Saturday, June 26, 2010

The second of two focus lectures for the July 29 meeting of the Rudolf Steiner Study Circle

Diagram 11




Human and Cosmic Thought:
Lecture Three

Berlin, January 22, 1914

YESTERDAY I TRIED to set forth those world-outlooks which are possible for man; so possible that certain valid proofs can be produced for the correctness of each of them in a certain realm. For anyone who is not concerned to weld together into a single system all that he has been in a position to observe and reflect upon in a certain limited domain, and then sets out to seek proofs for it, but who wants to penetrate into the truth of the world, it is important to realize that broadmindedness is necessary because twelve typical varieties of world-outlook are actually possible for the mind of man. (For the moment we need not go into the transitional ones.) If one wants to come really to the truth, then one must try clearly to understand the significance of these twelve typical varieties, must endeavour to recognize for what domain of existence one or other variety holds the best key. If we let these twelve varieties pass once again before our mind's eye, as we did yesterday, then we find that they are: Materialism, Sensationalism, Phenomenalism, Realism, Dynamism, Monadism, Spiritism, Pneumatism, Psychism, Idealism, Rationalism and Mathematism.
Now in the actual field of human searching after truth it is unfortunate that individual minds, individual personalities, always incline to let one or the other of these varieties have the upper hand, with the result that different epochs develop one-sided outlooks which then work back on the people living at that time.
We had better arrange the twelve world-outlooks in the form of a circle (see Diagram 11), and quietly observe them. They are possible, and one must know them. They really stand in such a relation to one another that they form a mental copy of the Zodiac with which we are now so well acquainted. As the sun apparently passes through the Zodiac, and as other planets apparently do the same, so it is possible for the human soul to pass through a mental circle which embraces twelve world-pictures. Indeed, one can even bring the characteristics of these pictures into connection with the individual signs of the Zodiac, and this is in no wise arbitrary, for between the individual signs of the Zodiac and the Earth there really is a connection similar to that between the twelve world-outlooks and the human soul. I mean this in the following sense.
We could not say that there is an easily understandable relation between, e.g. the sign Aries and the Earth. But when the Sun, Saturn, or Mercury are so placed that from the Earth they are seen in the sign Aries, then influence is different from what it is when they are seen in the sign Leo. Thus the effect which comes to us out of the Cosmos from the different planets varies according as the individual planets stand in one or other of the Zodiacal signs. In the case of the human soul, it is even easier to recognize the effects of these twelve “mental-zodiacal-signs” (Geistes-Tierkreisbilder). There are souls who have the tendency to receive a given influence on their inner life, on their scientific, philosophic or other mental proclivities, so that their souls are open to be illuminated, as it were, by Idealism. Other souls are open to be shone upon by Materialism, others by Sensationalism. A man is not a Sensationalist, Materialist, Spiritist or Pneumatist because this or that world-outlook is — and can be seen to be — correct, but because his soul is so conditioned that it is predominantly influenced by the respective mental-zodiacal-sign. Thus in the twelve mental-zodiacal-signs we have something that can lead us to a deep insight into the way in which human world-outlooks arise, and can help us to see far into the reasons why, on the one hand, men dispute about world-outlooks, and why, on the other hand, they ought not to dispute but would do much better to understand why it happens that people have different world-outlooks. How, in spite of this, it may be necessary for certain epochs strongly to oppose the trend of this or the other world-outlook, we shall have to explain the next lecture. What I have said so far refers to the moulding of human thought by the spiritual cosmos of the twelve zodiacal signs, which form as it were our spiritual horizon.
But there is still something else that determines human world-outlooks. You will best understand this if I first of all show you the following.
A man can be so attuned in his soul — for the present it is immaterial by which of these twelve “mental-zodiacal signs” his soul is illuminated — that the soul-mood expressed in the whole configuration of his world-outlook can be designated as Gnosis. A man is a Gnostic when his disposition is such that he gets to know the things of the world not through the senses, but through certain cognitional forces in the soul itself. A man can be a Gnostic and at the same time have a certain inclination to be illuminated by e.g. the mental-zodiacal-sign that we have here called “Spiritism”. Then his Gnosticism will have a deeply illuminated insight into the relationships of the spiritual worlds. But a man can also be, e.g. a Gnostic of Idealism; then he will have a special proclivity for seeing clearly the ideals of mankind and the ideas of the world. Thus there can be a difference between two men who are both Idealists. One man will be an idealistic enthusiast who always has the word “ideal”, “ideal”, “ideal”, on his lips, but does not know much about idealism; he lacks the faculty for conjuring up ideals in sharp outline before his inner sight. The other man not only speaks of Idealism, but knows how to picture the ideals clearly in his soul. The latter, who inwardly grasps Idealism quite concretely — as intensely as a man grasps external things with his hand — is a Gnostic in the domain of Idealism. Thus one could say that he is basically a Gnostic, but is specially illuminated by the mental-zodiacal-sign of Idealism.
There are also persons who are specially illuminated by the world-outlook sign of Realism. They go through the world in such a way that their whole mode of perceiving and encountering the world enables them to say much, very much, to others about the world. They are neither Spiritists nor Idealists; they are quite ordinary Realists. They are equipped to have really fine perceptions of the external reality around them, and of the intrinsic qualities of things. They are Gnostics, genuine Gnostics, only they are Gnostics of Realism. There are such Gnostics of Realism, and Spiritists or Idealists are often not Gnostics of Realism at all. We can indeed find that people who call themselves good Theosophists may go through a picture-gallery and understand nothing about it, whereas others who are not Theosophists at all, but are Gnostics of Realism, are able to make an abundance of significant comments on it, because with their whole personality they are in touch with the reality of the things they see. Or again, many Theosophists go out into the country and are unable to grasp with their whole souls anything of the greatness and sublimity of nature; they are not Gnostics of Realism.
