Tuesday, February 28, 2017
The Anthroposophical Fire: The Crucial Importance of Spiritual Science and Soulwork
The theme we are to consider today leads at once into a sphere which belongs to all humanity, apart from distinctions.
We are to speak, in the first place, of that realm of man's aspiration which in its true, original form can be described in no human language but only in the language of thought — I refer to the realm of occult science.
Through his human faculties man strives for occult knowledge and may also acquire it, but occult knowledge has a greater significance for the world than it has merely within the human soul. In the world around us we can distinguish different substances and materials through which its various phenomena and manifestations are given expression. In the Primal Principle, the essential nature of which can hardly be expressed in words of human language, all creatures, all things of the Earth, and all worlds are rooted. But the individual differentiations of this Primal Principle come to expression in the physical world in the substances of earth, of water, of air, of fire, of ether, and so forth.
One of the finest, most highly attenuated substances within the reach of human faculties is called Akasha. The manifestations of beings and of phenomena in the Akasha are the most delicate and ethereal of any that are accessible to man. What a man acquires in the way of occult knowledge lives not only in his soul but is inscribed into the Akasha-substance of the world. When we make a thought of occult science come alive in our souls, it is at once inscribed into the Akasha-substance and this is of significance for the general evolution of the world. For no being in the whole world other than man is able to make in the Akasha-substance the inscriptions that can be called by the name of Occult Science.
It is important to bear in mind one characteristic feature of the Akasha-substance, namely that in the spiritual world between death and a new birth, man lives in this substance, just as here on the Earth he lives in the atmosphere.
If a seer, using the means at his disposal, were to come into contact with human souls living between death and rebirth he would be able to observe the following.
In the present cycle of evolution — formerly it was different — a man who here on the Earth is never able to kindle to life within him thoughts and ideas belonging to Spiritual Science cannot be seen, even when he is actually present, by a soul living between death and a new birth. But when a man living on the Earth causes a thought or an idea from the domain of Spiritual Science to quicken within him so that it can be inscribed into the Akasha-substance, he becomes visible to the souls who are living between death and rebirth. Profoundly shattering impressions may come to a seer who has prepared himself patiently for clairvoyant vision when he enters into relation with souls who have passed through the gate of death. I will give you an actual example.
A seer found a man who had passed through the gate of death, leaving behind him his wife and children whom he dearly loved. This man and his family were kindly, good-hearted people but had no inclination whatever for spiritual knowledge; they had not outgrown the religious traditions through which certain souls today still feel connected with the spiritual world.
Some little time after he had passed through the gate of death, this man said to himself: ‘I have left behind on the Earth my wife and children; they were the very sunshine of my life, but my spiritual sight cannot reach them. I have nothing but the remembrance of the time I spent together with them on the Earth.’
An entirely different picture can be seen if a soul still on the Earth forms strongly spiritual thoughts and ideas. In this case, when another soul, living between death and a new birth, looks down upon one he has left behind, he can follow his soul-life at the present time because it is inscribing itself into the Akasha-substance.
This is an indication of how anthroposophical teaching will bridge the gulf between the so-called living and the so-called dead; and already now we can see how human beings who have some understanding of the spiritual may be a blessing to the so-called dead by reading to them in thought the truths of Spiritual Science. If, either reading aloud or to ourselves, we follow in thought the ideas and concepts of Spiritual Science, at the same time feeling that one or more who have passed through death are there in front of us while we read, then this reading becomes very real to them, because such thoughts are inscribed into the Akasha-substance. Such reading may be of the greatest service not only to those on the other side of death who while they were on Earth concerned themselves with Spiritual Science but also to those who during their earthly life would have nothing to do with it.
The question may be asked: As the dead are living in the spiritual world, do they need such reading of Spiritual Science by those on the Earth? There are many who believe that it is only necessary to have passed through the gate of death in order to experience everything that can be attained only by dint of great effort on the Earth, through Spiritual Science. Such people also believe that after death a man will be able to acquire all occult knowledge, because he will then be in the spiritual world. This, however, is not the case.
