday questions through occult concepts which would not be possible through other concepts. We shall then see how erroneous is the opinion which we so often encounter, namely that occultism is something impractical, uncommonly far removed from ordinary everyday life.
And we will mention another question as well. This question is: How can anyone who has not yet developed the faculty — which, however, every human being is destined to have in the future — of seeing into supersensible worlds, how can such a person — given the standpoint that everyone absorbs in their ordinary education — gain a conviction that theosophical teachings are true, and that the endeavors of theosophy are valid in practice? The evidence need not be obtained only by occult observations; indeed, they cannot be so obtained until they have first been drawn out of another realm, that of everyday life, which [in fact] prepares us to acquire conviction about the higher realms of existence. Whatever may have happened in the past is still happening today in our daily life.
If we trace humanity back to the earliest periods of its development, we find that man originated from a much finer, more spiritual substance than that of which he is composed today. Present-day man displays a form consisting of three main bodies — the physical body, the etheric body, and the astral body. The etheric body is a kind of archetypal image of the physical body. The astral body, the auric sheath that envelops and permeates the human being, is the structure in which the soul life, the life of the instincts and passions, and every thought as well, all find expression. Basically it was from the still undifferentiated astral body that the whole human being evolved in the course of time. If we go back far enough, to the early primeval epochs of humanity, we find that the physical and etheric substance that distinguishes modern man used to be dissolved in the original astral body, like a seed [buried] in the earth.
Present-day man is, so to speak, condensed out of the astral basic substance. This process is still taking place every day. When two people confront each other, then it is above all the astral bodies which confront each other in love or hate, in kindness or displeasure, anger or good nature, antipathy or attraction. These are all phenomena which manifest themselves between astral bodies. Interaction between people consists of continual exchange of astral body conditions and relationships. When I confront another person, my physical body experiences no great change, nor does my etheric body, but my astral body certainly does. If a person says something filled with hate to me, then the waves of hatred enter my astral body and change it. I have to accept what streams out of him into my own astral body, which is then imbued with very different attributes depending on whether it is love and patience or anger and impatience which stream toward me from the other person.
Something very similar takes place between teacher and pupil. It makes a great difference whether a teacher has a loving disposition or is a narrow-minded egoist. In the astral body of a child we have something which differs in appearance from the astral body of an adult. The astral body of a child is bright and clear, and reveals itself to us as something virginal compared with an astral body which has developed itself during the course of life. What is the astral body of a child? It seems like an undifferentiated cloud of light which only gradually acquires form. Whatever [will] gradually make the astral body fixed has as yet scarcely begun to be engraved in it, so that everything possible can still be born to it. It will be formed by the concepts which the child acquires from its surroundings. These enter it, color it, and make it different.
Different structures flow into the child's astral body and form it, according to whether what the child absorbs by way of concepts derives from a materialist or an idealist standpoint. For a process of progressively filling the soul with concepts begins. If a child is treated lovelessly, the echo of this lovelessness manifests itself in the child's astral body. It then seals itself in, as if with a hide, against the outer world. All this shows us that a continual remodeling of the astral body is actually taking place, and that interaction with people has a major influence in this reshaping.
The child thus has an astral body which is still undifferentiated in form, but which contains a limitless abundance of possibilities. Take the astral body of a child which has met with an idealistic teacher, who himself has a harmonious soul, who views the world with devotion and is susceptible to its beauty and sublimity, a teacher who is in a position to create within himself an image of the beauty of the world; such a teacher will also develop the ability to enter into the disposition of the child's soul. He will thus encourage tender and sensitive structures in the child, into which he can direct currents which become absorbed in the child's own astral substance. A teacher who is so harmoniously formed within himself continually directs harmonious currents toward the child. The characteristics of the teacher flow quite naturally into the child, and together with them all that world harmony which the teacher has gleaned from his surroundings in the form of beauty. As teacher he directs into the child's nature all the greatness he as a fine person and good observer has received, thereby bringing about harmonious development in the child.
Let us take by contrast a teacher who confronts the child as an egoistical and pedantic person with narrow and opinionated concepts and ideas. These qualities conjure up structures in his own astral body which give it the appearance of being covered with a hard crust, which make it thoroughly rigid and ponderous in structure. It then emits darts which are rigidly enclosed within themselves, so that it is impossible for the child's astral body to absorb them. At the most they wound the child's astral body like a dart, but they cannot be absorbed [by it] and they simply go right through.
Or take something still more everyday. Two people are talking to each other. One can very well observe in two such people the interaction of their astral bodies which results from reciprocal communication with each other.
Something new is always coming into being in the astral, in the astral substance. I will make this intelligible to you in the following way. Through his concepts a person is continually creating structures in his astral body. These show themselves in the most various forms. The astral substance that lies unused between the individual structures is called ‘intermediary’ astral substance, to distinguish it from that which has been shaped into structures. This intermediary astral substance is continually supplementing itself out of the astral substance in our surroundings, is continually flowing in and out, is continually renewing itself. But the structures that man has cultivated by the way he feels and thinks and decides remain fixed.