There are also Gnostics of Materialism. Certainly they are strange Gnostics. But quite in the sense in which there are Gnostics of Realism, there can be Gnostics of Materialism. They are persons who have feeling and perception only for all that is material; persons who try to get to know what the material is by coming into direct contact with it, like the dog who sniffs at substances and tries to get to know them intimately in that way, and who really is, in regard to material things, an excellent Gnostic. One can be a Gnostic in connection with all twelve world-outlook signs. Hence, if we want to put Gnosis in its right place, we must draw a circle, and the whole circle signifies that the Gnosis can move round through all twelve world-outlook signs. Just as a planet goes through all twelve signs of the Zodiac, so can the Gnosis pass through the twelve world-outlook signs. Certainly, the Gnosis will render the greatest service for the healing of souls when the Gnostic frame of mind is applied to Spiritism. One might say that Gnosis is thoroughly at home in Spiritism. That is its true home. In the other world-outlook-signs it is outside its home. Logically speaking, one is not justified in saying that there could not be a materialistic Gnosis. The pedants of concepts and ideas can settle such knotty points more easily than the sound logicians, who have a somewhat more complicated task. One might say, for example: “I will call nothing ‘Gnosis’ except what penetrates into the ‘spirit’.” That is an arbitrary attitude with regard to concepts; as arbitrary as if one were to say, “So far I have seen violets only in Austria; therefore I call violets only flowers that grow in Austria and have a violet colour — nothing else.” Logically it is just as impossible to say that there is Gnosis only in the world-outlook-sign of Spiritism; for Gnosis is a “planet” which passes through all the mental-constellations.
Diagram 10
There is another world-outlook-mood. Here I speak of “mood”, whereas otherwise I speak of “signs” or “pictures”. Of late it has been thought that one could more easily become acquainted — and yet here even the easy is difficult — with this second mood, because its representative, in the constellation of Idealism, is Hegel. But this special mood in which Hegel looks at the world need not be in the constellation of Idealism, for it, too, can pass through all the constellations. It is the world-outlook of Logicism. The special mark of Logicism consists in its enabling the soul to connect thoughts, concepts and ideas with one another. As when in looking at an organism one comes from the eyes to the nose and the mouth and regards them as all belonging to each other, so Hegel arranges all the concepts that he can lay hold of into a great concept-organism — a logical concept-organism. Hegel was simply able to seek out everything in the world that can be found as thought, to link together thought with thought, and to make an organism of it — Logicism! One can develop Logicism in the constellation of Idealism, as Hegel did; one can develop it, as Fichte did, in the constellation of Psychism; and one can develop it in other constellations. Logicism is again something that passes like a planet through the twelve zodiacal signs.
There is a third mood of the soul, expressed in world-outlooks; we can study this in Schopenhauer, for example. Whereas the soul of Hegel when he looked out upon the world was so attuned that with him everything conceptual takes the form of Logicism, Schopenhauer lays hold of everything in the soul that pertains to the character of will. The forces of nature, the hardness of a stone, have this character for him; the whole of reality is a manifestation of will. This arises from the particular disposition of his soul. This outlook can once more be regarded as a planet which passes through all twelve zodiacal signs. I will call this world-outlook, Voluntarism.
Schopenhauer was a voluntarist, and in his soul he was so constituted that he laid himself open to the influence of the mental constellation of Psychism. Thus arose the peculiar Schopenhauerian metaphysics of the will: Voluntarism in the mental constellation of Psychism.
Let us suppose that someone is a Voluntarist, with a special inclination towards the constellation of Monadism. Then he would not, like Schopenhauer, take as basis of the universe a unified soul which is really “will”; he would take many “monads”, which are, however, will-entities. This world of monadic voluntarism as been developed most beautifully, ingeniously, and I might say, in the most inward manner, by the Austrian philosophic poet, Hamerling. Whence came the peculiar teaching that you find in Hamerling's Atomistics of the Will? It arose because his soul was attuned to Voluntarism, while he came under the mental constellation of Monadism. If we had the time, we could mention examples for each soul-mood in each constellation. They are to be found in the world.
Another special mood is not at all prone to ponder whether behind the phenomena there is still this or that, as is done by the Gnostic mood, or the idealistic or voluntary moods, but which simply says: “I will incorporate into my world-conception whatever I meet with in the world, whatever shows itself to me externally.” One can do this in all domains — i.e. through all mental constellations. One can do it as a materialist who accepts only what he encounters externally; one can also do it as Spiritist. A man who has this mood will not trouble himself to seek for a special connection behind the phenomena; he lets things approach and waits for whatever comes from them. This mood we can call Empiricism. Empiricism signifies a soul-mood which simply accepts whatever experience may offer. Through all twelve constellations one can be an empiricist, a man with a world-conception based on experience. Empiricism is the fourth psychic mood which can go through all twelve constellations.
One can equally well develop a mood which is not satisfied with immediate experience, as in Empiricism, so that one feels through and through, as an inner necessity, a mood which says: Man is placed in the world; in his soul he experiences something about the world that he cannot experience externally; only there, in that inner realm, does the world unveil its secrets. One may look all round about and yet see nothing of the mysteries which the world includes. Someone imbued with a mood of this kind can often say: “Of what help to me is the Gnosis that takes pains to struggle up to a kind of vision? The things of the external world that one can look upon — they cannot show me the truth. How does Logicism help me to a world-picture? ... In Logicism the nature of the world does not express itself. What help is there in speculations about the will? It merely leads us away from looking into the depths of our own soul, and into those depths one does not look when the soul wills, but, on the contrary, just when by surrendering itself it is without will.” Voluntarism, therefore, is not the mood that I mean here, neither is Empiricism — the mere looking upon and listening to experience and events. But when the soul has become quiet and seeks inwardly for the divine Light, this soul-mood can be called Mysticism.
Again, one can be a mystic through all the twelve mental constellations. It would certainly not be specially favourable if one were a mystic of materialism — i.e. if one experienced inwardly not the mental, the spiritual, but the material. For a mystic of materialism is really he who has acquired a specially fine perception of how one feels when one enjoys this or that substance. It is somewhat different if one imbibes the juice of this plant or the other, and then waits to see what happens to one's organism. One thus grows together with matter in one's experience; one becomes a mystic of matter. This can even become an “awakening” for life, so that one follows up how one substance or another, drawn from this or that plant, works upon the organism, affecting particularly this or that organ. And so to be a Mystic of Materialism is a precondition for investigating individual substances in respect of their healing powers.
One can be a Mystic of the world of matter, and one can be a Mystic of Idealism. An ordinary Idealist or Gnostic Idealist is not a Mystic of Idealism. A Mystic of Idealism is one who has above all the possibility in his own soul of bringing out from its hidden sources the ideals of humanity, of feeling them as something divine, and of placing them in that light before the soul. We have an example of the Mystic of Idealism in Meister Eckhardt.