Just as here on the Earth there live beings other than man, who perceive everything that man is able to perceive by means of his senses but — as in the case of the animals — are unable to form ideas or concepts of it, so it is with souls living in the supersensible worlds. Although these souls see the beings and facts of the higher spiritual worlds, they can form no concepts or ideas of them if men here on the Earth do not inscribe such concepts and ideas into the Akasha Chronicle.
This mission of human life upon Earth is by no means without purpose; on the contrary, it has very deep meaning and purpose. If human souls had never lived on the Earth the spiritual worlds would still be in existence, but there would be no occult knowledge of these spiritual worlds. In the course of world-evolution the Earth has reached a point at which spiritual knowledge can be developed by spiritual beings organized and constituted as men are on the Earth. What has been inscribed into the Akasha-substance through Spiritual Science would never have been there if this science had not existed on the Earth.
If a man tries to put the life of his soul on the Earth to the test, he will discover in the first place that during our present age he has applied his faculties for the acquisition of knowledge to aims other than the attainment of spiritual knowledge. These faculties have been used for the acquisition of data of knowledge produced by means of the senses and through the intellect that is bound to the brain. Thus human knowledge is of two kinds: the one pertains only to experience acquired by means of the senses, which needs the organ of the intellect in order to transform it into knowledge; the other kind is Spiritual Science. The knowledge that belongs only to the sense-world forms the one stream; the other consists of what humans inscribe through Spiritual Science into the Akasha Chronicle. For Spiritual Science develops ideas and concepts which are then inscribed forever in the Akasha Chronicle.
All science, all knowledge pertaining to experiences acquired through the senses, to technical things, to the commercial and industrial life of mankind, when inscribed in the Akasha-substance has this effect: the Akasha-substance discards it, thrusts it away, and the medley of ideas and concepts is obliterated. If these facts are perceived with the eyes of a seer, a conflict may be observed in the Akasha-substance between the impressions made by the occult knowledge acquired by man — impressions which are eternal — and those made by thoughts based upon the senses, which are only transitory. This conflict arises from the fact that when man first began to inhabit the Earth as man (that is to say, in the ancient epoch of Lemuria), he was already then destined by sublime spiritual beings to acquire Spiritual Science.
But through what we call the Luciferic influence, through the encroachment of Luciferic beings, man diverted his power of thought and other powers of soul which he would otherwise have used for the acquisition of occult knowledge only, to the study of things belonging exclusively to the physical world.
There are many who say that whereas ordinary science is accessible to everybody, spiritual or occult science can be made intelligible only to those who are able to see into the spiritual worlds. This is a fundamental error, for in the depths of his own soul every man is capable, even before he becomes a seer, of recognizing the truths of Spiritual Science. Admittedly, occult truths can be discovered only by the seer, but when they have been discovered, and expressed in the normal language of human reason, they can be intelligible to every human soul who has the will to remove the obstacles to such understanding that exist within himself.
As a result of the Luciferic impulses it became possible at a later period in the evolution of the Earth for another being, whom we call Ahriman, to acquire influence over the souls of men. And only when the possibility of understanding Spiritual Science is held back through Ahrimanic influence in the soul does that understanding remain unattainable. If the being we call Ahriman did not work in every human soul, if our souls were free from his influence, then an idea or thought belonging to Spiritual Science would need only to be spoken and the soul, through its subconscious relationship to this truth, would feel: This idea, this statement of Spiritual Science, is true. In every human soul there is a life which the everyday consciousness understands and can account for, and a subconscious soul-life which lies submerged as if in the depths of an ocean and only from time to time is brought to light. In the depths of the soul there lies, for example, the fear that is present in every human being — the fear of the spiritual. This fear is the outcome of Ahriman's influence and would not exist if Ahriman had not gained power over the souls of men. The reason why a man is usually unconscious of such fear is that it works in the deepest foundations of his soul and plays no part in what he can account for with his everyday consciousness.
