Monday, November 30, 2015
Within our circle there is formed a knot
Of threads that karma spins, world-fashioning.
Your sufferings, my friend, are links in chains
Forged by the hand of destiny, whereby
The deeds of Gods unite with human lives.
The Portal of Initiation, scene 3
Rudolf Steiner: "Through the Christ Impulse the human soul became conscious for the first time that an ego, an 'I,' was to find a place within it, a self-conscious 'I' through which in the further course of Earth evolution there must be revealed all the secrets formerly revealed by the astral body through natural clairvoyance."
In the last lecture we tried to present a retrospect not only of the content of our studies during the past year, but also of the true meaning — the inner spirit of these studies. In doing so we showed that the spirit which fills our souls when considering the Christ-problem from all possible sides must permeate our whole movement, all our spiritual efforts. We realize that we have been able to grasp one subject from so many different aspects because, in striving after knowledge, we have ever cultivated true modesty with regard to this knowledge. We should like for a moment to speak somewhat more exactly about humility in respect of knowledge.
I have often said that we can only arrive at a true conception of any object when this is viewed from different aspects, that only when these different views are placed side by side is a true picture of the object obtained. Even in ordinary observation we must go all a round an object in order to form a comprehensive conception of it. If anyone said that it was possible to grasp an object at a single glance, from one point of view in the spiritual world, he would be much mistaken. Many human errors spring from failing to recognize this. In the accounts given by us of the Event of Palestine great care has been taken that thoroughness in this respect should not be relaxed. We have four accounts of this event: the accounts of the four Evangelists. Those who do not know that in spiritual life an object, being, or event, must be observed from different sides (for people approach such things without much thought) see nothing more in this fact than the possibility of apparent contradictions between the Evangelists. We have repeatedly pointed out that the accounts of the four Evangelists have to be regarded as giving four different aspects of the one mighty Event of Christ, and that they must he compared one with another as we compare four pictures of the same object taken from different sides. If we proceed carefully in this way as we have already tried to do in respect of the Gospels of Matthew, of John, and Luke, and as we hope later to do in respect of the Gospel of Mark, it is seen that the four accounts of the event of Palestine agree in the most perfect way. Thus, in the very fact that there are four Gospels, a great lesson is given showing the necessity of a many-sided view if the truth is to be reached.
I have often spoken of the possibility of there being different opinions held by different individuals concerning truth. You will recall how at our general meeting last year I supplemented what is generally called “Theosophy” by another view which I described as the “Anthroposophical view,” and explained how this was related to Theosophy. I showed that there is an ordinary science built on facts and the intelligent comprehension of facts as revealed to the senses; this when it deals with mankind is called “Anthropology.” It contains everything that can be discovered and investigated by means of the senses. It therefore studies the human organisms as revealed by the instruments and methods of natural science. It studies, for instance, the relics of an earlier humanity, the utensils and instruments of civilizations that have remained hidden within the Earth, and seeks from these to form some idea of how the human race has developed. It studies further those stages of development found in savage or uncivilized peoples, and from the conclusions arrived at traces the stages civilized peoples have passed through in former ages. In this way Anthropology forms its conceptions of what man has experienced up to the present stage of development. Much more could be said regarding the nature of Anthropology. I have compared it with a man who learns of a country by walking about on the level, observing the features of the land, its towns, forests, fields, etc., and describing these as seen from this standpoint.
Now, mankind can be observed from a different standpoint: theosophical. All Theosophy begins by defining man, by speaking of his being or nature. If you study my “Outline of Occult Science” you will see that everything is summed up and reaches its climax in the description of the being of man himself. If Anthropology can be compared with a man who gathers facts and tries to understand them by walking about on the level, Theosophy can be compared with the observer who climbs a mountain in order to observe the surrounding country from its summit. Much that is spread out on the plain will then fade and only certain features remain. So it is with spiritual observation, with Theosophy. The point of view it takes regarding spiritual matters is a higher one. It follows that many things seen from this standpoint, and many of the ordinary human activities met with in daily life, fade away, just as villages and towns vanish when seen from a mountaintop.
What I have just said may perhaps not seem very obvious to a beginner in Theosophy. For what such a beginner first learns concerning the nature of man, concerning the different principles of his being — physical body, etheric body, astral body, etc., — he tries to understand and form a conception of, but at first he is far from the greater difficulties which face him when he advances further in the acquisition of theosophical truths. The further one advances the more one realizes how infinitely difficult it is to find a connection between what has been gained above, on the spiritual mountaintop of Theosophy, and what emerges in daily life as characteristic human feelings, ideas, etc.
We might ask: Why do theosophical truths seem obvious and right to many in spite of their not being able to prove what is told them from the spiritual mountaintops, or by what they have themselves seen? This is because the human soul is really designed for truth, not for untruth; it is so organized that it feels it natural when anything true is said. There is a feeling for truth in man; and he should realize the infinite value of this feeling. This is especially the case in our day, for the very reason that the spiritual heights from which the necessary truth can alone be seen are so infinitely high. If people had first to climb these heights they would have to travel a long way in spiritual experience, and those unable to do so would know nothing of the value of these truths for human life. But every soul, once these truths are imparted, can realize them and make them its own.
What is the position of a soul that receives these truths compared with one able to discover them for itself? This can he shown by a quite trivial example, but however trivial it means more than at first appears. Everyone can pull on a boot, but not everyone can make a boot; for this a bootmaker is necessary. What a man receives through the boot does not depend on whether he can himself make it or not, but on whether he makes use of it in the right way. This can be compared exactly with the spiritual truths given to us by spiritual science. We are summoned to make use of them, even though we are not able to discover them for ourselves. And when through our own natural sense of truth we accept and make use of them, they serve us for the directing of our whole lives; through them we know that we are not confined to life between birth and death, that we bear within us a spiritual man, that we pass through repeated earthly lives, and so on. We can make use of these truths. They serve us. Just as a boot protects us from cold, so these truths shield us from spiritual cold, from spiritual poverty. For it is a fact that we are chilled and impoverished spiritually when we only think and feel those things that have reference to the external world of the senses. We must allow that the truths presented to us by those who can bring them down from a higher standpoint can be of service to all, though there may perhaps be only a few who can travel the spiritual path described in recent lectures.
Now, every glance into the ordinary world around us — and which when it deals with man is also the concern of Anthropology — shows us how this world is itself the revealer of a world lying behind it, a world that can be seen from the spiritually higher standpoint of Theosophy. Thus even the world of the senses can reveal another world to us when we pass on to its interpretation, when we not only receive the facts it presents to us with our understanding, but begin to interpret these facts. If we cannot see as far over the fields of the sense world as Theosophy can, yet we can stand on the mountainside where the various objects are not absolutely indistinct and some prospect is possible. This standpoint in respect to spiritual things we have called Anthroposophy, and in doing so have shown that there are three ways of considering man — the anthropological, the anthroposophical, and the theosophical.