Now the soul may be so attuned that it cannot become aware of what may arise from within itself and appear as the real inner solution of the riddle of the universe. Such a soul may, rather, be so attuned that it will say to itself: “Yes, in the world there is something behind all things, also behind my own personality and being, so far as I perceive this being. But I cannot be a mystic. The mystic believes that this something behind flows into his soul. I do not feel it flow into my soul; I only feel it must be there, outside.” In this mood, a person presupposes that outside his soul, and beyond anything his soul can experience, the essential being of things lies hidden; but he does not suppose that this essential nature of things can flow into his soul, as does the Mystic. A person who takes this standpoint is a Transcendentalist — perhaps that is the best word for it. He accepts that the essence of a thing is transcendent, but that it does not enter into the soul — hence Transcendentalism. The Transcendentalist has the feeling: “When I perceive things, their nature approaches me; but I do not perceive it. It hides behind, but it approaches me.”
Now it is possible for a man, given all his perceptions and powers of cognition, to thrust away the nature of things still further than the Transcendentalist does. He can say; “The essential nature of things is beyond the range of ordinary human knowledge.” The Transcendentalist says; “If with your eyes you see red and blue, then the essential being of the thing is not in the red or blue, but lies hidden behind it. You must use your eyes; then you can get to the essential being of the thing. It lies behind.” But the mood I now have in mind will not accept Transcendentalism. On the contrary, it says: “One may experience red or blue, or this or that sound, ever so intensely; nothing of this expresses the hidden being of the thing. My perception never makes contact with this hidden being.” Anyone who speaks in this way speaks very much as we do when we take the standpoint that in external sense-appearance, in Maya, the essential nature of things does not find expression. We should be Transcendentalists if we said: “The world is spread out all around us, and this world everywhere proclaims its essential being.” This we do not say. We say: “This world is Maya, and one must seek the inner being of things by another way than through external sense-perception and the ordinary means of cognition.” Occultism! The psychic mood of Occultism!
Again, one can be an Occultist throughout all the mental-zodiacal signs. One can even be a thorough Occultist of Materialism. Yes, the rationally-minded scientists of the present day are all occultists of materialism, for they talk of “atoms”. But if they are not irrational it will never occur to them to declare that with any kind of “method” one can come to the atom. The atom remains in the occult. It is only that they do not like to be called “Occultists”, but they are so in the fullest sense of the word.
Apart from the seven world-outlooks I have drawn here, there can be no others — only transitions from one to another. Thus we must not only distinguish twelve various shades of world-outlook which are at rest round the circle, so to speak, but we must recognize that in each of the shades a quite special mood of the human soul is possible. From this you can see how immensely varied are the outlooks open to human personalities. One can specially cultivate each of these seven world-outlook-moods, and each of them can exist on one or other shade.
Diagram 11
What I have just depicted is actually the spiritual correlative of what we find externally in the world as the relations between the signs of the Zodiac and the planets, the seven planets familiar in Spiritual Science. Thus we have an external picture (not invented, but standing out there in the cosmos) for the relations of our seven world-outlook-moods to our twelve shades of world-outlook. We shall have the right feeling for this picture if we contemplate it in the following manner.
Let us begin with Idealism, and let us mark it with the mental-zodiacal sign of Aries; in like manner let us mark Rationalism as Taurus, Mathematism as Gemini, Materialism as Cancer, Sensationalism as Leo, Phenomenalism as Virgo, Realism as Libra, Dynamism as Scorpio, Monadism as Sagittarius, Spiritism as Capricorn, Pneumatism as Aquarius, and Psychism as Pisces. The relations which exist spatially between the individual zodiacal signs are actually present between these shades of world-outlook in the realm of spirit. And the relations which are entered into by the planets, as they follow their orbits through the Zodiac, correspond to the relations which the seven world-outlook-moods enter into, so that we can feel Gnosticism as Saturn, Logicism as Jupiter, Voluntarism as Mars, Empiricism as Sun, Mysticism as Venus, Transcendentalism as Mercury, and Occultism as Moon (see Diagram 11).
Even in the external pictures — although the main thing is that the innermost connections correspond — you will find something similar. The Moon remains occult, invisible when it is New Moon; it must have the light of the Sun brought to it, just as occult things remain occult until, through meditation, concentration and so on, the powers of the soul rise up and illuminate them. A person who goes through the world and relies only on the Sun, who accepts only what the Sun illuminates, is an Empiricist. A person who reflects on what the Sun illuminates, and retains the thoughts after the Sun has set, is no longer an Empiricist, because he no longer depends upon the Sun. “Sun” is the symbol of Empiricism. I might take all this further but we have only four periods to spend on this important subject, and for the present I must leave you to look for more exact connections, either throughout your own thinking or through other investigations. The connections are not difficult to find when the model has been given.
Broadmindedness is all too seldom sought. Anyone really in earnest about truth would have to be able to represent the twelve shades of world-outlook in his soul. He would have to know in terms of his own experience what it means to be a Gnostic, a Logician, a Voluntarist, an Empiricist, a Mystic, a Transcendentalist, an Occultist. All this must be gone through experimentally by anyone who wants to penetrate into the secrets of the universe according to the ideas of Spiritual Science. Even if what you will find in the book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, does not exactly fit in with this account, it is really depicted only from other points of view, and can lead us into the single moods which are here designated as the Gnostic mood, the Jupiter mood, and so on.
Often a man is so one-sided that he lets himself be influenced by only one constellation, by one mood. We find this particularly in great men. Thus, for example, Hamerling is an out-and-out Monadist or a monadologistic Voluntarist; Schopenhauer is a pronounced voluntaristic Psychist. It is precisely great men who have so adjusted their souls that their world-outlook-mood stands in a definite spiritual constellation. Other people get on much more easily with the different standpoints, as they are called. But it can also happen that men are stimulated from various sides in reaching their world-outlook, or for what they place before themselves as world-outlook. Thus someone may be a good Logician, but his logical mood stands in the constellation of Sensationalism; he can at the same time be a good Empiricist, but his empirical mood stands in the constellation of Mathematism. This may happen. When it does happen, a quite definite world-outlook is produced. Just at the present time we have an example of the outlook that comes about through someone having his Sun — in spiritual sense — in Gemini, and his Jupiter in Leo; such a man is Wundt. And all the details in the philosophical writings of Wundt can be grasped when the secret of his special psychic configuration has been penetrated.