Sometimes this fear knocks at the door of a man's ordinary consciousness without any knowledge on his part of what is inwardly disquieting him; and then he looks for something that will act as an opiate, that will deaden this feeling of fear. He finds this opiate in materialistic thoughts, theories, and ideas. Materialistic theories are not devised on a logical basis, although it may be believed that this is the case; they are devised as the result of a dread of the spiritual, which is the consequence of Ahriman's influence upon the soul. Hence the preparatory condition for actual understanding of spiritual truths is much less a knowledge of physical science than an education of the soul in the virtue of moral courage, spiritual courage. Therefore we may say that occult science must be explored by the seer, but it can be understood by every human soul if this soul will only liberate within itself all the moral courage at its command and so frustrate the obstacles proceeding from Ahriman.
Should anyone wish to understand occult truths through the original moral forces of his soul he may make the following attempt: he may allow Spiritual Science to work upon his soul without saying to himself ‘I agree with this’ or ‘I do not agree with it’. He may assimilate the ideas and concepts given by the seer and allow them to work upon his soul; and if he has absorbed the occult knowledge with inner enthusiasm and not as the result of mere curiosity, he will have an experience that may be compared with a feeling of soaring without physical ground under his feet, with a feeling as if he were hovering in the air.
This attempt will have a completely different effect according to whether it is carried out by a person with religious, reverential inclinations toward spiritual life, or by someone accustomed to materialistic thinking. One who has no actual occult knowledge but whose inclinations and feelings with regard to the spiritual world have nevertheless a religious quality may feel somewhat insecure as the result of this attempt, but very much less so than a materialist who has no feeling of attraction to the spiritual world. The latter will experience a strong feeling of fear, of insecurity. The materialist may convince himself through this experience that the effect of occult ideas and concepts upon him is that they give rise to dread and terror. And then he may say to himself: ‘This proves to me not only that I am full of fear of this realm, but that fear is one of my intrinsic tendencies.’
If, for example, Ernst Haeckel or Herbert Spencer had made this attempt they would have convinced themselves not only that occult knowledge is not contradictory or impossible of belief but that in the inmost depths of their souls they were full of fear; and they would soon have forgotten all doubt and disbelief in what they had been wont to consider fantastic spiritual teachings and would have admitted to themselves that to overcome this fear was of very great significance. Having made this confession they would soon have abandoned their opposition to the spiritual teachings. They would have said to themselves: ‘I must endeavor to strengthen moral courage within myself.’ Then, perhaps, they would have taken their own self-training in hand and if they had succeeded in overcoming this fear would have said: ‘Now that we have become stronger souls we no longer have any doubts as to the truth of spiritual science.’ This experience, arising from the strengthening of moral courage within the soul, is a victory over Ahriman, whose influence can be perceived in the science of Ernst Haeckel and the philosophy of Herbert Spencer. It is Ahriman who has inspired souls to take a materialistic direction. If only a small portion of mankind, as a result of genuine knowledge, will work in the way above indicated to strengthen their moral courage, these materialistic theories will gradually disappear from the world.
Occult knowledge is necessary for the whole process of evolution, as it is inscribed in the Akasha-substance. The importance of this can be evident from a brief outline of the evolution of humanity on the Earth.
Man's evolution on Earth advances in stages from one civilization-epoch to another; during these successive epochs the souls of men dwell, as individualities, in bodies belonging to the several civilizations. All the souls here this evening were incarnated in bodies that belonged to earlier periods of culture. Each individual soul advances in accordance with the karma it has built up for itself.
As well as this evolution of individual souls which depends upon their karma, we must recognize the evolution of mankind as a whole, which advances from epoch to epoch. A Grecian body, an Egyptian, Chaldean, ancient Persian, or ancient Indian body was, in the finer parts of its structure, quite different from one of the present age.
Distinction must be made between the inner progress of the ‘I’ and the astral body from incarnation to incarnation, and the outer progress and change in the physical and etheric bodies from one race to another, from one nation to another, from one epoch to another. This progress of the physical and the etheric bodies from one epoch to another would not be perceptible to those who study anatomy and physiology, but it happens, nevertheless, and can be recognized through occult science. The human physical body will be quite different when, in the normal course of evolution, our souls appear again on the Earth in future incarnations.
