Monday, February 28, 2011
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, January 1, 1909:
The theme of the lecture today is of a profoundly occult character, the title — strange as it may seem to begin with — being: “Mephistopheles and Earthquakes”. We shall see that not only does the problem of the figure of Mephistopheles lead us into a deep realm of occultism but that the same applies to the problem of earthquakes if explained from the spiritual point of view. I have already spoken here and in several other places about the interior of the Earth and have also referred to the question of earthquakes. We shall now approach the subject of these most tragic happenings on the Earth's surface from yet another side.
The figure of Mephistopheles which will be our starting point today is familiar to you all from Goethe's Faust. You know that Mephistopheles is a being — we shall not enter today into the question of how far the poetic presentation tallies with the occult facts — a figure who appears in the drama as the seducer and tempter of Faust, who in a certain respect may be thought of as the representative of man aspiring to reach the heights of existence. In lectures on Goethe I have also indicated what spiritual vistas are revealed in the scene of the “Passage to the Mothers”, where Mephistopheles holds in his hand the key giving access to the dark, nether region where the Mothers dwell. Mephistopheles himself may not enter this region. He merely indicates that in this mysterious realm there is no difference between “below” and “above”:
“Sink then! I might as well say, Mount!
'Tis quite the same.”
We know too that in characterizing this region, Mephistopheles uses the word “Naught”, “Nothingness”. In a certain sense, therefore, he represents the spirit who in this “Naught” would be seeking something that is valueless to him. Faust answers as any true seeker today might answer a materialistic thinker: “In thy Naught I hope to find the All”.
Goethean research has made many attempts to find the clue to the figure of Mephistopheles. In other lectures I have said that the explanation of the name Mephistopheles is to be found in the Hebrew language, where “Mephiz” is the word used for one who obstructs, who corrupts, and “topel” for one who lies. We have therefore to think of this name as belonging to a being who brings corruption and hindrances to man and is a spirit of untruth, deception, and illusion.
It may occur to those who read the introduction to Faust, the “Prologue in Heaven”, thoughtfully, that it contains words which resound as it were across thousands of years. Goethe has let words spoken between the Lord and Job in the Book of Job re-echo at the beginning of Faust. In the Book of Job we read that Job is a good, upright, and pious man and of how the sons of the Lord of Light present themselves before Him. Among them is a certain enemy of the Light. In a conversation between the enemy of the Light and the supreme Lord, this enemy of the Light says that he has “gone to and fro in the Earth”, seeking and trying out many things. The Lord asks: “Knowest thou my servant Job?” and the enemy of the Light — for so we will call him — answers the Lord that Job is known to him and that he would assuredly be able to divert him from the Good and bring him to perdition. This spirit has to make two attempts to approach Job and he then lays hold of him through injuring his physical body. He indicates this expressly when he says to the Lord: “Seize his possessions and he will not fall; but touch his bone and his flesh and he will fall!” Who can fail to hear an echo of this in Faust when the Lord calls to Mephistopheles in the “Prologue in Heaven”: “Knowest thou Faust, my servant?” And then, in similar terms, we hear the retort of the spirit who in the Book of Job comes before the Lord, when Mephistopheles asserts that he can lead Faust gently on the way, that he can win him from the paths which lead to the Good. Here, then, we are listening to sounds striking together in unison across the ages.
When you are thinking about the figure of Mephistopheles, you may often have asked yourselves: Who is Mephistopheles, in reality? Grave mistakes are made here, mistakes which admittedly can be corrected only by deeper, occult insight. The name itself suggests that Mephistopheles is associated with the devil, or the idea of the devil, for the word “topel” is the same as “Teufel” — devil. But the other question — and here we come into a realm of serious fallacies which frequently occur in explanations of the figure of Mephistopheles — the other question is: Whether Mephistopheles can be identified with the spirit we know as Lucifer, who during and after the Lemurian epoch approached mankind together with his hosts and entrenched himself as it were in the evolutionary process. The prevailing tendency in Europe is to identify the figure of Mephistopheles as he appears in Goethe's Faust — but also in earlier folk literature (Folk Plays, Puppet Plays, and so forth) — with Lucifer. Mephistopheles is a familiar character everywhere, and the question is: Are he and his hosts identical with Lucifer and his hosts? In other words: Are the effects of the Mephistophelean influence upon man the same as those of Lucifer? — That is the question before us today.
We know when Lucifer approached man. We have studied the course of human evolution on Earth through the epoch when the Sun with its beings, and subsequently the Moon, separated from the Earth together with the forces that would have made further development for man impossible. And we have learned that at a time when man was still not ready for his astral body to become independent, Lucifer and his hosts approached him. The effect upon man was twofold. It was towards the end of the Lemurian epoch when, in his astral body, man was actually exposed to the influences issuing from Lucifer. If Lucifer had not approached, man would, it is true, have been protected from certain evils, but he would not have attained what must be accounted one of his greatest blessings.
The significance of Lucifer's influence becomes evident when we ask ourselves what would have transpired if since the Lemurian epoch there had been no Luciferic influence, if Lucifer and his hosts had remained separate and apart from man's evolution. Until the middle of the Atlantean epoch man would have evolved as a being who in every impulse of his astral body would have obeyed the influences of certain spiritual beings of a higher rank than himself; these beings would have retained their sway over him until the middle of the Atlantean epoch. If that had happened, man's faculties of perception and cognition would not have been directed to the material world until a much later period. During the Lemurian and early Atlantean epochs, no passions, no desires would have arisen from his sense perceptions; he would have confronted the world of sense as it were in a state of innocence, obedient in his every action to the impulses instilled into him by higher spiritual beings. The instincts prompting him to action would not have been of exactly the same nature as those of the higher animals today, but more spiritual. His every deed on Earth would have been prompted not by mere impulses but by a kind of spiritual instinct.
As things were, under the influence of Lucifer man came earlier to the stage where he said: This delights and attracts me, that is repellent to me! He reached the stage of following his own impulses earlier than would otherwise have been the case; he became an independent being, with a measure of inner freedom. The consequence was that he was detached in a certain way from the spiritual world. To put it concisely, one might say: Without this influence of Lucifer, man would have remained a spiritualized animal — an animal who would gradually have developed a form nobler and more beautiful than could have been developed by man under the influence of Lucifer. Man would have remained far more of an angelic being if Lucifer's influence had not taken effect in the Lemurian epoch; but on the other hand, the higher beings would have guided him as it were on leading-strings.
In the middle of the Atlantean epoch something would have befallen him suddenly: his eyes would have been fully opened, the tapestry of the whole material world of sense would have lain around him — but gazing upon it he would simultaneously have perceived the Divine-Spiritual, a Divine-Spiritual world behind every physical object. If, therefore, in his former state of dependence man had looked back into the bosom of the Divine whence he had proceeded, beholding the Gods of Light sending their radiance into his soul, guiding and leading him, something would have come about for him — this is not a mere picture but corresponds in a high degree with the reality — namely, that the world of sense in its entirety would have been outspread in transparency before him, revealing behind it those other Divine-Spiritual Beings who had taken the place of what had now been lost. One spiritual world would have closed behind him and a new spiritual world opened before him. Man would have remained a child in the hands of higher, Divine-Spiritual Beings; independence would not have been established in the human soul.
It did not happen so, because Lucifer had approached man and made part of the underlying spiritual world invisible to him. The personal instincts, passions, and desires which arose in the human astral body spread a cloud of darkness over the spiritual beings of the world out of which man is born and who would otherwise have remained perpetually visible to him.
Hence in those great centers of the Oracles in ancient Atlantis the initiates had expressly trained themselves to behold that part of the spiritual world which had been concealed as the result of Lucifer's influence. The aim of all the preparation undergone by the guardians and pupils of the ancient Oracles in the Atlantean Mysteries was to enable them to perceive that part of the spiritual world of light which in consequence of Lucifer's influence upon the astral body of man had withdrawn from his field of vision. And visible too were those figures seen by man in the various conditions of soul running parallel with initiation, figures which from a world of Light penetrate into our world decked in the raiment provided by the astral world. In the ancient Oracle centers the Atlantean initiate beheld in the spirit those figures who were in truth spiritual beings of a higher rank than he — beings who had not descended into the physical world and who had therefore remained invisible to ordinary sight when man's eyes were opened prematurely.
But since Lucifer himself was an opponent of these worlds of Light, it was inevitable that he too should be visible to the initiates; and the hosts of Lucifer were visible to the Atlanteans who in their shadowy, clairvoyant consciousness, in the sleeping state and in conditions midway between sleeping and waking, could be transported into the spiritual world. When part of the world of Light was accessible to these Atlantean men, part of the world opposing the world of Light was also visible; the Luciferic hosts were visible — not Lucifer himself. These noble figures belonging to the world of light were as fascinating and splendid in their astral raiment as those of the opposing world of deception were fearsome and terrible.