The effect is specially good when a person has experienced, by way of exercises, the various psychic moods — Occultism, Transcendentalism, Mysticism, Empiricism, Voluntarism, Logicism, Gnosis — so that he can conjure them up in his mind and feel all their effects at once, and can then place all these moods together in the constellation of Phenomenalism, in Virgo. Then there actually comes before him as phenomena, and with a quite special magnificence, that which can be unveiled for him in a remarkable way as the content of his world-picture. When, in the same way, the individual world-outlook-moods are brought one after another in relation to another constellation, then it is not so good. Hence in many ancient Mystery-schools, just this mood, with all the soul-planets standing in the spiritual constellation of Virgo, was induced in the pupils because it was through this that they could most easily fathom the world. They grasped the phenomena, but they grasped them “gnostically”. They were in a position to pass behind the thought-phenomena, but they had no crude experience of the will: that would happen only if the soul-mood of Voluntarism were placed in Scorpio. In short, by means of the constellation given through the world-outlook-moods — the planetary element — and through the nuances connected with the spiritual Zodiac, the world-picture which a person carries with him through a given incarnation is called forth.
But there is one more thing. These world-pictures — they have many nuances if you reckon with all their combinations — are modified yet again by possessing quite definite tones. But we have only three tones to distinguish. All world-pictures, all combinations which arise in this manner, can appear in one of three ways. First, they can be theistic, so that what appears in the soul as tone must be called Theism. Or, in contrast to Theism, there may be a soul-tone that we must call Intuitionism. Theism arises when a person clings to all that is external in order to find his God, when he seeks his God in the external. The ancient Hebrew Monotheism was a particularly “theistic” world-outlook. Intuitionism arises when a person seeks his world-picture especially through intuitive flashes from his inner depths. And there is a third tone, Naturalism.
These three psychic tones are reflected in the cosmos, and their relation to one another in the soul of man is exactly like that of Sun, Moon and Earth, so that Theism corresponds to the Sun — the Sun being here considered as a fixed star — Intuitionism to the Moon, and Naturalism to the Earth. If we transpose the entities here designated as Sun, Moon and Earth into the spiritual, then a man who goes beyond the phenomena of the world and says: “When I look around, then God, Who fills the world, reveals Himself to me in everything,” or a man who stands up when he comes into the rays of the sun — they are Theists. A man who is content to study the details of natural phenomena, without going beyond them, and equally a man who pays no attention to the sun but only to its effects on the earth — he is a Naturalist. A man who seeks for the best, guided by his intuitions — he is like the intuitive poet whose soul is stirred by the mild silvery glance of the moon to sing its praises. Just as one can bring moonlight into connection with imagination, so the occultist, the Intuitionist, as we mean him here, must be brought into relation with the moon.
Lastly there is a special thing. It occurs only in a single case, when a person, taking all the world-pictures to some extent, restricts himself only to what he can experience on or around or in himself. That is Anthropomorphism. Such a person corresponds to the man who observes the Earth on its own account, independently of its being shone upon by the Sun, the Moon, or anything else. Just as we can consider the Earth for itself alone, so also with regard to world-outlooks we can reckon only with what as men we can find in ourselves. So does a widespread Anthropomorphism arise in the world. If one goes out beyond man in himself, as one must go out to Sun and Moon for an explanation of the phenomenon of the Earth — something that present-day science does not do — then one comes to recognize three different things, Theism, Intuitionism and Naturalism side by side and each with its justification. For it is not by insisting on one of these tones, but by letting them sound together, that one arrives at the truth. And just as our intimate corporeal relation with Sun, Moon and Earth is placed in the midst of the seven planets, so Anthropomorphism is the world-outlook nearest to the harmony that can sound forth from Theism, Intuitionism and Naturalism, while this harmony again is closest to the conjoined effect of the seven psychic moods; and these seven moods are shaded according to the twelve signs of the Zodiac.
You see, it is not true to talk in terms of one cosmic conception, but of
12 + 7 == 19 + 3 == 22 + 1 == 23
cosmic conceptions which all have their justification. We have twenty-three legitimate names for cosmic conceptions. But all the rest can arise from the fact that the corresponding planets pass through the twelve spiritual signs of the encircling Zodiac. And now try, from what has been explained, to enter into the task confronting Spiritual Science: the task of acting as peacemaker among the various world-outlooks. The way to peace is to realize that the world-outlooks conjointly, in their reciprocal action on one another, can be in a certain sense explained, but that they cannot lead into the inner nature of truth if they remain one-sided. One must experience in oneself the truth-value of the different world-outlooks, in order — if one may say so — to be in agreement with truth. Just as you can picture to yourselves the physical cosmos; the Zodiac, the planetary system; Sun, Moon and Earth (the three together) and the Earth on its own account, so you can think of a spiritual universe: Anthropomorphism; Theism, Intuitionism, Naturalism; Gnosis, Logicism, Voluntarism, Empiricism, Mysticism, Transcendentalism, Occultism, and all this moving round through the twelve spiritual Zodiacal signs. All this does exist, only it exists spiritually. As truly as the physical cosmos exists physically, so truly does this other universe exist spiritually.
Diagram 12
In that half of the brain which is found by the anatomist, and of which one may say that it is shaped like a half-hemisphere, those activities of the spiritual cosmos which proceed from the upper nuances are specially operative. On the other hand, there is a part of the brain which is visible only when one observes the etheric body; and this is specially influenced by the lower part of the spiritual cosmos. (see Diagram 9 and Diagram 11.) But how is it with this influencing? Let us say of someone that with his Logicism he is placed in Sensationalism, and that with his Empiricism he is placed in Mathematism. The resulting forces then work into his brain, so that the upper part of his brain is specially active and dominates the rest. Countless varieties of brain-activity arise from the fact that the brain swims, as it were, in the spiritual cosmos, and its forces work into the brain in the way we have been able to describe. The brains of men are as varied in kind as all the possible combinations that can spring from this spiritual cosmos. The lower part of the spiritual cosmos does not act on the physical brain at all, but on the etheric brain.
The best impression one can retain from the whole subject would lead one to say: It opens out for me a feeling for the immensity of the world, for the qualitatively sublime in the world, for the possibility that man can exist in endless variety in this world. Truly, if we consider only this, we can already say to ourselves: There is no lack of varied possibilities open to us for the different incarnations that we have to go through on earth. And one can also feel sure that anyone who looks at the world in this light will be impelled to say: “Ah, how grand, how rich, the world is! What happiness it is to go on and on taking part, in ways ever more varied, in its existence, its activities, its endeavours!”