Let us then assume we have two people engaging in an ordinary conversation with each other. One of them has cultivated rigid, fixed concepts, which have correspondingly engendered very fixed structures in the astral substance. The other talks to him and tries to explain something to him. What must happen if one person is to make something clear to another? He must inject his own concept into the other person's astral substance. This concept, this thought, thus flows into the other person's astral substance. Once there, it must first of all be absorbed in the intermediary substance and [then] remake itself and become transformed [in a manner] corresponding to the forms already developed there.
Now, let us assume that the one is trying to explain to the other something to do with, say, reincarnation. The other has however already formed a fixed idea about reincarnation. Let us assume him to be a prejudiced person who has formed for himself the idea that reincarnation is something silly and absurd. This thought has hovered in his astral substance. The new thought of the first person now arrives and dissolves itself in the intermediary astral substance of the other, and would then have to be transformed by the thought forms already existing there. This will not work, however, because his [the second person's] concepts are too rigid, too fixed. He cannot adapt the newly transmitted thought to his [own] thought forms and therefore does not understand it.
The more a person keeps his concepts flexible, so that these can always be dissolved in the surrounding intermediary substance, the more he will understand the other people he encounters. This is why it is so difficult to convey theosophical life to academically trained people. The concepts acquired at university engender structures which are rigid, fixed, and enclosed within themselves, which are not easily dissolvable. The academic usually comes to a theosophical lecture full of such structures and is then unable to comprehend theosophical life. It would be quite different if he were educated to say about any concept: Yes, it could possibly be different, too, for indeed we have only a limited amount of experience, and much of what we hold to be correct will still have to be modified in the future. — If he were to do that then his soul would still be capable of improvement.
Let us take yet another situation: that of a person who encounters someone else for whom he feels reverence. How does this reverence reveal itself to anyone endowed with astral perception? Reverence means emitting the kind of thoughts which sink into the substance of the strange astral body, which that substance sucks up, as it were. If, for instance, you harbor a reverent thought, this is expressed by you yourself conveying this reverence to the other person as radiating warmth. This radiating warmth of yours has its reflection in the astral world, which shows itself as the thought form of reverence and devotion with a bluish color. The warm, reverent feeling engenders a thought form which is blue in character.
But what is it which appears blueish? You can perceive this if you gaze into the infinity of the dark universe. It appears blue to you because of the light in the atmosphere. Similarly, [the reverent thought makes the astral] that was previously dark appear to you as having this blueish shade as well; because it is now lit by the bright, warm feeling of reverence. If a dark place is surrounded by a feeling of reverence, then the dark center appears to be blueish; just as a flame appears to you to have a blue core that is surrounded by light. So is it with the reverent thought as well. It is an empty space permeated by warmth. If one transmits a reverential thought to another person, one thereby offers him the opportunity of allowing his own being to stream into this empty space. This is how the interaction between the person revered and the person showing reverence works itself out.
If on the other hand it is with a feeling of jealousy that you encounter someone, then a different thought form exists in you, and you bring this up against him. You then emit the red thought form of egoism or self-love. This, for its part, encloses yet another thought form, that is full of the concept of [the thinker's] own self, perhaps as a result of ambition. This expresses itself not in empty space or in a hollow structure, but by a form which is completely full, which nothing else can enter. It is ringed around by a feeling of coldness and has the directly opposite thought form of an outer ring of blue around an inner core of red. The coldness of the blue color pushes away everything that wants to enter, and the worthless red thought form stays as it is. It accepts nothing. This is how a jealous person, that cannot revere anything, stands in relation to others.
You see, what takes place in our astral body is nothing else than the product of daily life. Only someone who is trained to do so can see what is happening in the astral body. However, the effects of these processes in the astral body are continually present in the physical [plane], and anyone can satisfy himself about them in [ordinary] life. Anyone can make the following test if he says to himself: I will leave it undecided, whether the message of occultism is true or false; but I will test it without prejudice. I can live as if this message were based on truth. For I can behave accordingly toward my fellow men; and if I do this warily, I will indeed see whether life confirms for me what the occultist says in every individual case. And life will [indeed] confirm it to you in every instance. You will realize a tremendous gain from that.
Whoever reflects on that for himself; whoever, say as a teacher, devotes himself not only to his own pedagogical concepts and ideas, and works not only through what he says but also through what he feels, perceives, and thinks; whoever makes himself thoroughly aware that two astral bodies are interacting, and knows what happens in this confrontation; whoever does all this will also know he has a duty to be continually making himself better. To the extent that he becomes better, the better his influence on the child's dispositions. He does not destroy these dispositions — on the contrary, he cultivates them.
