Sunday, October 31, 2010

A poem for all-hallowed Eve


Washed in the Blood of the Lamb are We
Awash in a Sonburst Sea
You—Love—and I—Love—and Love Divine:
We are the Trinity

You—Love—and I—We are One-Two-Three
Twining Eternally
Two—Yes—and One—Yes—and also Three:
One Dual Trinity
Radiant Calvary
Ultimate Mystery

Christ: The eternally uniting life-spirit

Rudolf Steiner: "There was an initiation in wisdom, in the feeling life, and in the will. Christianity is the combination of all these stages of initiation. In ancient times, initiation was a prophetic proclamation, a preparation. Slowly and gradually, the human being was emancipated from his or her guru or initiate. Initiation first took place in full trance complete secrecy, in total seclusion...Then initiation stepped forward out of the a great powerful personality, the bearer of the highest unifying principle, of the Word that expresses the hidden Father, that is, his manifestation, which by taking human form could therefore become the Son of Man and the representative for all humankind. It did so in the unifying bond of all the 'I's': in Christ, in the life-spirit, in the eternally uniting, occurred historically--and at the same time symbolically--the initiation of all humanity at the soul level, at the feeling level."

Source: First Steps in Christian Religious Renewal, p. xxxvii

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Very Subtle Egotism

Rudolf Steiner, June 12, 1921:

"We should accustom ourselves to allowing our personal tasks to be determined by destiny and objectivity.... we should not, as is the case [in the world] today, brood over our own personage--which basically is there only to fill the place which the divine cosmic powers have given to us--but we should attempt to observe signs out of which we recognize where we should be placed. We can do this. Again and again people come with the following soul question: What corresponds to my specific abilities? or How can I bring my abilities to bear in the world? This question is much, much less important than looking around objectively to see what needs to be done. When we get involved with what we notice there, we will see that we have many more abilities than we think. These abilities are not so very specific. As human beings we can do an extraordinary amount; we have quite universal soul qualities, but not so many specific ones. This brooding over our own selves and believing too strongly that we each have our specific abilities or talents that should be cultivated is basically a very subtle egotism. Those who wish to attain the qualities that we are talking about here must overcome this subtle egotism."

Source: First Steps in Christian Religious Renewal, pp. 30-31

Emily Dickinson's Haunted House

"Nature is a Haunted House—but Art—a House that tries to be haunted."




"There is not so much Life as talk of Life, as a general thing. Had we the first intimation of the Definition of Life, the calmest of us would be Lunatics!"

"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?"

One need not be a Chamber - to be Haunted  -
One need not be a House -
The Brain has Corridors - surpassing
Material Place -

Far safer, of a Midnight Meeting
External Ghost
Than its interior Confronting -
That Cooler Host.

Far safer, through an Abbey gallop,
The Stones a'chase -
Than Unarmed, one's a'self encounter -
In lonesome Place -

Ourself behind ourself, concealed -
Should startle most -
Assassin hid in our Apartment
Be Horror's least.

The Body - borrows a Revolver -
He bolts the Door -
O'erlooking a superior spectre -
Or More -

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Future of Human Labor

Rudolf Steiner, 10/26/05:

"This will be the healthy social relationship in the future. You can see it already today. Labor will be a free activity out of the insight into the necessity that labor has to take place. Men labor because they look at the human being and recognize that he needs labor. What was labor in the ancient world? It was a tribute; it was done because it had to be done. And what is labor today? It rests upon self-satisfaction, and that kind of enforcement which is exerted upon us by egoism. Because we are where we are, we want to be paid for our labor. We work for our own sakes, for our own wages. In the future we labor for the sake of our fellow human beings. because they need what we can work for. This will be the reason for our work. We will clothe our fellow human beings, we will make our work available to them for what they are in need of--as a completely free activity. Wages have to be completely separated from this. A tribute was labor in the past--an offering it will be in the future. Labor has nothing to do with self-satisfaction, nothing to do with payment. If I allow my work to be dictated by the needs of my brothers with a view to what mankind really needs, then I will find myself in a free relationship to it, and my work becomes an offering for mankind. Then I shall work with all my strength, for I love mankind and put my strength at its disposal."

Source: Foreword to Spiritual Science as a Foundation for Social Forms

Thursday, October 28, 2010

One for all and all for one

The Himalayan Institute, Honesdale, Pennsylvania
Rudolf Steiner, October 26, 1905:

"In the future no one will be the owner of the products of his own labor. Mankind must be educated for free labor, one for all and all for one. Each one will have to act accordingly. Today, if you would found a small community in which each one throws into a communal account what he earns and each one works as best he can, then his very life's existence--his needs-- will be brought about out of the communal consumption. This will cause a greater freedom than the ordering of wages according to production. When that happens we shall turn in the right direction."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Is this not love?"

Thank you, Bradford Riley

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.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

Thank you, Tarjei Straume

Rudolf Steiner, from a lecture given November 27, 1916:

The Christ is He who took upon Himself for the evolution of the Earth all that is bound up with angels, archangels, and archai; that is, all that chains man to the Earth. He bears the sins of the world, those sins that have come into the world through human differentiation. He is a being in whose presence we must say, "I belong to a single human community, but because I belong to a single human community, to something connected with the earthly, I separate myself from the divine. From this I can be redeemed only by a Being who has nothing to do with human differentiation. The Christ in me leads me beyond earthly differentiations, teaches me to feel that what has been produced by earthly differentiation is suffering, that it brings death. Only through such an understanding of the Christ in me do I find my connection with the spiritual world." All that entered humanity through the fact that differentiations have come about has been removed from it through the entrance of Christ into the world. Christ could not, therefore, be a divinity like Mithras, who guides the human being beyond himself. He is the one God who descended to Earth and took away the sins of differentiation and cleansed man of them. Mithras rushes through the world with a sword in his hand that he thrusts into the lower nature to slay it; under him the lower nature dies. Christ offers Himself as the Lamb of God, who takes the lower nature into Himself in order to redeem it.

Much lies in this comparison, immeasurably much! It is for this reason that the idea of Christ is not to be separated from the idea of death and resurrection. Only when we realize that what leads man to the Earth brings him death, that there is more in him than what brings him into the earthly atmosphere, and that something is in him that is the Christ Who leads him away again -- In Christo morimur -- only then do we understand the Christ and know that we are united with Him. Thus, the representations of the ancient gods could set triumphant beings before us, but the Christ could only be presented by the joining of human beings in suffering and death because Christ endured all that enters into the differentiations of man throughout the Earth. It is thus that Christ becomes the One Who leads man through death and back into the spiritual world, but this also makes Him the Divinity Who may be approached here on Earth as we pass beyond maya or illusion. As the Christ is born here from the womb of maya, so must we draw near to Him by advancing beyond maya and appealing to Him in all the higher reality that projects into maya, but isn't maya itself.

If it is to turn to this worship of Christ, mankind will still need a long time on Earth. Nevertheless, we must begin again to take Christianity earnestly. It is taken least of all seriously by the theologians who are frequently in conflict over whether or not Christ performed miracles and, for example, drove out demons through them. Well, it is entirely superfluous to argue over whether or not Christ drove out demons. It is more important that we learn to reproduce His miracles and thereby cast the demons out now where we can. We still have little power to cast out demons in the higher sense as antiquity knew how to do through its atavism. That is the destiny, the karma, of our epoch. But we can begin to drive out those demons of whom I spoke yesterday; they are there and it is negative superstition to suppose that they are not. How do we drive them out? Humanity will be convinced that they are being driven out when what is unholy service today becomes holy; that is, permeated with the Christ consciousness. In other words, this means that we must change to a sacramentalism in which man's deeds are imbued by the consciousness that the Christ stands behind him everywhere. Thus, he ought to do nothing in the world except that in which the Christ can help him. If he does something else, the Christ must also help him but He is thus crucified again and again in human deeds. The crucifixion is not merely a single deed; it is a continuing deed. So long as we do not drive out the demons through what lives in our souls by changing external mechanical actions into holy actions, we will continue to crucify Christ. It is from this point that our education to a true Christianity must begin. What was symbolically practiced in the ancient cults of Christianity and was once performed only on the altar must take hold of the entire world. Humanity must learn to deal with nature as the gods have done; it should learn not to construct machines in an indifferent way but to fulfill a divine service and bring sacramentalism into everything that is produced.