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Helen Keller on isolation

"Sometimes, it is true, a sense of isolation enfolds me like a cold mist as I sit alone and wait at life's shut gate. Beyond there is light, and music, and sweet companionship; but I may not enter. Fate, silent, pitiless, bars the way. Fain would I question his imperious decree; for my heart is still undisciplined and passionate; but my tongue will not utter the bitter, futile words that rise to my lips, and they fall back into my heart like unshed tears. Silence sits immense upon my soul. Then comes hope with a smile and whispers, "There is joy in self-forgetfulness." So I try to make the light in others' eyes my sun, the music in others' ears my symphony, the smile on others' lips my happiness."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Namaste: "Is this not love?"

Helen Keller, The Story of My Life, chapter six:

I remember the morning that I first asked the meaning of the word "love." This was before I knew many words. I had found a few early violets in the garden and brought them to my teacher. She tried to kiss me; but at that time I did not like to have any one kiss me except my mother. Miss Sullivan put her arm gently round me and spelled into my hand, "I love Helen."

"What is  love?" I asked.

She drew me closer to her and said, "It is here," pointing to my heart, whose beats I was conscious of for the first time. Her words puzzled me very much because I did not then understand anything unless I touched it.

I smelt the violets in her hand and asked, half in words, half in signs, a question which meant, "Is love the sweeetness of flowers?"

"No," said my teacher.

Again I thought. The warm sun was shining on us.

"Is this not love?" I asked, pointing in the direction from which the heat came. "Is this not love?"

It seemed to me that there could be nothing more beautiful than the sun, whose warmth makes all things grow. But Miss Sullivan shook her head, and I was greatly puzzled and disappointed. I thought it strange that my teacher could not show me love.

A day or two afterward I was stringing beads of different sizes in symmetrical groups--two large beads, three small ones, and so on. I had made many mistakes, and Miss Sullivan had pointed them out again and again with gentle patience. Finally I noticed a very obvious error in the sequence and for an instant I concentrated my attention on the lesson and tried to think how I should have arranged the beads. Miss Sullivan touched my forehead and spelled with decided emphasis, "Think."

In a flash I knew that the word was the name of the process that was going on in my head. This was my first conscious perception of an abstract idea.

For a long time I was still--I was not thinking of the beads in my lap, but trying to find a meaning for "love" in the light of this new idea. The sun had been under a cloud all day, and there had been brief showers; but suddenly the sun broke forth in all its southern splendour.

Again I asked my teacher, "Is this not love?"

"Love is something like the clouds that were in the sky before the sun came out," she replied. Then in simpler words than these, which at that tiime I could not have understood, she explained: "You cannot touch the clouds, you know; but you feel the rain and know how glad the flowers and the thirsty earth are to have it after a hot day. You cannot touch love either; but you feel the sweetness that it pours into everything. Without love you would not be happy or want to play."

The beautiful truth burst upon my mind--I felt that there were invisible lines stretched between my spirit and the spirits of others.

"Knowledge is love and light and vision."

"Thus I came up out of Egypt and stood before Sinai, and a power divine touched my spirit and gave it sight, so that I beheld many wonders. And from the sacred mountain I heard a voice which said, 'Knowledge is love and light and vision.'"
--Helen Keller

Monday, June 14, 2010

Man, Offspring of the World of Stars

"Ego and Sun are the inner and the outer aspects of the same being. What orbits out there through space as the Sun is the cosmic I. What lives within me is the human I."


Lecture given by Rudolf Steiner at Dornach on 5th May 1921.

The civilisation of the fourth Post-Atlantean epoch — the period of the development of the Mind Soul in humanity — was directed from the Greek Mysteries. In other words: the indications upon which the culture of the human mind was based issued from the Mystery-Sanctuaries which existed here and there in Asia Minor and Southern Europe. Now the secret of man's connection with the Sun was an essential part of these Mystery-teachings. From the book “Theosophy” we know that the Ego lights up within the Intellectual or Mind Soul and enters into possession of its full, inner force during the age of Consciousness, or Spiritual Soul.

Now because the Ego of man was destined from a certain point of view to be awakened during the age of the culture of the mind or intellect, it was quite natural that the Mysteries of that age should have been concerned with the secrets of the Sun and their connection with the human Ego. In the book “Riddles of Philosophy” it is said that the Greek's life of thought consisted in an actual perceiving of the outer world. The Greek's thought was at the same time a perception, just as we today have a perception of colours or sounds. The thoughts and conceptions of the Greek were not brought into being merely by inner activity of the soul, but they were born as it were from the objects themselves. In this respect Goethe's thinking undoubtedly possessed qualities in common with Greek thought. This is quite clear from his famous conversation with Schiller. Schiller stated that Goethe's conceptions were not perceptions, but ideas, and to this Goethe retorted that he actually saw his ideas before him, that he perceived them objectively.

The life of thought in Greece was associated with a very definite inner experience which arose when men looked at the world around them. They regarded the substance of the ideas which thus lit up before them as being the creation of the Sun. With the rising Sun they beheld the appearance in space of the life of ideas, and this life of ideas passed away again with the setting Sun. Men have now quite lost the faculty of perceiving and experiencing spirituality in the world around them. When the Sun rises they see only the phenomena of light and colour which there appear. And it is the same when the Sun sets in the red glow of evening. The Greeks felt that the world of ideas came to them at sunrise and passed away from them at sunset. They felt that in the darkness of the night they were bereft of the world of ideas. And when they looked at the sky, which seems to us to be blue, but for the colour of which the Greeks used a word which simply meant “darkness”, they felt that their world of ideas came to an end at the boundaries of visible space. Beyond this world of space the Greek divined the existence of other worlds — the worlds of the thoughts of the Gods, which he connected with light. These worlds seemed to him to be concentrated in the living Sun, and to withdraw during the night into the spaces of the dark firmament. Without some insight into this entirely different world of perception and experience, we cannot understand the further evolution of man's life of soul. This faculty of inwardly living perception functioned for a certain period of time, but then the most advanced representatives of the human race, those who still received their training in the Greek Mysteries, began to feel that their power to perceive the spiritual radiations from the living Sun in cosmic space was waning, and they saw salvation in the Mystery of Golgotha, inasmuch as the impulse coming from the Mystery of Golgotha made it possible for them to rekindle the light within their own being. And they tried now to experience the light by entering in spirit into the events connected with the Mystery of Golgotha.