It means something quite different from merely knowing the truth, the reality, of what we receive in return through revering another person who is worthy of it — it means something quite different to experience this: if we transmit to other people countless such thought forms enveloped in warmth, we ourselves grow thereby, through the greatness of that other person. That is something totally different again from merely grasping such things with our intellect, from simply knowing what they represent. In occultism, we learn to grasp life more earnestly, we learn to perceive that the things which are not palpable, which cannot be observed by the senses, are still a reality. We learn to understand and value the whole scope and significance of our soul world.
Perhaps someone or other may say that these are rather theoretical transformations. No, that they are not! We must become quite differently convinced about the importance of our actions and the responsibilities which life lays on our shoulders. It is the most down to earth aspects of life which can be influenced in this way by occultism. He who knows what results in the invisible world as a consequence of thoughts and feelings will surely grasp that it is just as important for him not to direct evil thoughts toward a person as it is to refrain from firing bullets at him. He knows that throwing the thought of hate at astral man is just as harmful for him as throwing a roofing slate is for physical man.
Understanding this is easy enough; those who meet together in groups such as the theosophical groups will feel and experience it. For they find a new source of life there. You could say to yourselves that there is [only] a simplified reality for other people, a threefold one for us.
Other people experience reality only through the sense world, and do not think it wicked to say that ‘thinking is duty-free!’ However, anyone who has studied the world outlook of theosophy can no longer say that thinking incurs no cost, but is convinced that he is instead responsible for what he thinks and feels about other people. You take this feeling of responsibility out into the world as the finest fruit of the theosophical conception of the world. Even if we are only beginners in rehearsal, we are still influencing the visible world through the hidden, occult world. We are refining and correcting the world through the hidden realms of existence.
That is one aspect: how we understand life. There are, however, others as well. Man does not live alone in the world as an individual; he also belongs to a family, to a tribe, to a people, that is, to a [larger] whole. Only in his physical and etheric body is he actually separate from others; the astral body, as I have already mentioned, has a porous exterior. The intermediary substance is continually disposed to receive currents from outside, and to renew itself. If we consider, however, that we belong to a nation, a tribe, a family, then the matter acquires a further dimension.
If we observe the astral bodies of individual people, we find that almost everyone differs from others in the basic coloring of the astral body. Each has a particular shade that manifests itself outwardly as temperament. Temperament expresses itself, then, through a particular basic coloring. A person relates to his entire surroundings in this way; the character of the family, the tribe, or the nation to which he belongs expresses itself in the basic coloring.
As an occultist one can make interesting observations if, for instance, one revisits a town which one has not seen for, say, ten years. If one observes the unsullied astral bodies of the children, one will find that they possess, in addition to their personal basic coloring, another basic coloring, too. If one had carefully observed these virginal astral bodies on one's first visit and now compares them with what one finds in the astral bodies of the children ten years later, one will see that their appearance has altered. There is something in the human individual which moves with the evolution of the town or tribe or nation. This is because the currents in a collective astral body that is all around me are in continual interchange with my own [astral body] which lives within the collective astral body. Hence we have a national temperament, expressing itself in the group astral body of the nation.
Every nation, every other community, has such an astral body, and this flows into the astral bodies of the individual person. A great disharmony can develop between the individual person and the task of the whole nation, for this reason; the trends in evolution do not always all take the same course in the world. The more comprehensive often hurries ahead of the less comprehensive.
Let us consider a nation, for example. The nation, as a structure, has not been haphazardly thrown together in the world, it is not something produced by chance; each nation, on the contrary, has its prescribed task in the course of human evolution. Anyone who contemplates a nation from a higher vantage point can reflect that every nation has a specific task; that his own nation has itself to fulfill a task which is incumbent on it. He can say to himself: I belong to this nation, so I must help to serve the common national task — and I am able so to serve, because an astrality lives in me which belongs to the whole nation. This national purpose is plainly expressed on the astral plane; it is an intentional thought — something that lives on higher planes than the astral plane. In order to meditate on the thoughts of the world laws, one must rise above the astral plane to the mental plane [devachan].
For example, the fourth Sub-Race, from which our Race came, developed itself from a small group of people in Asia and made itself into the Hebraic-Graeco-Latin Race. This had the task of fulfilling the first mission of Christianity from an ethnic standpoint. The thought [inspiring] this Race was to spread Christianity in its first stage through Europe and the adjoining regions. That is an ethnic thought.
In earlier times, the idea of reincarnation and karma was universally accepted. Then came a radical change; people were educated in the belief that the single physical life was of importance. This is very apparent in Greek art, because it developed the feeling for outward form. Therein lay the ennobling of the physical plane for the outward senses. The law then came to be developed in the Roman nation; this had its effect directly on the physical plane. Finally, Christianity permeates law with a morality, so that one single earth life gains so much importance that a whole eternity comes to be made dependent on it. This is a one-sided thought, but it was correct and necessary. The Catholic peoples took upon themselves the mission of spreading Christianity, carrying it to Northern Europe, whereby the Germanic peoples received a new mission.