Thus it was the influence of Lucifer in the evolution of humanity that made it possible for man to fall into error and evil but also to attain freedom. Had there been no Luciferic influence, the conditions I have been describing to you would have come about in the middle of the Atlantean epoch: the tapestry of the sense-world would have been outspread before man; the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms would have been materially visible to him; also the phenomena of nature and of the heavens, thunder, lightning, clouds, air — all would have been visible to external sight. But behind it all would have been the unmistakable presence of Divine-Spiritual Beings. Because Lucifer's influence had already taken effect in man's astral body, his physical body — at that time still transmutable — had been so prepared ever since the Lemurian epoch and on into the Atlantean that it could not become the direct instrument for the physical world of sense with the spiritual world visibly behind it. And so man could not immediately behold the physical sense-world in the form in which it would simultaneously have revealed itself to him as a spiritual world. The three lower kingdoms of nature lay around him; the physical world became a veil over the spiritual world. Man could not, nor can he to this day, see directly into the spiritual world.
But because man had passed through this evolution a different influence was able to assert itself in the middle of the Atlantean epoch — an influence from quite another side and not to be confused with that of Lucifer and his hosts. Although it was Lucifer who first made it possible for man to come under the sway of this other influence, although it was Lucifer who caused the human physical body to become denser than it would otherwise have become, nevertheless it was necessary for yet another influence to approach man in order to bring him completely into the material world of sense, in order to shut him off entirely from the spiritual world so that he was led to the illusion: There is no other world than the world of material existence outspread before me!
From the middle of the Atlantean epoch an opponent quite different in character from Lucifer approached man, namely the being who casts such mist and darkness around his faculties of perception that he makes no effort nor unfolds any urge to fathom the secrets of the world of sense. If you picture to yourselves that under Lucifer's influence the sense-world became like a veil, through the influence of this second being the physical world in its totality became like a dense rind, closing off the spiritual world. It was only the Atlantean initiates who were able, through the preparation they had undergone, to pierce this dense covering of the material, physical world.
The powers who approached man in order to obscure his vision of the other side of divine existence are brought to our notice for the first time in the teachings given to his followers and pupils by Zarathustra, the great leader of the ancient Persians. The mission of Zarathustra was to instill culture into a people who, unlike the ancient Indians, did not by nature yearn perpetually for the spiritual world. Zarathustra's mission was to impart to his people a culture directed to the world of sense, aiming at mastery of the material world through means dependent upon the efforts and labors of physical man. In the civilization of ancient Persia, therefore, man was less subject to the influence of Lucifer than to the influence of that being who since the middle of the Atlantean epoch had approached mankind, with the result that many of the initiates at that time had lapsed into the practice of a form of black magic; having been led astray by this tempter, they misused for the purposes of the physical-material world what was accessible to them from the spiritual world. The mighty influence of the forces of black magic which finally led to the destruction of Atlantis had its origin in the temptations of that being whom Zarathustra taught his people to know as Ahriman (“Angra Mainyu”), the Being who opposed the God of Light proclaimed by Zarathustra as “Ahura Mazdao”, the “Great Aura”.
These two figures — Lucifer and Ahriman — must be clearly distinguished from each other. For Lucifer is a being who detached himself from the spiritual hosts of heaven after the separation of the Sun, whereas Ahriman had already broken away before the separation of the Sun and is an embodiment of quite different powers. The result of Lucifer's influence in the Lemurian epoch was merely the corruption of the faculty, still possessed by man in the Atlantean epoch, to manipulate the forces of air and water. In the book entitled From the Akasha Chronicle you will have read that in Atlantean times the seminal forces in plant and animal were still at man's command and could be drawn forth just as the forces used in the form of steam for propelling machines can be extracted from mineral coal today. I have told you that when these forces are drawn forth they are connected in a mysterious way with the nature-forces in wind, weather, and the like; and if applied by man for purposes running counter to the divine purposes, these nature-forces are called into action against him.
Here lies the cause of the Atlantean flood and of the devastation wrought by the powers of nature which led to the disappearance of the whole continent of Atlantis. But even before that time, man had lost command over the forces of fire and the power to ally them with certain mysterious forces of the Earth. Power over the forces of fire and earth in a certain combination had already been withdrawn from man. But now — through the influence of Ahriman and his accomplices — he again acquired a certain mastery over the forces of fire and earth, with dire consequences. And much that is to be heard about the use of fire in ancient Persia is connected with what I am now telling you. Many forces that are applied in black magic and are connected with it lead to the result that man lays hold of forces of an entirely different nature and thus gains an influence over fire and earth, with terrible and devastating results. The practice of black magic by the descendants of the Atlanteans in ancient Persia would still have been effective had not the teachings of Zarathustra revealed how Ahriman, as an opposing power, ensnares man and clouds his vision of the spiritual reality behind the world of sense. Thus through Zarathustra and his followers influence was brought to bear upon a large part of Post-Atlantean civilization; on the one hand men were taught of the workings of the sublime God of Light to whom they may turn, and, on the other, of the malefic power of Ahriman and his hosts.
Ahriman works upon man in countless, infinitely diverse ways. — I have told you that the Event of the Mystery of Golgotha was a moment of supreme importance for the evolution of the world. The Christ appeared in the realm into which man enters after death, where Ahriman's influence was even mightier than in the world around man here on Earth between birth and death. In the realm of existence between death and rebirth, Ahriman's influences worked upon man with terrible, overwhelming power. And if nothing else had taken place, utter darkness would gradually have closed in upon man in the ‘realm of Shades’ — as it was correctly designated by the ancient Greeks. A condition of complete isolation, leading to the intensification of egoism, would have set in between death and rebirth; man would have been born into his new life as a gross and overweening egotist.
Hence it is more than a figure of speech to say that after the Event of Golgotha, at the moment when the blood flowed from the wounds, the Christ appeared in yonder world, in the realm of the Shades, and cast Ahriman into fetters. Although Ahriman's influence remained and is really the origin of all materialistic thinking on the part of man, although this influence can be paralyzed only if men receive into themselves the power emanating from the Mystery of Golgotha, nevertheless they can draw from that Event a power which enables them to find their way once again into the Divine-Spiritual world.
Thus it was to Ahriman that the faculty of human cognition was primarily directed. Ahriman was a being whose existence was divined by men, a being of whom they had some knowledge through the culture inaugurated by Zarathustra; and from there the knowledge of Ahriman spread among the other peoples and into their world of ideas. Ahriman with his hosts appears as a figure with the most diverse names among the civilized peoples. And owing to the peculiar conditions obtaining in the souls of the European peoples who had remained farthest in the rear of the migrations from West to East, who had been less affected than the others by what had transpired in the ancient Indian, ancient Persian, Egyptian, and even in the Greco-Latin civilizations — owing to these circumstances there prevailed among the European peoples from whom the Fifth Epoch of culture was to be born, an attitude of soul which regarded Ahriman alone as a figure of dread. And while many different names were adopted — as for example, “Mephistopheles” among the Hebrew people — in Europe the figure of Ahriman became the “Devil” in his various forms.
Obviously, therefore, we are gazing here into a concatenation of happenings in the spiritual worlds, and many a man who claims to be above medieval superstitions will do well to remember the words in Faust:
“The little folk ne'er scent the Devil
E'en though he have them by the collar”.
It is precisely because man closes his spiritual eyes to this influence that he succumbs to it so completely. Goethe's “Mephistopheles” is none other than the figure of Ahriman, and must not be confused with Lucifer. All the errors cropping up here and there in commentaries on Faust originate from this confusion — although it was indeed Lucifer who first paved the way for Ahriman's influence. In studying Ahriman one is therefore led back to an original influence of Lucifer, the nature of which can only become clear after long preparatory efforts have been made to understand this intimate connection.
The subtle difference between the two Beings must not be overlooked. The essential point is that, fundamentally speaking, Lucifer had brought man under the influence of the powers connected with air and water only, whereas it was Ahriman-Mephistopheles who has subjected him to the influence of far more deadly powers; and the civilizations immediately to come will see the appearance of many things connected with Ahriman's influence. Through this influence the seeker for the spirit who does not stand upon firm and sure foundations can readily fall prey to the most terrible illusion and deception. For Ahriman is a spirit who sets out to spread deception as to the true nature of the sense-world, especially as an expression of the spiritual world. When a man has a tendency to abnormal, somnambulistic states or through certain wrongful training awakens occult forces whereby egoism is intensified, then Ahriman or Mephistopheles has a ready influence precisely upon these occult forces, an influence that can soon become overwhelmingly powerful. Whereas Lucifer's influence can only bring it about that what confronts a man from the spiritual world (and this applies also to one who is receiving wrongful training) appears to him as an astral form visible to the astral body, the manifestations due to the influence of Ahriman are brought to light in that the evil influences on the physical body press through into the etheric body and then become visible as phantoms.
In the influences of Ahriman, therefore, we have to do with powers of a much lower nature than the influences of Lucifer. Lucifer's influences can never become as evil as the influences of Ahriman and of those beings who are connected with the powers of fire. The influence of Ahriman or Mephistopheles can bring it about that in order to attain occult knowledge a man is induced, for example, to undertake certain measures with his physical body. The method that consists in the use and misuse of the physical body is the most evil that can possibly be applied for the purpose of acquiring occult powers. It is a fact that in certain schools of black magic such practices are taught in abundance. One of the most terrible perversions to which man may be subject occurs when the forces of the physical body are taken as the starting-point for occult training.