Now the intellect alone can give us no real knowledge of what has really come to pass in the life of humanity through the ages. A great and far-reaching metamorphosis took place in man's life of soul and must never be forgotten when we are studying the course of evolution. We who have been living in the era of the development of the Consciousness Soul since the beginning of the fifteenth century have in our inner, intellectual activity, only a shadowy reflection of the spirituality which pervaded the life of the mind in the fourth Post-Atlantean period of civilisation. And the task before us is to awaken a faculty of the soul which will quicken in this shadowy intellect of ours a living understanding of the universe. The shadow-intellect that is characteristic of all modern culture has fettered man to the Earth. He has eyes only for earthly things, particularly when he allows himself to be influenced by the claims of modern science. In our age it never occurs to man that his being belongs, not to the Earth alone, but to the Cosmos beyond the Earth. Knowledge of our connection with the Cosmos beyond the Earth — that is what we need above all to make our own.

We take earthly life today as the basis of our ideas and concepts and build up a conception of the Universe in line with the conditions of this earthly life. But the picture of the Universe thus arising has been evolved by simply transferring earthly conditions to the world beyond the Earth. By means of spectro-analysis and other methods — admirable as they are in their way — a conception of the Sun has grown up which is really modelled wholly upon earthly conditions. Everyone is familiar with the appearance of luminous, incandescent gas, and this picture is then transferred to the Sun in the heavens. But we must learn to think of the Sun in the light of Spiritual Science. The Sun which the physicist believes to be a luminous body of gas out in cosmic space is spiritual through and through. The Sun receives the cosmic light and radiates it to the Earth, but the Sun is not physical at all. It is spiritual in its whole nature and being. The Greek was right when he felt that the Sun was connected with the development of his Ego, for the development of the Ego is associated with the intelligence and the faculty of forming ideas. The Greek conceived the rays of the Sun to be the power which kindled and quickened his Ego. His was still aware of the spirituality of the Cosmos, and to him the Sun was a living being, related to the human Ego in an absolutely concrete way. When a man says ‘ I ’ to himself, he experiences a force that is working within him, and the Greek, as he felt the working of this inner force, related it to the Sun. The Greek said to himself: Sun and Ego are the outer and inner aspects of one and the same being. The Sun out there in space is the Cosmic Ego. What lives within me is the human Ego.

As a matter of fact, this experience still comes to those who have a deeper feeling for Nature. The experience is not nearly as vivid as it was in the days of Greece, but for all that it is still possible to become aware of the spiritual forces indwelling the rays of the Sun in springtime. There are people here and there who feel that the Ego is imbued with a new vigour when the rays of the Sun begin to shine down upon the Earth with greater strength. But this is a last faint echo, an outward shell of an experience that is dying out altogether in the abstract, shadowy intellectualism prevalent in every branch of civilised life today. The task before us is to begin once again to realise and understand the connection of the being of man with super-earthly existence.

If we study and compare many things that are to be found in anthroposophical literature, we shall be able to understand the way in which the Sun is related to the Ego, and we shall also realise that the forces which stream down to the Earth from the Sun and from the Moon are entirely different in character and function. In a certain respect, Sun and Moon stand in polar antithesis. The forces streaming from the Sun enable the human being to become the bearer of an Ego. We owe to the rays of the Sun the power which moulds the human form into an image of the Ego. The forces which determine the human form from outside, even during the period of embryonic life, are the active forces of the Sun. While the embryo is developing in the mother's body, a great deal more is happening than modern science dreams of. Modern science is of the opinion that the forces all originate from the fertilised germ, but the truth is that the human embryo merely rests there in the body of the mother and is given form by the Sun forces. These Sun forces are, of course, associated with the Moon forces which are also working but in a different way. The Moon forces work above all in the inner, metabolic processes. We may therefore say: the Sun forces give form to the human being from outside. The Moon forces radiate outwards from within the metabolic process; they are centrifugal forces. This does not contradict the fact that these Moon forces are working, for instance, in the shaping and moulding of the human countenance. The Moon forces stream out from a centre in the metabolic system and work as it were by attraction upon the forming of the human face, differentiating the features, but there is an interplay between these Moon forces and the Sun forces. The organism that is connected with procreation is subject to the Sun forces. The whole being of man is involved in this way in the interplay between the forces of the Sun and the forces of the Moon.

A distinction must be made, however, between the Moon forces that work in the inner processes of metabolism in man, and the forces that originate in the metabolic processes itself. The Moon forces stream into the metabolic process, but this metabolic process has forces of its own as well. And these are earthly forces. The substances and forces in the vegetable and other foodstuffs work in the human being by virtue of their own inherent nature. They work here as Earth forces. Metabolism is primarily an outcome of the working of Earth forces. If the substances of the foodstuffs were merely to unfold their own forces within the human organism, there would be nothing but a chaotic play of forces in man. The fact that these forces work without intermission to renew and upbuild the being of man, is due not to the Earth at all, but to the Moon. The human being is shaped from within outwards by the Moon, and from without inwards by the Sun. Because the rays of the Sun are received through the eye into the head-organisation. The Sun forces work within the organism as well, but for all that they are still working from outside.

And so on the one hand the development and evolution of the Ego of man is dependent upon the forces of the Sun. Without the Sun, man could not be an Ego being living on the Earth; on the other hand there could be no such thing as propagation, there could be no human race without the Moon. It is the Sun which places man as an individual on the Earth, and it is the Moon that charms down the human race to Earth — the human race conceived here as one whole. The human race as the physical product of the generations is a product of the Moon forces which have worked in the generative process. As an individuality, however, man is the product of the Sun forces.

If, therefore, we want to understand the human being and the human race as a whole, we cannot do so by studying merely those conditions which obtain on the Earth alone. The efforts of geologists to understand the being of man by investigating the nature of the Earth are all in vain. Man is not primarily a creation of the Earth. He receives his shape and form from the Cosmos; he is an offspring of the world of the stars, above all of Sun and Moon. From the Earth are derived only those forces which are contained in the substances of the Earth. These forces work outside the human being and also within him when they are introduced into his organism either through eating or drinking. But within the organism they are received into the realm of forces of a super-earthly nature.

The processes that take place within the human being are by no means an affair of the Earth alone. They are through and through an affair of the world of stars. This is the kind of knowledge that we must struggle to reach once more.

Think of the human being as he stands there before us in his physical body. This physical body takes in the foodstuffs from the outer world and the forces of the foodstuffs continue to work within the body. But the physical body is permeated by the astral body and in the astral body the Moon forces are actively at work. The Sun forces too play into the astral body. The etheric body is there in the middle, between physical and astral body.

