Thursday, July 6, 2017
The two anthroposophical streams: the Platonic and the Aristotelian
The delay in arriving yesterday prevented me from speaking to you, as was my wish, about what has been happening in the Anthroposophical Society since the Christmas Foundation Meeting at the Goetheanum. As the purpose and intentions of that meeting will have become known to friends through the News Sheet, I propose to speak briefly about the most important points only and then to continue with more intimate studies concerning the significance of this Christmas Foundation Meeting for the Anthroposophical Society.
The Christmas Meeting was intended to be a fundamental renewal, a new foundation of the Anthroposophical Society. Up to the time of the Christmas Foundation Meeting I was always able to make a distinction between the Anthroposophical Movement and the Anthroposophical Society. The latter represented as it were the earthly projection of something that exists in the spiritual worlds in a certain stream of the spiritual life. What was taught here on the Earth and communicated as anthroposophical wisdom — this was the reflection of the stream flowing in spiritual worlds through the present phase of the evolution of mankind. The Anthroposophical Society was then a kind of ‘administrative organ’ for the anthroposophical knowledge flowing through the Anthroposophical Movement.
As time went on, this did not turn out satisfactorily for the true cultivation of Anthroposophy. It therefore became necessary that I myself — until then I had taught Anthroposophy without having any official connection with the Anthroposophical Society — should take over, together with the Dornach Executive, the leadership of the Anthroposophical Society as such. The Anthroposophical Movement and the Anthroposophical Society have thereby become one. Since the Christmas Foundation Meeting in Dornach, the opposite of what went before must be recognized: no distinction is to be made henceforward between Anthroposophical Movement and Anthroposophical Society, for they are now identical. And those who stand by my side as the Executive at the Goetheanum are to be regarded as a kind of esoteric Executive. Thus what comes about through this Executive may be characterized as ‘Anthroposophy in deed and practice,’ whereas formerly it could only be a matter of the administration of the anthroposophical teachings.
This means, however, that the whole Anthroposophical Society must gradually be placed upon a new basis — a basis which makes it possible for esotericism to stream through the Society — and the essence of the Anthroposophical Society in the future will be constituted by the due response and attitude on the part of those who desire to be Anthroposophists. This will have to be understood in the General Anthroposophical Society, which henceforward will be an entirely open Society — so that, as was announced at Christmas, the Lecture Courses too will be available for everyone, prefixed by the clauses laying down a kind of spiritual boundary line.
The prosperity and fruitful development of the anthroposophical cause will depend upon a true understanding of the esoteric trend which, from now onwards, will be implicit in the Anthroposophical Movement. Care will be taken to ensure that the Anthroposophical Society is kept free from bureaucratic and formal administrative measures and that the sole basis everywhere is the human element to be cultivated within the Society. Naturally, the Executive at the Goetheanum will have much to administer: but the administration will not be the essential. The essential will be that the Executive at the Goetheanum will act in this or that matter out of its own initiative. And what the Executive does, what in many ways it has already begun to do — that will form the content of the Anthroposophical Society.
Thereby a great many harmful tendencies that have arisen in the Society during recent years will be eliminated; difficulties will be in store for many members, because all kinds of institutions, founded out of goodwill, as the saying goes, did not prove equal to what they claimed to be and have really side-tracked the Anthroposophical Movement. Henceforward the Anthroposophical Movement will, in the human sense, be that which flows through the Anthroposophical Society.
The more deeply this is realized and understood the better it will be for the Anthroposophical Movement. And I am able to say the following. — Because that impulse prevailed among those who gathered at the Goetheanum at Christmas, it has been possible since then to introduce a quite different note into the Anthroposophical Movement. And to my deep satisfaction I have found heartfelt response to this in the different places I have so far been able to visit. It can be said that what was undertaken at Christmas was in a certain sense a hazard. For a certain eventuality existed: because the leadership of the Anthroposophical Society was now combined with the presentation of the spiritual teachings, those powers in the spiritual world who lead the Anthroposophical Movement might have withdrawn their guiding hands. It may now be said that this did not happen, but that the contrary is true: these spiritual powers are responding with an ever greater measure of grace, with even greater bounty, to what is streaming through the Anthroposophical Movement. In a certain sense a pledge has been made to the spiritual world. This pledge will be unswervingly fulfilled and it will be seen that in the future things will happen in accordance with it. And so not only in respect of the Anthroposophical Movement but also in respect of the Anthroposophical Society, responsibility is laid upon the Dornach Executive.
