Monday, January 31, 2011

Anthroposophy: Training in reverential thinking; training in reception of the Word

Ex Deo Nascimur    In Christo Morimur    Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus

"The perceiving of the Idea in existing reality is the true communion of man."
                            — Rudolf Steiner

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Roman Catholicism. Lecture 3 of 3

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, June 6, 1920:

My Dear Friends,

You will have noticed that all my lectures for years past have stressed the importance, both for the spiritual and social evolution of humanity, of the spread of what we spiritual scientists call the results of initiation research. You know also that by the word initiation, to use an ancient term, we understand a seeing into a spiritual world separated from our physical-sensible world by a kind of veil; a veil which may very easily lead to illusions. What is first given to man is the physical-sensible world, and he makes use of this either for the concerns of ordinary life or in pursuit of what today is called science. He combines his perceptions in the physical world with all kinds of concepts, ideas, and so on; but all that does not lead him beyond the world of the senses; and we may say that the only means through which in ordinary life the human being can to a certain extent look beyond and above the sensible is in dreaming. The dream, as we experience it today in ordinary life, is only a poor imitation of what may be called experience in the supersensible world.

The supersensible world has to be perceived not only with the same degree of consciousness that one has in ordinary life, a degree of consciousness which is not there in the dream condition, but with a consciousness of even higher degree. In order to experience the supersensible world, one must enhance one’s consciousness, to come to a state which bears a similar relation to that of ordinary life, of ordinary consciousness, as that of ordinary consciousness bears to sleep consciousness, or at any rate to dream consciousness. Thus a kind of awakening out of the ordinary consciousness has to take place. Hence the dream is, of course, only a poor imitation of what is experienced in that other condition.

But really the dream differs far less from ordinary thinking than is believed to be the case. When you become aware of the picture world of an ordinary dream, it is actually in its content essentially the same as what underlies one’s thoughts, only that in thinking the human being enters into the outer world through his senses; and therefore what is arranged in the dream by mere analogy, is in thinking ordered in accordance with quite external relationships, is ordered by the perception of the outer sense world, in accordance with what this world says to us.

You can have a kind of proof of this if you sit down and shut your eyes, or let us say if you are lazy and just allow your thoughts to wander, and then notice how they have wandered, notice that as you recall them in your mind you can hardly find between them any more connection than one finds in the events of a dream. The ordinary uncontrolled flow of man’s ideas is in a certain sense subject to the same law as that of the dream. It is only through our senses that we are torn out of our dreams. And as soon as we silence our senses, then we really begin to dream.

This dream activity has to be intensified. It has to be so organized that it becomes permeated by a higher consciousness than that which our ordinary senses confer. Then imaginative consciousness arises, and then by degrees comes inspired consciousness, of which I told you yesterday in my public lecture that it is recognized by Thomism as a justified source of cognition.

In our initiation science, then, we have the results of such an intensified condition of consciousness. The difficulty in the present evolution of humanity and in that of the near future is that humanity will most certainly need this science of initiation, and will not be able to get on without it, for if only the materialistic knowledge that has been developed in the last three to four centuries should continue to permeate human evolution, conditions such as we are now experiencing in the present social chaos of the civilized world will repeatedly recur, broken only by short intervals.

What science has been able to give to humanity since the middle of the fifteenth century has certainly been sufficient for the making of technical discoveries; has been sufficient to spread over the Earth a network of commerce and business intercourse, but it does not suffice for the creation of social arrangements really adapted to the consciousness of present-day humanity. That is something which has gradually to be realized.

As long as the science of our universities, our recognized public education, rejects the science of initiation, as long as an external, material science is alone recognized, so long will humanity be perpetually in the grip of chaotic social conditions, such as we are now having. The science of initiation will alone be able to save humanity of the future from such chaotic social conditions.

Above all, the science of initiation will be able to give those human beings who can approach it a consciousness of the fact that the life here on Earth, which we enter through the gate of birth, is the continuation of a spiritual life which we have spent in the supersensible world between the last death and this present birth.

Now, you know that this spiritual life which precedes our birth or conception is not spoken of in the churches of our modern civilized world. It is never spoken of, and for a quite definite reason. Because at a certain point of time, which coincides with that of the Greek evolution between Plato and Aristotle, all consciousness of a prenatal spiritual life was lost. Plato speaks clearly of that life, but Aristotle vehemently defended the theory that every time a human being is born on the Earth, a quite new soul unites with his physical body. The Aristotelian doctrine is that for each physically-born human being a new soul is created.

Now, if one holds such a view one cannot say otherwise than that the life which begins with death, which a man begins by throwing off his physical body — and of this Aristotle also speaks — continues to exist and does not again descend to Earth. For, of course, unless one can speak of a prenatal existence one has no justification for believing otherwise than that after his death man remains forever in a spiritual world. That had already led Aristotle to draw some very weighty conclusions. For instance, he argued that if anyone between birth and death here on Earth has led a life which burdens his soul with evil, that human being is for all eternity forced to look back on that evil, which can never again be blotted out or overcome. So that according to Aristotle’s view, when the man dies he has to look back eternally on the one Earth life for which he has to pay.

This doctrine of Aristotle was taken over in its entirety by the Catholic Church, and when in the Middle Ages the Church sought for a philosophy which could carry its theology, it took over, as regards the life of the soul, this Aristotelian doctrine, and one can still today recognize its echo in the idea of eternal punishment in hell.

Now, after having for thousands of years had this doctrine of the origin of the soul with the body impressed upon them, how is it conceivable that people can free themselves from it again and arrive at the truth? They can only do so by receiving a new spiritual science. Without this renewal of spiritual science mankind will not be able to accept a life before birth — or, rather, before conception — as a justified belief. Just think what it signifies for the whole evolution of humanity not to speak of a prenatal life. When in the churches of today we are told only of a life after death, that simply arouses instincts connected with man’s egotistical desire not to be extinguished at death.

My dear friends, an essay, a thorough-going study, is needed: “On the Cultivation of Human Egotism by the Churches.” In such a study one would have to explore the real motives which are worked upon in the sermons and doctrines of all the usual religious denominations, and one would everywhere find that appeal is made to the egotistical instincts of man, especially to the instinct for immortality after death. One could extend this study to cover more than a thousand years, and one would see that these religious denominations, by eliminating the life before birth under Aristotelian influence, have fostered in the highest degree the egotism in human nature. Churches, as cultivators of the deepest egotistical instincts, is a subject well worthy of study. By far the largest part of the religious life of the modern civilized world today panders to human egotism.

This egotism can be felt in pronouncements which I could quote by the dozen. Again and again it is written, especially in pastoral letters, “that spiritual science busies itself with all kinds of knowledge about supersensible worlds, but man does not need that. He only needs to have the childlike consciousness of his connection with Christ Jesus.” That is said both by pastors and by the faithful; this childlike connection with Christ Jesus is always emphasized. It is brought forward with immense pride against what is, of course, far less easy to attain: penetration into the concrete details of the spiritual world. It is preached over and over again. Again and again man is led to believe that he can be most Christian when he least exercises his soul forces, when he least strives to think something clear with what he calls his Christ consciousness. This Christ consciousness must be something which man attains by absolute childlikeness — so say these easy-going ones. And best of all they like to be told that Christ has taken all the sins of mankind on Himself, and has redeemed mankind through His sacrificial death, without men having to do anything themselves.

All this points to the belief that through the sacrificial death of Christ, immortality is guaranteed after death — but that merely tends to nourish in humanity the most extreme egotism. By this cultivation of egotism on the part of the churches, we have finally brought about what is dawning today over all the civilized world. Because this egotism has been so widely cultivated, mankind has become what it is today.