It is already possible to make a beginning in many things. Most of all, human beings can begin to develop sacramentalism in two areas. The first is that of educating and teaching children. We will begin to spiritualize what the religions call "baptism" when we look upon every human being who enters the world through birth as bringing his/her Christ forces with him/herself. Thus we will have the right reverence before the growing human being and can then direct the entire education and especially the teaching of the child in this spirit so that we bring in this teaching a sacramentalism to fruition. We can achieve the same end when we not only look upon educating and teaching the child as a divine service, but also make it such a divine service. Finally, when we endeavor to bring what we call our knowledge into our consciousness in such a way that, as our souls are filled with ideas of the spiritual world, we are aware that the spiritual world is entering into us and that we are being united with the spiritual; when we look upon that as a "communion"; when we can realize true knowledge in a sentence you find expressed before 1887: "Thinking is the true communion of humanity," when the symbolic sacrament of the altar will become the universal sacramental experience of knowledge. It is in this direction that the Christianizing of man must move forward. You will then come to the knowledge that, everywhere in life, reality enters into maya in everything that is related to the Christ, and that to look upon reality after the manner of modern science with its world conception is in the most eminent sense un-Christian.

            [The Karma of Vocation, lecture 10]

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Logos The Word The Veda The Christ

Rudolf Steiner:  "The world of Man must be so recognized that in Christ it reveals the original and eternal Logos who works for the unfolding of the Spirit-being of man in the sphere of the Divine-Spiritual Being bound up with man from the beginning."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Our human destinies are, at the same time, the deeds of Gods

Rudolf Steiner, February 22, 1916:

We are fearfully stupid if we believe that here on Earth, when we experience something in the manner described and bear it along in the form of memories, everything is finished; we are fearfully stupid if we think that our experiences are finished, when we take them up in this manner, as human beings. For while we experience things, while we form concepts and feelings rise up in our experiences, the whole world of the Hierarchies is active within this process through which we acquire our experiences; the Hierarchies live and weave in it.

When we face a human being and look into his eyes, then the Spirits of the Hierarchies, the Hierarchies themselves, the work of the Hierarchies, live in our gaze and in what is sent towards us through the gaze of the other human being. Our experience merely shows us the external aspect of things, for in reality the Gods work within our experiences. We think that we live only for our own sake; yet the Gods work out something through our experiences; they obtain from them something that they can weave into the world. We form ideas, we have feeling experiences; the Gods take them up and communicate them to their world. And when we die, we know that the purpose of our life is to give the Gods the opportunity to spin out of our life this woof coming from our etheric body and to hand it over to the whole universe. The Gods gave us the chance to live in order that they might spin out something for themselves, thus enriching the world.

This is an overwhelming thought. Every one of our strides is the external expression of an event connected with the Gods; it forms part of that woof which the Gods use for their plan of the world and which they leave to us only until we pass through the portal of death. After our death, they take it away from us and incorporate with the universe these, our human, destinies. Our human destinies are, at the same time, the deeds of Gods, and the form in which they appear to us human beings is merely their outward aspect. This is the significant, important, and essential fact which we should bear in mind.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"I exist in the world for a definite purpose, which I alone can fulfill."

Rudolf Steiner, February 22, 1916:

...the most important thing after death is that the moment of death is viewed from the other side. This kindles our ego-consciousness on the other side. Here, in the physical world, we have, as it were, one side of ego-consciousness; after death, we have the other side of ego-consciousness. I explained just now where we should look for the supersensible part of our physical body after death. We should seek this physical body in the shape of a relation of forces, of an organism of forces, as a cosmos of forces, within the whole world. This physical essence prepares the place through which we must pass between death and a new birth.

Within our physical body, which is so small in comparison to the whole world, our skin really encloses a microcosm, something that is, in reality, a whole world. Trivially speaking, I might say that this world is merely rolled together and that afterwards it unrolls again and fills out the universe, with the exception of one tiny space, that always remains empty.

Between death and a new birth, we really exist everywhere in the world; we live in it with that part which, here on earth, lies at the foundation of our physical body in the form of supersensible forces. We are everywhere, except in that one place. This remains empty. It is the space enclosed by our skin, the space which we take up in the physical world. This remains empty.

Yet we constantly look upon this empty space. That is to say, we look upon our own self, from outside; we look into a concavity. This remains empty. It remains empty to such an extent that a fundamental feeling rises up in connection with it. Namely, we do not contemplate things in an abstract manner, we do not simply stare at them, but our contemplation is connected with a powerful inner life-experience, with a mighty experience. It is connected with the fact that when we contemplate this emptiness, a feeling rises up in us, a feeling that accompanies us throughout our life between death and a new birth and constitutes a great deal of what we generally designate as our life beyond. It is the feeling, that there is something in the world which must again and again be filled out by us. And then we acquire the feeling: “I exist in the world for a definite purpose, which I alone can fulfill.” Thus we learn to know our place within the world. We feel that we are building-stones, without which the world could not exist. This is what arises through the contemplation of that empty space. When we gaze at it, we are overcome by a feeling telling us that we stand within the world as something that forms part of it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

East/West Advaita and the Threefold Social Organism

Rudolf Steiner, a lecture given August 21, 1920:

Genuine knowledge of the impulses holding sway in humanity, knowledge that must be acquired if we wish to take a position in life in any direction, is possible only if we attempt to go deeply into the differences of soul conditions existing between the members of the human race. In respect to the right progress for all mankind, it is certainly necessary that human beings understand one another, that an element common to all men is present. This common element, however, can only develop when we focus on the varieties of soul dispositions and developments that exist among the different members of humanity. In an age of abstract thinking and mere intellectualism such as the one in which we find ourselves, people are only too prone to look only for the abstract common denominators. Because of this they fail to arrive at the actual concrete unity, for it is precisely by grasping the differences that one comprehends the former. From any number of viewpoints, I have referred in particular to the mutual relationships resulting out of these differences between the world's population of the West and East. Today, I should like to point to such differentiations from yet another standpoint.

When we look at the obvious features of present general culture, what do we actually find? The form taken by the thoughts of most people in the civilized world really shows an essentially Western coloring, something originating in the characteristic tendencies of the West. Look at newspapers today that are published in America or England, in France, Germany, Austria or Russia. Although you will definitely sense certain differences in the mode of thinking, and so on, you will also notice one thing they have in common. If this is the Western region here (see sketch), this the middle one and that the Eastern, this common element, which comes to light everywhere, say, in newspapers as well as in ordinary popular literary and scientific publications, does not derive its impulse from the depths of the national characteristics. In a St. Petersburg paper, for instance, you do not find what arises from the heritage of the Russian people. You do not discover the heritage of Central European peoples by reading a Viennese paper or one from Berlin. The element determining the basic configuration and character (of all publications) has basically arisen in the West, and then poured itself into the individual regions. The fundamental coloring of what has come to the fore from among the peoples of the West has, therefore, essentially spread out over the civilized world.

When things are viewed superficially, one might doubt this; but if you go more deeply into the matters under discussion here, you can no longer doubt them. Consider the attitude, the basic sentiment, the conceptual form, expressed in a newspaper from Vienna or Berlin, or a literary or scientific work from either city. Compare this with a publication from London — quite aside from the language — and you will discover that there is a greater similarity between the publication from London and the book from Vienna, Paris, or even New York or Chicago than there is between the present thoughts and ideas in literary and scientific works from Vienna and Berlin, and the special nuance which Fichte for example, poured into his thoughts as an enlivening element. I shall demonstrate this to you by citing just one example.