It is not possible here to enter into closer detail than the indication that all machinations consisting in any way of a misuse of the forces of the physical body emanate from the influences of Ahriman; and because the effect of this penetrates into man's etheric body, it works as a world of phantoms that is nothing else than the garment of powers which drag man down to a level below that of true manhood. Nearly every ancient civilization — the Indian, the Persian, the Egyptian, the Greco-Latin — had its period of decadence; so too the Mysteries, when the Mystery traditions were no longer preserved in their purity. During these periods many of those who were either pupils of the initiates but unable to remain at their level or men to whom the secrets of the Mysteries had been unlawfully betrayed, had fallen into perverse and evil paths. Centers of black magic and its forces originated from these influences and have persisted to this day.
Ahriman is a spirit of lies, a spirit who conjures illusions before men, working together with his confederates in a spiritual world. Ahriman himself is no mirage — far from it! But what is conjured before men's eyes of spirit under his influence — that is mirage, illusion. When a man's desires and passions flow along evil paths and at the same time he lends himself in any way to occult practices, then the occult forces which are awakened penetrate into the etheric body and the most evil powers of corruption appear among the illusory images which may themselves often be majestic, awe-inspiring. Such is the terrible influence of Ahriman upon man.
From what has been said you can gather that through Christ's Coming, Ahriman has been cast into fetters — if this expression may be used — but only, of course, for those who endeavor unceasingly to fathom the Christ Mystery. And outside the forces streaming from the Christ Mystery, protection in the world against the influence of Ahriman will steadily diminish. In a certain sense — and many signs proclaim it — our epoch courts these influences of Ahriman. In certain occult teachings the hosts of Ahriman are also called the Asuras. These are of course the evil Asuras, who at a certain time fell away from the evolutionary path of the Asuras who endowed man with personality. It has already been indicated that these are spiritual beings who detached themselves from the evolution of the Earth before the separation of the Sun.
Up to now we have been describing merely the terrible influence that Ahriman can exercise upon a certain abnormal process of development, one that proceeds along occult paths. But in a certain respect the whole of mankind came under the influence of Ahriman during the second half of the Atlantean epoch. The whole Post-Atlantean epoch has within it, in a certain sense, the aftermath of Ahriman's influence — in one region of the Earth more, in another less. But Ahriman's influence has asserted itself everywhere and all the teachings given to the peoples by the ancient initiates concerning the Spirits of Light who are the opponents of Ahriman were given primarily in order to draw these peoples away from Ahriman's influence. It was a good, wisely led education of mankind.
But let us not forget that since that time the destiny of Ahriman has been interwoven in a certain sense with the destiny of humanity, and manifold happenings, of which the uninitiated can know nothing, keep the whole karma of humanity in perpetual connection with the karma of Ahriman. To understand what will now be said, we must realize that over and above the karma which belongs to every individual human being there is at every stage of existence a universal karmic law. All the categories of beings have their karma — the karma of the one differing from that of the other. But karma operates through every realm of existence and there are things in the karma of mankind, in the karma of a people, of a community, or other groups of human beings, which must be regarded as collective karma, so that in certain circumstances the individual can be drawn into the sway of the collective karma. It will not always be easy for one who cannot penetrate to the root of the matter to discern exactly where the influences of the powers concerned lie in the case of human beings overtaken by such a destiny. An individual within some community may well be entirely guiltless as far as his own karma is concerned; but because he stands within a field of collective karma, calamity may befall him. If, however, he is entirely guiltless, compensation will be made in later incarnations.
In the wider connection we must look not only at the karma of the past but also think of the karma of the future. A terrible fate may befall a whole group of human beings; the reason why just this group should suffer such a destiny is not to be discovered. Someone who might be capable of investigating the karma of an individual will in certain circumstances be unable to find anything at all that could have led to this tragic fate, for the threads of karma are extremely complicated. The cause of such karmic happenings may lie far, far away — but it is connected with these people nevertheless. And it may be that the whole group, while guiltless, has been overtaken by some collective karma which could not overtake those immediately guilty, because circumstances did not make this possible. In such cases the only thing that can be said is this: In the total karma of an individual, everything is ultimately balanced out, including what befalls him without guilt on his part; it is all inscribed in his karma and compensation in the fullest sense will be made in future time. — Therefore in considering the law of karma we must also take into account the karma of the future. Nor must it be forgotten that man is not an isolated being but that every individual has to share jointly in the collective karma of humanity. We must remember, too, that man, together with humanity, is connected with those hierarchies of beings who have not entered into the physical world and that he is also drawn into the karma of the hierarchies. In the destinies of mankind in the spiritual world a great deal appears the connections of which are not to be sought in the immediate circumstances, but the karmic consequences come to pass inevitably.
Since the second half of the Atlantean epoch, Ahriman's karma has been linked with the karma of mankind. Where, then, are the deeds of Ahriman, over and above what is wrought by him in the bodies of men in order to spread phantoms and illusion over the world of sense? Where are these other deeds?
Everything in the world has, as it were, two sides, one pertaining more to man as a spiritual being, the other to what has developed as the kingdoms of nature around him. The Earth is the arena of man's existence. To the eye of spirit this Earth is revealed as a combination of different layers or strata. The outermost stratum is called the “Mineral Earth” or “Mineral Stratum” because it contains only such substances as are to be found in the ground under our feet. This is the shallowest stratum, relatively speaking. Then begins the “Fluidic Earth”, the material constitution of which is entirely different from that of the “mineral” stratum above it. This second stratum is, as it were, endowed with inner life; and only because the solid, mineral stratum is spread over it are the inner forces of this second stratum held together. If they were released they would instantaneously disperse into cosmic space. This stratum, therefore, lies under tremendous pressure. A third stratum is the “Vapor Earth”. It is not a material vapor such as arises on the Earth's surface, but in this third stratum the substance itself is imbued with inner forces, comparable only with the passions, the inner urges and impulses of man. Whereas on the Earth it is only beings like animals and men who can unfold passions, this third stratum — just as the substances of the Earth are permeated by forces of magnetism and warmth — is permeated in a material sense with forces similar to those we know as human and animal passions and impulses. The fourth or “Form Stratum” is so designated because it contains the material and the forces of what are encountered in the mineral part of the Earth as entities cast into form. And the characteristic of the fifth stratum, or “Fertility Earth,” is that even as material it teems with infinite fertility. If you were to get hold of part of this stratum it would perpetually be sending forth new impulses, new sproutings; rampant fertility is the intrinsic quality of this stratum. Then we come to the sixth stratum, the “Fire Earth”, containing as “substances” within it forces that can bring about terrible havoc and destruction. It is actually into these forces that the primordial Fire has been banished.
In and from this stratum the realm of Ahriman operates — in a material sense. What manifests in the phenomena of outer nature, in air and water, in cloud formations, in lightning and thunder — all this is, so to speak, a last vestige on the Earth's surface of forces that were already connected with ancient Saturn and separated from the Earth together with the Sun. By what is working in these forces, the inner fire-forces of the Earth, are placed in the service of Ahriman. There he has the center of his activity; and whereas his spiritual influences make their way to the souls of men and lead them to error, we see how Ahriman — in a certain respect shackled — has certain foci for his activity in the interior of the Earth. Were we to understand the mysterious connections of what has come to pass on the Earth under Ahriman's influence and what Ahriman's own karma has become in consequence of this, we should recognize in the quakes and tremors of the Earth the connection between such grievous, tragic happenings in nature and the power that holds sway on the Earth. These manifestations are something that has remained since ancient times as a reaction on the Earth against the good beings of Light.
Thus forces allied with the beings who were thrust away from their connection with the Earth at the time when the good beings of Light established the beneficent phenomena around the Earth-globe are active, and in a certain sense we can recognize the echoings of these fire-forces, which in earlier times were withdrawn from man's control, in what is wrought by fire in such terrible manifestations of nature. Although the karma of Ahriman has been linked with that of humanity since the time of Atlantis, the suggestion should not arise that any guilt is to be attributed to those who are victims of what Ahriman's karma has evoked. Such happenings are connected with the collective karma of humanity in which the individual has also to share. The causes which produce their effects in particular localities as the workings of Ahriman's karma often lie somewhere else entirely. It is however these particular places which afford the necessary opportunity.
There we see a connection which seems to be like a relic of catastrophes undergone by humanity in the far distant past. The power to work upon fire, which man had formerly possessed, was withdrawn from him. Hence ancient Lemuria was brought to its destruction by the fire of the passions of men. The same fire that is now below was then above; it receded from the Earth's surface, and the same fire that issued as a kind of extract from the primordial fire is the inorganic, mineral fire of today. So too it was with the forces working through air and water which, again by way of the passions of men, led to the Atlantean catastrophes. These catastrophes were evoked by the collective karma of humanity, but a relic has remained, and this relic awakens the echoes of those earlier catastrophes. Our volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are nothing else than the echoes of these catastrophes.
But it should never so much as occur to anyone to attach an iota of guilt to the victim of such a calamity or to withhold compassion in the fullest measure. It must be absolutely clear to an anthroposophist that the karma of these individuals has nothing to do with the guilt to which the catastrophes are due and it should never occur to him to withhold help from anyone because — to put it trivially — he believes in karma and therefore assumes that this destiny was brought on by the man himself. Karma demands of us that we help human beings because we may be sure that our help means something that is written in their karma and will turn that karma in a more favorable direction. Understanding that is based upon the recognition of karma must necessarily lead to compassion; our compassion for the victims of such catastrophes will be all the greater, for our knowledge tells us that there is a collective karma of humanity from which the individual members have to suffer, that just as such happenings are brought about by humanity as one whole, so too must humanity be answerable for them; we must regard such a destiny as our own, and help not only out of a spontaneous impulse but because we know that we are involved in the karma of humanity and share the guilt incurred!