In the present epoch of human life a delicate organ is being developed in man. It is not perceptible to anatomists and physiologists, yet it exists as an anatomical structure. This rudimentary organ is situated in the brain, near the organ of speech.
The development of this organ in the convolutions of the brain is not the result of the karma of individual souls but of human evolution as a whole on the Earth; and in the future all men will possess it, no matter what the development of the souls incarnating in the bodies may be, and irrespective of the karma connected with these souls.
In a future incarnation this organ will be possessed by human beings who at the present time may be opposed to Anthroposophy as well as by those who are now in sympathy with it. This organ will in future time be the physical means, the physical instrument, for the application of certain powers of the soul; just as, for example, Broca's organ in the third convolution of the brain is the organ of the human faculty of speech.
When this new organ has developed it may either be used rightly by mankind, or it may not. Those people will be able to use it rightly who are now preparing the possibility of having in their next incarnation a true remembrance of the present one. For this physical organ will be the physical means for remembering an earlier incarnation — which in the case of by far the greater majority of people is possible now only through higher development, through initiation. But a faculty which in the present epoch it would be possible to acquire only through initiation will later on become the common property of mankind. Our modern knowledge was formerly the special knowledge possessed by the Atlantean initiates only; everyone can now possess it. In the same way, remembrance of former lives on Earth is possible at present only for initiates but in times to come it will be possible for every human soul.
The initiate is able to attain certain knowledge without the use of a physical organ, but this knowledge can become the common property of mankind only when a physical organ through which it can be acquired is developed in mankind as a whole in the course of evolution.
The reincarnated souls must, however, be able to use this organ in the right way, and only those who in the present incarnation have inscribed occult thoughts and ideas in the Akasha-substance will be capable of this.
One often hears it asked: What is the use of believing in former lives when mankind in general can remember nothing about them? But from what is known of life, how much more surprising it would be if men in general were even now able to remember their former lives! If we ask ourselves what is necessary to enable us to remember anything, we shall have to reply: We can remember only that about which we have previously thought.
Everyday life can teach us that this is so. Suppose someone on getting up in the morning cannot find his cufflinks, no matter where he looks. Why is he not able to find them? Because while he was putting them away he was not thinking of what he was doing. Let him, however, try every evening while putting his cufflinks away to think quite consciously: I am putting my cufflinks away in this place. Then he will never be uncertain but will go straight to the place where he has put them; the thought brings the process back into his memory.
When we are living in a future incarnation we shall only be able to remember those that are past if we can grasp the true nature of the soul which continues from one incarnation to another. A man who does not study occult science in the present life can acquire no knowledge of the constitution and nature of the soul, and if he has no such knowledge, how should he, when he is again incarnated, remember that to which he never gave a thought in the earlier incarnation?
Through the study of Spiritual Science, which includes, among other things, the study of the intrinsic nature of the soul, we prepare in ourselves that which will enable us in a future incarnation to remember what happened in the present one. There are, however, many people nowadays who are not willing to devote themselves to the study of this knowledge. These human beings will be reborn, perhaps in their next incarnation, with the above-mentioned organ for the remembrance of former lives physically developed; but they have not prepared themselves in such a way as to be able to remember the past.
What, then, is the significance of Spiritual Science or Anthroposophy in the life of the present day, in addition to all that has been said? Through Anthroposophy we become able to use in the right way the organ that will be developed in human beings of the future, the organ for the remembering of former lives on Earth. In our present incarnation we must inscribe in the Akasha-substance the knowledge we acquire in order that in our next incarnation we may be able to use this organ — which is developing in man whether he wishes it or not. In the future there will be men who are able to use this organ for remembering past lives, and others who are not able. Certain illnesses will appear in the latter, owing to the presence in their physical bodies of an organ which they are unable to use. To have an organ and be unable to use it gives rise to nervous diseases in a very definite form, and those that will be caused in cases of this kind will be far worse than any yet known to man.