Just think if the human being, not merely theoretically with ideas and concepts but with the whole inner life of his soul, were to grasp the truth that this earthly life as he enters it through birth lays upon him the obligation of fulfilling a mission which he has brought with him from a life before birth! Just think how egotism would vanish if that thought were to fill our whole souls, if this earthly life were regarded as a task which must be fulfilled because it is linked to an over-earthly life through which we have previously passed! Egotism is combated by the feeling that stirs in us when we look upon life on Earth as a continuation of an over-earthly life, just as it is fostered by the religious denominations which speak only of life after death. That is what is important for man’s social well-being: to restore the fact of his pre-existence to the consciousness of mankind of the present and of the future, and of course the idea of reincarnation is inseparable from that of the pre-existence of the human soul.

Thus we can say that the Catholic Church itself accepted the Aristotelian doctrine and made it into a dogma of her own; but this dogma must now be replaced by the higher knowledge of repeated Earth lives, of pre-existence, which Aristotle was clearly the first to leave out of account.

You see, if you can estimate what importance it has for mankind to absorb certain elements into its inmost life of soul, then you will recognize what it means for man’s life of feeling in its widest sense. It means that the human being gets quite another consciousness of himself.

Now, my dear friends, let us add to what has just been said the words of St. Paul, that this ordinary consciousness must become permeated more and more by the consciousness “Not I, but Christ in me.” When we look upon ourselves as something different, Christ will also become different within us. If we look upon ourselves as something which, even as regards the soul-spiritual, has only originated at birth, then of course the Christ can only be in what has come into existence with this present birth, and will only have the task of carrying our souls through the gate of death and further through all eternity. But if we know that we have had a prenatal life, we can know also that it is the Christ Himself Who has laid on us a mission for this life on Earth, that we have to develop our own forces, that we have to find Him in our forces, that we have to seek Him as the best we can have in us, the best in our spirit and soul.

The Catholic Church, by doing away with the spirit in the Eighth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in the year 869, has always taken care that those belonging to it should never think about the real psycho-spiritual nature of man. The Church laid down in that Council that man consists only of body and soul, though the soul has a few spiritual attributes; but that to regard man as consisting of body, soul, and spirit is heretical — and when the Jesuit Zimmerman brought forward certain reproaches against spiritual science, he reckoned as its deepest sin that it seeks to re-establish the validity of trichotomy, by declaring that man consists of body, soul, and spirit. For thereby the true nature of man and also his real relationship to the Christ must inevitably come to light. But what the Church worked for more and more was that man should not come to a true understanding of his real relationship to Christ. We may say, my dear friends, that the development of the Western churches consists really in drawing an ever denser and denser veil over the real secret of Christ.

You see, fundamentally, all institutions are built on external abstractions. When a state is young it has but few laws, and people are relatively unfettered by them. The longer a state exists, and especially the longer the various parties in the state apply their clever arguments, the more laws are made, until finally no one knows where he is, for there is no longer only one law, but everything is entangled in the meshes of intertwining laws from which one has the greatest difficulty in freeing oneself.

That is the case also with the churches; when a church begins to make its way through the world, it has relatively few dogmas; but men must have something to do, and just as the statesman is always making laws, so do Churchmen create more and more dogmas, until finally everything becomes dogma, dogma becomes consolidated. It is only since the time when Scholasticism was at its height that this consolidation of dogma has been especially noticeable in modern civilization. Anyone who really studies thoughtfully the Scholasticism of Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas will find that in their time everything to do with dogma was still fluid, still a matter for discussion, that discussion was still taken as a matter of course.

True, in the Scholastic period there was already a certain opposition within the western church. There was the opposition between the Dominicans and the Franciscans. The Dominican Order, of which Scholasticism was the flower, developed its knowledge through strictly logical ideas. The Franciscan Order declined to do that; the Franciscans wanted to achieve everything through a childlike feeling. I will not now enter into the relation between Dominican and Franciscan teaching, but I should like you to imagine what it would be like if people fought as vigorously today about the content of Dominican and Franciscan doctrine as they did in the Middle Ages, when they discussed dogma so freely. Of course, the Roman bishop even at that time declared people to be heretics; and he could have gone on doing so for a long while, had not the secular governments come to his assistance and burnt the people whom he merely wanted to condemn. In this matter one has to admit that greater blame falls on the secular rulers.

All this did not prevent there being free discussion in the Catholic Church at that time. This free discussion has gradually been completely eliminated. Free discussion was something which the Catholic Church, as time went on, could not stand. And why not? Because a quite new consciousness was arising in humanity. This was the transformation of consciousness in man, which took place, as I have often explained to you, in the middle of the fifteenth century. The human being wants ever more and more to form his own judgment from the depths of his own soul. In the Middle Ages that was not so. Man then had a kind of communal consciousness, and only a few learned people, the real scholars, could get beyond that. They were able to evolve out of this common uniform folk consciousness because they had been trained in Scholasticism. This also applies to a certain number who were trained in the Rabbinical teaching. In general, however, man’s consciousness was uniform. It was a community consciousness, a family consciousness. But the individual consciousness was developing more and more.

Now, one thing that the Catholic Church had always had, because it had attracted highly educated people, was historical foresight. The Catholic Church knows quite well what I am now saying, that the principle of modern development is to foster the individual consciousness of man — but the Catholic Church is unwilling to let this individual consciousness arise. She wants to maintain that dull communal consciousness, from which only those will stand out who have received a scholastic education. Now, my dear friends, there is a very good way of maintaining this dull communal consciousness — it is always a dull one. And this is to damp down the ordinary consciousness which a person has whenever he makes use of his sense organs, to subdue it thoroughly. Just as the dream damps down the ordinary consciousness, similarly the consciousness is subdued for the purpose of making of it a dull communal consciousness.

Now, one of the many characteristics of the dream is that in many respects it is a liar. Or would you deny that the dream is a liar, that it represents things which are not true? It is, however, not due to the dream but to the subdued consciousness that when we dream we cannot test what is true and what is untrue. Hence it is one of the properties of this subdued consciousness that it takes away from human beings the possibility of distinguishing truth from untruth. Now, if one is versed in these matters, what does one do? One relates to people under authority things which are not true, and one does this systematically. Thereby one subdues their consciousness to the dim state of the dream consciousness. Thereby one succeeds in undermining what since the middle of the fifteenth century has been seeking to emerge as individual consciousness in the souls of men. It is a fine undertaking so to work under authority as to write articles such as are now appearing in the “Katholischen Sonntagsblatt”; for thereby one succeeds in preventing men from developing in the way they should since the middle of the fifteenth century!

Although the individual may not know it, the whole hierarchy is behind what happens in this respect, and has organized things extremely well. If one believes that these things happen out of mere naivete or purely from rancor, one is making a great mistake. Naturally, we must fight lying and untruth with all the means at our disposal, but we must not believe that these lies proceed out of simplicity or even out of the belief that what is said is the truth; for if these people spoke the truth, they would not attain what is their purpose to attain, which is to subdue consciousness by deliberately telling men lies, and that is a mighty and diabolical undertaking.

Now, my dear friends, this, too, must be said quite frankly. The simplicity is entirely on the other side. Simplicity today is not on the side of the Catholic Church but on the side of their opponents. They do not believe that the Catholic Church is great in the direction I have described; they do not believe that the Catholic Church long ago foresaw that the social condition which has now come over Europe would some day come about, and that the Catholic Church took her own measures to make her influence felt in those social conditions. What the Catholic Church intends is to create a bridge between the most radical socialism, Communism, and its own domination.

You see, this magnificent foresight is something one has to recognize in everything which has a real spiritual basis, a spiritual foundation that is rooted in a real spiritual life, and not in mere abstraction. You see, with all this modern enlightenment one arrives at nothing which can have a far-reaching significance in the course of human evolution. But the ceremonies practiced in the Catholic Mass are of far greater significance than all the sermons from evangelical pulpits, because they are deeds accomplished in the sensible world, and in their form they are at the same time something which enchants the spiritual world into the sensible world. For that reason the Catholic Church has never been willing to deprive herself of magical means of working on human beings. These magical means do exist. And we must not believe that anything other than re-entry into the spiritual world in all true inner sincerity and uprightness can be effective against these things.