A question was handed to me this morning about earthquake catastrophes. The question runs as follows: “What is the occult explanation of earthquakes? Can they be foreseen? If particular catastrophes can be foreseen, why should it not be possible to give some warning beforehand? Such a warning might possibly be ineffective the first time but certainly not on another occasion.”
You may remember something of what was said at the end of the lecture on the interior of the Earth about the possibility of earthquakes. We will not consider that now but enter directly into this question. In reality it has two sides. The one is: Whether from the occult connections which can be discerned, earthquakes can be foreseen. The answer to this is that the knowledge of such matters belongs to the deepest realm of occult science. In respect of a particular event on the Earth, an event with roots as deeply laid as those described today, and connected with causes extending widely over the Earth — in respect of such an event it is absolutely correct to say that even in a particular case an indication of time can be given. It would certainly be possible for the occultist to give such an indication.
But the other side of the question is: whether it is permissible for such indications to be given. — For one who confronts the occult secrets from outside it will seem almost a matter of course that the answer will be “Yes!” And yet the truth is that in regard to such events it is actually only twice or three times in any one century — at the very most, twice or three times — that any prediction can be announced from the centers of initiation. For you must remember that these things are connected with the karma of humanity as a whole and if, for example, they were avoided in one instance they would inevitably occur in some other place and in a different form. The prediction itself would alter nothing. And just think what a terrible encroachment it would be into the karma of the Earth as a whole if human measures were adopted to prevent such happenings. The reaction would be so fearful, so violent, that only in very rare and exceptional cases would a high initiate, foreseeing an earthquake, be able to make use of his knowledge to help himself or those near him. With full knowledge he would have to face his end, as a matter of course! For these things that have been implicit in the karma of humanity for thousands and millions of years cannot be paralyzed by measures adopted during one brief period of evolution.
But there is still more to add.
It has been said already that this very subject is one of the most difficult of all in occult investigation. It is far easier to know something about the astral world, the devachanic world, even about the farthest planets, than about the interior of the Earth. Most things one hears are the purest trash, because, as I say, it is one of the most difficult subjects in occultism. The same is true of matters that are connected with these elemental catastrophes. And above all you must realize that clairvoyance is not a matter of just sitting down, inducing a particular condition, and then being able to say what is going on in the whole universe, up to the highest spheres. It is by no means so. To believe any such thing would be as “clever” as to say: “You have the faculty of perception in the physical world; but why was it that when 12 o'clock came and you were sitting in your room, you were neither astonished by nor did you see what happened outside by the River Spree at that hour?” There are hindrances to seership. If the seer in question had gone for a walk at 12 o'clock he would probably have seen what happened. It is not the case that all worlds are immediately disclosed through the mere resolve to induce in oneself the requisite condition. The seer has to find his way to the events and investigate them, and these investigations are of the most difficult kind because the hindrances are greatest. — And perhaps at this point something may be said about these hindrances.
If a man is able to walk about on his two legs, you can deprive him of this faculty not only by amputating his legs but also by shutting him up in a cell; then he can no longer walk about. In the same way there are hindrances to occult investigation, and in the domain of which we are speaking they are immensely powerful. I will tell you one of the main hindrances and in doing so introduce you to a mysterious relationship. The greatest hindrance to occult investigation in this domain is constituted by the methods and trend of modern materialistic science. The countless illusions and fallacies accumulating in materialistic science today, all the research that is not only futile but is prompted by the vanities of men — these are things which in their effects in the higher worlds make investigation into these manifestations and free vision in the higher world impossible, or to say the least, extremely difficult. Free vision is clouded as a result of the materialistic research pursued here on Earth. It is by no means easy to get to the root of these things.
But only wait for the time when spiritual science has become more widespread and when through its influence the materialistic superstitions prevailing in our world will be swept away! Once the nonsensical analogies and hypotheses leading to all kinds of conjectures about the interior of the Earth are cast aside, you will see that when spiritual science has itself been integrated into the karma of humanity, when it finds the way to men's souls and is able from there to overcome the opposing powers and materialistic superstitions, when further research can be made into all that is connected with the bitterest foe of mankind, that being who fetters man's vision within the world of sense — you will see that it will then be possible, even externally, to influence the karma of humanity in the sense that the dire results of such happenings may be alleviated.
The reason why the initiates must be silent about happenings connected with the great karma of humanity is to be found in the materialistic superstitions of men. Many scientific pursuits are in no way imbued with the Faustian striving for truth but prompted entirely by vanity and ambition. How much scientific research is promoted in the world simply because an individual is seeking for something that will be to his personal advantage!
If you sum up all these things you will realize the strength of the force that obstructs vision into the world behind the external phenomena of the material world. Not until this fog has been cleared away will the time come when, in respect of certain mysterious manifestations of nature emanating from the foes of mankind and trespassing deeply into human life, it will be possible for help — and then in no small measure — to be given to mankind. Until that time comes there is no such possibility.
I am well aware that these questions have been given a turn not always in the mind of the one who asks them. But it is often the fate of occult science to be obliged to formulate the questions in the right way before they can be correctly answered. Again do not take this to mean that the mysterious connection between earthquakes and the karma of humanity is a secret that cannot be investigated. It can be investigated, but there are reasons why only the most commonplace aspects of such questions can be presented to the world today. Let the knowledge reach mankind through spiritual science that there is a connection between the deeds of men and happenings in nature and then the time will come when these things can be answered in the way the question demands. Spiritual science may pass through many destinies; its influence may even be crippled, remaining within narrow and restricted circles. Nevertheless it will make its way through mankind, will be integrated into the karma of humanity, and then the possibility will be created for individuals themselves to have an effect upon the karma of humanity as a whole.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
|Edith and Marilyn talking about Rudolf Steiner|
"In Dame Edith Sitwell’s autobiography Taken Care Of, she tells of her meeting with ‘Miss Marilyn Monroe’, who she describes as quiet, with great natural dignity and extremely intelligent. She was also,she said, extremely sensitive. Dame Edith tells of a magazine article that she was commissioned to write about her visit to Hollywood and this included a face to face encounter with Miss Monroe, who she suspected the magazine moguls thought would hate one another on sight.
They were mistaken. ‘On the occasion of our meeting she wore a green dress and, with her yellow hair, looked like a daffodil. We talked mainly, as far as I remember, about Rudolf Steiner, whose works she had just been reading.’"
Thank you, Bradford Riley!
Rudolf Steiner was baptized 150 years ago today, February 27, 1861.
From the Introduction to Growing Point by Alfred Heidenreich:
I had accepted the universities unquestioningly as the sources of learning which offered the key to the mastery of life. But I became aware that this had been an illusion. It might be that the universities still held the key to jobs in the Establishment. But had not the Establishment miserably and ignominiously collapsed all around? Instinctively I realized that the traditinal academic approach to the world had a great deal to do with the Decline of the West, of which it was fashionable to speak. It dawned on me that the...universities...were in a large measure the intellectual fathers of a way of life which had been discredited by the verdict of history. I could not have put it so bluntly or precisely at the time. But at bottom this is what I felt and this was the cause of my malaise.
In this condition I met Rudolf Steiner. It was at the beginning of the first Conference for University Students which he conducted in Germany....in February 1921...I took part in every session. I understood little of what Steiner said. But after a week I knew I had found my university; and after a fortnight I took a number of friends with me to him for a personal interview. From that moment none of us ever turned back.
Looking back today over nearly half a century, I can only testify that Steiner and his work has fulfilled a hundred times and more the unspoken promise of that first encounter....I have had the good fortune in the course of my activities to see a fair portion of the globe, and to read a good deal in the process. But wherever I went it was Steiner to whom I would finally turn in my mind. He was the best guide....
On my journeys I have also had the privilege of meeting other great men — Gandhhi, Albert Schweitzer, Archbishop Temple. Steiner was and remained in a class by himself. There simply wasn't anybody one could compare him with. He was truly extraordinary. Quiet, humble, dignified, immensely alert, he touched every subject with the unassuming assurance of a master and the originality of genius. In a word: in him the evolution of human consciousness had reached a new stage. While we ordinary mortals sit in the Platonic cave with our backs to reality painfully deciphering the shadows cast against the inner wall, Steiner achieved the spiritual feat of turning around. Eventually he saw reality face to face.
From Chapter One:
It will for ever be difficult to convey the quality of such meetings with Rudolf Steiner. Even the greatest parallels break down. The most astounding feature was the concentration and singlemindedness with which Rudolf Steiner conducted such meetings. He gave the impression as if the subject in hand were his one and only object in life, as if he had never done anything else. And yet one knew that on the same day he would conduct probably two or three other meetings, on entirely different subjects, with the same application and mastery.
Lecture by Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, October 2, 1916
In the lectures given here for some time it has been my task to draw attention to certain impulses, certain forces, which work in the souls of men and thence into all that these souls bring to expression in earthly life. I have pointed out how these impulses and forces developed at the dawn of modern spiritual life. Today, because I want to call your attention to a particular kind of modern spiritual striving, we will consider, once again, an important starting point for modern spiritual life, which we have already considered but which is one of the most important and essential of all. When we inquire into the forces that are at work in modern souls, we are compelled to recognize the importance and significance of this event in history. I refer to the whole destiny and development of the Order of the Knights Templar.