I have only spoken these few preliminary words in order to lead up to something that it is now possible to say and is of such a nature that it can become part of the content of the Anthroposophical Movement. I want to speak about something that has to do with the karma of the Anthroposophical Society itself.
When we think today of how the Anthroposophical Society exists in the world as the embodiment of the Anthroposophical Movement, we see a number of human beings coming together within the Anthroposophical Society. Any discerning person realizes that there are also other human beings in the world — one finds them everywhere — whose karma predisposes them to come to the Anthroposophical Society but, to begin with, something holds them back, they do not immediately, and in the full sense, find their way into it — though eventually they will certainly do so, either in this or in the next incarnation. We must, however, bear the following in mind: Those human beings who through their karma come to the Anthroposophical Movement are predestined for this Movement.
Now everything that happens here in the physical world is foreshadowed in spiritual worlds. Nothing happens in the physical world that has not been prepared for spiritually, in the spiritual world. And this is the significant thing: What is coming to pass here on the Earth in the twentieth century as the gathering together of a number of human beings in the Anthroposophical Society was prepared for during the first half of the nineteenth century when the souls of those human beings who are now in incarnation and are coming together in large numbers were united in the spiritual realms before they descended into the physical world. In the spiritual worlds at that time a kind of cult or ritual was lived through by a number of souls who were working together — a cult which instigated those longings that have arisen in the souls of those who now, in their present incarnations, come to the Anthroposophical Society. And whoever has a gift for recognizing such souls in their bodies does indeed recognize them as having worked together with him in the first half of the nineteenth century when, in the spiritual world, mighty, cosmic Imaginations were presented of what I will call the new Christianity. Up there — as in their bodies now — the souls were united in order to gather into themselves out of what I will call the Cosmic Substantiality and the Cosmic Forces that which, in mighty pictures, was of cosmic significance. It was the prelude of what was to become anthroposophical teaching and practice here on the Earth. By far the majority of the Anthroposophists who now sit together with one another would be able, if they perceived this, to say: Yes, we know one another, we were together in spiritual worlds, and in a supersensible cult we experienced mighty, cosmic Imaginations together!
All these souls had gathered together in the first half of the nineteenth century in order to prepare for what, on Earth, was to become the Anthroposophical Movement. In reality it was all a preparation for what I have often called the ‘stream of Michael,’ which appeared in the last third of the nineteenth century and is the most important of all spiritual intervention in the modern phase of human evolution. The Michael stream — to prepare the ways for Michael's earthly-heavenly working — such was the task of the souls who were together in the spiritual world.
These souls, however, were drawn together by experiences they had undergone through long, long ages — through centuries, nay, in many cases through thousands of years. And among them two main groups are to be distinguished. The one group experienced the form of Christianity which during the first centuries of the Christian era had spread in Southern Europe and also, to some extent, in Middle Europe. This Christianity continued to present to its believers a Christ conceived of as the mighty Divine Messenger who had come down from the Sun to the Earth in order thereafter to work among men. With greater or less understanding, Christ was thus pictured by the Christians of the first centuries as the mighty ‘Sun God.’
But throughout Christendom at this time the faculty of instinctive clairvoyance once possessed by men was fading away. Then they could no longer see in the Sun the great spiritual kingdom at whose center the Christ once had His abode. The ancient clairvoyant perception of the descent of the Christ to the Earth became superseded by mere tradition — tradition that He had come down from the Sun to the Earth, uniting Himself with Jesus of Nazareth in the physical body. The majority of Christians now retained little more than the concept that once upon a time a being had lived in Palestine — Christ Jesus — whose nature now began to be the subject of controversy. Had this being been fully God? Or was He both God and Man and, if so, how was the Divinity related to the Humanity? These questions, with others arising from them, were the problems and the causes of strife in the Church Councils. Eventually the mass of the people had nothing left to them but the decrees issued by Rome.