Thus we see that a national thought lives in the entire nation, and every individual [member] is fitted to this thought. In our time, we have turned to account in technology, for the benefit of the city-dweller, the same thing that was originally cultivated by Greek art in the beautiful forms of the sense world in the sphere of sculpture, the same thing that was cultivated as law, and later deepened into morality. Cities were founded, they grew and flourished and thus developed a culture of their own, the culture of the bourgeoisie. From this then evolved a utilitarian morality, which provided the impetus for the growth of a one-sided science, that ought to have reached its highest point in our present time.
In this we can recognize the workings of a devachanic principle. It is the universal aspect of these changes in the course of evolution which shows us in what way a national thought has its effect. How this thought comes to expression depends on the nation's group astral body, on the national temperament. Art, for instance, with any other nation than the Greeks would find expression in a quite different way,
Now, although the national thought does live in every individual [member], the individual is much more than just his national thought. In addition, he brings his own personality to expression. Something quite remarkable and special shows itself to us here. It is much easier for a person to see his way in the thought world of his nation, in his devachanic mission, than it is to bring about the [correct] balance between his own feelings and the national feelings. This is not so easy, especially for those who have acquired higher education and sophistication of a particular kind. The adjustment between the feelings of the individual and the nation is more quickly made in the lower levels of evolution, because at those levels a greater empathy develops between individual sensibilities and the national sensibility. The lower the individual level, the stronger the expression of the national sensibility within him, rather as the animal is an expression of the species.
As man develops, however, he raises his own astral body up; it becomes more differentiated, more specific. And it is then possible for his astral body to be in a position to acquire that form of mind which lies above the mind of his nation. When what shines down from this higher level is intellectually or mentally grasped, then ideals can easily be taken up. It sometimes also happens that the feelings of a person's astral body have not developed so far as his thinking. The thoughts of a nation could influence the thinking of the individual so powerfully that they take hold of him before he has developed far enough within himself.
Individuals for whom this proves to be the case are passionate idealists; they are the martyrs for the progress of a nation. They are so because they themselves are hurrying ahead of what is actually in the rest of their astral body, because they direct their wholly elevated souls to an ideal in a selfless way. Then, when such people come to die, their undeveloped astrality asserts itself all the more strongly; for that part of it which does not lie within the national ideal comes into play. Henceforth it is only concerned with its own development. When such a person dies, who was a great and noble idealist, who has devoted himself to the ideals of his nation, he becomes overrun by the personal element still present in him. For the lower qualities of his astral body become totally predominant. Now suppose that such a person has become a martyr. He created something noble, but has been ill-treated by his nation, just as such advanced natures sometimes are. Despite this, he would indeed habitually follow his ideals boldly and spiritedly so long as he lived, looking neither to the left nor the right. But if he is persecuted, perhaps killed, on account of his ideals, then the thought of revenge comes into play immediately after his death. What he had suppressed as personal will still be there in Kamaloka.
A nation which treats its idealists in this fashion creates for itself bad powers in Kamaloka, which rebound against it. Russia has created bad powers of this kind. For years it has ill-treated many noble personalities with the knout. The baser forces of these personalities are now active in Kamaloka as enemies of what lives in Russia, as enemies of those for whom they made sacrifices in life. Such martyrs, who have recently died, can now be seen fighting on the side of the Japanese, against their own people. This is a fact which becomes comprehensible to us if we look into the more deeply active powers of the life of the soul. The events of the future become clear to us if we look at them from this aspect.
We live as members of the Germanic peoples, flanked by Slavonic peoples in the east, and by Anglo-American peoples in the west. Both the Americans and the Slavs are rising races who have to fulfill their purpose in the future, races who still stand at the beginning of their national thought. The basic characteristic of the Slavonic peoples is expressed in their spiritual talents. If you try to understand the Slavonic culture, you will find that it tends toward a spiritual culture, that something spiritual is growing there. These Slavonic peoples had first to confront the races lying to the east, the Chinese and Japanese. These are the remnants of earlier races from Atlantis, as indeed all Mongolians are the residues of later Atlantean culture. They have astral bodies which intrinsically tend toward spirituality. The Slavonic peoples have to confront these.
In America we have a certain parallel. There, materialism is carried to the extreme, and has been pursued radically in all national perspectives. In modern times, that has led to the spirit itself being interpreted in a materialistic way. Whereas among the Slavonic peoples individual personalities such as Tolstoy arose, who sought to stimulate development in a great and beautiful way, the American people took pains to conceive spirituality and the soul in a material way. Thus we find a strongly material spirituality and [indeed] spiritualism among them. With them, the spirit is sought for in exactly the same way as they search after physical truths. But it is precisely in the manner of seeking that the difference lies. If you seek to see the spiritual with the eyes, it becomes psychic, and this psychic aspect has developed itself very strongly in America.