And as what one might call an external sign that the Catholic Church has always had a connection with the spiritual world, you can take something which I have already told a few of you. In the first decade of the twentieth century a Papal Encyclical was issued which declared various things to be heretical. Papal Encyclicals speak in such a way that they always adduce the doctrine in question and then say: “Whoever believes that is anathema.” Thus it quotes some doctrine taken from one of the books of Haeckel or someone, and then says: “Whoever believes that is anathema.” It does not state what is true, but says: “Whoever believes that is anathema.”

Now, you see, the science of initiation makes it always possible to investigate such things, and I set myself the task of making certain investigations concerning this Encyclical. I am bound to say that here, as in so many other things, what was promulgated by the Pope “ex cathedra” at that time was really drawn from out of the spiritual world. I mean that what has flowed into that Encyclical did come down from the spiritual world. But in an extraordinary way it was completely reversed! Everywhere where there should have been a ‘yes’ there was a ‘no’, and vice-versa.

That is something — and I could give other instances — which shows that the Roman Church has today some sort of real connection with the spiritual world but one that is extraordinarily harmful for mankind.

Therefore, we need not be surprised that it sees in the rise of modern spiritual science something which it wishes at all costs to get rid of, for, my dear friends, what is the effect of this new spiritual science? It brings about a consciousness of a prenatal life, of pre-existence. That may not be! Under no circumstances shall that happen! So spiritual science must be condemned; for spiritual science calls man’s attention to his own being, makes him aware that he consists of body, soul, and spirit. Under no circumstances may that be; therefore spiritual science must be condemned.

People would see, for example, that the dogma of eternal damnation in hell is an Aristotelian consequence of the creation of the soul at physical birth. Suppose a Catholic theologian today studies the connection between Aristotle and Scholasticism, and perceives that the Scholastics derived their proof of the origin of the soul together with the physical body from the philosophy of Aristotle! He would see behind the scenes of the origin of dogma. What is done to prevent this? The theologian is made to take the oath against Modernism. He is made to swear that it is part of his creed that he can never come to a historical conclusion contrary to dogmas which are given out from Rome. The fact that he has taken this oath works so strongly on his feelings that he is confused in his sober research and can never come to see that dogma is bound up with the historical evolution of humanity. Now, things cannot remain in this state if the science of initiation arises, and therefore this science of initiation must under all circumstances be condemned.

Why am I telling you these things, my dear friends? So that you may not take the matter too lightly. For in our anthroposophical spiritual science it is verily not a question of the sort of things which go on, for instance, in the Theosophical Society. That the Theosophical Society is not to be taken seriously is clearly to be seen from the fact that one day it came to accept by a majority the whole farce of Krishnamurti as the reborn Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Such a comedy is only based on hypocrisy, even though this hypocrisy be taken seriously by many.

But what should grow on the soil of Anthroposophy, of spiritual science, should be a search for truth, sincere through and through. It is therefore something which, as the Catholic Church is well aware, penetrates behind the scenes, to what must not be discovered if that church is to maintain the dominion in the world to which she lays claim.

All that I am now saying is simply to show you that these things may not be taken lightly. For it must be recognized that the Catholic Church has shown great foresight. Though the individual sheep follows the lead and merely obeys orders, though he may be ignorant of what this systematic lying means for the whole evolution of mankind — though the individual knows nothing and does as he is told, the whole system is thoroughly well established, for the lying will be believed by large numbers.

On the other side there is the naïve belief that all the external fabrication of natural laws which today forms the subject of our university education can be of significance for the further development of humanity, that all that nonsense about the conservation of matter and energy can be of significance for the further development of mankind! Today people cannot even look with an unprejudiced eye upon the snow which is spread before them every winter (if they are living in the temperate zone), yet through the covering of the forces of growth by the snow crust one part of the Earth goes through a complete transformation; and folk consciousness which speaks of the purity of the snow knows far more than our modern science which talks of the conservation of matter and energy.

Of course I can only say what I am now saying because I have spent many weeks in showing you how ill-founded are the modern laws of the conservation of matter and energy, how in fact in every human being matter and energy are destroyed, as they work up towards the head, and new matter and new energy arise. All these things are bound to be fiercely contested in some quarters, and the only thing which can help is for as many people as possible to become conscious of the present task of mankind — to be aware that the individual consciousness must lay hold of the world.

It will do so, but it can either lay hold of the wisdom of the world or of the blind instincts. If it seizes hold of the blind instincts there will come about a completely antisocial condition, such as is now being prepared in Russia. That, my dear friends, will gradually evoke an antisocial condition against which the English or North American governments, not to speak of the French or any other, will be absolutely defenseless. It would be childish to believe that the English Parliament will be able to deal with what will then lay hold of humanity if the individual consciousness works merely by instinct.

But there is one power which will be ready to deal with it, and that is the power of Rome. It is only a question of how it will be done. Rome can establish a dominion; it has the necessary means for this. Thus the only real question is not whether Bolshevism or the Anglo-Saxon bourgeoisie will get the upper hand; the question is whether there will be antisocial chaos, Roman domination, or the resolve on the part of mankind to fill itself with that spirit which in 869 at the Council of Constantinople the western Church declared it heretical to recognize.

There is no other alternative than that mankind determine not to go on living in the way which is natural when there are only materialistic thoughts about the world. How does mankind live in a materialistic world? People earn their living in accordance with the fluctuations of the market; there is no other measurement for the social order. After that they may perhaps have a philosophy of life, as a sort of luxury, but only as a luxury. Those supposed to be still more profound say that one must raise oneself into the spiritual world and leave the evil material world behind; a really profound nature can have nothing to do with the material world; he must understand nothing about the material world, but become a mystic and live in the higher world! But even these profound natures as well as the less profound have children and have the notion that these children must “earn,” that it would be very, very wrong if the children were not sent to schools where they would be trained in present-day methods of earning a living. Thereby they have already come to terms with the existing state of things; thereby they hand on this materialism to the next generation.

Now, when someone talks like this he is an inconvenient person, and it is best simply to revile him, for to hear what I have just been telling you is for most people as if they were being irritated by vermin. Now, people do not like being irritated in this way by psychic vermin and so they cover themselves with a thick skin which makes them impervious to what spiritual science has to say about our present culture. It is on this side then that the naivete lies; and when the Catholic Church saw that people were becoming so one-sided, they took care to have people specially trained, and in this they really were indirectly guided by spiritual impulses. And the foundation of the Jesuit Order by Ignatius Loyola as a result of fundamental influences from the spiritual world is one of the most significant events of metahistory, and in it one has to do with a strong spiritual efficacy.

Now, my dear friends, we must, of course, among ourselves be able to speak frankly; hence I have been obliged to speak of the grand but questionable training of the Jesuits. I also dealt with this theme in the cycle “From Jesus to Christ,” which some misguided member has now delivered into the hands of a mudslinger and fabricator of nonsense. You know that in the Karlsruhe cycle I discussed the fundamental basis of Jesuit training. What, may I ask, is the use of stating in each cycle that it is printed as a manuscript for members only, when mudslingers have the cycle at their disposal and can use it for the preparation of all sorts of lies? This incident bears out in a remarkable way what I have already often said, that the time would come when one could no longer count on these cycles being restricted to a small circle, for mankind is not at present fit to be entrusted with anything. Of course, everything written in that quarter is rubbish and untrue, but it is written not on the basis of my public writings, but of private cycles which have been passed on, and I have good reason to believe that one of the first cycles given into the hands of the Catholic clergy was that very Karlsruhe cycle on the Jesuits. For they on their part are not inclined to let the truth about Jesuit training be known. The world must know nothing of how Jesuits are trained; the world must know nothing of their powerful discipline.