We hope this year, in connection with the General Assembly, to give lectures on “Psychosophy”: these are important in other ways from those given on “Anthroposophy.” I will then show how the human soul can interpret things for itself from its own impressions and experiences, and can participate in spiritual life in a similar way as in Anthroposophy. And in a future course of lectures on “Pnematosophy” I will bring these lectures to a conclusion so that those dealing with Anthroposophy and with Psychosophy will flow again into Theosophy. All this is for the purpose of evoking in you a sense of the manifold nature of truth. The experiences of one who seeks earnestly for truth is this: The further he goes the humbler he becomes, and also the more cautious in translating the truths gained at a higher level into words suited to ordinary life. Although, as was stated in the last lecture, these truths are really only valuable when so translated, it must be realized that the task of recalling and translating what has been seen is one of the most difficult in the work of spiritual science. To make what is seen on spiritual heights so clear to the understanding that sound logic and a healthy sense of truth can accept and understand them presents the very greatest difficulties.
I must lay stress again and again on the fact that in the activities of our group we are especially concerned with the creation of this feeling for, and understanding of, truth. We do not concern ourselves only with the comprehension of what is communicated to us from the spiritual world; it is far more important that we should experience it sympathetically through feeling, and by this means acquire those qualities that should be possessed by all who strive earnestly in the theosophical sense.
Looking at the world that surrounds us we acknowledge that on every side it presents to us the external expressions of an inner spiritual world. For us today this is a worn-out saying. Just as the human countenance expresses what is passing in a man's soul, so the changing face of the external world can be likened to the play of expressions on the countenance of a living, spiritual world behind the sense world; and we first understand physical events aright when we see in them the expressions of a spiritual world. If a man has not yet been able to reach those heights whence spiritual vision is possible by following his own path of knowledge, he has at least the physical world before him, and can ask himself: Is not confirmation given me through the evidences of my own senses of what is imparted to me as the result of spiritual vision?
This search for evidence is always possible, but it must be carried out not lightheartedly but with precision. If you have followed different lectures given by me on spiritual science and have read my “Outline of Occult Science” you will realize that at one period of the Earth's development the Earth was united with the Sun, that these formed one globe; the Earth only separated from the Sun later. If you remember all you have heard or read you must allow that the animal and plant forms found on the Earth today are the further development of those that existed at the time when the Earth and Sun were one. But just as the animal forms of today are suited to the present conditions of the Earth, so the animal forms of that far-off time must have been suited to the planetary body which was then both Sun and Earth. It follows from this that the animal forms that have remained over from these times have not only remained over, but are the continuation of creatures that existed formerly. There are, for example, animals that still have no eyes, for eyes only have meaning when there is light, such light as streams to Earth from the Sun when it is outside. Thus among the various creatures of the animal kingdom we find those that have formed eyes after the Sun separated from the Earth, and also those that are relics of the time when the Earth was still united with the Sun — that is, animals without eyes. Such animals would naturally belong to the lowest types, and so they do. We find it stated in popular books that the possession of eyes began at a certain stage of development. This bears out what spiritual science tells us.
We are able in this way to picture the world around us, in which we ourselves are placed, as the facial expression of the living, weaving life of the spirit. If we merely considered the physical world, without it revealing to us how it points to a spiritual world, we would never feel the urge, the longing, to develop toward that world. Someday a longing for what is spiritual will be aroused in us by the surrounding world itself, someday the spirit must stream down from the spiritual realms as though a door or window that has opened into our everyday world. When will this take place? When does spiritual illumination stream directly into us? It takes place — and you have heard this in many lectures from me and others — when we are in the position to experience our ego.
The moment we experience our ego, we experience something which is directly related to the spiritual world. But what we experience is at the same time infinitely feeble; it is but a single point amid all the phenomena of nature, the single point which we express by the little word “I.” This word certainly describes something that was originally spiritual, but a spirituality that has dwindled to a single point. All the same what does this shrunken spiritual spark teach us? We cannot learn more of the spiritual world through the experience of our own ego than this ego-point contains, unless we progress to interpretation. But this point possesses what is still more important, namely, through it we are told how we are to know, when we seek to know the spiritual world.
What is the difference between the experiences of the ego and all other experiences? The difference is that we are ourselves within the ego-experiences. All other experiences approach us from outside; we are not ourselves within them. Someone might say here: “But my thoughts, my will and desires, my preceptions, do these not live within me?” A man can convince himself, through very slight awareness of self, how little he is able to accomplish in respect of dwelling within his will. We imagine that the will can be recognized as that which urges us, as if we were not ourselves within it, but as if in our actions we were compelled by someone or something. This is the case also as regards our perceptions, and as regards the greater part of what people think in daily life. We are not really within these. How little we are within our thoughts in ordinary life is seen when we carefully investigate how much ordinary thought is dependent on education, and on what we have acquired at one time or another, and on surrounding conditions. This is why the ordinary content of human thinking, feeling, and will varies so much in different nations and at different epochs. One thing only is the same. One thing exists everywhere among men, and must be the same in every nation in all parts of the Earth and in every human association: this is the experiencing of the single point, the ego.
We may now ask: What does the experiencing of the ego-point mean? This is not such a simple matter as you might suppose. One might easily think, for example, that one experiences the ego itself. But this is not the case at all. Man does not really experience his ego. What then does he experience? He really experiences a concept of the ego, a percept of it. If the experiencing of the ego was clearly understood by us, it would present something that reached to infinity, that spread out on all sides. If the ego were unable to confront itself, to see itself as an image is seen in a mirror — though this image is only experienced for a moment — man could not experience his own ego, he could form no conception of it. This is man's first experience of the ego. It has to suffice him, for it is precisely this conception that differs from all other conceptions. It differs from them in this, that other conceptions resemble their original, they cannot differ from their original; but when the ego forms a conception of itself it is concerned with itself alone, and the conception is but what remains behind of the ego-experience. It is like a checking or blocking of it, as if we would check it in order to turn it back on itself, and in this checking the ego is confronted by the reflected image of itself which resembles the original. This is what occurs at the experiencing of the ego.