The American nation has to confront another ethnic element deriving from Atlantis and endowed with psychic tendencies. This ethnic element lives in the Negro peoples. The way and manner in which these two races develop together is significant: psychic has to confront psychic, spiritual has to confront spiritual. Thus we have a spiritual national thought in the east and a psychic one in the west.
We have experienced science and art on an external level; the spirit should now be raised back up again. This can happen in a double way — either in a spiritual way or in a psychic way. The spiritual way leads to progress, the psychic way is retrogressive.
You can see how the world here becomes understandable when we contemplate it from an occult basis. Again, no one need say that we cannot convince ourselves of these things. One only has to take what actually happens. One will be led to conviction through experience, when one compares the psychic view of the world and psychic research with the occult view of the world. If we seek to understand the occult view of the world, then the world of phenomena becomes more and more comprehensible as well. Such an occult-spiritual world outlook leaves us no gaps in the comprehension of the world. From that we will then gain the belief in the world which the occultists report; and through that we educate an element in ourselves which will raise us higher. This is no blind belief, but a tried and tested belief. This belief will grow stronger and more justified, firmer and surer, with every gain in experience. And when belief has engendered this sense of sureness in itself it has also developed the basis for knowledge. Man has always had to experiment before being raised to knowledge. Anyone who wants to have knowledge before investigation is like someone wanting to have the fruit before the seed. We have to earn our knowledge. What we already know, we need not investigate. What the investigator lacks in certainty or confidence, the certainty and confidence of belief must supply. [The two] must work together, therefore, and then they will undividedly produce in the end what must come to us undivided — the fruit of experience, knowledge.
Let us listen to the occultists and let us say neither yea nor nay to them. But let us treat it as a basis for our own life and our own conduct; let us treat it as if their investigations were useful guides for our life, for we will find that they will [indeed] lead us through life and will ultimately bring us to an inner knowledge, to a life pulsating in us. Then we will find that we can indeed trust them to guide us to investigation, to satisfaction, and to a harmonious life within ourselves.
Thursday, April 19, 2018
|"Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." — Luke 1:46-47|
Youth and the Archangel Michael. Lecture 1
Rudolf Steiner, Stuttgart, October 3, 1922:
First of all I want to say a few words of greeting to express the feelings which your gathering have aroused in me. Your speaker described in a pleasing way the impulses that have brought you together here. Much of what I shall have to say in the coming days will inevitably be a kind of interpretation of what is present within you, more or less strongly, as inner experiences which you wish to be brought to clarity of soul. I say clarity of soul rather than merely of an intellectual nature.
You have been brought together by that which lives in the depths of your souls. These depths are taken hold of by forces which, in the specific way in which they are working at the present time, are of recent date. These forces — in the way they are working in you — are scarcely older than this century. They are forces which even today reveal themselves very clearly to him who can see them, but in the near future they will become ever more apparent. In the next few days we shall describe these forces in their most intimate nature, as well as the opposite tendencies which preceded and had become “out of date” by the last third of the nineteenth century. But today, I shall speak about these forces in their more external aspect.
I think, my dear friends, that you feel you can no longer find yourselves in accord with what an older generation has to say to the world today. You see, as early as the seventies, eighties, and nineties of the last century, people were stressing, both in art and in philosophy, the deep gulf between the older and younger generations. But all that was said then by poets and others about this gulf, this abyss, is pale in comparison with what has to be considered today. Today the younger and the older generation speak entirely different languages of the soul. This is so to a far greater extent than is realized. It attaches no blame to an older generation as regards the younger. To speak of blame would be to use a form of thought belonging to the older generation — one of their philistine forms of thought. We shall not speak of blame, neither shall we accuse. But we shall consider how fundamentally souls belonging to evolution in the West have changed since the last two to three decades. In our present time, many things clash.
A little while ago I gave a series of lectures in England, at Oxford. As a university town, Oxford occupies a unique position in the cultural life of the West. One feels that in Oxford — a town very closely connected with spiritual evolution in the West — a relic of the Middle Ages is surviving on into the present time. It is by no means an unpleasing relic, quite the contrary, and in many respects worthy of admiration. We were taken 'round by a friend who is a graduate of Oxford University, and it is the custom there, when in their capacity as graduates, always to wear cap and gown. After we had gone 'round with him, I met him again in the street. The next morning I could not help describing to the English audience the impression I had when this friend appeared in cap and gown. It seemed to me thoroughly symptomatic. This, together with other experiences, induced me to form a picture and to say why a new social structure, reaching to the depths of modern spiritual life, is necessary. When this friend met me in the street, I said to myself that if I had to write a letter now, under the immediate impression of this meeting, I should not know what date to put on the letter. I should have been tempted to date it about the twelfth or thirteenth century, in order to adhere to the style where such a thing was possible.