There were, however, among the Christians certain individuals who came more and more to be regarded as heretics. They still preserved as a living remembrance the tradition of the Christ as a being of the Sun. To them, a Sun being, by nature foreign to this Earth, was once incarnate. He descended to existence in this physical, material world. Until the seventh and eighth centuries these individuals found themselves placed in conditions which caused them to say: In what is now making its appearance in the guise of Christianity there is no longer any real understanding of the nature of the Christ! These “heretics” became, in effect, weary of Christianity. There were indeed such souls who in the early Christian centuries until the seventh and eighth centuries passed through the gate of death in a mood of weariness in regard to Christianity. Whether or not they had been in incarnation in the intervening period, the incarnation of importance for them was that which occurred in the early Christian centuries. Then, from the seventh and eighth centuries onwards, they were preparing in the spiritual world for that great and powerful action of which I told you when I said that in the first half of the nineteenth century a kind of cult took place in the supersensible world. These individuals participated in this cult and they belong to the one group of souls who have found their way into the Anthroposophical Society.
The other group of souls had their last important incarnation in the latest pre-Christian — not the first Christian — centuries, and in the ancient Pagan Mysteries prior to Christianity they had still been able to gaze with clairvoyant vision into the spiritual world. They had learnt in these ancient Mysteries that the Christ would come down one day to the Earth. They did not live on Earth during the early centuries of Christianity but remained in the supersensible worlds and only after the seventh century descended to incarnations of importance. These are souls who, as it were, from the vantage-point of the supersensible, witnessed the entry of the Christ into earthly culture and civilization. They longed for Christianity. And at the same time they were resolute in a desire to work actively and vigorously to bring into the world a truly cosmic, truly spiritual, form of Christianity.
These two groups united with the other souls in that supersensible cult during the first half of the nineteenth century. It was like a great cosmic, spiritual festival, lasting for many decades as a spiritual happening in the world immediately bordering on the physical. There they were — the souls who then descended, having worked together in the supersensible world to prepare for their next incarnation on the Earth, those who were weary of Christianity and those who were yearning for it. Toward the end of the nineteenth century they descended to incarnation and when they had arrived on Earth they were ready, having thus made preparation, to come into the Anthroposophical Society.
All this, as I have said, had been in course of preparation for many centuries. Here on the Earth, Christianity had developed in such a way that the Gospels had gradually come to be interpreted as if they spoke merely of some kind of abstract “heights” from which a being — Jesus of Nazareth — came down to proclaim the Christ. Men had no longer any inkling of how the world of stars as the expression of the Spiritual is connected with the spiritual life; hence it was also impossible for them to understand what is signified by saying: Christ, as a divine Sun Hero, came down into Jesus in order that He might share the destiny of men. It is precisely those facts of most significance that escape the ordinary student of history. Above all, there is no understanding of those who are called “heretics.” Moreover, among the souls who came down to Earth as the twentieth century approached — the souls weary of Christianity and those longing for it — there is, for the most part, no self-recognition. The “heretic souls” do not recognize themselves.
By the seventh and eighth centuries such traditions as had been kept alive by the heretics who had become weary of Christianity had largely disappeared. The knowledge was sustained in small circles only, where until the twelfth century — the middle of the Middle Ages — it was preserved and cultivated. These circles were composed of eatchers, divinely blessed teachers, who still cultivated something of this ancient knowledge of spiritual Christianity, cosmological Christianity. There were some among them, too, who had directly received communications from the past and in them a kind of Inspiration arose; thus they were able to experience a reflection — whether strong or faint, a true image — of what in the first Christian centuries men had been able to behold under the influence of a mighty Inspiration of the descent of the Sun God leading to the Mystery of Golgotha.
And so two main streams were there. One, as we have seen, is the stream which derives directly from the heretical movements of the first Christian centuries. Those belonging to it were fired still by what had been alive in the Platonism of ancient Greece. So fired were they that when through the tidings emanating from ancient times their inner vision opened, they were always able, under the influence of a genuine, albeit faint, Inspiration, to perceive the descent of the Christ to the Earth and to glimpse His work on the Earth. This was the Platonic stream.