We can therefore say: We recognize the ego in the conception of it [Ich-vorstellung]. But this ego conception differs considerably from all other conceptions, from all other experiences. It differs from them profoundly. For all other conceptions and all other experiences, we require something of the nature of an organ. This is clearly seen in respect of sense-perception. In order to have the conception "color" we require eyes and so on; it is clear to anyone that in the ordinary perception of the senses an organ is necessary. You might think that no organ was required to perceive what is intimate to your own inner being, but even in this you can convince yourselves by simple means that organs are necessary. This is dealt with more particularly in my book “Anthroposophy”; here opportunity is given to approach by theosophical methods what there is stated in a manner more suited to the generality. Let us suppose the following: at some period of your lives you grasp a thought or idea. You understand the idea that comes to you. By what means do you understand it? Only through other ideas that you have previously accepted. You realize this because you observe that one man comprehends a new idea that comes to him in one way, another in another way. This is because one man has within him a greater, another a smaller, sum of ideas which he has assimilated. The material of old ideas is within us and confronts the new as the eye confronts the light. Out of our own old ideas a kind of “idea-organ” is constructed, and what we have not constructed of this in our present incarnation must be sought in some former one. There it was built up, and we are able to confront the new ideas that come to us with an “organ of ideas.” We require an organ for all the experiences that come to us from the outer world, especially if these are of a spiritual nature. We never stand spiritually naked, as it were, before what comes to us from the outer world; but are ever dependent on what we have become. Only in a single case do we confront the outer world directly, namely, when we attain ego perception [Ich-wahrnehmung]. The ego is present even when we sleep, but perception of it must always be aroused anew, it must be roused anew each morning when we wake. Even supposing we journeyed in the night to Mars, where our surroundings would be quite different from what they are on Earth, yet ego-perception would remain the same! This latter under all conditions take place in the same way because no external organ is required for it — not even an “organ of ideas.” What confronts us here is a direct conception [Vorstellung] of the ego; a conception or perception [Wahrnehmung] certainly, but in its true form. Everything else comes before as a picture seen in a mirror, and is restricted by the form of the mirror. Ego-perceptions come before us absolutely in their true form.
Put in another way one might say: When realizing things with the ego, we are ourselves within them; they cannot possibly be outside of us. We now ask ourselves: How do individual ego-conceptions or ego-perceptions differ from all other perceptions by the ego? They are distinguished by the direct impression they make on the ego; no other perceptions make this direct impression. But we receive pictures of all that surrounds us; and these in a certain sense can be compared with ego-perceptions. Everything is changed by the ego into an inner experience. The outer world must become our conception if it is to have any meaning or value for us. We form true pictures of the surrounding world, which then continue to live in the ego no matter through which of the sense-organs they have come to us. We smell a substance when we pass it by, and though we do not come in direct contact with it we bear an image of it within us. In the same way we bear within us the image of colors we have seen, and retain pictures of them. The ego preserves such experiences. But if we wish to describe the characteristic feature of these images we must say — it is that they come to us from outside. All the pictures we have been able to unite with our ego, so long as we are in the world of the senses, are the relics of impressions we have received by means of the senses.
One thing the sense-world cannot give us: ego-perception! This arises in us spontaneously. Thus in ego-perception we have a picture that rises of itself, however closely it may be confined to one point.
Think now of other pictures being added to these, pictures that do not arise through stimulation of the senses, but that arise freely in the ego (as ego-conceptions do), and are therefore formed in the same manner as the ego-conception. These arise in what we call the “astral world.” There are picture-concepts which arise in the ego without our having received any impression from the outer world.
How do these inner experiences differ from those other pictures we received from the sense-world? We receive pictures of the sense-world by having come in contact with that world; these then become inner impressions, but impressions which have been stimulated from outside.
What are those experiences of the ego which are not directly stimulated by the outer world? We have these in our feelings, our wishes, impulses, instincts, and the like. These are not stimulated by the outer world. Even if we do not stand within our feelings, wishes, and impulses etc., by means of the senses as already described, yet we must allow an element does enter into our inner feelings, impulses, and desires. In what way do these differ from the sense-pictures we bear within us as a result of what our senses have perceived? You can feel this difference. Pictures received through the senses quietly rest within us, and we try to retain faithful reproductions of them once we have realized our connection with the outer world. But our impulses, desires, and instincts are active in us, they represent a force. Though the outer world has no part in the rise of astral pictures, yet the fact of their appearing denotes a certain force. For what is not set going [getrieben] is not there, it cannot arise.
In sense-pictures the “initial force” is the impression received from the outer world. In astral-pictures this force is what lies at the root of desires, impulses, feelings, etc. Only, in life as it is to-day, man is shielded from developing a force in his feelings and desires sufficiently strong to evoke pictures — pictures that would be experienced in the same way as those of the “I” itself.
The most marked feature of the human soul today is this powerlessness of its instincts and desires to attain to forming pictures of what the ego places before it. When the ego is confronted with the strong forces of the outer world, it is moved to form pictures. When it lives within itself, it has, in the normal man, but one opportunity of perceiving an emerging picture: that is when this picture is the picture of the “I” itself.
Instincts and desires do not work with sufficient strength to form pictures similar to this single ego-experience. If they did they would have to acquire a quality which every external sense-perception has. This quality is of great moment. All sense-perceptions do not grant us the pleasure of doing as we wish. If, for instance, someone lives in a room where there is an unpleasant smell, he cannot dispel it through his impulses and desires. He cannot change the color of a flower from yellow to red, because he prefers red, merely through his wish to do so. It is characteristic of the sense-world that it remains entirely independent of us. Our wishes and impulses affect it in no way. They are directed altogether to our personal life. What then must happen to them in order that they may be so greatly enhanced that we can experience through them a world of pictures [Bilddasein]? They must become like the external world, which in its construction and in the pictures it calls forth in us does not follow our wishes, but constrains us to form pictures of the sense-world in accordance with the world around us. If the pictures a man receives of the astral world are to shape themselves aright, he must become as detached from himself, from his own personal sympathies and antipathies, as he is from the presentations of the outer world which come to him through his senses. What he wishes or does not wish must not carry weight with him in any way.
I mentioned in the last lectures that this demand can be formulated as follows: “One must not be egoistic.” This endeavor should not be undertaken lightly, for it is by no means easy to be unegoistic.
There is another fact I would like you to notice: the great difference between the interest we feel in what comes to us from outside compared with what meets us from within. The interest a man takes in his inner life is infinitely greater than in anything the outer world brings him. We certainly know that for many people the outer world when it has been changed into pictures does occasionally have an effect on our subjective feelings; we know people frequently “reckon something to be the blue of heaven,” that they are even not lying but believe what they say. Sympathy and antipathy always enter into such things; people deceive themselves as to what actually comes from outside, allowing it to be changed later into pictures. But these are exceptional cases; for little progress would be made if men allowed themselves to be deceived in daily life. Something in that case would be out of harmony with external life. This would not help them: truth has to be acknowledged as regards the external world; reality is the corrective. It is the same with ordinary sense impressions; external reality is here a good regulator. But when we begin to have inner experiences, reality is apt to fail us. It is not then so easy to permit outer reality to make the necessary corrections, and we permit ourselves to he ruled by sympathy and antipathy.