I should like, then, to put before you once more the picture of the Order of the Knights Templar in order to show how what proceeded from this Order worked on in broad streams which flow even into the feelings and perceptions of human beings of our own times.
We know that the Order of the Templars was founded in connection with the Crusades. It was, so to speak, an important accompanying phenomenon to that great event in history whereby the peoples of Europe sought in their own way to come nearer to the Mystery of Golgotha than they had previously been able to. The Order of the Templars was founded almost at the very beginning of the Crusades. Leaving on one side all that is known externally about the founding of the Order and the further course of its activity — you can easily read it in history books — we find that this Order of the Knights Templar, inwardly considered, expresses a specially deep approach to the Mystery of Golgotha on the part of modern humanity. First of all, a small number of souls who were faithful and devoted followers of Christianity gathered together at a place that lay near to the ancient Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem and established there a kind of spiritual order. As we have already said, we will not consider now the more external side of the event, but will look at it from a spiritual point of view and turn our attention to what gradually began to live in the souls of the Templars.
In their blood, as the representative of that which distinguishes earthly Man, in their I, but also in all their feeling and thinking, in their very being and existence, these souls were, in a sense, to forget their connection with sensible physical existence; they were to live solely in what streams from the Mystery of Golgotha, and fight for the continuance of the strongest impulses that are connected with the Mystery of Golgotha.
The blood of the Templars belonged to Christ Jesus — each one of them knew this — their blood belonged to nothing else on Earth than to Christ Jesus. Every moment of their life was to be filled with the perpetual consciousness of how in their own soul there dwelt, in the words of Paul, “Not I, but Christ in me!” And in bloody and severe combats, in devoted work such as the Crusades demanded, the Templars lived out in practice what they had spiritually resolved. Words are impotent to describe what lived in the souls of these men, who might never waver in their duty, who, even if a three-times-stronger power confronted them on the physical plane, might never flee, but must calmly await death, the death that they were ready to endure in order to establish more firmly in Earth existence the impulse which went forth from the Mystery of Golgotha. It was an intense life of the whole human being in union with the Mystery of Golgotha.
And now, when such an intense life is lived in the right rhythms, so that it can take its place in the whole stream of cosmic and earthly forces, then something of real significance develops out of such a life. I say advisedly "of real significance." For when such a consciousness as this is placed inwardly, mystically, and with a certain rhythm into all that goes on in the outside world, then Man can experience again and again how his own inner being is brought into connection with the divine and spiritual.
But something else, something that has still greater effect, is developed when this inner experience is brought together with the course of external history and placed into the service of the course of events. And it was intended that what lived consciously in the souls of the Knights Templar should be in harmony with what had to be done in the attempt to regain power over the sacred grave. A deeply mystical life developed in this way among those who belonged to this so-called Spiritual Order, an Order which on this very account could accomplish more for the world than other Spiritual Orders. For when in this way a life that is lived mystically is also in connection with the life going on in the surrounding world, then what is experienced mystically streams into the invisible and supersensible forces of the surrounding world of that human being. It becomes objective — it is not merely within his own soul, but works on further in the course of history. Through a mysticism of this kind, it comes about that an experience of the soul is not simply there for the single human being, but turns into objective forces which were formerly not there in the spiritual stream that carried and upholds humanity. These forces come to birth and are there. When a person performs his daily task with his hands or with implements, he places some external material thing into the world. With a mysticism such as was unfolded by the Knights Templar, something spiritual is added to the spiritual “effects” of the world. And inasmuch as this took place, humanity was actually brought a stage further in its evolution. Through this experience of the Templars, the Mystery of Golgotha was understood, and also experienced, at a higher stage than before. Something was now present in the world, in regard to this Mystery of Golgotha, which was formerly not there.
The souls of the Templars had however at the same time achieved something else. Through this intense inward penetration into the Mystery of Golgotha they had gained the power actually to attain Christian initiation by means of the historical event. Christian initiation may be attained in the manner described in our books, but in this case it was attained in the following way: their external deeds and the enthusiasm that lived in these deeds drew forth the souls of the Templars, so that these souls, apart from the body, outside the body, lived with the spiritual progress of humanity and penetrated in soul and spirit the secrets of the Mystery of Golgotha. Many and deep experiences were then undergone, and not for the individual soul alone but for all humanity.
Then, as we know, the Order of the Knights Templar increased and spread, and in addition to the immensely powerful influence that it possessed spiritually — more in a supersensible manner than through external channels — it acquired great wealth. And I have already described how the time came for these external treasuries, which the Knights Templar amassed to greater and greater extent, to be converted into temporal power. I have told you how, through a kind of initiation with the evil principle of gold, Philippe le Bel was chosen to be the instrument who should oppose the Templars. That is to say, he wanted in the first place to possess their treasures. But Philippe le Bel knew more than most men in the world. Through what he had experienced he knew many of the secrets of the human soul. And so it came about that Philippe le Bel could be a fitting instrument in the service of Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic powers whose aim and object it was to render ineffective the Templar Movement in the form it had first of all taken.
Philippe le Bel was, as we have said, the instrument of other, spiritual, Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic powers. Under the inspiration of these powers Philippe le Bel knew what it would have meant if, into the spiritual streams which flow through the world just as truly as do the outwardly visible events, if into these streams had been allowed to flow what the Templars had gained as knowledge of the Mystery of Golgotha and as feelings and impulses of will connected with that Mystery. What had thus developed must therefore be torn away from the normally progressive divine-spiritual powers; it must be turned into other paths. To this end it had also to be brought about that something which could only live in the souls of the Templars should be torn out of the individuality of the Templars themselves. Just as that which the Templars had experienced in connection with the Mystery of Golgotha did not remain with them as individuals but was placed out into the general evolution of humanity, so now something else was also to be removed, as it were, from the individuality and embodied in the objective spiritual stream. And this could only be accomplished by means of a particularly cruel deed, by means of a terrible act of cruelty.
The Templars were committed for trial. Not only were they accused of external crimes, of which they were most certainly innocent — as can be proved on historical grounds, if one is but ready to see the truth — but they were accused above all of blaspheming Christianity, of blaspheming the Mystery of Golgotha itself, of worshipping idols, of introducing paganism into the Mystery of Golgotha, of not using the right formula in the act of consecration at the Transubstantiation, nay, even of desecrating the Cross. Of all sorts of other crimes also, even unnatural crimes, were the Templars accused. And hundreds and hundreds of them were subject to the cruel torture of the rack.
Those who committed them for trial knew what this torture on the rack meant. The ordinary day-consciousness of those who underwent this torture was suppressed, so that during the torture they forgot, in their surface consciousness, their connection with the Mystery of Golgotha. But they had become acquainted — and this is the case with everyone who truly sees into the spiritual world — they had become acquainted with all the trials and temptations which beset a person when he really approaches the good divine-spiritual powers. With all the enemies who work out of the lower spiritual kingdoms and who want to bring Man down and lead him into evil, who are able to work in the impulses and desires and passions, and especially in hatred and mocking and irony against the Good, with all these the Templars had become familiar. In many an hour that was for them a sacred hour of their life, they had gained those inner victories that Man can gain when with open eyes he passes through the worlds that lie beyond the threshold of the world of the senses; for these worlds must first be overcome before Man can enter with strengthened powers into the spiritual worlds where he rightly belongs.
During their torture, the vision of the Templars that could look out over these spiritual worlds to which they belonged became clouded and dim; their surface consciousness was dulled, and their inner gaze was directed entirely and only to what they had experienced as something to be overcome, was directed to the temptations over which they had gained victory after victory. And thus it came about that, during the moments while they were actually being tortured on the rack, they forgot their connection with the Mystery of Golgotha, forgot how with their soul they were living in the spiritual and eternal worlds. And the trials and temptations which they had resisted and overcome stood before them like a vision while they lay stretched on the rack, and they acknowledged the very thing that each one for himself had overcome; they confessed it to be a custom within the Order. They confessed themselves to be guilty of just that over which they had again and again won the victory. Every one of these Templars was obliged to seem to be the man in him over which he had inwardly gained the victory, over which he had to gain the victory before, with higher forces, he could attain to the highest and holiest of all. (I speak of all true Templars — abuses can of course be found everywhere.)
All this the opponents knew. They knew that, just as on the one hand the Mystery of Golgotha had been placed out into the evolution of humanity as an influence for good, so now, in the same way, because the ordinary consciousness had been dulled, therefore what lived in this evil consciousness was by this means placed outside, objectified, and embodied in the evolution of humanity. It had become a factor in history.
Two streams were thus allowed to flow on into modern history: what the Templars experienced in their holiest moments, what they had worked out and developed within the progressing spiritual stream of humanity, but also what had been wrested from them by Ahriman-Mephistopheles, fetched up out of their consciousness in order to make it objective, in order to form it objectively and make it effective in the further progress of the centuries.
At this point a simple-minded person might easily put the question: Why do the divine-spiritual powers of providence allow such a thing to happen? Why do they not guide humanity through the course of history without Man's having to undergo such painful trials? Such a thought is “human, all-too-human.” It arises in the mind of one who can believe that the world would be better if it had been made not by Gods but by men. Many people may think this; they may think that, with their intellect, they can criticize the wisdom that works and weaves in the world. But such a way of thinking leads also to the very extreme of intellectual pride.