There is a saying by Johann Gottlieb Fichte, the great philosopher who was born at the turn of the nineteenth century, that is so characteristic of him that no one today understands it. It goes, “The external world is the substance of duty become visible.” The sentence means nothing less than this. When we look out into the world of mountains, clouds, woods and rivers, of animals, plants and minerals, all this is in itself something devoid of meaning, without reality, it is merely a phenomenon. It is only there to enable the human being in his evolution to fulfill his duty. For I could not carry out my obligations in a world in which I would not be surrounded by things that I could touch. There must be wood, there must be a hammer. In itself, it has no significance and no materiality. It is only the substance of my duty which has become sense-perceptible. Everything outside exists primarily for the purpose of bringing duty to light.

This saying was coined by a man a century ago out of the innermost sentiments of his soul and character as well as his folk spirit. It did not become generally known. When people talk about Johann Gottlieb Fichte today, when they write books about him and mention him in newspaper articles, they only perceive the external form of his words. No one really understands anything about Fichte. You may take everything you find an him today, either literary or scientific, but it has nothing whatever to do with Johann Gottlieb Fichte. It does, however, have a great deal to do with what arose out of the Western folk spirit, and has spread over the rest of the civilized world.

These more delicate relationships are not discerned. That is the reason why nobody even thinks of characterizing in a deep and exhaustive manner the essential feature of what arises from the spirit of the various nationalities. For it is all inundated today by what arises from the West. In Central Europe, in the East, people imagine that they are thinking along their own ethnic lines. This is not the case, they think in accordance with what they have adopted from the West.

In what I am now saying lies the key to much of what is really the riddle of the present age. This riddle can be solved only when we become aware of the specific qualities arising from the various regions of the world. There is, first of all, the East that today certainly offers us no true picture of itself. If untruthfulness were not the underlying characteristic of all public life in our time, the world would not be so ignorant of the fact that what we call Bolshevism is spreading rapidly throughout the East and into Asia; that it has gone far already. People have a great desire to sleep through the actual events, and are glad to be kept in ignorance. It is therefore easy to withhold from them what is really taking place. Thus, people will live to see the East and the whole of Asia inundated by the most extreme, radical product of Western thought, namely Bolshevism, an element utterly foreign to these people.

If we wish to look into what it is that the world of the East brings forth out of the depths of its folk character, it becomes obvious that it is possible to discover the fundamental nuance of feeling in the East only by going back into earlier times and learning through them. For, in regard to its original character, the East has become completely decadent. Forgetting its very nature, the East has allowed itself to be inundated by what I have described as the most extreme, radical offshoots of Western thought. Certainly, it is true that what was once there is still living within Eastern humanity, but today it is all covered up. What once lived in the East, what once vibrated through Eastern souls, survives in its final results where it is no longer understood, where it has turned into a superstitious ritual, where it has become the hypocritical murmurings of the popes of the Orthodox Russian ritual, incomprehensible even to those who believe they understand it. A direct line runs from ancient India to these formulas of the Russian church ritual, which are now only rattled off to the multitudes in the form of lip service. For this whole inclination which thus expressed itself, which bestowed on the Eastern soul its imprint and also does so today in a suppressed form, is the potential for developing a spiritual state of mind that guides the human being towards the prenatal, to what exists in our life before birth, before conception. In the very beginning, the nature of what permeated the East as a world conception and religious attitude was connected with the fact that this East possessed a concept which has been completely lost to the West. As I have said here before, the West has the concept of immortality, not that of “not having been born,” of “unbornness.” We have the word immortality, we do not have the term “unbornness.” This implies that in our thinking we continue life after death, but not into the time before birth. On the other hand, the East possessed that special soul inclination it had that still included Imagination and Inspiration in its thoughts and concepts. By means of this particular manner of expressing the conceptual content of its soul world, the East was far less predisposed to pay heed to the life after death than to that before birth. In regard to the human being it viewed life here in the sense world as something that comes to man after he has received his tasks prior to birth, as something that he has to absolve here in the sense of the task given him. He was disposed to regard this life as a duty set human beings by the gods before they descended into this earthly body of flesh. It goes without saying that such a world conception encompasses both repeated earth lives and the lives between death and birth; for one can quite well speak of a single life after death, but not of only one before birth. That would be an impossible teaching. After all, one who refers at all to pre-existence would then not speak of one earth life only, which is something that should be obvious to you upon reflection. It was the way they had of looking up into the supersensory world, which was brought about by the whole predisposition of these Eastern souls, but it was one that focused their attention on the life we lead between death and a new birth prior to being drawn down to earthly life. Everything else, everything in the way of political, social, historical and economical ideas was only the consequence of what dwelt in the soul due to the orientation towards the life between birth and conception.

This life, this mood of soul, is particularly fitted to turn the human soul's gaze to the spiritual, to fill man with the supersensible world. For even here on earth, man considers himself entirely a creation of the spiritual world, indeed, as a being who, in the world of the senses, is merely pursuing his supersensible life. Everything that became decadent in later ages, the establishment of kingdoms, the social structure of the ancient Orient and its very constitution, developed from this special underlying mood of soul. This soul condition might be said today to be overpowered, because it became weak and crippled, because it was only promulgated as if out of what I would like to call “rachitic” soul members, as for example, in the works of Rabindranath Tagore, which are like something that is poured into vague, nebulous formulas. In actual practice, we are today inundated by what expresses itself in Bolshevism as the most extreme, radical wing of Western thinking. The West will have to experience that something it did not wish to have for itself is moving over into the East, that in a not very distant future, what the West pushed off on the East will surge back upon it from there. This will result in a strange kind of self-knowledge.

What has this remarkable development in the East led to? It has led the people of the East to employ the holy inner zeal they once utilized to foster the impulse for the supersensory world and to apprehend the spiritual in all its purity, to accept the most materialistic view of outer life with religious fervor. Even though Bolshevism is the most extreme consequence of the most materialistic view of the world and social life, it will, as it moves further into Asia, increasingly transform itself into something that is received there with the same religious zeal as was the spiritual world in former times. In the East, people will speak of the economic life in the same terminology once used to speak of the sacred Brahma. The fundamental disposition of the soul does not change; it endures, for it is not the content (of the soul) that matters here. The most materialistic views can be approached with the same fervor formerly used to grasp the most spiritual.

Let us now turn and look at the West. The West has given rise to the human soul's most recent development. It must be of special interest to us because it has brought forth the view which, rising like a mist, has since spread over the whole civilized world. It is the manner of conception that already found, its most significant expression in Francis Bacon and Hobbes; in minds of more recent times, in the economist Adam Smith, for example; among philosophers, in John Stuart Mill, and among historians, in Buckle, and so on. It is a form of thinking that no longer contains any Imagination and Inspiration in its conceptions and ideas, where the human being is dependent on directing his conceptual life entirely outwards to the sense world, absorbing the impressions of the latter according to the associations of thoughts resulting from that same world. This came to its most brilliant philosophical expression in David Hume, also in other such as Locke.