The thing of greatest importance when we begin to approach the spiritual world is that we learn to regard ourselves absolutely with the same indifference with which we regard the outer world.
These truths were formulated in a very strict way in the ancient Pythagorean schools, as were also the truths regarding a most important part of man's knowledge, that concerning immortality. How few there are today who take any interest in the question of immortality! The ordinary things of life are what men long for in the life beyond birth and death. But this is a personal interest, a personal longing. The breaking of a tumbler is a matter of small interest to you, but if you had a personal interest in the continued existence of the tumbler, even though broken, the same interest as you have in the immortality of the human soul, you may be sure most people would believe also in the immortality of the tumbler.
Therefore in the schools of Pythagoras, teaching concerning immortality was formulated as follows:
“Only that man is ripe for understanding the truth concerning immortality who could also endure it if the opposite were true; if he could bear that the question regarding immortality was answered with a ‘no.’ If a man is himself to bring down [selber ausmachen will] anything from the spiritual world regarding immortality," so said the Pythagoreans, "he must not long for immortality; for while there is longing, what he says regarding it is not objective. Opinions regarding the life beyond birth and death, if they are to have any value, can only come from those who could lie down peacefully in the grave even if there was no immortality.” This was taught in the olden times in the Pythagorean schools when the teacher wished to make his pupils realize how difficult it was to be sufficiently ripe to accept any truth. To be ripe enough to receive a truth and to state it from oneself requires a very special preparation, and must consist in the person being entirely without interest in the said truth. Now, it might well be said regarding immortality: “It is quite impossible that there should be many people who are not interested in this; there cannot be many such.” People not interested in immortality are those who are told of it and of the eternal nature of human existence, and in spite of this remain uninterested. To accept and make use of the statement concerning reincarnation and human immortality so as to have something for life can be done by anyone who also accepts the truth without any self-conviction. The fact that one is not sufficiently ripe to accept a truth is no reason for rejecting it. On the contrary, it is being ripe for what life requires of us, when we accept a truth and devote our life to its service. What is the necessary counterpart to the acceptance of truths? One may accept truths calmly even when one is not ripe. But the necessary counter-part to the acceptance of them is — that in the same measure as we long for truth that we may have peace, contentment, and security in life, in the same measure we make ourselves ripe for these truths, such truths as can only be perfected in the spiritual world. An important precept for spiritual life can be drawn from this: that we should accept everything, making what use we can of it in life, but should be as distrustful as possible regarding our presentments of truths, more especially of our own astral experience. This establishes the fact that we must specially guard against those astral experiences that come when we reach the point where we are bound to feel interest, namely, when our own life is under consideration.
Let us suppose that someone through his astral experiences has become ripe enough to carry out something he is destined to do next day, to experience next day. It is a personal experience. He guards himself from investigating the record of his personal life; for here he is bound to be interested. People might for instance ask lightly: “Why does the clairvoyant not investigate the precise moment of his own death?” He does not do so because this can never be without interest to him, and he must hold himself aloof from anything connected with his own personality. Only what is in no way connected with his own person may be investigated in the spiritual world. Nothing whatever of objective value is transmitted where the investigator is personally interested. He must be willing to confine himself to what is of objective value only, he must never speak of anything that concerns himself in his investigation, or in the impressions he receives from the higher world. When matters arise that concern himself he must be very certain that these are not introduced through his own interest in them. It is exceedingly difficult to investigate anything where the investigator's own interests are concerned.
Thus at the beginning of all endeavors to enter the spiritual world the following rule must be laid to heart: Nothing that affects oneself must be sought for or considered valuable. The personality must be absolutely excluded. I may add that the “exclusion of everything personal” is exceedingly difficult, for frequently one thinks one has done so, yet is mistaken! For this reason most of the astral pictures seen by one or another are nothing more than a kind of reflection of their own wishes and desires. So long as we are strong enough in our spiritual self to say“You must distrust your own spiritual experiences,” these do little harm. But the moment the strength to do so fails and a man declares his experiences to be of value to his life, he begins to be unbalanced. It is just as though a person wishing to enter a room finds no door and runs his head against the wall. So the investigator must keep ever before him the maxim: Be very careful to test your own spiritual experiences. This carefulness consists in setting no more value on such experiences than on any piece of imparted knowledge or enlightenment. We must not apply such knowledge to our own personal life, but merely allow it to enlighten us. It is well if we feel in regard to such experiences: “You are only being given enlightenment!” For in that case we are in a position as soon as some contradictory idea enters, to correct it.
What I have said today is but a part of the many things we shall be considering during the coming winter, and can serve as an introduction to lectures on the life of the human soul, entitled "Psychosophy," which are to follow at a later date.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Can I know life's reality
So that it's found again
Within my soul's creative urge?
I feel that I am granted power
To make my self, as humble part,
At home within the cosmic self.
— Rudolf Steiner
English translation by Ruth and Hans Pusch
Kann ich das Sein erkennen,
Dass es sich wiederfindet
Ich fühle, dass mir Macht verlieh'n,
Das eigne Selbst dem Weltenselbst
Als Glied bescheiden einzuleben.
|Honor the space between no longer and not yet. — Nancy Levin|
|Honor the space between no longer and not yet.|
We are a bridge
Between what is past
And future existence;
The present is an instant —
Is momentary bridge.
Spirit become soul
In enfolding matter
Is from the past;
Soul becoming spirit
In germinal vessels
Is on the path to the future.
Grasp what is to come
Through what is past;
Have hope of what is growing
Through what has emerged.
And so apprehend
Existence in growing;
And so apprehend
What is growing in what is.
from Unbornness by Peter Selg
Rudolf Steiner: "The stream of soul-life does not only flow from the past toward the future, but also from the future into the past; we have two time-streams — the etheric part of the life of the soul goes toward the future, the astral part of us, on the other hand, flows back toward the past. (There is probably no one on the Earth today who is conscious of this unless he has an impulse toward what is spiritual.) We are first able to form a conception of the life of the soul when we realize that something comes continually to meet us out of the future. Otherwise this is quite impossible. We must be able to form such a conception, and for this, when speaking of cause and effect, we must break with those ordinary methods of thought which deal mainly with the past. We must not only reckon with the past in such connections, but must speak of the future as something real; something that comes toward us in just as real a way as the past slips from us. But it will be a long time yet before such ideas become prevalent, and till they do there will be no psychology."