We human beings are called upon to penetrate into the secrets of existence, not to criticize the wisdom-filled guidance of the world. We must therefore also gain insight into the place and significance of the evil currents which are permitted by the wise guidance of the world. For if only the good were allowed, if good impulses alone worked in history, human beings would never be so guided in their historical evolution that they could develop freedom. Only through the fact that evil holds sway in the spiritual course of human history can humanity develop to freedom. And if the Gods were to turn away Man's gaze from evil, he would have to remain forever an automaton — he would never become free. Things are indeed so ordered in the progress of humanity that even that which causes the deepest sorrow is led at last to good. Pain is only a temporary thing — not that it is on that account any less great and deep. We must not deceive ourselves as to pain and fall a prey to some cheap mysticism that will not see the pain; we must be ready to partake in it, ready to sink ourselves in it, ready to pour it out over our own soul. But, at the same time, without criticizing the spiritual purpose and will of existence, we must also learn to understand how the most varied impulses of a positive and negative nature are introduced into the evolution of humanity in order that human beings may become not only good, but also free and possessors of their own impulses.
And so in the evolution and destiny of the Templars we see an impulse that is important for all the succeeding centuries of modern times. If it had been possible for the purpose of the Order to continue to be lived out with the intensity and strength with which it was at first lived out by the great Templars, succeeding humanity would not have been able to bear it. The speed of evolution had, as it were, to be checked; the stream had to be held back. But in this way it was made more inward. And so we see how, in the two streams we have indicated in modern history, deep inwardness of life developed alongside external materialism. For the Mephistophelian impulse, which Mephistopheles-Ahriman through his instrument Philippe le Bel dragged out by force, lived on. It lived on, together with many other things, in the materialistic thoughts and feelings of men and in all the materialistic impulses which appeared among mankind from the 15th to the 19th century. Hence it has come about that what we know as materialism has spread itself so widely over the soul and spirit of Man and over all his social life and has prepared the ground for the karma of our own time.
Had things not gone in this way, had the stream of materialism not been allowed to spread so far and wide, neither could, on the other hand, our connection with the spiritual world have become so deep and intimate. For indeed what the Templars had accomplished by entering in a living spiritual sense into the Mystery of Golgotha was not lost. It lived on. And the souls of the Templars — after their terrible experiences on the rack, fifty-four of them were put to death — the souls of the Templars who had under these circumstances passed through the portal of death were now able to send down from the spiritual world streams of spiritual life for those who lived in the succeeding centuries.
Fifty-four Templars were burned at the stake in 1312. Fifty-four souls went up into the spiritual worlds. And from that time on, supersensibly and invisibly, without its being outwardly perceptible to the facts of history, there began in European humanity a spiritual development that owed its origin to the fact that individual souls were continually being inspired from the spiritual world with what these fifty-four souls carried through the gate of death into the spiritual world.
Let me give you an example of this. It is one I have mentioned before, but I will now deal with it in more detail from another point of view.
Before the tragedy broke out in the Order of the Templars — a whole century before the year 1312 — Wolfram von Eschenbach composed his poem Parzifal. Working alone, or in a very small circle, Wolfram von Eschenbach produced this song about a soul who strives by means of inward purification to attain the life which the Knights Templar also held before them continually as their ultimate goal. In a wealth of picture and in wonderful imaginations, Wolfram von Eschenbach unrolls before our view the inner life of Parzifal, who was for him the representative of the Templar ideal.
Now let us inquire: Do we see any important external result of Parzifal — who was for him the representative of the Templar ideal — in the historical development of succeeding times? We do not. In the further history of European humanity it was, as we know, Richard Wagner who first presented Parzifal again, and then in quite another way. But the spiritual power, the spiritual impulse, that was able to flow into the soul of Wolfram von Eschenbach — at that time still from the Earth — became in succeeding centuries for many others an inspiration from the spiritual world. And one who is able to perceive the mysterious connections between the life on Earth and the spiritual life knows that the impulses which were carried into the spiritual world through the destiny of the Templars flowed also into the soul of Goethe. It was not to no purpose that Goethe began in the eighties a poem which he never finished. It is significant that he began it, and equally significant that even he was not strong enough to bring to actual expression the mighty thought of this poem. I refer to the poem The Mysteries, where the Brother Mark goes to the lonely castle of the Rosicrucians and enters the circle of the Twelve. Goethe grasped — in his own way, of course — the fundamental thought which is also contained in Parzifal, but he was not able to complete it; and we may see in that very fact an indication of how all of us are standing within the same spiritual development which Goethe experienced in its beginnings, and at which we must work and work and work that we may be able to give form to these beginnings and make further and further progress in the penetration of the spiritual world. Goethe devoted to the first beginnings of this spiritual development the best powers of his existence; he let them flow into his Faust, where he set out to portray Man's connection with the forces of the spirit, which include for him the Ahrimanic-Mephistophelian forces.
One who observes history concretely in its spiritual development can see quite clearly that into the soul of Goethe on Earth there followed from the spiritual world what the Templars — whose manner of death had been so cruel and so significant — had carried up into the spiritual worlds and, just because they had gone through the gate of death in this way, could pour down as inspiration into the souls of men. It flowed down, and if with more significance into Goethe's soul, it was not into his soul alone but into many others; and it continues to live, although but little noticed by human beings. The spiritual element in Faust itself still almost escapes notice in the outside world! It lives on, however, and is moving towards an ever richer life, and will have to become more and more fruitful if humanity is not to drift into decadence instead of evolving in an upward direction. But this lies in our own choice. In our age of time it is given into Man's own hands. The choice is set before him — and will be so more and more definitely — as to whether he will fall into decadence and continue to hold to materialism, or strive upwards into the spiritual worlds.
For we human beings, as we live on Earth, it is only in our physical body that we live a life connected with the Earth. The body that is woven of light and sound and life and is within this physical body — the so-called ether body — partakes not only in the life of Earth, but in the life of the cosmos. And when a human soul descends from the spiritual worlds to enter existence through birth, then, already before the event, forces are directed in the cosmos in a right way for the building up of the ether organism of the human being, even as the physical body of Man is built up from the physical forces and physical substances of Earth.
In the very simplest of Man's ideas lives pride and arrogance, and this is especially true in our materialistic age. In this materialistic age, parents actually believe that they place their children into existence all by themselves. And as materialism spreads, it will be more and more believed that it is the parents alone who bring the children to existence. Seen spiritually, it is different. Human beings here on Earth only provide the opportunity for something spiritual to come down to them. What a human being can do as a part consists solely in this: he can make ready the place by means of which an ether body that is being prepared from out of the far spaces of the cosmos may be able to sink down to Earth. This ether organism of the human being is just as much an organized entity as is the physical organism. The physical organism — we see how it has head, arms, hands, trunk, and all the parts that the anatomist and physiologist discover — for spiritual vision, this physical organism is shone through and glowed by the ether organism.
The physical organism breathes in air, and breathes out air. The ether organism breathes out light, and this light it gives to us. And when it breathes out light and confers the light upon us, we live by means of its light.
And it also breathes in light. As we breathe in and out air, so does our ether body breathe in and out. And when it breathes in light, it uses up the light, just as we use up air physically. (You may read of this in a passage in my Mystery Dramas where this secret of the ether world is unfolded dramatically.) The ether body breathes in light, uses up the light, and changes it into darkness, and can then receive into this darkness the sound of the worlds that lives in the Harmony of the Spheres, can receive into it the impulses of life. As we receive physical nourishment, so does the ether being that lives in us breathe light in and out. As we use up in us the oxygen of the air and make carbonic acid gas, so does the ether body use up the light, shooting it through with darkness, so that it appears in colors, so that the ether body shows itself to clairvoyant vision in waves of color. And while the ether body prepares the light for the darkness and thereby carries on an inner work of breathing, it lives, in that it receives this sound of the worlds and changes the sound of the worlds into the life of the worlds.
But what we receive in this way as our ether body comes down to us from the wide spaces of the cosmos, and it comes at certain times, from the far spaces of the cosmos. It is today not yet possible to show in all detail how the human ether body draws downwards on the paths of light when these paths are guided in a particular manner through the constellation of the stars at the time. For that to be possible, human beings will have to lift themselves to a higher stage of morality. For today, this mystery of the in-drawing of the human ether bodies on the paths of the light and on the paths of the sound of the Harmony of the Spheres would be misused by human beings in the most terrible way. For what is contained in this mystery would, if people of lower impulses wanted to acquire it, give parents unlimited power over the whole of their descendants. You will accordingly understand that this mystery of how the ether bodies come to the human beings who are incarnating — of how they come on the paths of light and on the paths of sound from out of the Harmony of the Spheres — will have to remain a mystery for a long time to come. Only under certain quite definite conditions can one learn anything of this mystery. For the failure to comply with the conditions would mean, as I have said, that parents could acquire a hitherto unheard-of power over their offspring, who might be completely deprived of all independence, of all personality, and of all individuality, and have the will of their parents thrust upon them. Wisely is this mystery hidden away for mankind in the unconscious and takes its course there in a good and healthy way, working through the will of the wise world-guidance.