For the other stream a different destiny was in store. To this stream belonged those souls above all who had their last important incarnation in the pre-Christian era and who had glimpsed Christianity as something ordained for the future. The task of this stream was to prepare the intellect for that epoch which had its beginning in the first half of the fifteenth century. This was to be the epoch when the human intellect would unfold — the epoch of the Spiritual Soul. It was prepared for by the Aristotelians, in contrast — but in harmonious contrast — to what the Platonists had accomplished. And those who propagated Aristotelian teachings until well into the twelfth century were souls who had passed through their last really important incarnation in ancient Pagan times, especially in the world of Greek culture. And then — in the middle of the Middle Ages, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries — there came about that great and wonderful spiritual understanding, if I may call it so, between the Platonists and the Aristotelians. And among these Platonists and Aristotelians were the leaders of those who, as the two groups of souls I have described, advanced the Anthroposophical Movement.
By the twelfth century a certain School had come into being — as it were through inner necessity — a School in which the afterglow of the old Platonic seership lit up once again. It was the great and illustrious School of Chartres. In this School were great teachers to whom the mysteries of early Christianity were still known and in whose hearts and souls this knowledge kindled a vision of the spiritual foundation of Christianity. In the School of Chartres in France, where stands the magnificent Cathedral, built with such profusion of detail, there was a concentration, a gathering-together, as it were, of knowledge that only shortly before had been widely scattered, though confined to the small circles of which I have spoken. One of the men with whom the School was able to forge a living link was Peter of Compostella. He was able, with inspired understanding, to bring the ancient spiritual Christianity to life again within his own heart and soul. A whole succession of wonderful figures were teachers in Chartres. Truly remarkable voices spoke of Christianity in the School of Chartres in this twelfth century. There, for example, we find Bernard of Chartres, Bernardus Sylvestris, John of Salisbury, but above all the great Alanus ab Insulis. Mighty teachers indeed! When they spoke in the School of Chartres it was as if Plato himself, interpreting Christianity, were working in person among them. They taught the spiritual content and substance of Christianity. The writings that have come down from them may seem full of abstractions to those who read them today. But that is due simply to the abstract trend that characterizes modern thinking. The impulse of the Christ is implicit in all the descriptions of the spiritual world contained in the writings of these outstanding personalities. I will give you an idea of how Bernardus Sylvestris and Alanus ab Insulis, above all, taught their initiated pupils. Strange as it will seem to the modern mind, such revelations were indeed given at that time to the pupils of Chartres.
It was taught: New life will come to Christianity. Its spiritual content and essence will be understood once again when Kali Yuga, the Age of Darkness, has come to an end and the dawn of a new Age breaks. And with the year 1899 this has already come to pass for us who are living at the present time; this is the great and mighty change that was to come for humanity at the end of Kali Yuga, the mighty impulse given two decades previously through the advent of Michael. This was prophetically announced in the School of Chartres in the twelfth century, above all by Bernardus Sylvestris and Alanus ab Insulis. But these men did not teach in the Aristotelian way, they did not teach by way of the intellect. They gave their teachings entirely in the form of mighty, imaginative pictures — pictures whereby the spiritual content of Christianity became concretely real. But there were certain prophetic teachings; and I should like by means of a brief extract to give you an indication of one such teaching.
Alanus ab Insulis spoke to the following effect to a narrow circle of his initiated pupils: — ‘As we contemplate the universe today, we still regard the Earth as the center, we judge everything from the Earth, as the center. If the terrestrial conception which enables us to unfold our pictures and our imaginations... if this conception alone were to fertilize the coming centuries, progress would not be possible for mankind. We must come to an understanding with the Aristotelians who bring to humanity the intellect which must then be spiritualized so that in the twentieth century it may shine forth in a new and spiritual form among men. We, in our time, regard the Earth as the center of the cosmos, we speak of the planets circling around the Earth, we describe the whole heaven of stars as it presents itself to physical eyes as if it revolved around the Earth. But there will come one who will say: Let us place the Sun at the spatial center of the cosmic system! But when he who will thus place the Sun at the center of the spatial universe has come, the picture of the world will become arid. Men will only calculate the courses of the planets, will merely indicate the positions of the heavenly bodies, speaking of them as gases, or burning, luminous, physical bodies; they will know the starry heavens only in terms of mathematical and mechanical laws. But this arid picture of the world that will become widespread in the coming times has, after all, one thing — meagre, it is true, yet it has it none the less. ... We look at the universe from the Earth; he who will come will look at the universe from the standpoint of the Sun. He will be like one who indicates a “direction” only — the direction leading toward a path of majestic splendor, fraught with most wonderful happenings and peopled by glorious beings. But he will give the direction through abstract concepts only.’ (Thereby the Copernican picture of the world was indicated, arid and abstract yet giving the direction...) ‘For,’ said Alanus ab Insulis, ‘everything we present through the Imaginations that come to us must pass away; it must pass away and the picture men now have of the world must become altogether abstract, hardly more than a pointer along a path strewn with wonderful memorials. For then, in the spiritual world, there will be One who will use this pointer — which for the purposes of world-renewal is nothing more than a means of directive — in order that, together with the prevailing intellectualism, he may then lay the foundations of the new spirituality ... there will be One who will have this pointer as his only tool. This One will be St. Michael! For Him the ground must be made free; he must sow the path with new seed. And to that end, nothing but lines must remain — mathematical lines!’