When we study the forces of foodstuffs, we find that, to begin with, they are active in the physical body and are then taken hold of by the astral body in which the influence of Sun and Moon are working. But between the physical body and astral body the etheric body is fulfilling its functions. The forces in the etheric body come, not from the Earth but from all directions of cosmic space. The products of the Earth, the substances which exist in the solid liquid or aeriform condition, are taken in by the human being and worked upon by the forces of Sun and Moon. But forces streaming in from all directions of cosmic space are also working in the human organism. The forces contained in the foodstuffs themselves come from the Earth, but from cosmic space the etheric forces stream in. These etheric forces also take hold of the foodstuffs and work upon them in such a way that they become inwardly responsive to light and also to warmth. We say, therefore: the human being is part of the Earth because he has a physical body. His etheric body relates him to the whole environment of the Earth. Through his astral body he is involved in the weaving forces of Sun and Moon.

Now these influences of the Sun and Moon in the astral body are modified and differentiated in a high degree as they work upon the ‘upper’ man. By ‘upper’ man I mean, in this case, the part of the organism that is encircled and permeated by the bloodstream which passed upwards from the heart in the direction of the head. The ‘lower’ man, then, comprises the other part of the organism — that part which lies below the heart.

Thus we have the upper part of man, including the head and everything that is organically connected with the head. The formation of this part of the organism is dependent, mainly, upon the Sun's influences. Its most important period of development is during embryonic life. The Sun's influences work upon the embryo in a very special way, but these influences continue to be active when the human being is born and is living in the physical world between birth and death. The astral influences working upon that part of the human organism which lies above the heart — speaking very roughly, for it would be necessary to go into more precise detail if we were describing the blood circulation — these astral influences are then modified by the influences of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars.

The planet Saturn circles round the Sun and sends forces to the Earth. These forces of Saturn work in the whole astral body of man, but above all in the part of the astral body which corresponds to the ‘upper’ man. They stream into the astral body, pervade it, and are the essential factor in bringing about a proper connection between the astral body and the physical body. When, for instance, a man cannot sleep properly, that is to say, when his astral body will not leave or come down again properly into his etheric and physical bodies or in some other way is not rightly connected with the physical body — this is due to an irregularity in the working of the Saturn forces. In other words, Saturn is the heavenly body which, by way of the human head, promotes and is responsible for setting up the proper relation of man's astral body to his etheric body and his physical body. And it is the Saturn forces too which mediate the connection of the astral body to the Ego, because of Saturn's relation to the Sun. Saturn's relation to the Sun is expressed in space and time inasmuch as Saturn accomplishes its orbit around the Sun in a period of thirty years.

In the human being, the relationship of Saturn to the Sun is expressed in the connection of the Ego with the astral body and in the way in which the astral body is membered into the whole human organism. The connection of Saturn with the upper part of the astral body was regarded as a factor of great importance in ancient times. In the Egypto-Chaldean period, three or four thousand years before the Mystery of Golgotha, the Teachers and Sages of the Mysteries judged a human being according to his relation to Saturn — which was revealed by the date and time of his birth. For these Sages knew quite well that the position of Saturn in the heavens at the time of man's birth enabled his astral body either to function regularly or irregularly in his physical body. Knowledge of these influences played a very important part in olden days. But the onward progress of evolution is denoted precisely by the fact that in our age, which, as you know, began in the fifteenth century, we have to become free of these forces and influences.

Please do not misunderstand me This does not mean that Saturn is not working in us nowadays. Naturally the Saturn forces work in us, just as they worked in the Ancients, but we must now learn to make ourselves free and independent of them. And do you know how we can make ourselves free? Nothing is worse than to give oneself over to the shadowy intellectualism of our age. If we do that, the Saturn forces run riot within us and
give rise to the so-called nervous troubles that are so very prevalent in our time. When a man suffers from ‘nerves’ as we say, it is because his astral body is not properly connected with his physical organisation. This lies at the basis of the morbid nervous symptoms which are so common nowadays. Our striving should be to unfold real vision, to attain Imagination. If man can achieve nothing better than the forming of abstract concepts and ideas, nervous symptoms are bound to increase in severity, because this intellectual activity tends to alienate him from the influences of Saturn, which are still at work within his being. His astral body will be torn away from his nerves, and he will be driven more and more into a state of nervous tension and excitability. The nervous complaints of our age must be recognised in their cosmic aspect, for they are caused by an irregular working of the Saturn forces.

Just as Saturn works chiefly in the upper part of the astral body and in the whole astral body inasmuch as the astral body is connected with the organism as a whole through the nervous system, so is Jupiter active in thinking.

When a man thinks, one part of his astral body is active. It is pre-eminently the Jupiter forces in the astral body which strengthen the thinking faculty, and Jupiter is responsible for permeating the human brain with astral forces.

Now the influences of Saturn continue throughout the whole of man's life. The beginning of a human life may really be said to consist of the first three periods of ten years. This is the period of growth, for as a matter of fact the activity of the growth forces does not wholly cease until after the thirtieth year. And our whole life and our health depend on how our astral body has developed during the thirty years. Saturn needs thirty years to complete its orbit around the Sun and this has its exact parallel in the life of man.

The development of the faculty of thinking takes place essentially during the first twelve years of life. Again we find the parallelism in the orbit of the planet Jupiter.

Just as Jupiter has to do with thinking, so has Mars to do with speech.

Saturn: upper part of the astral body as a whole.

Jupiter: thinking.

Mars: speech

Mars works upon a still smaller part of the astral body than that with which Jupiter is concerned in connection with the thinking of man. And the development of the forces which finally express themselves in speech, is dependent upon the working of Mars within our being. Man learns to utter the first sounds of speech in a period which corresponds approximately to half the time required by Mars to complete its orbit around the Sun.

We see, then, that the development of faculties situated primarily in the region of the human head is connected with the Saturn forces, the Jupiter forces, and the Mars forces. The forces of the three outer planets, therefore, work on within the astral body through the life of man. The Sun is connected more directly with the Ego, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars are concerned respectively with the behaviour and functioning of the astral body in the human organism, with the faculty of thinking and with the faculty of speaking.

The Sun is connected with the Ego. And then we come to the inner planets, as they are sometimes called, the planets which are nearer the Earth and lie between the Earth and the Sun, whereas Saturn, Jupiter and Mars lie on the other side of the Sun. The forces of these inner planets are likewise connected with the being of man. We will take Mercury to begin with.