It seems well that on resuming our activities in the Berlin Group we should look back for a little at what has passed through our souls since our work began at this time last year.
You will remember that about a year ago on the occasion of the General Conference of the German Section, I lectured on the “Sphere of the Bodhisattvas.” With this lecture we introduced to the world a subject that principally occupied us in our Group-meetings; throughout the following winter our studies were associated with the Christ-problem, more especially in its connection with the Gospel of Matthew. We have carried these studies further in many ways, particularly in connection with the Gospels of John and of Luke, and when dealing with them we indicated that at some future date we hoped to go more deeply into this Christ-problem in a course of lectures to be associated mainly with the Gospel of Mark.
These studies of the Christ-problem did not consist merely in giving explanations of the Gospels. We spoke most fully, most radically, of what spiritual science had to say concerning the events that took place in Palestine. It has to be explained that there are no external, historical records dealing with these events. What is of the deepest importance in the accounts of the event of Christ is not found in any book or record, but it stands in the eternal spiritual records, and can be deciphered by clairvoyant consciousness in the Akashic Chronicle. We have often made known to you what has been revealed to us there. Our position toward the Gospels is this: we make known what spiritual investigation tells us, and then we compare this with the events related in the Gospels or in other parts of the New Testament. In every case we found that we first learnt to read these documents aright, because before reading them we had penetrated to the secrets connected with the events of Palestine; that it is precisely because we had investigated these events without having been prejudiced through having previously read any records concerning them, that our appreciation, I may say our reverence, for them was so greatly enhanced.
When we look not only to the nearest, the narrowest, and most fleeting interests of our community, but when we recognize that the whole development of modern culture longs for a new understanding of the documents dealing with Christianity, we feel we are summoned by spiritual science not only to satisfy our own understanding regarding the events of Palestine, but also to translate what we have to say concerning them into present-day language for the sake of all humanity. In order to do this it is not enough that we should confine ourselves to what the present century has contributed toward an understanding of the problem and the figure of Christ. If this satisfied present-day demands for knowledge there would not be so many who are incapable of harmonizing their desire for truth with what is taught in Christian circles and has been accepted for centuries, but which contradicts in one way or another what has been imparted to us concerning the events of Palestine. All this shows that a new understanding and new conclusions with regard to Christian truths are necessary to the education of today.
Now, among many other means that aid us in deciphering Christian truths there is one that is specially fruitful in our field of research. It consists in our being able to extend our vision, and also our world of feeling and perception, beyond the horizon which has limited man's view of the spiritual world in past centuries. How our horizon can be extended can he put before you very simply and intimately in a few words.
In Goethe, to take one of the greatest minds of Western civilization, we have, as we all know, the mind of a Titan; and many of our studies have shown us how deeply the spiritual view entered into his personality. These studies have led us to know how we can rise to spiritual heights by sharing in the composition of Goethe's soul. But however well we may know Goethe, however deeply we may enter into what he has to give us, there is one thing we do not find in him, and this we must have if our vision is to he widened in the right way and our horizon expanded to satisfy our most urgent spiritual needs. Nowhere do we find in Goethe any indication that the things we are able to know today dawned in him. These things can become fruitful for us when we accept them. They are ideas concerning man's spiritual development, the reception of which first became possible in the nineteenth century through the liberation of certain spiritual documents containing the fruits [Errungenschaften] of Oriental life. From these we receive many ideas that in no way prevent our understanding the problem of Christ, but may, if rightly received, actually lead us to a true and full appreciation of Christ Jesus. Therefore I believe that a study of the Christ-problem cannot be introduced better than by a careful explanation of the mission of those great spiritual individuals who, from time to time, have made a deep impression on evolution, and are described by the name “Bodhisattva,” a name derived from Oriental philosophy.
Ideas dealing with the Bodhisattvas have not existed for any length of time in the spiritual life of the West, and it is only when we realize what these beings are that we are able to rise to a true understanding of what the Christ has been, is, and can continue to be to mankind.
From this you see how wide is the circle of spiritual development that has to become fruitful to man before he really understands what it is so necessary he should understand concerning the education, culture, and spiritual life within which he lives. From another point of view it is important that we cast our spiritual eyes, when this is possible, over recent centuries and note the difference between a man at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and one of a century earlier; that we realize how very little was known in Europe a hundred years ago of Buddha and Buddhism. This last, if not actually the aim of our endeavors, is the impulse and also the object of our present studies, and gives tone to the feeling that fills our souls when stirred by its great spiritual truths. The thing that matters most is not what one or another desires to know, but the warmth of feeling, the power of perception, the nobility of will that rises within our souls when the great truths of humanity strike these souls. More important in our Group than the words themselves is the tone and the waves of feeling that are present when certain words ring through space. These feelings and perceptions are of many kinds. The most important of them that should rise in our souls is that of reverence; such reverence as must needs develop in us toward the knowledge of great spiritual truths; the feeling that the nature of these great truths is such that we must approach them in humble reverence; that we cannot think to grasp such mighty facts with any hurriedly acquired ideas or with a few quickly won conceptions!
I have often made use of the example that we cannot depict a tree graphically by making a picture of it from one side only, but we must walk around it and draw it from various sides. Only by combining these different pictures do we gain a general impression of what the tree is like. This comparison should impress on our souls the way to approach great spiritual facts. We cannot make progress in any real or apparent knowledge of the highest things if we view them from one side only. Whether absolute truth regarding the appearance of anything can or cannot be reached, we should all the same never lose the humble feeling that all our ideas are acquired from one point of view only. When filled with this emotion we gladly and willingly take into ourselves feelings and perceptions from any side that enables us to illumine the great facts of existence from the most varied directions. The age in which we live makes this necessary, and in our time the need will grow ever greater for observing things from every possible side. Therefore we no longer shut ourselves off from other opinions, other paths leading to the highest things, that may differ from those of our own civilization. Indeed we have endeavored in recent years, within what Western cultural development had to offer, to uphold those principles that lead to true humility in respect of knowledge. I have never ventured (and indeed this is deeply impressed on my soul, for audacity was never possible in this connection) to present a system or a survey of those great events comprised within the term “the Christ-Problem.” I have always said: “We approach this event now from one point of view,” and again, “We approach it now from another point of view,” and have always insisted that the problem is not thereby exhausted, but that our one desire is to carry on the work calmly and patiently.