A kind of magic breathed through the School of Chartres when Alanus ab Insulis was giving such teachings to a few of his chosen pupils. It was as if the ether-world all around were set astir by the surging waves of this mighty Michael teaching.
And so a spiritual atmosphere was imparted to the world. It spread across Western Europe, down into Southern Italy, where there were many who were able to receive it into themselves. In their souls something arose like a mighty Inspiration, enabling them to gaze into the spiritual world.
But in the evolution of the world it is so that those who are initiated into the great secrets of existence — as to a certain degree were Alanus ab Insulis and Bernardus Sylvestris — such men know that it is only possible to achieve this or that particular aim to a limited extent. A man like Alanus ab Insulis said to himself: We, the Platonists, must go through the gate of death; for the present we can live only in the spiritual world. We must look down from the spiritual world, leaving the physical world to those others whose task it is to cultivate the intellect in the Aristotelian way. The time has come now for the cultivation of the intellect. Late in his life Alanus ab Insulis put on the habit of the Cistercian Order; he became a Cistercian. And in the Cistercian Order many of these Platonic teachings were contained. Those among the Cistercians who possessed the deeper knowledge said to themselves: Henceforward we can work only from the spiritual world; the field must be relinquished to the Aristotelians.
These Aristotelians were, for the most part, in the Order of the Dominicans. And so in the thirteenth century the leadership of the spiritual life in Europe passed over to them.
But a heritage remained from men such as Peter of Compostella, Alanus ab Insulis, Bernard of Chartres, John of Salisbury, and that poet who from the School of Chartres wrote a remarkable poem on the Seven Liberal Arts. It took significant hold of the spiritual life of Europe. What had come into being in the School of Chartres was so potent that it found its way, for example, to the University of Orleans. There, in the second half of the twelfth century, a great deal penetrated in the form of teaching from what had streamed to the pupils of Chartres through mighty pictures and words — words as it were of silver — from the lips of Bernardus Sylvestris, of Alanus ab Insulis.
The spiritual atmosphere was so charged with this influence from Chartres that the following incident happened. — While a man, returning to Italy from his ambassadorial post in Spain, was hastening homeward, he received news of the overthrow of the Guelphs in Florence, and at the same time suffered a slight sunstroke. In this condition his etheric body loosened and gathered in what was still echoing through the ether from the School of Chartres. And through what was thus wafted to him in the ether, something like an Intuition came to him — an Intuition such as had come to many human beings in the early Christian centuries. First he saw outspread before him the earthly world as it surrounds mankind, ruled over not by ‘laws of Nature,’ as the saying went in later times — but by the great handmaiden of the Divine Demiurgos, by Natura, who in the first Christian centuries was the successor of Proserpine. In those days men did not speak of abstract laws of Nature; to the gaze of the initiates, being was implicit in what worked in Nature as an all-embracing, divine Power. Proserpine, who divides her time between the upper and the lower worlds, was presented in the Greek Mysteries as the power ruling over Nature. Her successor in the early Christian centuries was the Goddess Natura.