Modern mankind in its simplicity is merely retarding its own consciousness. On the subject of the Jesuits there are absolutely no true ideas. There are numerous men within that Order of such spiritual capacity that if they were scattered about the world and did not spend their time in the way they do but were working at external science or painting or poetry, they would be honored as individual geniuses; they would be recognized as the great minds of mankind. Within the Jesuit Order there are countless men who would be great lights if they were to appear as individuals and were busy with something different — with, for instance, materialistic science. But these men suppress their very names; they submerge themselves in their Order, and one of the conditions of their strength is that the world should know nothing of the way in which many a head, clothed in black cassock and Jesuit cap, has been trained.

These things are intended to show you how fundamentally different the whole form of consciousness is in different categories of human beings. But our modern simpletons, who consider themselves enlightened, will not take these things seriously. That must be emphasized again and again, and that, my dear friends, is what I had to speak to you about today.

Now for the next two weeks while I am away we can have no more lectures here. In conclusion to what I have said, partly in public, partly in these private lectures, I had to add all that I have said here today in order that you should not ignore the importance of this misuse of our lecture cycles by our own members. [All of Rudolf Steiner's lectures have now been published and are in the public domain. — e.Ed.] Of course, when the cycles were given, I thought I had to do with people who would respect the undertaking which in a certain sense they had been given. But I was mistaken, and it is quite clear from the rubbish that appears in articles today who has all the cycles at his disposal!


Anthroposophy: Training in reverential thinking

Ex Deo Nascimur   In Christo Morimur   Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus

"Human beings have a need for sacramental acts, for spiritual forms. To behold these forms in the world — but also to understand these forms — this is what we need."
                   — Rudolf Steiner

Anthroposophy: The Path of Consecration

Rudolf Steiner, September 5, 1924 [The Book of Revelation and the Work of the Priest, lecture 1]:

"In those ancient Mysteries, in times when the cosmic language, not the human language, was current among human beings, people sought to make contact with the gods who then descended into the Mysteries and who on each occasion made holy once more the act of consecration of man. On each occasion, too, an understanding of apocalyptic things was bestowed upon the human beings who celebrated the act of consecration of man. This is how the great truths were taught in those ancient times when being in the midst of the act of consecration of man meant being filled with apocalyptic substance. The act of consecration of man is the path of knowledge; apocalypse, revelation, is the content of the holy knowledge."

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Rudolf Steiner: "The Anthroposophical Society addresses itself to man's need for knowledge and brings knowledge; The Christian Community addresses itself to man's need for resurrection and brings Christ."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Roman Catholicism. Lecture 2 of 3

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, June 3, 1920:

My Dear Friends,

It is my intention today to continue with the subject we began here last Sunday, and I should like first to go back to the few words I then said concerning the Anti-Modernist Oath. I described its nature by saying that since the time of its inauguration anyone who holds a teaching office in the Roman Catholic Church, whether as theologian or preacher, has to take this oath which forbids anyone engaged in Catholic teaching to deviate from what is recognized as dogmatic truth by the Roman Catholic Church; which means, in fact, what is recognized as dogma by the Roman Curia.

Now in face of such a fact the important question to ask oneself is: “What is there actually now about this Anti-Modernist Oath?”

There is nothing new in the adherence of a Catholic preacher or theologian to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church; please be clear about that. What is new is that the person concerned has to take an oath as to what is the doctrine of the Church. I want you to be clear about this first, and then to see it in relation to the fact that there has been a prodigious piling up of historical deeds in the Roman Catholic Church during the last half century. It began with the definition of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception; then came a further extraordinary, subtle, and clever step in the Encyclical and Syllabus of the sixties, in which Pope Pius IX in his eighty Articles declared all modern thinking to be heretical. Then on top of that came the definition of the Dogma of Infallibility, again a very important and extraordinarily clever and subtle advance. The next extremely logical step was the Encyclical “Acterni Patris,” which declared the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas to be the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. The crowning of this whole structure for the time being is this oath against Modernism, which in effect is nothing else than the carrying over of something which was always present intellectually into the sphere of human emotion, the sphere of will and feeling. That which always had to be acknowledged has, since the year 1907, had also to be sworn on oath.

Anyone who understands this grandiose dramatic development will certainly not underestimate its importance, for it demonstrates the only wakeful consciousness within our sleeping civilization. I should be interested to know how many people felt as if stung by a viper when they read a certain sentence in the last number of the “Basler Vorwarts,” which illuminates as by a flash of lightning the whole situation at the present time. I should really like to know how many people, when reading this, felt as if stung by a viper! The sentence runs: “Religion, which represents a fantastic reflex in the minds of human beings concerning their relations one to another and to nature, is doomed to natural decay through the victorious growth of the scientific, clear, and naturalistic grasp of reality which is bound to develop parallel with the establishment of a planned society.” This sentence is to be found in an article which has not yet appeared in its entirety, but has yet to be concluded. It is to be found in an article on the measures taken by Lenin and Trotsky against the Russian Catholic Church and the Russian religious communities in general. This article is at the same time an indication of what is regarded as the programme for the future in these quarters.

One knows for a certainty that the number of Lenin’s opponents who feel as if stung by a viper on reading such a sentence is very small. I want to emphasize this as not being without significance, because it brings out to what an extent modern humanity passes lightly over things, usually asleep — how it passes over the weightiest facts, facts which are decisive for the life of mankind on this Earth. It is, of course, not a question of any one such sentence; the point is that in certain quarters they will see to it that the content of what is there expressed will be made known throughout the world, that among the widest circles of the European population an outlook will come about which can be thus expressed: “Religion, which represents a fantastic reflex in the minds of human beings concerning their relations to one another and to nature, is doomed to natural decay.” The so-called ‘enlightened’ humanity of today is still soundly asleep to the fact that such a view is coming.

But the Roman Catholic Church is awake; she alone in fact is awake and is working systematically against the approaching storm. She works against it in her own way. And it is very important that we should understand that way, for I have had much to say about the attacks from that quarter that are being forged against what we have to stand for. Meanwhile the clouds are gathering. The latest is that the bill posters had to notify us that the man who this morning was to have posted up in Reinach the announcement of Saturday’s lecture had the posters taken from him and burnt. You see, these things are getting worse; even here they are getting systematically worse.

What was written by a man who frequently hides behind the bushes and calls himself ‘Spectator’ — a pack of sheer lies; I told you last time about the most egregious of them — now goes through the whole Roman Catholic press, and this burning of our posters really takes one back out of modern times altogether.

Now, my dear friends, I have already raised the important question as to why the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church today must take an oath in support of what they were already pledged to maintain. No one will deny that the enforcement of such an oath strengthens the external grasp of the matter. Nor will anyone deny that if it is felt necessary to make people take this oath, the assumption is that without such an oath they would no longer go so firmly forward. But, my dear friends, there is, of course, still a third point, which it would be well for you to ponder. For verily things enter in here which must not yet be called by their right names; yet the question may nevertheless be thrown out as an aside. Must not confidence in a thing be already to a certain extent shattered if it has to be sworn on oath? Is it a possibility to administer an oath for the truth? Can there be such a possibility? Is it not necessary to assume that the truth of its own inherent force is its own guarantee in the human soul? Perhaps it is not so important to ask whether an oath is moral or good or useful; perhaps it is far more important historically to ask whether it has become necessary, and if so, why?

In face of this oath something else is now necessary. It is necessary that a certain number of human beings should feel how without spiritual science there must inevitably come over Europe the consequence of the frame of mind expressed in the words “Religion, which represents a fantastic reflex in the minds of human beings concerning their relations to one another and to nature, is doomed to natural decay through the victorious growth of the scientific, clear, and naturalistic grasp of reality, which is bound to develop parallel with the establishment of a planned society.”

What is it that is to bring about the decay of the old religions one and all? It is all that has arisen during the last three to four centuries as modern science, enlightened science — all that is taught as objective science in the educational institutions of civilized humanity. Bourgeois teaching and bourgeois methods of administration have been adopted by the proletariat. What the teachers of the universities and high schools right down to the elementary schools have put into the souls of men comes out through Lenin and Trotsky. They bring out nothing but what is already taught in the institutions of civilized humanity.