The reason for studying the different Gospels is that it enables us to consider the Christ-problem from four points of view, and we find in fact that the four Gospels do present us with these four view points, and that in them the maxim is set before us: Thou shalt not approach this — the mightiest problem — hurriedly, or view it from one side; it must be approached from the four spiritual directions of the heavens at least, and when thou hast approached it from these four heavenly directions, which can be named after the four evangelists — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — thou canst then hope it may gradually draw nearer and nearer to thee. And it will approach thee, so that thou needst never say of thyself, thou art cut off from the greatest of all truths without which the human soul, in its inmost depth, cannot live, neither shalt thou say that any one form of truth which thou hast been able to grasp is the whole truth.
Thus all our studies of the past winter were intended gradually to arouse a feeling of intellectual modesty. In fact, without such a feeling we cannot advance in spiritual life. Incidentally, everything has been done in these studies to impress repeatedly on you the first requirements for progress in spiritual knowledge, and no one who has followed attentively the lectures given here week by week can say that we have not constantly pointed out the basic condition of this advance in spiritual knowledge.
Advance in spiritual knowledge is one of the impulses lying at the foundation of our movement. What does advance in spiritual knowledge mean for our souls? It satisfies the deepest, most humanly-worthy longings of our souls, it gives that without which a man who is conscious of his human worth cannot live. It also gives this knowledge in ways that correspond to the intellectual requirements of the present day. Advance in knowledge brings illumination to us concerning those things which a man cannot investigate with his ordinary senses, but only with those senses which belong to him as a spiritual being, not as a physical being.
The great questions concerning man's position in the physical world and what lies beyond it, the truths concerning life and death: all such questions spring from the deep needs of the human soul. Even if a man from various causes holds aloof from such questions, even if he is able to remain deaf to them for a time, so that he says “Science is unable to investigate such matters; the faculties for doing so are wanting in man,” yet the need of finding answers to these questions never leaves him permanently, neither does the true nature of his feelings towards such questions as the following:
Whence comes that something in a child and in a growing youth, that is capable of education? Where does that go which is hidden within our souls when the bodily nature begins to fall and die? In short, the question as to man's connection with the spiritual world is the great question, and springs from the most human of desires. A man cannot live if these questions remain unanswered, unless he turns a deaf ear to them. But because they spring from so deep a need, because the soul cannot live in peace and contentment if it does not receive an answer to them, it is only natural that he should answer them in a somewhat trivial and comfortable manner. In spite of the fact that these questions (though denied by some) have today become burning questions for many, how numerous are the paths they point to us! One can say without exaggeration that of all the paths that open before man today when these great and puzzling questions arise within him, the way of spiritual science is the most difficult. Truly, we cannot say otherwise!
There may be many among you who consider some much-discussed science difficult — who perhaps do not venture on it because they shrink from all that must be overcome if it is to be gone into thoroughly. It may seem that the path that we call the path of spiritual science is easier than the path leading to mathematics, to botany, or any other branch of natural science. All the same, if followed earnestly, this path is more difficult than that leading to any other science. We say this without any exaggeration. Why is it easier for you? Only because it stimulates the interest of every soul with tremendous force, and because it deals with what lies nearest to each. It is the most difficult of all the paths by which a man can enter the spiritual world today, yet one thing we must not forget: this path can lead us to what is highest in the life of the soul! Is it not natural that what leads to the highest should also be the most difficult? Yet: we must never allow ourselves to be frightened by the difficulties of the path, nor hide from our souls the necessity of these difficulties on the path of spiritual science.
Among the many necessities of this path, one is always specially mentioned here: that he who decides to follow this path must, in the first place, accept seriously what spiritual investigation has so far been able to offer concerning the secrets and facts of the spiritual world. We touch here on a very necessary chapter of our spiritual-scientific life. How many say light-heartedly: “People speak here of a science that is unascertainable, of spiritual facts that one or another investigator, one or another initiate, has been able to elucidate or investigate. Would it not be much better if they simply showed us the way so that we might ourselves quickly enter that region from which one can see into the spiritual world? Why do they always say ‘This is how it looks, this is what one or another has seen!’ Why do they not tell us how we can attain this quickly for ourselves?”
It is for very good reasons that the facts investigated concerning the spiritual world are first communicated in a general way before entering into what one might call “the methods of soul-training” which can lead the soul into spiritual regions. For something quite definite is gained by our applying ourselves reverently to the study of what the spiritual investigator has revealed from spiritual worlds. We have often said that the facts of the spiritual world must be sought and found by means of clairvoyant consciousness; but once these facts are discovered, once trained clairvoyance has observed them and communicated them to others, then these communications must be such that everyone, without having passed through any clairvoyant development, can test them, and can recognize the truth of them by his own unprejudiced logic and the feeling for truth that is in every soul. No true investigator of spiritual things, no man endowed with true clairvoyant consciousness, would communicate the facts of the spiritual world except in such a way that those who desired could test them without clairvoyance. But he would have to communicate these facts so that he conveyed the full value and importance of them to the human soul.
What value have the communications and presentations of spiritual facts to a human soul? The value is this; that the man who knows “how things are seen in the spiritual world” can order his life, his thoughts, feelings, and perceptions according to his relationship toward the spiritual world. In this sense every communication of spiritual facts is important — even if he to whom they are communicated, and who receives them, cannot himself investigate them clairvoyantly. Indeed, even for the investigator these facts first acquire “human worth” when he has brought them down into a sphere where he can express them in a form accessible to all. However much a clairvoyant may be able to investigate and see in the spiritual world, what he sees is of no value to him and to others so long as he is unable to bring it down into the ordinary sphere of men, and to express it in thought that can be grasped by sound logic and a natural feeling for truth. The clairvoyant must in fact first understand the matter himself if it is to be of any use to him. Its value begins where the possibility of logical proof begins.
We can prove what has just been said in a double way. Among the many valuable things connected with the spiritual truths and spiritual communications which a man can receive on the physical plane between birth and death, those without doubt are the most important which he can take with him through the gates of death. Or let us put it as a question in this way: “How much remains to a man of all he has received here, and been able to make his own? What remains of all he has learnt concerning the spiritual world while leading an anthroposophical life?” Just as much remains to him as he has been able to understand, as he has been able to translate into the ordinary language of human consciousness.
Picture to yourselves a man who has perhaps made quite exceptional discoveries in the spiritual world through purely clairvoyant observation, but who has neglected to clothe these observations in language suited to the ordinary sense of truth of any age. Do you know what would happen to him? All his discoveries would be wiped out after death! Just as much of value would remain as it was possible for him to translate or formulate into any language that corresponded to a sound sense for truth.