Our ether body travels quite a different path from our physical body. After we have passed through the gate of death we still carry, as you know, our ether body for a few days; then we have to give it back to the cosmos. In the spiritual, in the cosmos, our ether body remains only as a picture for our own further life between death and new birth. It is incorporated into the cosmos in the most varied manner — in one way in the case of people who die early through some accident or otherwise, and in a different way in the case of those who attain maturity. But when one looks across into the world that lies beyond the threshold, one knows that both — the early death as well as the later death — have great significance in the whole cosmic connections. For our ether body that we give up continues to work on spiritually.
Fundamentally speaking, seen from a deeper aspect, we all grow old. Physically, one dies earlier and another later; seen from a spiritual aspect, we all become old alike. If we die early, our physical body comes to an end early; but our ether body continues to live on for the cosmos, and just because we have died early, our ether body has other functions in the cosmos than if we had died only later. When we count up the years that we live in physical and in ether body as human beings — we have the deeds on Earth that we accomplish in the physical body, and we have what we accomplish in the ether body also after death, and the life that we live there not for ourselves but for others, for the world — when we add up all this in its years, then we find that everyone lives to about the same age.
But when an event takes place such as happened with the Templars, something different again comes about from when it is only a case of the individual lives. The life that we lead as an individual remains within our own person; but there is also the life that can be objectively separated from us — as in the case of the Templars. On the one hand, what they were able to do for the continuance and spread of the Mystery of Golgotha and, on the other hand, what happened through the working of Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic forces for the impulse of modern materialism, all this also continues to live on as fragments of the ether body. But it is incorporated into the whole process of history. So that some of the life Man lives in his ether body lives on further with the human individuality, while some of it is incorporated into the course of history — when it has been torn away from the human being in the manner described. And the ether body is the means or medium whereby what a person lives in his soul so objectively that it can go out of his soul — whereby this may have, as it were, something to hold on to for its further life — it is the ether body that provides for this.
What flowed into the etheric world from the spiritual impulses of the Templars lived on etherically, and through this continued etheric life many souls were prepared to receive the inspirations that I have described as coming out of the spiritual world from the souls of the Templars themselves. That is what has actually been taking place in modern times.
Into what flowed from the souls of the Templars, however, there began to enter more and more that which flows from the Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic impulses and is steeped in the Mephistophelian element, and which was inaugurated on the racks where the Templars were tortured, inasmuch as they were forced under torture to speak untruths about themselves. This fact — not alone, but as one of the spiritual grounds of modern materialism — has to be understood if one would acquire an inner understanding of modern materialistic evolution.
And so it came about that in modern times, while certain individuals were inspired with high spiritual truths, the general culture became more and more materialistic in character; and the eye of the soul grew dim for what now surrounds us spiritually and also for whither we go when we pass through the gate of death and whence we come when we pass through the gate of birth. More and more was the gaze of Man turned away from beholding the spiritual, and this was true in all the different spheres of life — the spiritual sphere, the sphere of religion, the sphere of social life. More and more was the gaze directed to the material world as it showed itself to his senses. And the result has been that, since the rise of modern times, mankind has fallen into a great many errors.
Again let me say I am not criticizing the fact, I am not passing judgment on it. Through the fact that errors found their way into human evolution, human beings have to experience these errors, and they will gradually come to see them — and, in overcoming them, get stronger forces than they could have had if the path to their goal had been implanted in them automatically. And now the time has come when this insight must be developed and human beings must see how, in all that is material, live impulses to error. Today Man is called upon again and again to make up his mind to see through the errors and overcome them.
It is not our intention to lay blame on anything that has happened in history; what we want to do is to look at history objectively. The events of modern times have brought it about that Man's thoughts and feelings run their course only in accordance with external physical reality, only in accordance with what Man experiences between birth and death. Even the religious life has gradually assumed a personal character, inasmuch as it aims merely at putting into Man's hand a means whereby he may find blessing in his own soul. The religious life of more modern times, that turns Man's gaze more and more away from the concrete spiritual world, is really permeated with the materialistic outlook. As has been said, we have no intention of casting aspersion on any event in history; the events of history must however be described in such a way that they may be rightly understood — that is, if the coming generation is not to fall into decadence but to take a turn and move upwards.
We see the stream of materialism flow on and, side by side with it, the parallel hidden stream; and then at the end of the 18th century we come to a tremendous event, an event the influence of which was felt throughout the whole of the 19th century and right on into the present time. At the end of the 18th century, we see the French Revolution spreading its currents far and wide over European civilization. Many things took their course in the French Revolution as the historians have described them. But in addition to the understanding one has already of the French Revolution, in addition to the impulse one has recognized as proceeding from it and working on in European history, we must also understand the spiritual effects of materialistic Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic impulses. The French Revolution strove for a very high ideal. (As I said before, we are not concerned with finding fault but with understanding the events of history.) The French Revolution strove for a very high ideal; and it strove for it in a time upon which still fell the shadow of the event I have described today, the event which left Mephistopheles-Ahriman mighty to send forth into European life the impulse of materialism. And we may say of the best of those who were responsible for the French Revolution that they believed in the physical plane alone. It may be that in their consciousness they thought they believed in something else. What people profess with words is however of little account; the important thing is to have a live consciousness in one's soul of what is really working in the world; and those who were responsible for the French Revolution were conscious only of the physical plane.
They strove, it is true, for a high ideal, but they knew nothing of the trinity in Man: the body that works by means of the etheric principle in the human being, the soul that works through the astral principle, and the spirit that works in Man to begin with through the I. At the end of the 18th century, Man was already regarded in the way that he is regarded — to his lasting harm and loss — by modern materialistic physiology and biology. That is to say, even if in a religious way men had some notion of a spiritual life and perhaps also talked about it, their gaze was really only actually directed upon what is lived out here in the physical world between birth and death — what is lived out here, that one can understand. (Even that of course is not yet entirely understood; nevertheless one can understand it when one directs one's attention solely to the external physical body.) What lives in the entire human being: that can only be understood when it is known that with the external physical body are united an etheric principle, an astral principle, and an I-principle. For even while we stand here in the physical world, there is living in us something that is of soul and spirit and that belongs to the spiritual world. Body, soul, and spirit are we here. And when we have gone through the gates of death, we shall again be threefold beings, only with another spiritual body. So that anyone who observes and studies Man living out his life as physical Man between birth and death is not studying the whole human being, and is bound to fall into error in regard to the whole human being.
The events that happen in the world must not be looked upon as erroneous in themselves. What makes itself manifest in the world is indeed truth; but the way in which Man regards it and turns it into deed and action often causes confusion. And confusion arose in the minds of men at the end of the 18th century, because everything was applied to the body, and ideals which only have meaning when Man is seen as a trinity were aspired to as the ideals for a purely physical “monon.” And so it came about that lofty and beautiful ideals were on everyone's lips in a time when men were not capable of understanding them, but only confused and falsified them, because they tried to comprehend them all together, believing as they did in the physical body alone. As a matter of fact, of the threefold ideal — Fraternity, Freedom, Equality — Fraternity is the only one that holds good for the physical body of Man. Freedom only has meaning when it is referred to the human soul, and Equality when it is referred to the spirit as it lives in Man, in the I. Only when it is known that Man consists of body, soul, and spirit, and when the three ideals of the end of the 18th century are referred: Brotherhood, to the body; Freedom, to the soul; and Equality, to the I — only then is one speaking in a sense and meaning that is in accord with the inner meaning of the spiritual world.
Brotherhood we can develop, inasmuch as we are physical human beings bearing physical bodies of the Earth; and when we accept Brotherhood into our social order, then for the social order on the physical plane Brotherhood is a right and true thing. Freedom Man can acquire only in his soul, inasmuch as it is with the soul that he incarnates on Earth. And Freedom only prevails on Earth, is only possible on Earth, when it has reference to the souls of men who live on the Earth in their social orderings, to the end that they acquire the faculty of holding the balance between the lower and the higher forces. When we are able, as human beings, to hold the balance between the lower and the higher forces in the human soul, then we develop the forces that can live here between birth and death, and the forces too that we shall need when we pass through the gate of death. So that alongside of the social order a soul order is necessary on Earth, wherein the souls of men may take their places individually and be able to develop the forces of freedom, which they can carry with them through the gates of death, but which they will only carry with them if, already here in this life, they prepare themselves for the life after death. That a true intercourse between souls shall be established on Earth, that souls shall be able to develop the forces of freedom, that all human events, great and small, and all attempts to give form to human activity and creation shall have as their aim Man holding the balance in his soul in regard to what lives and works spiritually — this must come to be an ideal. Man becomes free when he is in a position to acquire these forces of the soul in the external physical world, as he can acquire them, for example, when he is able to follow the beautiful forms that live in an art that really has its sources and beginning in the spirit. Man becomes free when there is an intercourse and communion between soul and soul of such a nature that the one soul is able to follow the other with an ever-growing understanding and with an ever-growing love.
If it is a question of the bodies of men with which we are concerned, then Brotherhood comes into consideration; if it is a question of the soul, then we must look to forging those delicate and subtle links that arise between soul and soul, and that must find their way right into the structure of our life on Earth and must always work in the direction of engendering interest — deep interest in one soul for the other. For in this way alone can souls become free, and it is only souls that can become free.