My dear friends, today there exists an antithesis which one should contemplate without prejudice. It is this. What is to be done to prevent the influence of Lenin and Trotsky from spreading over the entire civilized world? The primary necessity is no longer to allow our children and our youth to be taught what has been taught right up to the twentieth century in our universities and in our secondary and elementary schools. To grasp this seeming contradiction demands courage, and because men do not want to have this courage, they go to sleep. That is why one has to say that whoever reads a declaration such as the one I have just quoted, even if it only appears in a few lines of an article, should feel as if stung by a viper; for it is as if the whole situation of present-day civilization were illumined by a flash of lightning.

Face to face with this situation, what would spiritual science with all its detailed concreteness have? What spiritual science would have I would characterize somewhat as follows. The Roman Catholic Church, as a mighty corporation, represents the last withered remains of the civilization of the fourth post-Atlantean Epoch. It can be well authenticated in all detail that the Roman Catholic Church represents the last remnant of what was the right civilization for the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, what was justified right up to the middle of the fifteenth century, but what has now become a shadow. Of course products of a later evolution often herald their arrival in an earlier period, and its earlier products linger on into a later epoch; but in essentials the Roman Catholic Church represents what was justifiable for Europe and its colonies up to the middle of the fifteenth century.
Spiritual science, however, as we understand it, has to further the needs of the fifth post-Atlantean civilization. The Roman Catholic Church represents in a number of dogmas, as a self-contained structure which is dead but which still exists as a corpse, something which hangs together inwardly through a well-constructed logic, a logic of reality. In this structure there is spirit, the spirit of a past epoch, but it is spirit. The way in which spirit is contained within it I have, I think, shown in the lectures I held here on St. Thomas Aquinas. There was spirit in these teachings, in these dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church, a spirit which had been perceived by those great ones whose last stragglers we find in Plotinus and others, and with which St. Augustine had yet in an interesting way to wrestle.

Since the middle of the fifteenth century what has appeared as philosophy, science, public opinion, world conception, apart from the Roman Catholic Church, is, for the most part, void of spirit. For the spirit of the fifth post-Atlantean age begins only to emerge with such principles as those of Lessing and Goethe. And it wants to enter into what the natural-scientific trend inaugurated by Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler was able to yield without spirit, and out of which Darwin, Huxley, and so on have blown the last remnant of Spirit. It wants to enter into that and fill it with Spirit. And spiritual science wishes to make manifest the Spirit which has to be the spirit of the fifth post-Atlantean age.

An institution permeated by a certain spirit as its own soul, if it is to maintain itself as an institution, can only fight for the past. To demand of the Catholic Church that it should fight for the future would be folly, for an institution which carried the spirit of the fourth post-Atlantean epoch cannot possibly carry that of the fifth. What the Catholic Church has become, what has spread over the civilized world as the configuration of the Catholic Church, and has its other aspect in Roman law and the abstractness of the whole Latin culture, all that belongs to the fourth cultural epoch. And the Catholic Church configuration has permeated the entire of civilization far more than men think. The monarchies, even if they were Protestant ones, were in their structure at bottom Latin Catholic institutions. For the fourth epoch it was necessary that men should be organized according to abstract principles, and that certain hierarchical ordinances should form the basis of organization. But what is to come as the spirit of the fifth post-Atlantean age, which we seek to cultivate through spiritual science, does not require such a firm structure, does not need a structure organized according to abstract principles, but requires such a relation of one human being to another as is characterized in my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity as ethical individualism. What that book has to say on the subject of ethics stands in the same contrast to the social structure fostered by the Roman Catholic Church as in the last resort spiritual science stands to Roman Catholic theology.

Spiritual Science was verily never meant to appear in the role of belligerent; spiritual science was only meant to state what it saw to be the truth. Anyone who examines our activities here will have to admit that never, never have I taken an aggressive stance. Of course, one has had constantly to defend oneself against attacks which came from outside, and that is the essential thing. But it is simply a demand of the age that what spiritual science has to give should be stated quite concretely. One has to remember that modern civilization is asleep, and that Rome is awake. That Rome is awake is revealed by the mighty drama unrolled in the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception; in the publication of the Encyclical of 1864, with its Syllabus condemning eighty modern truths; in the declaration of the Infallibility of the Pope; in the naming of Thomas Aquinas as the official philosopher of the Catholic priesthood; and finally in the anti-Modernist Oath for the teaching clergy.

In face of the rising tide of Darwinism, in face of the rising tide of naturalism in the fifties, something was done which, although it can only be understood out of the spiritual demands of the fourth post-Atlantean epoch nevertheless throws down the gauntlet before all this rising materialism. The rest of the world lets it come, or at best counters it with foolish arguments such as those of Eucken. Rome, however, sets up the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which states clearly: “Naturally, no one can accept the Immaculate Conception and at the same time ascribe to Darwinism; thus we establish the incompatibility of the two things.” Not more than a decade later, the whole structure of the modern world conception, void of spirit, is condemned by the Syllabus. The definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was already a departure from all the earlier traditional development of the Catholic Church. In what then in former times consisted definition by an Ecumenical Council? Within the Catholic Church a fundamental condition for the definition of any dogma — I am simply relating, not criticizing — was that the Fathers gathered together in the Council in which the dogma was to be defined should be illumined by the Holy Spirit; so that in reality the originator of the dogma is the Holy Spirit. It is really a question of recognizing whether the Holy Ghost is really the inspirer of the dogma to be defined. How does one know, how did they know that? Because what was about to be defined as a dogma by an Ecumenical Council was already the opinion of the whole Catholic Church.

Now that was not the case with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception; consequently, one of the fundamental principles of the Catholic Church was broken, the principle which required that a doctrine shall only be made into a dogma if the faithful have previously signified an inclination towards it. Of course, as regards these modern definitions of dogma, one was already living in the events of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch; and it was no longer so easy as in the Middle Ages so to prepare the faithful that a common opinion prevailed among them which could then be defined.

But you see, the ground had been well prepared — preparations had really been going on all through the last three or four centuries for these latest revelations; that is to say, these last revelations so far. Even then the Roman Catholic Church was already awake; and if you remember when the Jesuit Order was founded, you will easily draw the inference that the foundation of that Order is essentially connected with the fact that some means had to be found to overcome the difficulties of working on the faithful in modern times and generally to take these difficulties into account. One ought to pay attention to the course things have taken. I am only relating, I am not criticizing. 1574 was the year in which the citizens of Lucerne themselves expressed a desire for Jesuitism. Let me repeat that it was Canisius, the immediate disciple of Ignatius Loyola, who founded the Jesuit College in Freiburg in 1580 which later established its colony in Solothurn. I should like too to say that after the suppression of the Jesuit Order by Clement XIV, the Jesuits had, of course, to disappear from Switzerland, and they then continued their activities only in the countries of Frederick II of Prussia and of Catherine of Russia, to whom the Jesuit Order really owes its continued existence.

But in this extraordinary interregnum between the suppression of the Jesuit Order in 1773 by Clement XIV and its reinstatement by Pius VII in 1814, strange things nevertheless happened. For you see, during this interval, in Sion, for example, the institution which had been conducted by the Jesuits naturally remained; and as a matter of fact for the most part, too, the same teachers remained in it; only up to 1773 these teachers were Jesuits, and from that date onward they were no longer Jesuits, but one spoke of the Fathers of the Faith as teaching in such institutions. Therefore, it is not surprising that after Pius VII had in 1814 withdrawn the decree of Clement XIV, these Jesuit colonies were again reinstated — in Brigue the same year, in Freiberg in 1818, in Schwiez in 1836.