Something that is not of the present has been preserved there. We find nothing like it in Middle Europe. But what we find in Middle Europe, in influential centers of culture, is nevertheless an evolutionary product of what I have just described.
Here, in Middle Europe, the gown has practically been discarded, except on festive occasions, when Directors and other officials are expected to wear it, often to their great annoyance.
Our friend, who was also a barrister, said to me: “If I were taking you 'round the Law Courts in London, I should, as a barrister, have to put on a wig, not a cap.” There you see a survival of something that has become out of date, and yet was still alive in the last century. So there we have the Middle Ages in the present. In Middle Europe people have, after all, outgrown a custom which belonged to the former generation and had become old. First they discarded the costume; then, with a sudden jump, they adopted a kind of thinking, rather different in character, which headed straight into materialism. These contrasts between Western and Middle Europe are extraordinarily great. And now there is a very symptomatic phenomenon which I prefer to describe through facts rather than by abstract words.
In Middle Europe we have forgotten Goethe and accepted Darwin, although Goethe grasped at its roots the knowledge which Darwin only indicates superficially. Many similar things might be quoted. Perhaps you will say that Goethe has not been forgotten, for there exists a Goethe Society, for example. I don't believe you will say it, so I will not pursue it further. Goethe himself and what he brought to light — the Middle European spiritual impulse — were, in fact, forgotten in the second half of the nineteenth century. But these things are mere symptoms. The point is that along the path taken by Middle Europe and its cultural life, the leading centers of culture emancipated themselves in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries from the spirit which still remained in the West. Since that time, Middle Europe lost the spiritual, lost the element that storms and pulsates through the soul, from consciousness. That is why it was possible, too, for Goethe to be forgotten.
In the West this element has been preserved in traditions and in external life. In Middle Europe, especially in the German-speaking regions, it has been pushed down, as it were, into the depths of the life of soul, and consciousness has not been filled with it. This was particularly marked in the last third of the nineteenth century.
Close historical study will reveal something strange in the last third of the nineteenth century. If we study the literature and the writings which were read by those who played a part in shaping the cultural life, we find during the last third of the nineteenth century, up to the middle of the eighties and nineties, in German-speaking districts, quite a different style in the journals and even in the newspapers from the style that is current today. Thoughts were finely chiseled and elaborated; importance was attached to sequence in the thoughts, and to beauty as well. In comparison with the style current in the last third of the nineteenth century, our modern style is raw and crude. We need only pick up writings — no matter what they may be — of men in the sixties and seventies, not deeply learned or scholarly but possessing an average degree of culture, and we shall find this great difference. The forms of the thoughts have changed. But what is raw and crude today has proceeded from what, even in scholarly literature during the last third of the nineteenth century, was finely chiseled and full of spirituality. But those who lived through it, who, without necessarily growing old, have reached more advanced years in the present-day world of thought — we notice what has insinuated itself in a dreadful way into every domain of thought and spiritual life: symbolically, I will call it the “empty phrase,” the “cliché.”
With the vogue of the “cliché” there began to develop lack of thought, lack of sound sentiments, lack of will, which are now on the upgrade. These characteristics were the immediate outcome of the “empty phrase,” the “cliché.” The outstanding development of the “empty phrase” took place in the last third of the nineteenth century. You can follow this externally, my dear friends. Things that crop up in a certain epoch need not necessarily appeal to you. And although in one form or another they may definitely not appeal, you can still study them from the point of view of their significance for the whole of mankind.
Think of the rich tones of inner beauty which are to be found in the German romantic poets in the first third of the nineteenth century. Think of the words of a man like Jacob Grimm when he touches on things spiritual, how these words seem to be full of the fresh, health-giving air of the woods, and you will say: “In those days the ‘cliché’ did not yet dominate Middle Europe.” It did not make its way into Middle Europe until the last third of the nineteenth century. Those who are sensitive to such matters are aware of the gradual entrance of what inevitably accompanies the “empty phrase.” When the empty phrase begins to dominate, truth, as experienced inwardly by the soul, dies away. And something else goes hand in hand with the empty phrase: in social life man cannot really find his fellow-men any longer.
My dear friends, when words sound forth without soul from the mouth — as they do in the empty phrase, the cliché — then we pass by other human beings and cannot understand them. This too reached its culmination in the last third of the nineteenth century, not in the soul's depths but in the field of consciousness. Men became more and more alienated from one another. The louder the call for social reforms, the more is it a symptom of the fact that men have become unsocial. Because they no longer have any feeling for what is truly social, they cry out for social reform. A hungry animal does not howl for food because it has food in its stomach, but because it has none. Similarly, the soul that cries out for social life cries not because it is permeated with social feeling, but because this feeling is lacking. And so man was gradually turned into a being whose nature is not understood today, and yet it is clear enough that everywhere in the relations between man and man no need is felt to grow near, in soul, to other human beings. Everyone passes the other by. The individual's greatest interest is only in himself.