There is something very strange here that must, however, be mentioned. When we focus on the West, we must pay heed to how minds like John Stuart Mill, for example, speak of human thought associations. The term “association of ideas” is in fact a completely Western thought form, but in Central Europe, for instance, it has been in such common use for more than half a century that people speak of it as if it had originated there. When psychology is taught in John Stuart Mill's sense, one says, for instance, that in the human soul, thoughts first connect themselves by means of one thought embracing another, or by one thought attaching itself to another, or by one permeating another. This implies that people look upon the thought world and view the individual thoughts as they would little spheres that relate themselves to each other (see drawing). To be consistent one would have to eliminate everything to do with the ego and astral body, inwardly referring only to a mere thought mechanism, something that a great number of people do, in fact, speak of. The soul of man is disemboweled, as it were. When you read a book by John Stuart Mill with its deductive and inductive logic, you feel as if you were mentally placed in a dissecting room where a number of animals hang that are having their innards taken out. Likewise, in the way Mill proceeds, one feels as if man's soul-spiritual being were disemboweled. He first empties the human being of everything within, leaving only the outer sheath. Then, thoughts do, indeed, appear only like so many associated atomistic formations that coalesce when we form an opinion. The tree is green. Here “green” is the one thought, “tree” is the other, and the two flow together. The inner being is no longer alive; it has been disemboweled and only the thought mechanism remains.

This manner of conceiving of things is not derived from the sense world; it is imposed upon it. In my book The Riddles of Philosophy I have drawn attention to how a mind such as John Stuart Mill's is in no way related to the inner world; it is simply given to behaving like a mere onlooker in whom the external world is reflected. Our concern here is that this method of thinking brings about what I have often described as the tragedy of materialism, which is that it no longer comprehends matter. For how can materialism fathom the nature of matter — and we have seen that, by going deeply into the human being, one penetrates into the true material element of the earth — if it first eliminates in thought what actually represents matter? In this regard, an extreme consequence already has been reached.

This extreme consequence could easily be traced today if it were not for the fact that people never look at the whole context of things, only at the details. Imagine where it must lead if all the actual inner flexible aspects of the ego are eliminated, if the human being is emptied of the very element that can enlighten him in the sense world concerning the spirit. Just think, where must this finally lead? It must result in the human being feeling that he no longer has anything of the actual content of the world. He looks outside at the sense world without realizing the truth of what we said yesterday, namely, that behind the external world of the senses there are spiritual beings. When he gives himself up to illusions, he assumes that atoms and molecules exist outside. He dreams of atoms and molecules. If man has no illusion concerning the external world, he can say nothing but that the whole outer world contains no truth, that it really is nothing. Inwardly, on the other hand, he has found nothing; he is empty. He must talk himself into believing that there is something inside him. He has no grasp of the spirit; therefore, he suggests spirit to himself, developing the suggestion of spirit. He is not capable of maintaining this suggestion without rigorously denying the reality of matter. This implies that he accommodates himself to a world view which does not perceive the spirit but only suggests it, merely persuading itself into the belief of spirit, while denying matter. You find the most extreme Western exponent of this in Mrs. Eddy's Christian Science as the counterpart of what I described just now for the East. This was bound to arise as the final outcome of such conceptions as those of Locke, David Hume or John Stuart Mill. Christian Science as a concept is, however, also the final consequence of what has been brought about in recent times by the unfortunate division of man's soul life into knowledge and faith.

Once people start restricting themselves to knowledge on one side and faith on the other, a faith that no longer even tries to be knowledge, this leads in the end to their not having the spirit at all. Faith finally ceases to have a content. Then, people must suggest a content to themselves. They make no attempt to reach the genuine spirit through a spiritual science. In their search for the spirit, they arrive at Mrs. Eddy's Christian Science, this spirit which has come to expression there as the final consequence. The politics of the West have for some time been breathing this spirit. It does not sustain itself on realities; it lives on self-made suggestions. Naturally, when it is not a matter of an in-depth cure, one can even effect cures with Christian Science, as has been reported, and accounts are given of its marvelous cures. Likewise, all kinds of edifying results can be achieved with the West's politics of suggestion.

Yet, this Western concept possesses certain qualities, qualities of significance. We can best understand them when we contrast them with those of the East. On looking back to the ages when the Eastern qualities came especially to the fore, we find that they were those which, first of all, were capable of focusing the soul's eye on the prenatal life. They were therefore preeminently fitted to constitute what can represent the spiritual part, the spiritual world, in a social organism. Fundamentally speaking, all that we have created in Central Europe and the West is in a certain sense the legacy of the East. I have already mentioned this on another occasion. The East was particularly predisposed to cultivate the spiritual life. The West, on the other hand, is especially talented at developing thought forms. I have just described them in a somewhat unfavorable light. They can, however, be depicted in a favorable light as well, namely, if we consider all that has originated with Bacon of Verulam, Buckle, Mill, Thomas Reid, Locke, Hume, Adam Smith, Spencer, and others of like mind, for example, Bentham. [ Note 59 ] On the one hand, we admit that these thought forms are certainly not suited to penetrate into a spiritual world by means of Imagination and Inspiration, to comprehend the life before birth. Yet, on the other hand, we are obliged to say, particularly when one studies how this manner of thinking has pervaded and lives in our Western science, that all this is especially appropriate for economic thinking; and one day, when the economic life of the social organism will have to be developed, we shall have to become students of Western thought, of Thomas Reid, John Stuart Mill, Buckle, Adam Smith, and the rest. They have only made the mistake of applying their form of thinking to science, to epistemology, and the spiritual life. This thinking is in order when we train ourselves by means of it and reflect on how to form associations, how best to manage the economy. Mill should not have written a book on logic; the spiritual capacity he applied to doing this should have been used for describing in detail the configuration of a given industrial association. We must realize that when anyone today wishes to produce a book such as my Towards Social Renewal, it is necessary for him to have learned to understand in what manner one attains to the spiritual sphere in the Oriental sense, and in what manner — although following a much more erratic path — one arrives at economic thinking in the West. For both directions belong together and are necessary to one another.

As far as a view of life is concerned, this Western thinking then does lead to pseudo-sciences like the one by Mrs. Eddy, her Christian Science. We must not, however, look at matters according to what they cannot be, but consider what they can be. For unity must come about through the cooperation of all human beings on earth, not by some abstract, theoretical structure of ideas that is simply laid down, and then viewed as a unity.

At this point, one may ask from where in the human organization this particular thinking of Mill, Buckle, and Adam Smith originates. We find that Oriental thinking has basically arisen from a contact with the world, especially when looking back to the more ancient forms of Oriental philosophy. It is a thinking, a feeling, which gives the impression that, out of the earth itself, the roots of a tree grow and produce leaves. In just this way, the ancient Indian, for example, seems to us to be united with the whole earth; his thoughts appear to us to have grown out of earthly existence in a spiritual manner, just as a tree's leaves and blossoms appear to have grown out of it by means of all the forces of the earth.

It is precisely this attachment to the external world in the Oriental person, the absorption of the spirituality, that I have referred to as lying beyond the sense world. In the West, everything is brought out of the instincts, the depth of the personality — I might say, from man's metabolic system, not the external world. For the Oriental, the world works upon both his senses and Spirit, kindling within him what he calls his holy Brahma. In the West, we have what arises from the body's metabolism and leads to associations of ideas; it is something that is particularly suited to characterize the economic life, something that does not apply until the next earth incarnation. For, with the exception of the head, what we bear as our physical organism is something that does not find its true expression, as we have outlined, until the following life on earth. We have been given our head from our previous earth life; our limbs and our metabolic system are Borne by us into the next earthly incarnation. This is a metamorphosis from one life on earth to the next. Hence, in the West, people think with something that only becomes mature in the following earth life. For this reason, Western thinking is particularly predisposed to focus on the life after death, to speak of immortality, not of eternity, not to know the term, “unbornness,” but only the word, “immortality.” It is the West which represents life after death as something that the human being should above all else be concerned about. Yet, even now, something I might call radical, but in a radical sense something noble, is preparing itself in the West out of the totally materialistic culture. One with the faculty to look a little more deeply into what is thus trying to evolve makes a strange discovery. Although people strive in the most intimate way for life after death, for some kind of immortality, hence, for an egotistic life after death, they strive in such a manner that, out of this effort, something special will develop. While a large part of humanity still harbors an illusion in this regard, something quite remarkable is, oddly enough, developing in the West. Since individual elements of the ideas concerning life after death being developed by the West are reflected to a certain extent in a great majority of Europeans, they, too, have especially perfected this preoccupation with the postmortem life. The European, however, would prefer to say, “Well, my religion promises me a life after death, but in this transitory, unsatisfactory, merely material earth life I need make no effort to secure the immortality of my soul. Christ died to make me immortal; I need not strive for immortality. It is mine once and for all; Christ makes me immortal.” — or something to that effect.