It is not my task to criticize these things, but I want you to know about them, and I should further like to say this. From my explanations you will have seen that from the 21st of July, 1773, when Clement XIV issued the Bull “Dominus ac Redemptor Noster” until Pius VII caused his Bull “Solicitude omnium Ecclesiarum” to appear, the Jesuit Order was officially suppressed. Now comes something extraordinary. There exist memoirs written by a man who was called Cordara, a Jesuit, one who had gone through all the grades of the Jesuit Order. From his memoirs it is evident that he was not an ignoramus like Count Hoensbruch, whose speeches and writings are unimportant, for, of course, the Jesuits are clever and Hoensbruch is very foolish. It is a question of not being asleep over these things today, but of knowing how to distinguish the important from the unimportant.

I should like to mention one point in Cordara’s memoirs, where he remarks that it was strange that the Jesuit Order should have been suppressed by Pope Clement XIV, who had a great liking for the Jesuits and was at the same time an extremely tolerant man and no fool. Thus Cordara gives Pope Clement an excellent character, almost lauds him to the skies, in spite of the fact that he suppressed the Jesuits. Therefore, Cordara naturally asks how it was that they had to be suppressed by this kindly pope. “One must ask,” says Cordara, “What were the intentions of Divine Wisdom in the suppression of the Jesuits and why it was permitted?”

Now, of course, Cordara was a Jesuit, but a man who had even been taught by them to think logically, and therefore, he does not ask abstract questions but very concrete ones. He said, “We have to look for what was blameworthy in the Order,” and he goes on to say, “I find that as regards morality, the Jesuit Order has gone admirably to work; as to unchastity or the like, we are very strict, nobody can deny it. But we are very lenient towards everything of the nature of slander, calumny, and abuse.” Cordara actually says that God probably allowed the suppression of the Jesuit Order by Pope Clement XIV because there had gradually crept into the Order a certain tendency to slander, calumny, and abuse. Now I am not criticizing this, I am only relating facts. I should only like to add that the Jesuit Cordara further says: “One of our chief faults is pride, which causes us to regard all other Orders as of no account and worthless, and all secular clergy as worthless.”

Now, if one puts together everything in these memoirs which is said, not as a reproach to the Jesuit Order but simply as a kind of mea culpa, as an examination of conscience by a Jesuit, one finds in the first place striving for political power; second — pride, arrogance; third — contempt of other Orders and secular priests; fourth — accumulation of wealth. But if one gradually comes to know what it means to maintain dead, withered truths by means of power, one cannot do better than to use such an Order to provide for their maintenance. The Roman Catholic Church in Pius VII well knew what it was doing. It discharged its debt of gratitude to world history, history made by Frederick II, King of Prussia, and by Catherine of Russia, both now dead, when it reinstated the Jesuit Order. And among the first ‘foreign’ Jesuits to teach here in Switzerland again were many of those who had been protected by Catherine, many who came back from Russia. You can read all this in the relevant historical documents.

You can see, therefore, that Rome was wide awake and made in advance her necessary preparations. Wide-awake preparation was made. Now comes the next step, the condemnation of all that mounting tide of science — ripe for condemnation since after four centuries of effort to drive out the spirit, it remained void of spirit and mankind remained asleep. The next step was the Encyclical of 1864 with its Syllabus. If the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception had already been a break with all earlier custom of the Roman Catholic Church, undoubtedly what was promulgated in the doctrine of Infallibility constituted a far greater break. For all the acumen of the practiced logic of the Catholic Church was needed to justify the contention that the Pope is infallible after Pope Clement XIV in 1773 had suppressed the Jesuit Order, and his successor Pope Pius VII in 1814 had reinstated it. A goodly number of such things could be adduced. But the logic which had been so well cultivated was not applied to produce sharply defined concepts. What was needed was a well-formed concept which could justify infallibility. Not what the Pope expresses as his private opinion is regarded as infallible, only what he says ‘ex cathedra’. Then it was not necessary to decide whether Clement XIV or Pius VII was infallible, but whether Clement XIV or Pius VII had spoken ‘ex cathedra’ or privately. Clement XIV must have spoken privately when he suppressed the Jesuit Order, and Pius VII ‘ex cathedra’ when he reinstated it!

But, you see, the trouble is that the pope never states whether he is speaking ‘ex cathedra’ or privately. That he has never yet said! One must admit that it is difficult to distinguish in the individual instance whether it is subject to the dogma of infallibility, but the dogma is there, and with it a good blow was struck at what can arise as the elemental culture of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch.

It then became necessary to draw the consequences and that was well done by Pope Leo XIII, a man full of insight and of very great intelligence. Pope Leo XIII sought to adopt the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas as it was in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. The Church needed that philosophy, which is so great — but great for the last culture epoch, for of course objectively everything in the way of philosophy which has subsequently arisen is small compared to what blossomed as Philosophy in Scholasticism. But what is small is still a beginning, whereas what was in Scholasticism was an end, a climax.
Now we must remember that mankind is nevertheless trying to progress and therefore it happened that, both in the sphere of natural-scientific research and in historical research, strange vagaries cropped up among the Catholic clergy. Very well then, it now became necessary to adopt strong measures in support of the Catholic doctrine derived from St. Augustine. Hence the Oath against Modernism.

Now of course, my dear friends, nothing can be said against all that, if it is pursued by any community out of a free impulse, but when in 1867 the Jesuits were again allowed into Munich, a Jesuit priest in his first sermon then said that the Rules of the Order forbade Jesuits to meddle in politics, that a Jesuit never has taken any part in politics; then it appears to me that modern men are not likely to believe that. And it soon becomes otherwise. Up to that time it had not in fact been possible to find a really adequate measure.

My dear friends, what I am really trying to bring home to you is that all those who seriously want knowledge, progress, and the good of humanity will have to recognize the threefold nature of the social organism. For how little political measures avail against the Roman Catholic Church has shown itself in the course of the German ‘Kultur’ campaign. But what I am primarily trying to bring home to you is how slow people are to see what, as the necessary consequence of spiritual-scientific endeavor, must come into the world as the impulse for the threefold order of society. That is what we need, a wide-awake understanding for the phenomena of the time.

Now, my dear friends, I have plunged into a theme into which I would certainly not have entered had it not been for recent events here, of which we shall see further developments. You know that on Saturday I am to give a public lecture on “The Truth about Anthroposophy and its Defense against Untruth.” But in any case I must contrive next Sunday to continue the comments which I cannot complete today. So next Sunday at half-past seven we will meet here once more, although we have to start on a journey on Monday. In these troubled times one cannot do otherwise, and so on Saturday, despite the burning of our posters, the public lecture also will take place here.


The Working of the Living Christ in Us

Ex Deo Nascimur       In Christo Morimur       Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus

Rudolf Steiner, September 5, 1924 [from The Book of Revelation and the Work of the Priest, lecture 1]:

The inner spiritual impulse that is intended to flow from the Goetheanum through the anthroposophical movement always contains an aspect that goes far beyond any theoretical understanding, indeed beyond any understanding altogether. A way of expressing approximately what is meant would be to say: The tasks human beings must undertake today are growing great again. They are growing great because the forces once available in the times when humanity was able to turn away more or less from the impulses of the ancient Mysteries are now exhausted.

The ancient Mysteries unfolded actual divine substances and divine forces on the Earth in full reality. Humanity had to develop sufficiently for there to be a time when people were left more or less to their own devices, a time when the divine substances and forces were unable to work directly on the Earth through human beings. The forces that held sway in earthly humanity during that intermediate period of human evolution are now exhausted. Though not the most lofty, it is perhaps a significant, important, and far-reaching occult truth that the forces which were able to become effective in human evolution without the help of the Mysteries are now exhausted, so that human evolution cannot proceed further unless forces from the Mysteries enter into evolution once again.