When we study the connection of facts in this way we begin to get an idea of the mission and purpose of Anthroposophy and of the importance of understanding life and mankind through this knowledge. But lest the impression made upon you by what has been said should lead to any misunderstanding, I will mention yet another fact which may mitigate anything that was painful in that impression. Although a genuine occultist realizes that Anthroposophy must enter into the spiritual life of our present time in order that the human being of the future may be able to use the organ for remembering past lives and remain physically in good health, nevertheless it cannot be said categorically that a man who in this epoch is not ready to accept Anthroposophy will suffer in his following incarnations in the sense referred to above. For a long time to come it will still be possible for a human being, even if he has neglected to use this organ in the present life, to put this right in the next, for there will be several more opportunities for him to regain health and acquire anthroposophical knowledge. The time will come, however, when this possibility will cease.
For this reason, even if we have not yet reached the crucial moment, we are nevertheless living in the epoch when Anthroposophy must be membered into the spiritual life of mankind. Anthroposophy is an essential development in the general progress of mankind and does not stem from the personal opinions of individuals.
And so especially in our own time the possibility will be given for the subjective development of the human soul, leading to personal vision of the spiritual worlds, to genuine occult development. It may be said that every individual who will apply the original forces within his soul, undisturbed by Ahrimanic influences, can understand everything that is revealed from the spiritual worlds; hence in a certain sense it is possible for every human being to unfold consciousness of the spiritual worlds by undergoing occult development. At the present time, three particular powers of the soul may well be developed in order to establish an occult link with the supersensible worlds.
The first of these powers is that of thinking. We live in relation with the world around us by forming thoughts about our surroundings. In ordinary, everyday life a man thinks thoughts which are caused through impressions made on the senses, or through the intellect that is bound up with the brain. In my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment it is said that through meditation, concentration, and contemplation, through strengthening his life of soul, a man can make this power of thinking independent of external life. I want to call your attention here to how the power of thinking within the soul, which otherwise is developed only through thought about the external world, can be made essentially free and independent of everything belonging to the body. That is to say, through such development it becomes possible for the soul to think, to form thoughts within itself, without using the brain as an instrument. This is easy to understand if we consider the chief characteristic of ordinary, everyday thinking, which is dependent upon the impressions conveyed through the senses.
The chief characteristic of ordinary thinking is that each single act of thinking injures the nervous system, and above all, the brain; it destroys something in the brain. Every thought means that a minute process of destruction takes place in the cells of the brain. For this reason sleep is necessary for us, in order that this process of destruction may be made good; during sleep we restore what during the day was destroyed in our nervous system by thinking. What we are consciously aware of in an ordinary thought is in reality the process of destruction that is taking place in our nervous system.
We now endeavor to practice meditation by devoting ourselves to contemplation —for instance, of the saying: Wisdom lives in the Light. This idea cannot originate from sense-impressions, because according to the external senses it is not so.
In this example, by means of meditation we hold the thought back so far that it does not connect itself with the brain. If in this way we unfold an inner activity of thinking that is not connected with the brain, through the effects of such meditation upon the soul we shall feel that we are on the right path. As in meditative thinking no process of destruction is evoked in our nervous system, this kind of thinking never causes sleepiness, however long it may be continued, as ordinary thinking may easily do.
It is true that the opposite often occurs when someone is meditating, for people often complain that when they devote themselves to meditation they at once fall asleep. But that is because the meditation is not yet as it should be. It is quite natural that in meditation we should, to begin with, use the kind of thinking to which we have always been accustomed; it is only gradually that we can accustom ourselves to give up thinking about external things. When this point is reached, meditative thinking will no longer make us sleepy, and we shall then know that we are on the right path.
When the inner power of thinking can thus be developed without using the thinking faculty of the body, then and only then shall we acquire knowledge of the inner life and recognize our real self, our higher ‘I’.
The path to true knowledge of the human self is to be found in the kind of meditation just described, which leads to the liberation of inner thought-power. Only through such knowledge do we realize that this human self is not confined within the limits of the physical body; on the contrary, we come to recognize that this self is connected with the phenomena of the world around us. Whereas in ordinary life we see the sun here, the moon there, the mountains, hills, plants, and animals, we now feel ourselves united with everything we see or hear; we are a part of it all, and for us there is now only one external world — our own body. In ordinary life we are here and the external world is around us, but after the development of the independent power of thinking, we are outside our body, one with all that we otherwise see; our body in which we live is now outside us; we look back upon it as the only world upon which we can now gaze.