In the West, particularly in America, something different is preparing itself. Out of the most diverse, occasionally the most bizarre and trivial religious world conceptions, we see something trying to arise which, although it has quite materialistic forms, is nevertheless connected with. something that will be a part of life in the future, particularly in regard to this world-view of immortality. Among certain sects in America, the belief is prevalent that one cannot survive at all after death if one has made no effort in this earthly life, if one has not accomplished something whereby one acquires this life after death. A judgment concerning good and evil is envisioned after death that does not merely follow the pattern of earthly truth. He who makes no effort here on earth to bear through the portals of death what he has developed in his soul will be diffused and scattered in the cosmic all. What a person wishes to carry with him through death must be developed here. A man dies the second death of the soul — to use the saying of Paul — who does not provide here for his soul to become immortal. This is something that is definitely developing in the West as a world concept in place of the leisurely, passive, awaiting what will happen after death. It is something that is emerging in certain American sects. Perhaps today it is still little noticed, but there is a great deal of feeling in favor of viewing life here in a moral sense, and to arrange the conduct of life in such a manner that by means of what one does here, something is carried through the gate of death.

As I said, in the East, the particular attention to the life before birth developed long ago. This made it possible for life on earth to be viewed as a continuation of this prenatal, supersensory life in the spirit. Earthly life thus received its content, not out of itself, but out of the spiritual life. In the West, an attitude is developing today for the future that will have nothing to do with a passive, indifferent life of waiting here for death because the life beyond is guaranteed; instead, the knowledge is growing that man carries nothing through the portal of death unless care is taken on earth to make something out of what one already has here.

Thus, Western thinking is adapted, on the one hand, to organizing economic matters within the social organism; on the other hand, it is suited to develop further the one-sided doctrine of life after death. This is why spiritualism has had a special opportunity for developing in the West, and from there, could invade the rest of the world. After all, spiritualism was only devised to give a sort of guarantee of immortality to those who could no longer attain to any conviction concerning immortality by means of any kind of inner development. For, in most instances, a person actually becomes a spiritualist in order to receive by some means or the other the certain guarantee that he is immortal ,after death.

Between these two worlds lies something that is implied in Fichte's words, “The external world is the substance of my duty become visible.” As I said before, people really have no understanding for this mode of thinking, and what is written today about Fichte could well be compared to what a blind man might say about color. Particularly in the last few years, a tremendous amount of talking and lecturing has been done about this saying by Fichte, but it was all accomplished in such a way that one is disposed to say that Fichte, that out-and-out Central European mind, has really been americanized by the German newspapers and writers of literature. One is confronted with americanized versions of Fichte. There, we find the nuance of human soul life which, in a special way, is supposed to develop the middle member of the social organism, the one that arises from the relationship of man to man. It would be of benefit if some of you would for once make an in-depth study — it isn't easy — of one of Fichte's writings where he speaks as though nature did not exist at all. Duty, for example, and everything else is deduced by first proving that external human beings actually exist in whom the materialized substance of duty can become reality. Here, all the raw material is contained, so to speak, from which the rights and state organism of the threefold social order have to be put together.

What, then, is the actual cause of the catastrophic events in the past few years? The basic reason is that there was no living perception, no feeling, for such matters. Berlin's policies are American. This is fine for America, but it is not suitable for Berlin. This is why Berlin's politics amount to nothing. For, just imagine, since American policies were constantly carried out in Berlin or Vienna, we could just as well have called Berlin, New York, apart from the difference in language, and Vienna, Chicago for all the difference there would have been otherwise. When, in Central Europe, something is done that is completely foreign to it, something originating in the West where it has its rightful place, then the primal essence of the folk spirit is aroused and gives it the lie without the people being aware of it. This was basically the case in recent decades. This was the underlying phenomenon of what happened, the phenomenon that consists, for instance, in the fact that people have trampled Goethe's thinking underfoot, and as another example, have read Ralph Waldo Trine  out of a sort of instinct. Actually, all our aristocratic dandies in politics have shown an interest in Trine, and received their special inner stimulus or whatever from that direction. When affairs came to the boiling point, they even turned to Woodrow Wilson; and he who would now again like to be President of the German Republic still has that frame of mind that allows his brain automatically to roll out Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points. Thus, in recent times, in the Grand Duchy of Baden, we experienced how a formerly truly representative German personality spouted forth americanisms. This is the best and most immediate example of how matters really stand at present. Indeed, we must be able to see through these archetypal phenomena if we wish to understand what is actually happening today. If we merely pick up a newspaper and read Prince Max von Baden's speeches, simply studying them out of context, then this is something absolutely worthless today. It is a mere kaleidoscope of words. Only when we are able to place such things into the whole context of the world can we hope to understand anything about the world. No progress can be made until people realize how necessary it is today that world understanding be acquired if one wishes to have a say. The most characteristic sign of the time is the belief that when a group of individuals have set up some trashy proposition as a general program — such as the unity of all men regardless of race, nation or color, and so forth — something has been accomplished. Nothing has been accomplished except to throw sand into people's eyes. Something real is attained only when we note the differences and realize what world conditions are. Formerly, human beings could live in accordance with their instincts. This is no longer possible; they must learn to live consciously. This can be done only by looking deeply into what is actually happening.

The East was supreme in regard to life before birth and repeated earthly lives that are connected with it. The greatness of the West consisted in its disposition in regard to life after death. Here, in the middle (see drawing on next page), the actual science of history has originated, although today it is as yet misunderstood. Take Hegel as an example. In Hegel's works, we have neither preexistence nor postexistence; there is neither life before birth nor after death, but there is a spirited grasp of history. Hegel begins with logic, goes from there to a philosophy of nature, develops his doctrine of the soul, then that of the state, and ends with the triad of art, religion and science. They are his world content. There is no mention of preexistence or an immortal soul, only of the spirit that lives here in this world.

Preexistence, postexistence — this is really life in the present state of mankind, the permeation of history. Read what has been drawn up particularly by Hegel as a philosophy of history. In libraries, one generally finds the pages of his books still uncut! Not many editions have appeared of Hegel's works. In the eighties of the last century, Eduard von Hartmann wrote that in all of Germany, where twenty universities exist that have faculties of philosophy, no more than two of the instructors had read Hegel! What he said could not be refuted; it was true. Nonetheless, it hardly needs to be said that all the students were ready to swear to what they had been told about Hegel by professors who had never read him. Do familiarize yourselves with his work and you will find that here, in fact, historical conception has come about, the experience of what goes on between human beings. There you also find the material from which the state, the rights sphere of the threefold social organism, has to be created. We can learn about the constitution of the spiritual organism from the Orient; the constitution of the economic sphere is to be learned from the West.