Under the influence of this truth it must be sensed that today something other than understanding alone is necessary for someone who wants to work out of genuine spirituality in any branch of the anthroposophical movement. Something must come about anew that resembles the working of the old Mysteries, something that is described as an offering and devotion of the whole human being, an opening out of the whole human being within his or her task.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Roman Catholicism. Lecture 1 of 3

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, May 30, 1920:

My Dear Friends,

To carry our spiritual understanding of things farther, we shall need more and more to turn our attention to certain historical facts. During the last decades our members have led a pleasant life, devoted entirely to the acquisition of knowledge from the lectures and discussions which have been held in different places. Nevertheless, this has formed an impenetrable wall, over which in many cases there has been a great reluctance to look out at what was happening in the outside world. But, if we want to see what is happening in the world in the right light, if we do not wish to found a sect but a historical movement — something which no other movement than ours can be — then we need to know the historical background for what is all around us in the world. And the way in which we ourselves are treated, particularly here in this place, where we have never done anything in the slightest degree aggressive, makes it doubly necessary for us really to look over the wall and to understand something of what is going on in the world. Therefore, I should like to combine what I have to say in the next few days with some historical comments, in order to draw attention to certain facts, without a knowledge of which we shall probably not now be able to get any further.

Today I want first of all to point out one thing. You know that about the beginning of the last third of the nineteenth century something found a foothold in the various civilized states of Europe and America, which was known as a realistic conception of life, a conception of life which was in essentials based on the achievements of the nineteenth century and on those which had prepared the way for that century. At the beginning of the last third of the nineteenth century people everywhere spoke in quite a different way, their underlying tone was different from what it became in the later decades, and still more in the decades of the twentieth century. The forms of thought which dominated wide circles became during this time essentially different. Today I will only mention one example. At the beginning of the last third of the nineteenth century the belief prevailed among educated people that the human being ought to form his own convictions out of his own inner self, about the most important affairs of life; and that even if, helped by the discoveries of science, he does so, a common social life is, nevertheless, possible in the civilized world. There was, so to say, a kind of dogma, but a dogma freely recognized in the widest circles, that, among people who had reached a certain degree of culture, freedom of conscience was possible.

It is true that in the decades that followed no one had the courage to attack this dogma openly; but there was more or less unconscious opposition to it. And at the present time, after the great world catastrophe [the First World War], straightaway this dogma is something which in the widest circles is being repressed, is being nullified, though, of course, that fact is more or less disguised. In the sixties of the nineteenth century the belief prevailed in the widest circles that the human being must have a certain freedom as regards everything connected with his religion. The emergence of this belief was noted in certain quarters, and I have already pointed out how on December 8, 1864, Rome launched an attack against it. I have often told you how this whole movement was handled by Rome, how in the Papal Encyclical of 1864, which appeared at the same time as the Syllabus, it is expressly said: “The view that freedom of conscience and of religion is given to each human being as his own right is a folly and a delusion.”

At the time when Europe was experiencing the high tide, a provisional high tide, of this conception of freedom of conscience and of religious worship, Rome made an official pronouncement that it was a delusion.

I only want to put this before you as a historic fact; and in so doing I want to call your attention to what took place at a time when, for a large number of people, this question had arisen and called for a response from out of the very springs of human conscience — the question: “How do we as human beings make progress in our religious life?” This question, posed in deep earnestness and really in such a way as to show that consciences were involved, was a significant question of the time. I should just like to read you something which illustrates how the cultured people of the day were deeply preoccupied with it.

There are in existence speeches of Rumelin whom I mentioned recently in connection with Julius Robert Mayer and the Law of Conservation of Energy. There exist speeches of Rumelin made in the year 1875, thus in this very period of which I am now speaking. In them he analyzed the difficulties humanity experiences in this very matter of the further study of religious questions. He also points out how necessary it is to follow these difficulties with clear insight. Anyone with intimate knowledge of this period knows that the following words of Rumelin expressed the conviction of many hundreds of men. Of course we do not need to advocate the peculiar form of science which arose at that time; insofar as we are Anthroposophists we are equipped to develop those scientific tendencies further, with a clear perception of their relative errors; and we are also equipped for recognizing that if science remains stationary at that standpoint we can get absolutely no farther with it. In the widest circles judgments arose on many points to do with religion, and we should recall these judgments today. The thoughts of thousands of people at that time were expressed by Rumelin in 1875 in the following words:

“There has indeed at all times been a line of demarcation between knowledge and belief, but never has there been such an impassable abyss between them as that constituted today by the concept of miracle. Science has grown so strong in its own development, so consistent in its various branches and trends, that it flatly and without further ado points the door to the miracle in every shape and form. It recognizes only the miracle of all miracles, that a world exists and just this world. But within the cosmos it rejects absolutely any claim that interruption of its order and of its laws is something conceivable or in any way more desirable than their immutable validity. For to all the natural-historical and philosophical sciences the miracle with all its implications is nonsense, a direct outrage on all reason and on the most elementary bases of human knowledge. Science and miracle are as contradictory as reason and unreason.”

When, about the turning point of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, I began to speak in public lectures on certain anthroposophical questions, a last echo of the mood I have just described still existed. I do not know whether there are many here who followed these first lectures of mine, but in many of them I drew attention to the problems of repeated earth lives and of the destiny of human beings as they pass through one life after another. Now in dealing with these problems you will find that I always pointed out right at the end of the lecture that if one believes in the old Aristotelian idea that every time a person is born a new soul is created that has to be implanted into the human embryo, a miracle is thereby ordained for every single life. The concept of miracle can only be overcome in a sense that is justified if one accepts reincarnation, whereby each single life can be linked up with the previous life on Earth without any miracle. I still remember well that I concluded one of my Berlin lectures with these words: “We are going to overcome in the right way that most important thing, the concept of miracle.”

Since then, of course, things have changed throughout the civilized world. That is primarily a historical fact, my dear friends, but it comprises something which is of the utmost interest to us. That is, that in the measure in which man loses the capacity to see the spiritual in the world, to explain the world of nature around him by the spirit, in that same measure must he place a special world side by side with nature and the ordinary world, which has as its content the world of miracle. The more natural science takes its stand on mere causality, the more the life of human feeling is driven, by a quite natural reaction, to accept the concept of miracle. The more natural science continues along its present lines, the more numerous will be those who seek refuge in a religion which includes miracles. That is why today so many people embrace Catholicism, because they simply cannot bear the natural-scientific conception of the world.

Take that sentence which I have just read, and compare it with what has been said in recent lectures here, and you will at once see what is in question. In this exposition of Rumelin occurs this sentence: “It recognizes only the miracle of all miracles, that a world exists, and just this world. But it rejects absolutely any claim that within the cosmos interruption of its order and of its laws is conceivable or in any way more desirable than their immutable validity.” Thus one thinks the primeval miracle, that the cosmos has come into being at all, but then, within this cosmos, one studies the Laws of Indestructibility of Matter and Conservation of Energy, and then everything rolls on with a certain necessity, so to say fatalistically.

That conception of the world is untenable, but it can only be overcome through the knowledge which I ventured to put before you last week, when I showed you that the Laws of Indestructibility of Matter and Conservation of Energy constitute an error, and that error is what above all has to be vigorously combated in our time. We have to do not merely with a continuous conservation of the universe, but with its continual destruction and coming into fresh existence. And if we do not establish in the cosmos the idea of a continual arising and passing away, we are obliged because we are human to affirm a special world side by side with the cosmos, a world which has nothing to do with the laws of nature that we demonstrate so one-sidedly, and which must include miracle. That unjustified concept of miracle will only be overcome in the measure in which we understand that everything in the world stands in a spiritual ordering in which we no longer have to do with an iron necessity of nature but with a cosmic guidance full of wisdom.