It is certainly of the greatest importance that there should be clairvoyants capable of bringing over communications from the spiritual world and handing them on to others. This brings blessing to our day, for our age has need of wisdom and cannot advance unless it gets it. Such communications are necessary to the culture of the present time. If not recognized today, in fifty or a hundred years it will be the universal conviction of all mankind that culture cannot advance but must perish unless convinced of spiritual wisdom.
One thing is necessary for man if evolution is to advance — this is the acceptance by him of spiritual truth. Even if all spheres were conquered and intercourse with them established, humanity would still be faced with the death of civilization if no spiritual wisdom had been acquired. This is undoubtedly true. The possibility of looking into the spiritual world must exist.
The facts of spiritual wisdom mean more to the individual after death than human progress upon Earth. We must therefore ask in order to form a right conception of this: What has the clairvoyant to tell of the things he has investigated and brought into line with truth and sound logic? What more in the way of fruits does a man possess after death through having been able to look into the spiritual world, than those have whose karma in this incarnation makes it impossible for them to do so, and who therefore have to hear the results of spiritual research from others? How do spiritual truths perceived by an initiate differ from those heard by a man who has only heard them, and not himself looked into the spiritual world? Does the initiate understand them better than those to whom they have only been imparted?
As regards mankind in general, perception of the spiritual world is of higher worth than non-perception. For one who is able to look into the spiritual world has intercourse with that world, he can teach not only men, but others, spiritual beings, and so further their development. Clairvoyant consciousness has therefore a quite special value, but for individuals knowledge only has value; and in respect of individual worth the clairvoyant does not differ from anyone else who only receives communications, and is himself unable to look into the spiritual world in any particular incarnation. Whatever we have received of spiritual truth is fruitful after death, no matter if we have beheld these truths ourselves or not.
In stating this, one of the greatest moral laws of the spiritual world and one most worthy of reverence is placed before our souls. Our present-day morality is perhaps not fine enough fully to understand the ethics of this. Individuals gain no advantage through their karma having made it possible for them to look into spiritual worlds, thereby gratifying their egoism. Everything we strive to gain for ourselves in our individual life must be gained on the physical plane, and in forms that accord with the physical plane. If a Buddha or a Bodhisattva stands higher among the hierarchies of the spiritual world than other human individuals, this is because of his having passed through so many and varied incarnations on Earth.
What I mean by the higher ethics, the higher moral teaching, given out to us from the spiritual world is this: No one should think for a moment that he gains an advantage over his fellow men through the development of clairvoyance. This is not at all the case. He gains no advantage in any egoistic sense. All that he gains is that he can be better than others. Anything that serves egoism is absolutely excluded from spiritual fields, it is held to be immoral. A man gains nothing for himself through spiritual illumination. What he gains is only as one who serves the world in general, not himself, and only in so far as he gains it also for others.
The position of the spiritual investigator with regard to his fellowmen is this: If they wish to hear of of the discoveries he has made and to accept them, they can make the same progress through these discoveries as he has made himself, they can advance individually as far as he has advanced, which means: spiritual things are of value only in the Spirit of humanity as a whole, not in any egoistic spirit.
There is a realm where a man is not moral merely from preference, but because immorality or egoism would not help. In this case it is easy to see something else, namely, that it is dangerous to enter the spiritual realm unprepared. Nothing of an egoistic nature will ever be won for the life after death through leading a spiritual life, but a man might easily desire something egoistic for this life on the physical plane through spiritual development. Although nothing of an egoistic nature can be gained for the spiritual world, things can be desired which are in a sense egoistic.
Most of those who pursue a certain higher development will probably say: “It is self-understood that I should endeavor to overcome egoism before gaining entrance to the spiritual world.” But I beg of you to believe: in no region of human development is deception so great as in that where men say — “I strive against egoism!” It is easy to say it, but whether one can do it, can really accomplish it, is quite another question. It is another question in the first place, because when we begin to practice certain soul activities that can lead us into the spiritual world, we meet ourselves in our true form. There are very few things which are experienced in their true form in the outer world. We live interwoven in a net of ideas, will-impulses, moral perceptions, and customary actions that have their rise in the surrounding world, and we seldom ask “How would I act, how would I think, regarding any matter if I did not feel constrained by my upbringing to think and act in such and such a way?”
If we answered these questions we would see that we are ordinarily very much worse than we suppose. Now, the result of carrying out those exercises that are intended to help us to rise to the spiritual world is that we outgrow all our surroundings, all that custom and education have woven around us. We become more sensitive, more soulful and spiritual, and ever more and more naked. The veils with which we have clothed ourselves, and to which we cling with our ordinary ideas and actions, fall from us. Hence we have the quite ordinary result of which I have often spoken: Before beginning his spiritual development a man is perhaps a quite decently behaved person, who does not make any very stupid blunders in life. Then his spiritual development begins. While until now he was perhaps quite a modest man, he now becomes arrogant, and does all sorts of stupid things. When spiritual development begins he loses his balance and his bearings. The reason for this is best seen by those who are familiar with the spiritual world. Two things are necessary in order to know where we are with regard to what approaches us from the spiritual world so that balance is maintained. We must not be made giddy by what comes to us from the spiritual world. In physical life our organism shields us from giddiness through the “sense of balance," of which you have heard in anthroposophical lectures: the static-sense. And just as this gives to physical man power to hold himself upright (for if his organism does not function correctly a man becomes giddy and he falls down), there is something also in spiritual life by which he can regulate his position to the world. This he must be able to do. “Spiritual giddiness” results from the falling away from him of what formerly gave support: those acquired perceptions, all that is brought about in us by the inter-blending activities of the external world. We must now learn to depend on ourselves. It is easy for us to become arrogant when these outer supports fall away. Pride is situated in us naturally; only, till now it was not so apparent. How can we attain spiritual balance so that this giddiness does not occur? By devoting ourselves with patience and perseverance to what spiritual investigation has discovered and succeeded in putting into words that agree with the ordinary formula of logical veracity. It is not from choice that I emphasize again and again the need of studying what we call spiritual science or anthroposophy. I lay stress on it because it is not possible by any other means to acquire the solid supports necessary to a spiritual development. The diligent and earnest acceptance of the results of spiritual science is the antidote to spiritual giddiness and insecurity.
Many a one has fallen into spiritual insecurity through carrying out his development incorrectly; we know that though such a one may seem to have been very diligent, this is because he has failed to acquire certain things that flow from the wellhead of spiritual science. This is why the facts of spiritual science should he studied from every side, and why all through last winter, while desiring ultimately to bring home to you the importance of the Event of Christ to man, we returned ever and again to deal with the fundamental conditions of spiritual progress. A balanced soul is necessary to a man's progress; but other things are also necessary.