In this way, we have to look into the differentiations of humanity all over the whole earth, and can gain an understanding of the matter from one side or the other. If the goal is approached directly, namely, if the social life is studied, one arrives at the threefold order as developed in my book, Towards Social Renewal. By thus studying the life of mankind throughout the earth, we come to the realization that there is one part with a special disposition for the economy; there is another with a special aptitude for organizing the state; and yet another with a specific inclination towards the spiritual life. A threefold structure can then be created by taking the actual economy from the West, the state from the Middle, and from the East — naturally in a renewed form, as I have often said — the spiritual life. Here you have the state, here the economic life and here the spiritual life (see above sketch); the two others have to be taken across from here. In this way, all humanity has to work together, for the origins of these three members of the social organism are found in different regions of the earth, and therefore must be kept properly apart everywhere. If, in the old manner, human beings wish to mix up in a unified state what is striving to be threefold, nothing will result from it except that in the West the state will be a unity where the economic life overwhelms the whole, and everything else is only submerged into it. If the theorists then take hold of and study the matter, meaning, if Karl Marx moves from Germany to London, he then concludes that everything depends on the economic life. If Marx's insanity triumphs, the three spheres are reduced to one, the one being of a purely economic character. If one limits oneself to what wishes to be merely the state or rights configuration, one apes the economic life of the West, which for decades has been fashioning an illusory structure, which then naturally collapses when a catastrophe occurs — something that has indeed happened!

The Orient, which possesses the spiritual life in a weakened state in the first place, simply has adopted the economic life from the West and has inoculated itself with something that is completely alien to it. When these matters are studied, we shall see particularly that blessings can only fall upon the earth when, everywhere, one gathers together into the threefold social organism through human activity what by its very nature develops in the various regions.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Veda: Flower and Fruit of the Earth

Rudolf Steiner, September 5, 1920:

"Our entire spiritual life basically still has a character which was inherited from what the Oriental possessed. Bear in mind, however, how I had to present this emergence of the Oriental spiritual life. It arose out of man's metabolism — out of the inner impulses of metabolism — in the Veda, in the magnificent poetry of the Orient. It must be sought as a new outgrowth of the metabolism, just as blossom and fruit issue from the tree. Anyone who can look upon the inner relationships as they are in reality knows how to look upon the blossoms and fruit of the tree; he will observe how the sap rises up from the Earth, ascends in the trunk, shoots out into the branches, turns green within the leaves, becomes varicolored in the blossoms and achieves ripeness in the fruit. This is what presents itself to our eyes. If we then note the result in our metabolic processes of what is drawn up with the substance coming from the Earth and taken up into ourselves, how it is digested and burned up, how it passes over into the blood, is refined and etherized within the body, we see that it sprouts, flourishes, and ripens just like the vegetative process that turns to blossoms, fruits, and trees. It only changes into something else by sprouting, flourishing, and ripening through the human organs; it turns into the poetic fruit of the Veda, it becomes the philosophic fruit of the Vedanta philosophy. In the Orient, the spiritual life was considered a fruit of the Earth, of the metabolism that courses through the human being, just as one looked upon the process coursing through the verdant, fruit-bearing tree. What appears in the Veda and in Oriental poetry is intimately bound up with the essence of the Earth. It is the flower of the Earth. It is nonsense when men of today make our Earth into a lifeless product, as geology does, for instance. For not only what arises from the Earth in flower and fruit belongs to her, but also what has arisen like a philosophical fruit in the primordial epochs of mankind in the Veda and the Vedanta philosophy. Whoever wishes to see nothing but stones come into existence in or upon the Earth, whoever sees her only as tillable soil, whoever views the Earth as nothing but mineral substance, does not know the Earth. For to her belongs also what she has borne in times past as blossom and fruit through the body of man."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"The external world is the substance of duty become visible."

Rudolf Steiner, from a lecture given August 21, 1920:

There is a saying by Johann Gottlieb Fichte, the great philosopher who was born at the turn of the nineteenth century, that is so characteristic of him that no one today understands it. It goes, “The external world is the substance of duty become visible.” The sentence means nothing less than this: When we look out into the world of mountains, clouds, woods and rivers, of animals, plants and minerals, all this is in itself something devoid of meaning, without reality, it is merely a phenomenon; it is only there to enable the human being in his evolution to fulfill his duty. For I could not carry out my obligations in a world in which I would not be surrounded by things that I could touch. There must be wood, there must be a hammer. In itself, it has no significance and no materiality. It is only the substance of my duty which has become sense-perceptible. Everything outside exists primarily for the purpose of bringing duty to light.

The politics of suggestion

Rudolf Steiner, from a lecture given August 21, 1920:

Once people start restricting themselves to knowledge on one side and faith on the other, a faith that no longer even tries to be knowledge, this leads in the end to their not having the spirit at all. Faith finally ceases to have a content. Then, people must suggest a content to themselves. They make no attempt to reach the genuine spirit through a spiritual science. In their search for the spirit, they arrive at Mrs. Eddy's Christian Science, this spirit which has come to expression there as the final consequence. The politics of the West have for some time been breathing this spirit. It does not sustain itself on realities; it lives on self-made suggestions.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Nature of the Inner World and of the Outer World: Bonus lecture for the October 27 meeting of the Rudolf Steiner Study Circle

Rudolf Steiner, a lecture given August 20,1920:

Once again, I would like to sum up some of what has been presented here recently. We spoke about the external sense world in its relation to the inner world of the human being and I pointed out two things in particular. I stressed that the external sense world certainly must be understood as a world of phenomena and that it is a sign of the prejudices of our age not to interpret correctly this view of the world of phenomena. Certainly, here and there, a certain perception surfaces concerning the fact that the outer sense world is a world of phenomena, of appearances, not one even of merely material realities. Then, however, behind this world of external phenomena, one seeks for material realities, for example, for atoms and molecules, and the like. This search for atoms and molecules, in short, for any world of physical reality standing behind the world of phenomena, is just as if one were to seek for some kind of molecular materiality behind the rainbow that is obviously only an appearance, a phenomenon. This search for material reality in regard to the external world is something quite unfounded, as spiritual science points out from the most diverse directions. We have to understand clearly that surrounding us in what we perceive as the sense world is a world of phenomena, and we may not interpret the sense of touch differently from the other senses in regard to the sense world. Just as we see the rainbow with our eyes without searching for a material reality behind it, accepting it as appearance, so we must accept the entire external world as it is, namely, in the sense I depicted it decades ago in my introduction to the volume an color theory in Goethe's natural scientific writings. The question then is posed to us: What is it that really stands behind this world of phenomena? The material atoms are not behind it; there are spiritual beings behind it — there is spirituality. This recognition signifies a lot, for it means that we admit that we do not live in a material world but in one of spiritual realities.

When we as human beings turn to the external worldthis drawing representing, as it were, the boundary of our body — we have here the sense world and behind it the world of spiritual realities, spiritual beings (right side).

Now, when we turn to the human interior, when we move from our senses inward, we have first of all the content of our world of conceptions, our soul world. If we call the sense world the world of sense phenomena, of sensory appearances, we have the world of spiritual phenomena when we turn from our senses inward (left). Naturally, in the manner in which they are present within us, our thoughts, our conceptions, are not realities, they are spiritual phenomena. Now, if we descend from this soul world still deeper into our inner being, it is all-important for us not to believe that we thereby arrive at a special, higher world, something that mystic dreamers presuppose. There, we actually come into the world of our organism, the world of material realities.

This is why it is important not to assume that by inward brooding one could discover something spiritual; there, we should seek for the constitution of the material human organism. One should not seek for all manner of mystical realities within oneself, as I have pointed out from a number of viewpoints. Instead, behind what pushes up into the soul and thus turns into a spiritual phenomenon, especially when one penetrates more and more deeply into oneself, we should seek the interaction of liver, heart, lungs, and other organs that mystics in particular do not like to hear mentioned. There we become acquainted with the essentially material element of our earthly existence. As I have often emphasized, many a person who believes he has encountered mystical realities by descending deeply into his inner being only finds what is given off by his liver, gall bladder and other related organs. Just as tallow turns into flame, so everything that liver, lungs, heart and stomach give off turns into mystical phenomena when it lights up into consciousness.

The important point is that true spiritual science guides the human being beyond any sort of illusion. Materialists cling to the illusion that they can find physical, material realities, not spiritual realities, behind the sense world. It is the illusion of mystics that when they descend into their own being, they can find, not the world of the material organization, but different kinds of special divine sparks, and such like.

