"The sun broke into my veins and turned everything into gold."
— William Turner
One must be very clear that the time of awakening has come and that one must take an active part in this awakening, that events often hurry ahead of knowledge and one will not understand the events that take place around us unless one accustoms oneself to knowledge.
I have repeatedly pointed out to you that certain egotistical groups are striving esoterically, and their influence is active in the ways that I have often indicated in these studies. First of all, it was necessary that a certain knowledge should recede within humanity, a knowledge that is designated today with such misunderstood words as alchemy, astrology, and so on. This knowledge had to recede, fall into a sleep, so that man would no longer have the possibility of drawing what pertains to the soul out of observation of nature but would have to become more dependent on himself. Through this he would awaken the forces within him, for it was necessary that certain things appear first in abstract form and later take on again concrete, spiritual form.
Three ideas have gradually arisen in the course of evolving during the last centuries, ideas which, in the way they have entered human life, are essentially abstract. Kant has named them falsely, while Goethe has named them correctly. These three ideas Kant called God, freedom, and immortality; Goethe called them correctly God, virtue, and immortality. When one sees the things that are hidden behind these three words, it is clear that they are exactly the same as what modern man views more abstractly but that were viewed more concretely until the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In the ancient atavistic sense they were also viewed more materially. They experimented in the ancient way, indeed, they sought at that time with alchemical experiments to observe the processes that showed the working of God in process. They tried to produce the Philosopher's Stone.
Behind all these things is hidden something concrete. This Philosopher's Stone was to present human beings with the possibility of becoming virtuous, but it was thought of more materially. It was to lead human beings to experience immortality, to put them into a certain relationship to the universe, through which they would experience within themselves what goes beyond birth and death. All these washed out ideas with which one seeks today to grasp the ancient things no longer coincide with what was intended at that time. These things have become simply abstract, and modern humanity speaks from abstract ideas. They have wished to understand God through abstract theology; virtue is also regarded as something purely abstract. The more abstract the idea, the better modern humanity likes to use it in speaking about these things, even immortality. One speculates about what could be immortal in man. I spoke about this in my first Basel lecture, saying that the science that occupies itself today philosophically with questions about immortality is a starved science, an undernourished science. This is only another form of expression for abstract thinking in which such matters are pursued.
Certain brotherhoods in the West, however, have still preserved a relationship to the old traditions and have tried to apply them in a corresponding way, to place them in the service of a certain group egoism. It is really necessary for these things to be pointed out. Naturally, when these things are spoken of in public, from this comer of the West, in exoteric literature, then God, virtue or freedom, and immortality are also talked about in an abstract way. It is only in the circle of the initiates that it is known that all of this is only speculation, that these are all abstractions. For themselves, they seek what is being striven for in the abstract formulas of God, virtue, and immortality in something much more concrete, and for this reason, these words are translated for the initiates in their respective schools. God is translated as gold, and one seeks behind the mystery to come to what can be described as the mystery of gold. Gold, representing what is sun-like within the earth's crust, is indeed something within which is imbedded a most significant mystery. In fact, gold stands materially in the same relationship to other substances as within thinking the thought of God stands to other thoughts.
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