In this way, by liberating the power of thinking, we can actually emerge from the physical body and contemplate it as something external. Even more can be done: for example, we can give a positive answer to the question: Why do we wake up every morning? During sleep our physical body lies in the bed and we are actually outside it, just as is the case during meditative thinking. On waking we return to our physical body, being drawn back to it by countless forces, as by a magnet. A man usually knows nothing of this. But if through meditation he has made himself free, he is consciously drawn back by the same force which, on waking from sleep, draws his soul back into his physical body without consciousness on his part.
We also learn through meditation how the human being comes down from the higher worlds in which he lived between death and a new birth, and how he unites with the forces and substances provided by parents, grandparents, and so forth. In short, we learn to know the forces that draw human beings back from their life between death and a new birth to new incarnations.
As a fruit of such meditation one may look back over a great part of the life spent in the spiritual world between death and a new birth, before conception took place. But through this kind of meditation one can, as a rule, look back only to a certain point that lies before the present incarnation; it would not be possible to look further back into earlier incarnations themselves. To do this at the present time, as the organ referred to above has not yet developed in the human brain, another kind of meditation is necessary. This other kind can become effective only if feeling is brought into the meditation. All meditation as now described is also be permeated with feeling.
We will now consider the subject-matter which, in the process of meditation itself, must be permeated by feeling. If, for instance, we take: ‘Wisdom radiates in the Light’, and we feel inspired through the radiation of wisdom, if we feel uplifted, if we feel inwardly aglow, if we can live in and meditate upon the content of these words with inner zeal, then we have in our souls something more than meditation in thoughts. The power of feeling we then activate in the soul is the power we otherwise use in speech. Speech comes into being when thoughts are permeated with inner feeling. This is the origin of speech, and Broca's organ in the brain comes into existence in this way: the thoughts of the inner life that are permeated with feeling become active in the brain, and build the organ that is the physical instrument of speech.
When our meditation is really permeated by such feelings we hold back in our souls the force that in everyday life we employ in speaking. Speech may be said to be the embodiment of the inner soul-force which gives expression to these thoughts If now, instead of allowing the soul-force to be applied in speaking, we develop meditation from these thoughts that are permeated with feeling, if we continue this meditation to further and further stages, we gradually gain the power — now actually without the physical organ but through initiation — to look back into earlier lives on Earth and also to investigate the period between earthly lives, the period which always lies between death and a new birth.
Through cultivating the withholding of speech within the soul — or, as the occultist says, withholding the ‘word’ within the soul —we can eventually look back to the primeval beginning of our Earth, back to what the Bible calls the creative act of the Elohim. We can look back to the time when repeated Earth-lives actually began for human beings. For the occult development we attain through withholding the word, or withholding speech, enables us to look into the successive epochs, in so far as these are connected with our Earth, with the spiritual life of our planet. We become able to behold the beings of the higher hierarchies, in so far as they are connected with the spiritual life of the Rarth.
But these two clairvoyant faculties, which are developed in meditation through thoughts and through thoughts permeated with feeling, cannot lead us to experiences lying before the epoch of the present Earth, experiences connected with earlier planetary incarnations of our Earth. This requires the development of the third meditative power, of which we will now speak briefly.
We can further permeate the content of our meditation with impulses of will in such a way that if we meditate, for instance, on ‘The Wisdom of the World radiates in the Light’, we may now really feel the impulse of our will united with that activity; we can feel our own being united with the radiating power of the light, and let this light shine and vibrate through the world. We must feel the impulse of our will to be united with this meditation.
When our meditation is filled with impulses of the will, we are holding back a force which otherwise would pass into the pulsation of the blood. It is easy to realize that the inner life of the ‘I’ can pass over into the pulsation of the blood when we remember that we grow pale when we are afraid and blush when we are ashamed; these are the signs that the soul-force is passing over into the pulsing of the blood. If the same force which influences the blood is activated in such a way that it does not descend into the physical but remains in the soul only, this is the beginning of the third form of meditation, which we can influence through impulses of will.