In genuine spiritual science, it is important that we do not search for material substance in the outer world and do not seek the Spirit in the inner world, which initially appears as such through inward brooding.

What I have now said is of significant consequence for our entire world view. Bear in mind that from the time man falls asleep until he wakes up he is outside his physical and etheric bodies with his astral body and I. Where is he then? This is the question we must ask ourselves. If we assume that out there is the world described by the physicists, it makes no sense whatever to speak about an existence of the astral body or the ego outside the physical body. If we know, however, that beyond the sense world lies the world of spiritual realities, out of which the sense world blossoms forth, then we are able to imagine that the astral body and ego move into the spiritual world which lies behind the sense world. Indeed, astral body and ego find themselves in that part of the spiritual world that underlies the sense world. Thus, we can say that in sleep man penetrates into the spiritual world which is the basis of the physical world. Of course, upon awakening, his ego and astral body first penetrate his etheric being and then what constitutes the realm of the material organization.

Clear concepts of an anthroposophical world-view can only be attained if one is able to form intelligible ideas concerning such matters. For, above all, one will not succumb to the illusion of seeking the divine, or the spiritual underlying our human condition, behind the sensory surroundings. There, only that spiritual element is found which, out of itself, brings forth the sense world. As human beings we have our roots in the spiritual world, but in which spiritual world? We have our roots in the very spiritual world that we leave when incarnating into our physical body. We come from the spiritual world that we live in between death and a new birth; through birth or conception we enter this physical existence. The world we inhabit between death and a new birth, which we then leave, is a different spiritual world than this one [behind the sense world], although, because it is a spiritual world, it is related to the latter from which springs forth our sense world. We will not grasp the spiritual world of which we are speaking — I have described it in the lecture cycle, Inner Nature of Man and the Life Between Death and a New Birth, namely, the spiritual world we experience between death and rebirth which creates and brings us forth — if we seek it behind the sense world. We will not take hold of it if we seek it within ourselves. There, we only discover the material element of our own organization. We can only grasp it when we leave space altogether. This spiritual world is not within space. As I have often emphasized, we can only speak about it when we base it solely on time, thinking of it as a world of time. Consequently, it goes without saying that all the descriptions we have about this world between death and rebirth can only be images, merely pictures. We must not confuse these pictures, in which we must of necessity express ourselves, with the realities in which we dwell between death and a new birth. It is vital that on the basis of the anthroposophical world-view we do not merely talk about all manner of fantastic things, depicting them in the ancient terminology which actually does not designate anything new. What matters is that we enrich our world of concepts and ideas when we try to send our thoughts into the world in which we live between death and rebirth. Thus we can acquire a most important concept that can also give rise to profound, albeit uncomfortable, reflection. It is this: When we have absolved the life between death and birth, we incarnate here in space. We penetrate into space out of a condition that is not spatial. Space has significance only for our experiences between birth and death. Again, it is important to know that when we pass through the portal of death, not only do we leave the body with our soul, we also leave space behind.
This concept was quite familiar to people until the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries A.D. Even a person like Scotus Erigena, who lived in the ninth century, was fully conversant with it. Yet the modern age has completely lost the concept of the spirituality underlying human existence, within which the human being lives after death — as was thought then, only after death; today we must say: between death and rebirth we are outside space. The modern age is proud and arrogant regarding its thinking, yet it can actually think only of what is spatial, holding any and every thought in a spatial context. In order to conceive of spiritual matters, on the one hand, we must make the effort to overcome space within our thinking. Otherwise we will never reach the truly spiritual; above all, we will never attain to an even approximately correct natural science, much less a spiritual science. Particularly in our time it is infinitely important to become acquainted with these finer distinctions of spiritual-scientific knowledge. For, what we acquire through such concepts is not just any kind of world concept, any sort of thought concent. The acquisition of a thought content is, after all, the very least we can achieve through anthroposophically oriented spiritual science. For it is one and the same whether someone believes the world consists of molecules and atoms, or if he believes man consists of a physical body, a somewhat less dense etheric body, then something more nebulous and tenuous, the astral body, followed by whatever is next, say, a still finer mental body, or something even more and more rarefied; for one doesn't come anywhere near the etheric body by just thinking of something more rarefied. It is really the same thing whether one is a materialist picturing the world as atoms, or whether one harbors this coarsely materialistic conception that is the common factor of the so-called theosophical society teachings, or whatever they are called now. Something quite different is what really matters, namely, that we become capable of changing our entire soul constitution. We have to make every effort to think about the spiritual in a manner different from the one in which we are accustomed to think about the external sense world. We do not comprehend spiritual science if we conceive of something other than the sense world as being spiritual; we enter into spiritual science if we think about the spiritual in a different way than we think about the sense realm. We think of the latter in terms of space. We can think about the spiritual world in terms of time within certain limits, because we have to think of ourselves within this spiritual world. And we are in a certain sense spiritually conditioned by time, in that at a certain moment in time we are transposed from the life between death and rebirth into the life between birth and death.

As I have often indicated, it is this transformation of the state of mind that is so absolutely essential for mankind of today. For how did we become caught up in the calamities of the present? It is because, along with so-called modern progress, humanity has altogether forgotten to admit the spiritual into its conceptions. The theosophical teachings of the so-called Theosophical Society are actually the attempt to characterize spiritual facts in materialistic forms of thought, hence, to drive materialism all the way into the spirit. We do not attain to a spiritual concept merely by calling something spiritual, only by transforming our thinking to what is suited to the sensory realm.

Human beings do not live with each other only in purely spatial relationships that can be constructed by means of what has become the general thinking of natural science. We can no longer develop social concepts based on the present-day world view. The kind of thinking that humanity has become accustomed to owing to natural science cannot lead to a characterization of social life. In this way arise the aberrations we experience today as a variety of social ideologies that only come about because it is impossible to think realistically about the social problems based on the conceptions from which we proceed to regard something as right or wrong. Not until people are willing to penetrate spiritual science will it become possible again to think of the social life in the manner it has to be conceived if further decline is to be halted and, instead, progress is to ensue. The discipline brought about in us by spiritual science is more important than its content. Otherwise we shall finally reach the stage of demanding that spiritual matters be popularized, that is to say, that they be presented in coarsely sensory, realistic terms. Things that must be expressed in a certain manner if one doesn't want to fantasize but to speak of realities, as I have done in our anthroposophical presentations as well as in my book Towards Social Renewal, are found to be not graphic enough. Well, “graphic” is a word that has a peculiar connotation for people today. There are people today who have much to say about this longing of mankind to have everything presented in a crudely senseperceptible manner. This is true all over the world, not just in certain countries.

I found an interesting passage, for example, in a recently published book, Les forces morales aux Etats-Unis, written by a French lady. It has the following subdivisions: l'eglise, l'ecole, la femme. The book contains an interesting little episode which demonstrates how, in certain quarters, one triel “graphically” to describe matters pertaining to man's relationship with the spiritual world. The author relates:

One evening a friend and I strolled down Broadway. I came to a church. A quick glance showed us the place was filled with men only. Offended by seeing this, we avoided moving further inside. A priest clad in a soutane saw us, approached and invited us to come in. Since we hesitated, he asked about our confession. “We are not Catholics,” I said. He urged us to enter the church and, index finger pointing upward, he said with conviction “Come here and listen to me. If, for instance, you wish to travel to Chicago, how would you go about it? You might go on foot, take a car, a boat, or travel by train. It stands to reason that you would choose the fastest and most comfortable means. In this case that's the train. Obviously, if you wish to get to the Garden of God you will choose the religion that will get you there in the fastest and safest way. That's the Catholic religion, which is the express train to Paradise.”