What then has come into the twentieth century from the last third of the nineteenth as the customary social feeling between man and man? Nowadays you continually hear: “That is my standpoint.” This is how people talk: “That is my standpoint.” Everyone has a standpoint. — as if the standpoint matters! The standpoint in spiritual life is just as fleeting as it is in the physical. Yesterday I stood in Dornach, today I am standing here. These are two different standpoints in physical life. What matters is that a man should have a sound will and a sound heart so that he can look at the world from every standpoint. But people today do not want what they can glean from different standpoints; the egoistic assertion of their own particular standpoint is more important to them. But thus a man shuts himself off in the most rigorous way from his fellow-men. If somebody says something, the other person does not really enter into it, for he has his own standpoint. But people do not get any nearer to each other by such means. We can only come nearer to each other when we know how to place our different standpoints in a world that is common to us all. But this world is simply not there today. Only in the spirit is there a world that is common to all — and the spirit is lacking. That is the second point.
And the third is this. In the course of the nineteenth century the humanity of Middle Europe has really become very weak-willed — weak-willed in the sense that thought no longer unfolds the power to steel the will in such a way as to make man, who is a thought-being, capable of shaping the world out of his thoughts.
And now, my dear friends, when it is said that thoughts have become “pale” this must not be twisted into the assertion that no thoughts are needed in order to live as men. Thoughts, however, must not be so feeble that they stick up there in the head. They must be so strong that they stream down through the heart and through the whole being of man, right down to the feet. For really it is better if, besides red and white blood corpuscles, thoughts, too, pulse through our blood. It is a good thing, certainly, when a man has a heart too, and not merely thoughts. Best of all is for thoughts to have a heart. And that has been lost altogether. We cannot cast off the thoughts that have followed in the wake of the last four or five centuries. But these thoughts must get a heart as well!
And now I will tell you, from an external point of view, what is living in your souls. You have grown up and have come to know the older generation. This older generation expressed itself in words; you could only hear clichés. An unsocial element presented itself to you in this older generation. Men passed each other by. And in this older generation there also presented itself the impotence of thought to pulse through the will and the heart.
You see, people could live with the “cliché,” with antisocial conventionality, with mere routine instead of warm community of life, so long as the heritage from earlier generations was still there. But this heritage was exhausted by the close of the nineteenth century. And so what presented itself could not speak to your own souls. And now, precisely in Middle Europe, you felt that in the depths below there is something that stands in the direst need of rediscovering what once lived beyond the empty phrase, beyond convention, beyond routine. You wanted again to have a living experience of truth, a living experience of human community, of stout-heartedness in cultural life. Where is it then? — so asks a voice within you.
And often, at the dawn of the twentieth century — even if not clearly expressed, it could be seen — on the one side there were the young, and on the other, the old. The old man said: “That is my standpoint.” Ah! as the nineteenth century drew to its close, everyone began to have his own particular standpoint. One was a materialist, the second an idealist, the third a realist, the fourth a sensualist, and so on. They all had their standpoints. But gradually under the domination of empty phrase, convention, and routine, the standpoint had become a crust of ice. The spiritual Ice Age had dawned. The ice-crust was thin, but as men's “standpoints” had lost the sense of their own weight, they did not break through it. Besides, being cold in heart, they did not thaw the ice. The younger people stood side by side with the old, the young with their warm hearts not articulate yet, but warm. This warmth broke through the ice-crust. The younger man did not feel: “That is my standpoint,” but he felt: “I am losing the ground from under my feet. The warmth of my heart is breaking this ice that has congealed out of empty phrase, convention, and routine.” Although not clearly expressed — for today nothing is clearly expressed — this state of things had existed for a long time and still exists at the present day.
It is hardest of all for those who with a scholarly education try to fit in with the times. They are confronted by thoughts that are void of heart-quality and are quite consciously striven for just because of this. Now, in speaking out of the spirit it is often necessary to shape words differently from what is customary when telling people something highly logical, philosophical, or scientific. This approach is quite out of place in face of the spiritual, and altogether out of place in face of the spiritual is the following, which we will take as an example.
People say today: He is not a true scientist who does not interpret observation and experiment quite logically; who does not pass from thought to thought in strict conformity with the correct methods that have been evolved. If he does not do this he is no genuine thinker. But, my dear friends, what if reality happens to be an artist and scorns our elaborate dialectical and experimental methods? What if Nature herself works according to artistic impulses? If it were so, human science, according to Nature, would have to become an artist, for otherwise there would be no possibility of understanding Nature. That, however, is certainly not the standpoint of the modern scientist. His standpoint is: Nature may be an artist or a dreamer; it makes no difference to us, for we decree how we propose to cultivate science. What does it matter to us if Nature is an artist? It matters not at all, for that is not our standpoint.