While under the influence of the sunstroke and of what came to him from the School of Chartres, this personality had gazed into the weaving life of the Goddess Natura, and, allowing this Intuition to impress him still more deeply, he beheld the working of the Elements — Earth, Water, Air, Fire — as this was once revealed in the ancient Mysteries; he beheld the majestic weaving of the Elements. Then he beheld the mysteries of the soul of man, he beheld those seven powers of whom it was known that they are the great celestial instructors of the human race. — This was known in the early Christian centuries. In those times men did not speak, as they do today, of abstract teachings, where something is imparted by way of concepts and ideas. In the first Christian centuries men spoke of being instructed from the spiritual world by the Goddesses Dialectica, Rhetorica, Grammatica, Arithmetica, Geometria, Astrologia or Astronomia, and Musica. These Seven were not the abstract conceptions which they have become today; men gazed upon them, saw them before their eyes — I cannot say in bodily reality but as beings of soul — and allowed themselves to be instructed by these heavenly figures. Later on they no longer appeared to men in the solitude of vision as the living Goddesses Dialectica, Rhetorica, and the rest, but in abstract forms, in abstract, theoretical doctrines.
The personality of whom I am now speaking allowed all that I have related to work upon him. And he was led then into the planetary world, wherein the mysteries of the soul of man are unveiled. Then in the world of stars, having traversed the “Great Cosmic Ocean,” he was led by Ovid, who after he had passed through the gate of death had become the guide and leader of souls in the spiritual world. This personality, who was Brunetto Latini, became the teacher of Dante. What Dante learned from Brunetto Latini he then wrote down in his poem the Divina Commedia. And so that mighty poem is a last reflection of what lived on here and there as Platonism. It had flowed from the lips of Sylvestris at the School of Chartres in the twelfth century and was still taught by those who had been so inwardly fired by the old traditions that the secrets of Christianity rose up within them as Inspirations which they were then able to communicate to their pupils through the word.
The influence of Alanus ab Insulis, brought into the Cistercian Order, passed over to the Dominicans. Then to the Dominicans fell the paramount task: the cultivation of the intellect in the Aristotelian sense. But there was an intervening period: the School of Chartres had been at its prime in the twelfth century — and in the thirteenth century, in the Dominican Order, the intensive development of Aristotelian Scholasticism began. The great teachers in the School of Chartres had passed through the gate of death into the spiritual world and were together for a time with the Dominicans who were beginning to come down through birth and who, after they had descended, established Aristotelianism on the Earth. We must therefore think of an intervening period when, as it were in a great heavenly council, the last of the great teachers of Chartres after they had passed through the gate of death were together with those who, as Dominicans, were to cultivate Aristotelianism — were together with them before these latter souls came down to Earth. There, in the spiritual world, the great “heavenly contract” was made. Those who under the leadership of Alanus ab Insulis had arrived in the spiritual world said to the Aristotelians who were about to descend: It is not the time now for us to be on the Earth; for the present we must work from here, from the spiritual world. In the near future it will not be possible for us to incarnate on the Earth. It is now your task to cultivate the intellect in the dawning epoch of the Spiritual Soul. —
Then the great Schoolmen came down and carried out the agreement that had been reached between them and the last great Platonists of the School of Chartres. One, for example, who had been among the earliest to descend received a message through another who had remained with Alanus ab Insulis in the spiritual world for a longer time than he — that is to say, the younger man had remained longer with the spiritual individuality who had borne the name ‘Alanus ab Insulis.’ The younger one who came down later worked together with the older man to whom he conveyed the message and thus within the Dominican Order began the preparation for the Age of Intellectualism. The one who had remained somewhat longer in the spiritual world with Alanus ab Insulis first put on the habit of the Cistercian Order, exchanging it only later for that of the Dominican. And so those who had once lived under the influence of what came into the world with Aristotle were now working on the Earth, and up above, keeping watch, but in living connection with the Aristotelians working on the Earth, were the Platonists who had been in the School of Chartres. The spiritual world and the physical world went hand in hand. Through the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries it was as though Aristotelians and Platonists were stretching out their hands to one another. And then, as time went on, many of those who had come down in order to introduce Aristotelianism into Europe were in the spiritual world with the others once again.