The Lady telling the story only concluded that she was so perplexed she did not think of telling him that he had forgotten the airplane in his graphic comparison, which he could have mentioned as a still quicker means of getting to Paradise.

You see, here was someone eager to counter people's prejudices, and he chose graphic conceptions. The description of the Catholic Church as the “express train to heaven” is a graphic image. It is indeed the tendency of our time to search for graphic images, meaning concepts that do not make any demands on people's thinking. It is precisely here that we must already discern the gravity of modern life which demands that we do away with such graphicness which turns into banality and triviality, thus pullireg man down into materialism in regard to those matters that must be comprehended spiritually. Even in symptoms such as these we have to search for what is needed most in our age. It must be said again and again: Such symptoms cannot be ignored; we cannot afford to go blindfolded through the world, which is an organism asking to be understood by means of its symptoms. For these symptoms contain what we must comprehend if we wish to arrive at an ascent again from our general decline.

At this point, however, it is necessary to see a number of things in the right light. What has actually been produced from spiritual-scientific foundations in Towards Social Renewal truly has not been created out of some theory but out of the whole breadth of life, with the difference that this life is viewed spiritually. Mankind today cannot progress if people do not adjust to such a view of life.

I would like to put in here two points taken from life that once again showed me recently how necessary it is to lead humanity today to a life-filled comprehension of reality, but at the same time a spiritual comprehension of reality. Yesterday I read an article by a journalist whose name, so I am told, is Rene Marchand, who, for a long time, was a correspondent for Figaro, Petit Parisien, and so on. He participated in the war on the Russian front, being a radical opponent of the Bolsheviks. He then had dealings with the general of the counter-revolution, becoming a follower of it. Overnight, he became converted to the idea of workers' councils, to Bolshevism. From an opponent of Bolshevism, so it says here, he turned into a protagonist, an unreserved supporter of the leadership and the ideology of workers' councils. Here is a man who belongs to the intellectual dass, for he is a journalist, who, after all, lives with a deeper understanding of life, a deeper sensitivity for life, who dwells in the old traditions as do most of today's sleeping souls. It is interesting how such a person suddenly realizes: All this will assuredly lead to destruction! — and now the only goal worth aiming at for him appears to be Bolshevism! In other words, the man now perceives that everything that is not Bolshevism leads to ruin. I explained to you how Spengler described this. Marchand sees only Bolshevism; initially, he believes that Bolshevism is merely a Russian affair. Then he discovers something quite different. He feels that Bolshevism is an international matter that must spread over the whole world. He says:

It now became clear to me that peace can only be restored when the people in all the countries freely take their destiny into their own hands. The principles, hitherto proclaimed by the bourgeois governments merely to deceive the masses, can only become reality when this new imperialism (that of the Entente powers) has in turn broken down.

He then relates how he has now arrived at the conviction that justice, unity, peace, and law will only rule when the world has become bolshevistic through and through; not till then will reconstruction be possible. This man now sees that all else leads to destruction. And basically he is quite correct in pointing out: If anything outside Bolshevism is to be cultivated further, it must turn into the dictatorship of the old capitalism, the Bourgeoisie and its trappings. It must become the dictatorship of people like Lloyd George, Clemenceau, Scheidemann, and so on. If one does not wish for this, if one does not want ruin, there is no other choice but the dictatorship of Bolshevism. He sees the only salvation in the letter.

In a certain sense this man is honest, more honest than all the others who see the approach of Bolshevism and believe they can oppose it with the old regime. At least Marchand sees that all the old ideas are ready to perish. A question arises, however, especially if one stands on spiritual scientific ground and experiences this; for a man like Rene Marchand is an exception. The question forces itself upon one's mind: Where has the man gained knowledge of all this? He has acquired such knowledge where most of our contemporaries have gathered it, namely, from newspapers and books. He does not know life. To a large extent, people living today know -life only from newspapers and books. Particularly the ,people in leading circles know life just from newspapers. Think of all that we have experienced in this regard through newspapers, by means of books! We have witnessed that a few decades ago people still formed their world conceptions by reading French comedies, that they knew the events occurring in a comedy better than what takes place in life. They ignored the realities of life and informed themselves by what they had seen on the stage. Later, we saw that people formed their view of life based on Ibsen, Dostoevsky, or Tolstoy. They did not know life; neither could they judge the books on the basis of life. Actually, people only assimilated the secondhand life printed on paper. From that they developed their slogans, founded societies for all manner of reforms without any real knowledge of life. It was a life which they knew only from Ibsen or Dostoevsky, or a life they knew in a manner that frequently could not help becoming quite obnoxious to a person when, in all the big cities of Europe, Hauptmann's “Weber” (weavers), for example, was being performed. The lifestyle of weavers appeared on stage. People with no idea of what transpires in life, having seen only its caricature on the stage, observing the misery of weavers on stage, and because it was a time of social involvement — began talking about all sorts of social questions, having become acquainted with these matters only in this way. Basically, they are all people who do not know life except vicariously from newspapers or books such as exist today. I have nothing against the books; one must be familiar with them, but one must read them in such a manner that through them one is able to perceive life. The problem is that we live in an age of abstraction today, abstract demands by political parties, societies, and so on.

This is why it is interesting for me to encounter, on one side, such a realistic man like Rene Marchand who, being a journalist, is simultaneously an oracle for many people. It does not even occur to him to ask if this Bolshevism really leads to a viable life style. For he really does not know life; he only exchanges what he has become acquainted with and finds headed for destruction, with a new abstract formula, with new theories. On the other side, I must now compare a letter I received this morning with these utterances of an intellectual. Somebody who is fully grounded in life, who has experienced precisely what can be experienced today in order to form an opinion of the social condition, wrote to me. He wrote that my book, Towards Social Renewal, had become a sort of salvation for him. This man, who has worked in a weaving mill, was thoroughly familiar with the practical aspects. One will only grasp what is meant with the book, Towards Social Renewal, when one judges it from the standpoint of practical life. It is a book depicting reality, but derived completely from the spiritual world, as must be the case with anything that is to serve life today. One will only know what is meant if one understands that every line, every word of this book is in no way theoretical, but taken straight from practical life; when one realizes that it is a book for those who wish to intervene actively in life, not for those who want to engage in socialistic chatter and babble about life.

It is this that causes one such pain, namely, that a book steeped in reality is called utopian by those who have no idea of reality. Those who have no inkling of the reality of life, being themselves addicted to literature, view even such a book that is truly taken from life as a piece of literature. Today, the “how” matters more than the “what.” Everything depends an our acquiring thought forms that are suitable tools for the comprehension of the spiritual life, for in reality spiritual life is everywhere. We have spiritual realities here in our surroundings as well as from beyond the sense world. It is out of these spiritual realities that social reconstruction must come about, not out of the empty talk appearing in Leninism and Trotskyism, which is nothing but the squeezed-out lemon of old commonplace Western views that have no power to produce any viable kind of social idea. One may well ask: Where are the human beings today who are prepared to comprehend life with the necessary intensity? We will never penetrate life if we are unwilling to view it from the spiritual standpoint. The life between birth and death will not be understood as long as one is not willing to comprehend the life between death and rebirth. If people are unwilling to resort to the spiritual life, they will either become complete materialists or intellectuals living in theories that only enable them to comprehend life after having had it dramatically presented by an Ibsen, a Dostoevsky, or another writer. What matters is that we interpret library presentations as a kind of window through which we look out upon life. This will be possible for us only if we perceive the spiritual world, the world of spiritual entities, behind the sense world; if we finally dismiss all the fantasies concerning atoms and molecules from which present-day physics wishes to construct a world for us. It would follow from these fantasies that the whole present world in fact really consists basically only of atoms and molecules, effectively eliminating all spiritual, and with it, moral and religious ideas. I will say more about this tomorrow.

Source: August 20, 1920. GA 199