At the outset I can only describe a few impressions to illustrate what was working together in chaotic interplay with the approach of the twentieth century — the century that has placed you before such hard trials of the soul. We have had to face outer events, including the grim and terrible world war; these are only the outward expression of what is reigning in the innermost soul of the modern civilized world. It is simply so, and we must be conscious of it. Primarily we have to seek for something which the deepest soul of Germany is yearning for — as your speaker truly said — but which precisely within Germany was denied by men's consciousness the nearer the modern age approached. We lost not only Goethe but also a great deal of what was there in the Middle Ages and out of which Goethe grew, and we must find it again. And if it is asked today quite from the external aspect: Why have you come here today? — I shall answer: In order to find this. For you are really seeking for something that is there. Goethe answered the question: Which secret is of the highest value? — The revealed secret. (From the Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily.) But it has to be revealed through eyes being opened to perceive it. What concerns you are mainly longings of the inner life — if you understand yourselves aright. Whether one has to become a teacher or adopt some other profession — that is not the point. Everything which those who want again to become whole men are seeking today shall be found out of the common center of true manhood. That is why we find ourselves together here.
After all, it is quite a different matter if in earlier centuries — to take a radical example — people burnt a Giordano Bruno. In those times this was the customary way of refuting truths. But now — to compare this with the following symptom drawn from the realm of science — when the Swabian doctor Julius Robert Maier was making a voyage around the world, the peculiar constitution of the blood in Southern Asia brought him to the conception of what is known as the heat equivalent, the conservation of energy. In 1844 he wrote a treatise on this subject which was rejected as amateurish and unsuitable by the most famous scientific periodical of the time, the Poggendorf Annals. Julius Robert Maier was so enthusiastic about his discovery that whenever anyone met him in the street he began at once to talk about it, until finally contemporary experts decided that as he was always talking about the same thing, he was suffering from fixed ideas. As you know, he was declared insane and put into an asylum. Today you can go to Heilbronn and see the Robert Maier Memorial. It is said that the law of the conservation of energy is the most important law of physics that has been discovered in the modern age. Well, of course, such things happen! Mankind may, naturally, lapse into error, but the point I want to make is that this can be judged out of mere phrases, mere convention, mere routine.
Think of the way such a terrible tragedy, such a terrible mockery, was described in the nineteenth century, and compare it with the account given today of the same case. What has actually happened cannot be undone by abstract writings. Anyone who has a heart within him and reads the descriptions that are given of such a case feels as if robbed of all inner support, and a terrible turmoil is set going in his soul. Human beings must again be capable of feeling, not weakly, but strongly: beautiful — ugly, good — evil, true — false. They must be capable of feeling things not weakly but strongly, so that they live in them with their whole being, that their very heart's blood flows into their words. Then the empty phrase will dissipate and they will feel not only themselves but other men within their own being; convention will dissipate, and the heart's blood will pulse through what they have in their heads; then sheer routine will dissipate and life will become human once again.
Young people in the twentieth century feel these things; they have been seeking, but found only chaos. These things cannot be portrayed by writing up external history. At the end of the nineteenth century there was a crucial point in the inner development of mankind. Souls who were born shortly before or shortly after the turn of the century are of quite a different inner make-up from those who were born even during the last third of the nineteenth century. One can speak about this if, in spite of the years piling up, one has not allowed oneself to get old.
So we shall see tomorrow, my dear friends, how the new generation has not linked up with the old but is divided from it by an abyss. It is not a question of finding fault but only of trying to understand. I am not finding fault when I speak of the tragedy which befell Julius Robert Maier. The same kind of thing happened to many people. It is not a matter of finding fault, but of the need for understanding. For the most important thing is to understand what is experienced deeply and inwardly; an unclear seeking cannot be allowed to continue. A light must come that will flood this unclear seeking without making it dry or cold. We must find this light, while preserving the heart's blood.
I do not wish to impose upon you anything that savors of the mystical, but to point to the truth, the truth in the spirit. You know that among the many clichés which became current in the nineteenth century, it was said that the great pioneer of the nineteenth century closed his life by calling out to posterity: “More light!” As a matter of fact Goethe did not say “More light!” He lay on his couch breathing with difficulty and said: “Open the shutters!” That is the truth. The other is the cliché that has connected itself with it. The words Goethe really spoke are perhaps far more apt than the mere phrase “More light!” The state of things at the end of the nineteenth century does indeed arouse the feeling that our predecessors have closed the shutters. Then came the younger generation; they felt cramped; they felt that the shutters which the older generation had closed so tightly must be opened. Yes, my dear friends, I assure you that although I am old, I shall tell you more of how we can now attempt to open the shutters again.