Like the Moon, the centre, from which the Mercury forces work, lies in the inner being of man, and it is only in connection with the forming of the human countenance that Mercury works from outside. The Mercury forces work in the part of the human organism that lies below the region of the heart. From there these Mercury forces stream into the human organism. The working of the astral body in the breathing and circulatory functions of the human organism is regulated by Mercury. Mercury acts as the intermediary between the astral body and the rhythmic processes in the being of man. The Mercury forces act as the intermediary between the astral body and the rhythmic functions in the human organism. Because this is so, the Mercury forces intervene, as do the Moon forces, in the metabolic processes as a whole, but only in so far as the metabolic process is subject to rhythm and reacts in turn upon the rhythmic functions.

We come next to Venus. Venus works pre-eminently in the etheric body of man. The cosmic forces chiefly active in the etheric body, therefore, are those of Venus.

Then we come again to the Moon. The Moon forces in the human organism work in polar antithesis to the Sun forces. From within outwards the Moon forces lead substance over into the realm of the living and are therefore connected with procreation. The Moon stimulates not only the inner, reproductive processes of the organism, but the procreative process as well. Thus we have:

Saturn: upper part of the astral body as a whole.

Jupiter: thinking.

Mars: speech.

Sun: Ego.

Mercury: intermediary between the astral body and the rhythmic functions in the organism.

Venus: activity of the etheric body.

Moon: stimulates reproduction.

You see now in what way processes in the human organism are dependent upon the Cosmos. On the one side man is bound up with the earthly forces through his physical body. And on the other side he is bound up with his whole cosmic environment through the etheric body. The cosmic forces, however, work in different ways in his being as we have heard. This differentiation originates in the astral body in which the forces of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Moon are contained. By way of the Ego, the Sun works in man. Suppose that as the result of his earlier incarnations a man has within his being forces which predestine him to be a thinker in the earthly life upon which he is entering. He prepares for his descent to the Earth and — since Jupiter takes a definite time to complete his orbit — he will choose a moment for his birth when the rays of Jupiter pour directly down upon him.

In this way the heavenly constellations provide conditions into which a human being may be born — conditions which are determined by his previous earthly lives.

In the age of the Consciousness Soul, of course, it is the task of man gradually to make himself free of these conditions. But he must free himself from them in the right way.

In speaking of the Saturn influences, I said that it is a question of trying to replace shadowy intellectualism by real Imagination. In the book “Knowledge of the Higher Worlds” indications are given which, if they are followed, can make us independent of the cosmic forces, although none the less these cosmic forces continue to work in our being.

Man is born on Earth into conditions determined by a constellation in the heavens, but he must equip himself with forces which make him independent of this constellation. It is to this kind of knowledge — a knowledge of man's connection with the Cosmos beyond the Earth — that our civilisation must attain. Man must learn to realise that the forces of heredity described by modern science are not the only forces at work in his organism. To imagine such a thing, my dear friends, is the purest nonsense. It is pure nonsense to think that the maternal organism contains those forces which are then transmitted by heredity and so build up a heart, a liver and the other organs. There would be no heart in the human organism if the Sun did not build it into the organism of man, neither would there be a liver if Venus did not place it into the organism. And so it is with each single organ. Their presence in the human organism is due to the working of cosmic forces.

These are the things that humanity must once again learn to understand. Man must realise that the mysteries of his being cannot be explained by a science which deals merely with earthly phenomena. Around man live other creatures — and they too are not merely creatures of the Earth. It appears, to begin with, as if the minerals were entirely earthly in their nature. But in the minerals, too, changes have taken place which were due to the forces working in the cosmic environment of the Earth. The crystallised forms of the metals are all due to the play of forces from beyond the Earth. The metals were given shape and form at a time when the Earth's forces were not yet working in their full strength, but when cosmic forces were working in the Earth. The healing forces contained in the minerals, above all in the metals, are connected with the way in which these metals were formed within the Earth by the working of cosmic forces.

In the first epoch of Post-Atlantean times, when the ancient Indian civilisation was at its prime, man felt and knew himself to be a citizen of the whole wide universe. Although he had not yet developed the forces which modern humanity is so proud to possess, he was in the true sense of the word, MAN. By the time of the Chaldean epoch, however, man's attention had already begun to be diverted from the Sun. He had become a kind of amphibium — a creature who is thankful when the rays of the Sun pour down upon it, and when it need not always be confined to its dark burrows in the pound. But in our time one cannot say that man even resembles a creature like the mole, for he is really much more like an earthworm who has eyes at most for what has first been sent out into space from the Earth and comes back again as rain. This is really all that men see in the way of forces from beyond the Earth. But this the earthworms also see! In his materialism today man has become an earthworm. He must rise above this earth state, but he can only do so by realising and knowing his connection with the Cosmos beyond the Earth.

Our task therefore, is to raise ourselves above the earthworm state into which our civilisation has fallen, and bring a new spiritual life into being.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Meditative Bookends

"Wisdom is crystallized pain." --Rudolf Steiner

"Wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it."
Proverbs 8:11

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Keeping Faith

"If we lack confidence and are impatient with life, another truth prevails: the good effects that confidence can bring are driven away by impatience; the enlightenment that comes through confidence is darkened by impatience. Nothing is worse than letting impatience conjure up a mist before the soul."--Rudolf Steiner, Astronomy and Astrology, p. 174

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Sun: The flame in which freedom becomes a luminous reality

"We can grasp the nature of the Sun only when we know something of its nature of spirit and soul. In that realm it is the power that imbues with warmth the element of necessity in destiny, resolves destiny into freedom in its flame and, if freedom is misused, condenses it once more into its own active substance. The Sun is, as it were, the flame in which freedom becomes a luminous reality in the universe. And at the same time the Sun is the substance in which, as condensed ashes, misused freedom is molded into destiny--until destiny itself can become luminous and pass over into the flame of freedom."
--Rudolf Steiner, from "The Spiritual Individualities of the Planets," lecture of July 27, 1923. From Astronomy and Astrology, pp. 127-28

The Long View

Frederick Douglass [the very model of a modern major hero]:
"I have seen dark hours in my life, and I have seen the darkness gradually disappearing, and the light gradually increasing. One by one I have seen obstacles removed, errors corrected, prejudices softened, proscriptions relinquished, and my people advancing in all the elements that make up the sum of general welfare. I remember that God reigns in eternity, and that, whatever delays, disappointments, and discouragements may come, truth, justice, liberty, and humanity will prevail."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Follow Me"

John 12:23-28:

And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

Father, glorify thy name.