But the further course of evolution was such that the former leaders in the School of Chartres, together with those who held the leading positions in the Dominican Order, placed themselves at the head of those who in the first half of the nineteenth century, in that mighty supersensible cult enacted in the pictures already indicated, made preparation for the later anthroposophical stream. In the nature of things, the first to come down again were those who had worked more or less as Aristotelians; for under the influence of intellectualism the time for a new deepening of spirituality had not yet come. But there was an unbreakable agreement which still works on. In accordance with this agreement there must go forth from the Anthroposophical Movement something that must find its culmination before this century has run its course. For over the Anthroposophical Society a destiny hovers: many of those in the Anthroposophical Society today will have to come down again to the Earth before, and at the end of, the twentieth century, but united, then, with those who were either the actual leaders in the School of Chartres or were pupils at Chartres. And so, if civilization is not to fall into utter decadence, before the end of the twentieth century the Platonists of Chartres and the Aristotelians who came later will have to be working together on the Earth.
In the future, the Anthroposophical Society must learn to understand, with full consciousness, something of its karma. For a great deal that is unable to come to birth — above all at the present time — is waiting in the womb of the spiritual evolution of mankind. Also, very many things today assume an entirely different form; but if one can discern the symptoms, the inner meaning of what is thus externalized becomes evident and the veils are drawn aside from much that continues to live spiritually through the centuries. At this point I may perhaps give a certain indication. Why, indeed, should it not be given, now that the esoteric impulse is to flow through the Anthroposophical Society? — I should like to speak of something that will show you how observation of surrounding circumstances opens up a vista into manifold connections.
When I myself, in preparing for the Anthroposophical Movement, was led along a particular path of destiny, this showed itself in a strange connection with the Cistercian Order, which is closely connected, in its turn, with Alanus ab Insulis. [Let me say here, for those who like to weave legends, that I, in respect of my own individuality, am in no way to be identified with Alanus ab Insulis. I only want to prevent legends arising from what I am putting before you in an esoteric way. The essential point is that these things stem from esoteric sources.] In an altogether remarkable way my destiny allowed me to discern through the external circumstances such spiritual connections as I have now described. Perhaps some of you know the articles in the Goetheanum Weekly entitled Mein Lebensgang (The Course of My Life). I have spoken there of how in my youth I was sent not to a Gymnasium, but to a Real Schule, and only later acquired the classical education given in the Gymnasia. I can only regard this as a remarkable dispensation of my karma. For in the town where I spent my youth the Gymnasium was only a few steps away from the Real Schule and it was by a hair's breadth that I went not to the Gymnasium but to the Real Schule. If, however, at that time I had gone to the Gymnasium in the town, I should have become a priest in the Cistercian Order. Of that there is no doubt whatever. For at this Gymnasium all the teachers were Cistercians. I was deeply attracted to all these priests, many of whom were extremely learned men. I read a great deal that they wrote and was profoundly stirred by it. I loved these priests and the only reason why I passed the Cistercian Order by was because I did not attend the Gymnasium. Karma led me elsewhere ... but for all that I did not escape the Cistercian Order. I have spoken of this too in my autobiography. I was always of a sociable disposition, and in my autobiography I have written of how, later on, in the house of Marie Eugenie della Grazie in Vienna, I came into contact with practically every theologian in the city. Nearly all of them were Cistercian priests. And in this way a vista opened out, inducing one to go back in time ... for me personally it came very naturally ... a vista leading through the stream of the Cistercian Order back to the School of Chartres. For Alanus ab Insulis had been a Cistercian. And strange to say, when, later on, I was writing my first Mystery play, The Portal of Initiation, I simply could not, for reasons of aesthetic necessity, do otherwise than clothe the female characters on the stage in a costume consisting of a long tunic and what is called a stole. If you picture such a garment — a yellowish-white tunic with a black stole and black girdle — there you have the robe of the Cistercian Order. I was thinking at the time only of aesthetic necessities, but this robe of the Cistercian Order came very naturally before me. There you have one indication of how connections unfold before those who are able to perceive the inner, spiritual significance of symptoms appearing in the external world.