While the soul acquires certainty through the study of spiritual science, something else brings us what is equally necessary. This is a certain degree of spiritual strength and courage. The courage necessary to spiritual progress is not required of us in ordinary life, for this reason: that in ordinary life our innermost being is embedded in our physical and etheric body from the time we waken until we fall asleep, and in the night we can do nothing, we cannot spoil anything. Supposing an unevolved man were able to be active during sleep, he could do a great deal of harm. But the forces active on our physical and etheric bodies, making us conscious — that is, thinking and feeling men — are not the only forces at work in us. Other forces are also active there, forces on which divine spiritual beings have worked all through the Saturn, Sun, and Moon periods, and on into our own Earthly period. Here forces from higher realms are continually at work maintaining us. When we waken and draw within the physical and etheric bodies, we give ourselves over immediately to these divine spiritual forces which, for our welfare and blessing, guide and control our physical and etheric bodies from morning till evening. Thus the whole spiritual universe works within us. We can injure it in many ways, but can do very little to improve it.
Now, you must realize that all spiritual development depends on our inner being — our astral body and ego — becoming free, that we become able to see: that is, learn to become consciously clairvoyant of that which lives unconsciously within us from the time we fall asleep till we waken; and because it lives there unconsciously, can cause no harm. All the strength, all the power that is ours through our being taken in hand on waking by what is securely bound to our physical and etheric bodies, falls away from us when we become independent of these bodies and begin to be clairvoyantly aware. All the strength and power of the world remains outside us. We have withdrawn from the powers which make us strong and provide us with a shield against the influences of the outer world. We have withdrawn from these supporting powers. The world, however, remains as it is, and because this is so we are faced with the whole power, the whole impact of the surrounding world. The strength we otherwise received directly from our physical body and etheric body must now be within us, so that we can endure and withstand the impact of the world. We must develop this power in our ego and astral body. This is done by following the rules you have received and which are found in my book “Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and how to attain it.” These rules are calculated to give that inner strength which formerly was imparted to us by higher beings, and which fails when the external supports which enabled us to withstand the impact of the world fail, when we have ourselves discarded the support provided by our physical and etheric bodies.
Those who have not made themselves inwardly strong enough to be able to replace the supports laid aside with their physical and etheric bodies, by carrying out a true and serious soul-training, those who above all have not purified themselves from the qualities of the outer world we describe as “immoral,” may certainly acquire faculties which enable them to some extent to see into the spiritual world. But what is the result? They become what is called “hypersensitives,” they become super-sensitive, as if attacked from every side; they cannot endure what approaches them on all hands. One of the most important facts we have to recognize when striving for progress in spiritual knowledge is that we must strengthen ourselves inwardly by developing the noblest qualities of the soul.
What are these qualities of which we have been speaking and toward which we must strive?
As it is impossible to live in the spiritual world under the brand of selfishness, it is only natural that the banishment of egoism — of everything of the nature of “self” that would fain shelter behind what is spiritual — must form the preparation for spiritual life. The more earnestly this maxim is accepted, the better it is for spiritual progress. It cannot be accepted too earnestly.
Anyone concerned with such things often hears it said: “I have not done this from egoism!” But when these words are about to pass a man's lips he should pause, he should not allow them to pass, he should rather say to himself: Thou art really not in a position to say thou canst do something without a trace of egoism. This would be better, because more truthful, and truth in respect of self-knowledge is most important. In no domain does falsehood wreak such vengeance as in the domain of spiritual life. It were better for a man there to lay on himself the command to be truthful than speak in a vague way of “not being egoistic!” It would be better to be truthful and say: “I acknowledge my egoism,” thus showing his desire at least to overcome it.
I can best express what is connected with the idea of spiritual truth in the following way. One might easily be of the opinion: “There are people who tell of all kinds of things they have seen and experienced in the higher worlds; this is then spread abroad and is known by others. If one realizes that these things are not true, ought one not to use every possible means to contradict them?” Certainly, there are points of view from which such contradiction is necessary. But for those who as spiritual men are only concerned with the truth, there is always another thought, namely this: Of the things brought from the spiritual world, only those that are true flourish and bear fruits for the world; what is untrue is most certainly unfruitful.
Expressed more trivially we might say: However much people lie with regard to spiritual matters, these lies have very short legs. The people who spread these lies have to acknowledge that nothing really fruitful comes from them. Truth alone bears fruits in the spiritual realm. This is where our individual spiritual development begins, where we realize and acknowledge our true position. That truth alone is fruitful — that it alone has power to affect anything — must dwell as vital impulse in all spiritual movements, in all occult movements. Truth is proved by its fruitfulness and by the blessings it brings to man. Untruths and lies are unfruitful. They have but one resul,t which I only hint at but cannot deal further with today: they react most powerfully upon those who originate them. We shall deal with the meaning of this important statement some other time.
As I said, I wished today to glance backward over the work done during the past year, to recall the tone which as feeling-content filled and resounded in our souls.
In speaking of the work carried on outside our own group during the past year, I may perhaps mention my own share which reached its culmination in the Rosicrucian Mystery Play we produced in Munich, “Die Pforte der Einwerhung” [“The Portal of Initiation].” We shall speak at our next group-meeting of what was then attempted; at present I only wish to say that it was then possible to express in a more artistic, more individual form, what had otherwise been said in a more general way. When speaking here or elsewhere of the conditions of spiritual life we speak of these as they are right for every soul. But in doing so it is necessary to keep in view that each man is an independent being, and each soul must be considered individually. This is why we were obliged to depict one soul in “The Portal of Initiation.” Therefore you must look on this Rosicrucian Mystery not as a book of instruction, but as an artistic presentation of the preparation for initiation of one man.
We are not concerned here with the way this or that man progresses, but with the progress of him who in the play is called “Johannes Thomasius” — that is, with the very individual form the preparation for initiation took in a particular man.
Thus, by approaching nearer to truth, we have arrived at two distinct points of view. First, where we described the whole course of progress, and then that where we penetrated to the very core of an individual soul. All the time we were inspired by the thought that we must draw near, and patiently await the truth from many sides, until these different aspects of the truth be linked together into a single perception. This attitude of reserve in respect of knowledge we desire most especially to acquire. Never let it be said that man cannot experience truth. He can experience it! Only he cannot know the whole truth all at once, but only one side of it. This makes one humble. True humility is a feeling that must be developed here within our group, so that from here it may pass out into the general culture of our day, and there make its influence felt. Our age has need of great modesty in all its activities.
In the spirit of this impulse we shall continue the work of explaining the Christ-problem so that here also we may experience how modesty in respect of knowledge [Erkenntnisbescheidenheit] can be attained, and may thereby progress ever further in the experiencing of truth.