He who achieves these three forms of occult development feels, when he liberates the power of thought, as though he had an organ at the root of the nose — these organs are described as ‘lotus-flowers,’ by means of which he can become aware of his ‘I’ or Self that extends far into space.
A man who by meditation has cultivated thoughts permeated with feeling becomes gradually conscious, through this developed force which would otherwise have become speech, of the so-called sixteen-petalled lotus-flower in the region of the larynx. By means of this lotus-flower he can comprehend what is connected with temporal things, from the beginning of the Earth's existence until its end. By means of this organ he also learns to recognize the occult significance of the Mystery of Golgotha, of which we shall speak in the next lecture.
Through the soul-force which in normal everyday life would extend to the blood and its pulsation but is held back, an organ develops in the region of the heart. By means of this organ the nature of the earlier incarnations of the earth — known in occultism as the Saturn-, Sun-, and Moon-evolutions — may be understood. Reference is made to this organ in my book Occult Science — an Outline.
As you will now realize, occult development is achieved by means of faculties and possibilities that are actually present in the life of the human soul.
The first occult power that has been mentioned stems from a higher development of the power of thinking, the power that is otherwise applied only for thoughts connected with the external world.
The second power is only a higher development of the force which in everyday life is applied by every human being through the body, in speech, in the development of the organ for the word.
The third power is a higher cultivation of the force that exists in the human soul to cause the blood to pulsate faster or slower, to direct a greater or smaller amount of blood to one or another organ of the body; to direct it more to the center when we grow pale, more to the surface when we blush, to direct it more or less strongly to the brain, and so on.
When a man cultivates these forces that are present within him, but in ordinary life are used for his outer, bodily existence only, occult development begins. The findings of occult investigation can be understood today by every human being who is willing to clear away obstacles to comprehension. What can be learnt as the result of occult development is occult science, and in the present cycle of man's existence occult science must flow into the human soul in order that it may learn to know its own being — which is independent of the body. The forms of all the substances in the external world, such as earth, water, air, etc., pass away; the forms of the Akasha-substance endure. Through its inner life, our soul must feel itself connected with the Akasha-substance, and in future time it will have the wish to remember what it is experiencing in the present epoch. The possibility of acquiring ideas and concepts that can lead to this remembrance results from the study of occult science, which means that the knowledge gained through occult development must be spread abroad and accepted.
I have therefore tried in this first lecture to bring home to you that in addition to the impulses underlying the development of humanity, the spreading of anthroposophical occult knowledge and the pointing of the way to occult development are vitally necessary. It is not by means of words based upon ordinary human considerations that I have tried to elucidate the mission of Spiritual Science, but through the study of facts which are the findings of occult research. Whoever will allow these facts to work upon his soul will realize that anyone who understands their full significance cannot possibly deny the need to spread the knowledge of Spiritual Science at the present time. There is certainly no need to become fanatical in order to recognize the necessity of anthroposophical development; what is needed is to understand the facts that lie at the foundation of man's occult life. Truth to tell, it can only be ignorance of these facts that still keeps mankind away from anthroposophical life.
Among the spiritual movements of our time, Anthroposophy as it is here understood will be the least fanatical, and the one that proceeds most decisively from objective considerations. It is necessary to affirm repeatedly that all kindred theories and teachings must finally unite in anthroposophical circles in deeply-rooted, living feeling.
There is an objective spiritual life, the reflection of which in the world of maya is the life by which we are surrounded. Occult development is a step from semblance toward reality. And because genuine understanding of these facts can lead to nothing else than the impulse to take the necessary steps, the future destiny of Anthroposophy or Spiritual Science will be secure, because more and more souls will have the wish to recognize the objective truth regarding the World-Spirit.
The anthroposophical fire that can be kindled in us is only an outcome of the Cosmic Fire which streams forth spiritually from the beginning to the end of existence.
It is this that I wanted to say to you in this first lecture concerning the mission of the Anthroposophical Movement in the spiritual life of the present day.