A beginning was made at Christmas more and more to draw aside the veils from these inner connections. They must be brought to light, for mankind is waiting for knowledge of inner reality, having for centuries experienced only that of the outer, material world, and civilization today is in a terrible position. Among the many indications still to be given we shall, on the one side, have to speak of the work of the School of Chartres, of how initiates in this School passed through the gate of death and encountered in the spiritual world those souls who later wore the robe of the Dominicans in order to spread Aristotelianism with its intellectuality and to prepare with vigor and energy the epoch of the Spiritual (or Consciousness) Soul. And so — let me put it in this way — in the Anthroposophical Society we have Aristotelianism working on, but in a spiritualized form, and awaiting its further spiritualization. Then, at the end of the century many of those who are here today will return, but they will be united, then, with those who were the teachers in the School of Chartres. The aim of the Anthroposophical Society is to unite the two elements. The one element is the Aristotelianism in the souls who were for the most part connected with the old Pagan wisdom, who were waiting for Christianity and who retained this longing until, as Dominicans, they were able through the activity of the intellect to promulgate Christianity. They will be united with souls who had actually experienced Christianity in the physical world and whose greatest teachers gathered together in the School of Chartres. Up to now, these teachers of Chartres have not incarnated, although in my contact with the Cistercian Order I was able again and again to come across incorporations of many of those who were in the School of Chartres. In the Cistercian Order one met many a personality who was not a reincarnation of a pupil of Chartres but in whose life there were periods when — for hours, for days — he was inspired by some such individuality from the School of Chartres. It was a matter, in these cases, of incorporation, not incarnation. And wonderful things were written, of which one could only ask: who is the actual author? The author was not the monk who in the Cistercian Order at that time wore the yellowish-white robe with the black stole and girdle, but the real author was the personality who for hours, days, or weeks had come down into the soul of one of these Cistercian Brothers. Much of this influence worked on in essays or writings little known in literature. — I myself once had a remarkable conversation with a Cistercian who was an extremely learned man. I have mentioned it, too, in The Course of My Life. We were going away from a gathering, and speaking about the Christ problem. I propounded my ideas which were the same, essentially, as those I give in my lectures. He became uneasy while I was speaking, and said: ‘We may possibly hit upon something of the kind; we shall not allow ourselves to think such things.’ He spoke in similar terms about other problems of Christology. But then we stopped for a short time — the moment stands most vividly before me — it was where the Schottenring and the Burgring meet in Vienna, on the one side the Hofburg and on the other the Hotel de France and the Votiv-Kirche ... we stopped for a minute or two and the man said: “I should like you to come with me. I will give you a book from my library in which something remarkable is said on the subject you have been speaking about.” I went with him and he gave me a book about the Druses. The whole circumstances of our conversation in connection with the perusal of this book led me to the knowledge that when, having started from Christology, I went on to speak of repeated earthly lives, this deeply learned man was, as it were, emptied mentally in a strange way, and when he came to himself again remembered only that he possessed a book about the Druses in which something was said about reincarnation. He knew about it only from this one book. He was a Hofrat (Councillor) at the University of Vienna and was so erudite that it was said of him: “Hofrat N. knows the whole world and three villages besides.” ... so great was his learning — but in his bodily existence he knew only that in a book about the Druses something was said about repeated earthly lives. This is an example of the difference between what men have in their subconsciousness and what flows as the spiritual world through their souls. — And then a noteworthy episode occurred. I was once giving a lecture in Vienna. The same person was there and after the lecture he made a remark which could only be interpreted in the sense that at this moment he had complete understanding of a certain man belonging to the present age and of the relation of this man to his earlier incarnation. And what the person said on that occasion about the connection between two earthly lives was correct, was not false. But through his intellect he understood nothing; it simply came from his lips.
By this I want only to indicate how spiritual movements reach into the immediate present. But what today shines in as it were through many tiny windows must in the future become a unity through that connection between the leaders of the School of Chartres and the leading spirits of Scholasticism, when the spiritual revival whereby intellectualism itself is lifted to the Spirit sets in at the end of the twentieth century. To make this possible, let human beings of the twentieth century not throw away their opportunities! But everything today depends upon free will, and whether the two allied groups will be able to descend for the re-spiritualization of culture in the twentieth century — this depends very specially upon whether the Anthroposophical Society understands how to cultivate Anthroposophy with the right devotion.
So much for today. — We have heard of the connection of the anthroposophical stream with the deep mystery of the epoch which began with the manifestation of the Christ in the Mystery of Golgotha and has developed in the way I have described. More will be said in the second lecture.