Equality applied to the external physical world is nonsense; for equality would be uniformity. Everything in the world is undergoing change; everything in the world is compelled to be in number; everything in the world is obliged to come to expression in multiplicity and variety. To this very end is the physical world there, that the spiritual may go through a multitude of forms. But in all the multiple and manifold life of Man, one thing remains alike, because it is still in its beginning. The rest of our human nature we have carried in us since the Saturn time, the Sun time, and the Moon time; the I we have for the first time in this life of Earth. The I is only in its beginning. During the whole of our life between birth and death we come no further in the spiritual than to say to ourselves “I,” and to take cognizance of this I. We can only behold the I, either when through initiation we are outside the body here between birth and death, or when we have passed through the gate of death and it is given us to look back in memory on our Earth body and behold the I spiritually. But through this I all possible variety comes to expression here on Earth. And our life on Earth must be so constructed as to give possibility for all the variety that can enter Earth life in human individuality to come to expression. One human being manifests one individuality, a second another, and a third a different one again. All these individualities in their several workings are focused in a point, the point of the I. There we are alike, and through this focus-point where we are alike can pass all that we communicate to one another as spirits. The fact that we all have this I-point where we are alike gives the possibility for the development of mankind of a community life. That which is different in all of us passes through what is alike. Consequently, it is not the establishment of what is contributed by the single human individual to the whole stream of cosmic spiritual evolution that is achieved in spiritual equality; rather it is so that because what has placed us each into a different kind of life passes through our I, through the spiritual in us, it becomes something that can be shared by all, it flows on as a common good in the stream of cosmic evolution. Equality belongs properly to the spirit.
No human generation will understand how the three ideals of Fraternity, Liberty, and Equality can come to realization in the life of mankind unless they understand that Man carries in him this threefoldness of body, soul, and spirit. That people were unable in the 18th century and have continued to be unable throughout the 19th century to understand this was a result of the strength of the Ahrimanic-Mephistophelian stream which entered modern evolution in the way I have described. The 18th century mixed up Equality, Freedom, and Brotherhood, and applied all three to external physical life. In the way it has been understood in the 19th century, it can only mean social chaos. And mankind will have to drift further and further into this chaos, if they do not receive spiritual science and spiritual life, which will lead to an understanding of Man as a trinity and to a reconstruction of Earth life for threefold Man.
Man had to go through materialism. His forces would have been too weak for the times to follow if he had not gone through materialism. For strange and amazing is the evolution of mankind. Let us look back for a moment to an event of the Lemurian epoch. We find there a certain moment in evolution — it lies thousands and thousands of years back — when the mankind of the Earth was quite different from what it is now. You will know from the descriptions I have given in Occult Science of human evolution on the Earth that the various impulses entered into Man only gradually. There was a moment in evolution when what we today call magnetic and electric forces established themselves within Man. For magnetic and electric forces live in us in a mysterious manner. Before this time, Man lived on Earth without the magnetic and electric forces that have developed ever since, spiritually, between the workings of the nerves and the blood. They were incorporated into Man at that time. The forces of magnetism we will leave out of consideration, and a portion of the forces of electricity. But the forces which I will distinguish as the electrical forces in galvanism, voltaism, etc. — forces that have taken deep hold in the culture and civilization of our time — these forces found entry in that far-off time into the human organism and united themselves with human life; and this very fact made it possible for them to remain for a long time unknown to human consciousness.
Man carried them within him, and for that very reason they remained unknown to him externally. The forces of magnetism and the other electrical forces we learned to know earlier. Galvanism, the electricity of contact, which has a much deeper determining influence on the karma of our age than is generally realized, was, as you know, only discovered at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, by Galvani and Volta. People give far too little thought to such facts as these. Just consider for a moment! This Galvani was dealing with the leg of a frog. “By chance,” as we say, he fastened it to the window, and it came in contact with iron, and twitched. That was the beginning of all the discoveries that rule the Earth today by means of the electric current. And it happened such a little while ago! People do not generally stop to think how it is that mankind did not come to this knowledge earlier. Suddenly this thought emerges in a human being, in a perfectly miraculous way; he stumbles on it — as it were, perforce. In this materialistic age of ours, we naturally never stop to think about such a thing.
And this is the reason why we can understand absolutely nothing at all of the real becoming of the Earth. The truth of the matter is as follows:
After mankind had passed the moment in the Lemurian time when it implanted into it, or received implanted into it, the forces that go through the wire today in electricity and work in an invisible manner in Man himself, after this time had passed, electricity lived inside the human being. Now, evolution does not proceed in the simple, straightforward way in which people are inclined to picture it. They imagine that time goes ever forward on and on into the infinite. That is an altogether abstract conception. The truth is that time moves and turns in such a way that evolution is constantly reversed and runs back. It is not only in space that we find movements in curves as in a lemniscate, but also in time.
During the Lemurian epoch, Man was at the crossing point of the lemniscate movement, and that was the time when he implanted into himself the principle of electrical force. He traversed the returning path in the Atlantean time and, in respect of certain forces, in the Post-Atlantean time, and arrived about the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century exactly at the point in the evolution of the worlds at which he was in the old Lemurian time when he implanted into himself from the cosmos the principle of electricity. There you have the explanation of how it came about that Galvani discovered electricity at that particular time. Man always goes back again in later times to what he experienced earlier. Life takes its course in cycles, in rhythms. At the middle of the materialistic age which had been developing ever since the 14th–15th century, mankind was standing at that point in the world through which he had passed long ago in the Lemurian epoch. And mankind as a whole in that moment remembered the entry of electricity into the human being, and thereupon as a result of this memory impregnated his whole civilization with electricity. The soul and spirit in Man found again what it had once experienced long ago.
Truths like this must be clearly envisaged again, for it is only with truths like this that we shall escape decadence in the future.
Under the influence of the inspirations of which I have been speaking to you today, certain minds came upon such truths. For the fact that people went on such paths was the result of the fact that many and different currents work in human evolution. If, for example, what the Templars wanted to attain had been the sole influence working in history, quite a different evolution would have resulted for Man. Through the fact that the other stream too — the Mephistophelian — has been intermixed with it (the Mephistophelian stream was of course also there from the beginning, but it was given new life by the destiny of the Templars), Man has been brought, in our time, into materialism just in the way that it has actually happened. These Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic forces are needed in the evolution of mankind. And, as I have said, certain great minds were led by the inspiration that comes from the Rosicrucian Temples and has its source in the spiritual world to recognize this principle of which I am here speaking.
Do not imagine that a great poet, a really great poet who creates out of the spiritual world, puts together his words in the superficial way that people often imagine they are at liberty to take them! No, a poet like Goethe, for instance, knows what is contained and implied in the Word; he knows that in the Word we have something that lets spirit resound through the person speaking. “Person,” did I say? Here we must remind ourselves that “persona” is a word that comes from the Latin for the mask that the actor carries and through which his voice sounds. “Personare” means to sound through. All this is closely connected with the evolution of the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Divine was the Word.” The Word was not in Man; nevertheless human personality is closely connected with it.
The whole evolution, as we have said, is carried forward inasmuch as not merely good forces are working, but others also. And a man like Goethe uttered in his Faust — even though in part unconsciously, nevertheless under inspiration — notable and great truths. When the Lord is conversing with Mephistopheles in the Prologue in Heaven, he says at last to Mephistopheles that He has no objection to his work and influence. He recognizes him and allows him his place in the evolution of the worlds. It is owing to him that there are such things as enticements and influences that must needs create what is evil. But then the Lord turns and directs his word to the true and genuine Sons of the Gods who bring forward normal evolution, and with whose working the working of the other stream is united. And what does He say to these true Sons of the Gods?
But ye, the genuine Sons of Heaven, rejoice!
In the full living beauty still rejoice!
May that which works and lives, the ever-growing,
In bonds of love enfold you, mercy-fraught,
And seeming's changeful forms, around you flowing,
Do ye arrest, in ever-during thought!
The Lord gives to His Sons the direct command to set in the world's places enduring thoughts! Such an enduring thought was placed into the world when the principle of electricity was implanted into Man, and Man was led back again to the enduring thought when he discovered the principle of electricity and implanted it into his materialistic civilization. Of immeasurable depth is the thought expressed in these lines:
May that which works and lives, the ever-growing,
In bonds of love enfold you, mercy-fraught,
And seeming's changeful forms, around you flowing,
Do ye arrest, in ever-during thought!
And it means a deep experience for the soul to feel that mystery of the “enduring thoughts.” For then we feel how in the world here and there the Eternal stands at rest in the form of an enduring thought, and we who belong to the world of movement are passing through what is being placed into seeming's changeful forms as enduring thoughts, as the beauty that weaves and works everlastingly reveals itself in order that we may comprehend it when the right moment comes.
And may a right moment also come for mankind in the near future, even as it is predestined to come if mankind is not to fall into decadence. May Man understand that he has to pass through the next point, which reverses materialism into its opposite, the point where the great thought of the spiritual world can ray into mankind. Preparation is now being made for this in those whose karma has allowed them to come to Spiritual Science. And it will be the continually recurring task of Spiritual Science to turn its work in this direction. For to the materialistic age that has found the enduring thought which in its newest form Ahriman-Mephistopheles has placed into modern evolution, to this materialistic age must be added what can be experienced in passing through a spiritual enduring thought. Spiritual Science must see to it that mankind does not omit to grasp this spiritual thought. Therefore also must we not grow weary in warning Man again and again, lest the moment of time for the comprehension of Spiritual Science slip by and be lost.