The more we keep our gaze fixed upon the spiritual world as such and upon what we acquire through spiritual science, the more do we realize that what natural science puts before us today needs to be permeated by spiritual knowledge. It must therefore become our task to direct our attention more and more upon every science and upon all branches of life in such a way that they become permeated by what only spiritual science has to say. Medicine, jurisprudence, and sociology must all be permeated by what can be known and seen through spiritual science. Spiritual science does not need any organization similar to that of the old churches, for it appeals to each single individual; and each single individual, out of his own inner conscience, through his own healthy understanding, can substantiate the results of spiritual-scientific investigation, and can in this sense become a follower of spiritual science. It puts forward something which makes a direct appeal to every single individuality just in this search for truth. It is the true fulfillment of what men were seeking in the time now past, in the last third of the nineteenth century — true freedom — freedom in their conception of the world, in their research, and even in their opinions. That is just the task of spiritual science: to provide for the genuine justifiable claims made by the conscience of modern humanity.

Hence for spiritual science there are no such things as closed dogmas, only unrestricted research which does not draw back in fear at the frontiers either of the spiritual world or of the world of nature, but which makes use of those human powers of cognition which have first to be drawn from the depths of human feeling, just as it also uses those powers which come to us through ordinary heredity and ordinary education.

This basic tendency of spiritual science is very naturally a thorn in the flesh to those who are forced to teach in accordance with a fixed, dogmatic, circumscribed aim. And that brings us to a fact of considerable concern to spiritual science, and one of the illuminating circumstances making possible the present untrue fight against us today; that brings us to something which is only the result of what began in 1864 with the Encyclical and Syllabus of that time; that brings us to the fact that the whole of the Catholic clergy and especially the teaching clergy, by the Encyclical of September 8, 1907: Pascendi Dominici gregis, which makes such a deep incision into modern life, were made to swear the so-called oath against modernism. This oath consists in this: that every Catholic priest or theologian who teaches either from the pulpit or from the rostrum is obliged to accept the view that no knowledge of any kind can contradict what has been laid down as doctrine by the Roman Church. That means that in every Catholic priest who teaches or preaches we have to do with a person who has sworn an oath that every truth that can ever take root in humanity must agree with what is given validity as truth by Rome. It was a powerful movement which, at the time this Encyclical “Pascendi Dominici gregis” appeared, swept over the Catholic clergy — for the whole civilized world, even the clergy, had in a sense been influenced by that mood which I have described as characteristic of the last third of the nineteenth century.

There were always certain clergy who worked to bring about a certain freedom in Catholicism. I say quite frankly that in the sixties of the nineteenth century in a large number of the Catholic clergy seeds of development of the Catholic principle were present which, if they had passed over into a free science, might in large measure have led to a liberation of modern humanity. There were most promising seeds in what was attempted at that time in various spheres on the part of the Catholic clergy. One day we must go into all this more closely and in great detail. But today I just want to draw your attention to it. And it was directly against this tendency inside the Church that the Encyclical of 1864 with its Syllabus was promulgated, and thus began that conflict which came to an end for the time being in the Anti-Modernist Oath.

I may say that in the subconsciousness of many of the Catholic clergy, even as late as 1907, there was a trace of inward revolt, but in the Catholic Church there is no such thing as revolt. There it was a question of ceaselessly pressing home the axiom that what is promulgated by Rome as doctrine must be accepted. Then those who were obliged to go on teaching had to come to terms with what they had not the courage to deny, the freedom of science. Under the influence of what had arisen in the last third of the nineteenth century, the freedom of science had become a household word, a household word that, of course, even in liberal circles, often remained nothing more, but it was nevertheless a household word, and even learned Catholics had not the courage to say that they would break with the freedom of science and have nothing further to do with it.

So they had the task of proving that one may only teach what is recognized by Rome as doctrinally valid (this they had to swear on oath) and that the freedom of science was consistent with this. I should like to read you a few sentences illustrating such a method of proof, given by the Catholic theologian Weber of Freiburg in this book Catholic Doctrine and the Freedom of Science. He there attempts specifically to prove that although a man may admittedly be obliged by his oath only to teach the content of what he is instructed by Rome to teach, he can notwithstanding remain a free scientist. After having argued at length that even mathematics is something given to one and that one does not surrender the freedom of science because one is bound by the truths of mathematics, he goes on to show that one does not surrender one’s freedom because one is compelled to teach as truth what is given by Rome; and one of his sentences is as follows: “A scholar is bound to specific methods of explanation or proof; just as the obligation of a soldier to rejoin his regiment at a certain time does not take from him his freedom, for he can either go on foot or by coach, by slow train or express, so the teacher still remains free in his scientific task in spite of his oath.”

That means that one is compelled to teach a definite body of doctrine, and to prove just that body of doctrine; as to how one does it one is left free. Just as free as a soldier who has sworn to join his regiment at a certain time, and who can travel either on foot or by coach, or by the slow or the express train. One ought to ask oneself how this going by foot or by coach, by slow train or by express has to end. Under all circumstances it has to end in joining his regiment. I am not making polemics, I am simply citing a historical fact.

You see in the course of preceding centuries and culminating in the last third of the nineteenth century there had gradually developed a mood in wide circles of the cultivated world which seemed full of promise. But all that is now dormant; souls have gone to sleep. Those who share the mood of that time are obviously now very old, are among the old discarded liberals, and those who were young during the last decades have not been awake to the very important claims of humanity. Hence if the decline is not to go further we have to challenge the youth of today to act otherwise. The generation living in the sixties of the nineteenth century could become a generation of Liberals but was not able to provide a liberal education. For that it would have had to master the concept of miracle in quite a different way than the way adopted by natural science. For that, the concept of miracle would have to be surmounted by the spirit and not by the mechanical ordering of nature.

And so, whereas this mood came over modern humanity like a kind of dream, those who worked against it were wide awake, and it was out of their waking consciousness that such things were born as the Encyclical and Syllabus of the year 1864, with its eighty numbered errors in which no Catholic might believe. In these eighty errors is to be found everything which implies a modern conception of the world. Now comes once more out of the fullest waking consciousness, the latest inevitable achievement, the Encyclical of the year 1907, culminating in the Anti-modernist Oath. Not only have these people been awake since the last third of the Nineteenth Century, but for a much longer time than that they have worked radically, energetically, and intensively, and the task they have achieved is what I might call the concentration of all Catholicism on Rome — the suppression in Catholicism of all that inevitably deprived the freest of all churches of its freedom; for in its essential nature the Catholic Church is capable of the greatest freedom.

You will perhaps be astonished that I should say that. But let us go back a little way from our enlightened freedom from authority into the thirteenth century, which we have recently discussed in public lectures. I should like to recall to your minds in this connection a document of the thirteenth century, when Catholicism in Europe was in full flower.

It has to do with the question of the nomination by Rome of Albertus Magnus, one of the founders of Scholasticism, as Bishop of Regensburg. I need hardly say that in the Catholic Church today there could be no two opinions but that this nomination to one of the foremost bishoprics greatly enhanced the dignity of a Dominican who up to that time had merely laid the foundations of a reputation by numerous important writings and by a pious life spent in the affairs of his Order. For today the Catholic Church is a compact organism, and it has become so by having been completely transformed. When Albertus Magnus was about to be nominated Bishop of Regensburg, the Head of his Order sent him a letter which read somewhat as follows: “The Head of the Order beseeches Albertus Magnus not to accept the bishopric, not to bring such a stain on his good name and on the reputation of his Order. He should not submit to the desires of the Roman Court, where things are not taken seriously. All the good service which he has hitherto rendered by his pious life and writings would be imperiled if he became a bishop and entangled in the business which as bishop he would have to discharge; he should not plunge his Order into such deep sorrow.”

My dear friends, at that time there were voices in the Church that spoke thus. At that time the Catholic Church was no compact mass; within the Church it was possible to be plunged into deep sorrow if someone was chosen for an office which he knew was not regarded seriously in Rome. In the biographies of Thomas Aquinas we find mentioned over and over again that he refused the office of Cardinal. Today I am giving you some of the real reasons why that was so; in the biographies you will find mentioned the bare fact of his refusal. It is not easy to give the reasons after having made him the official philosopher of the Church!

But I should like to translate literally one sentence out of that letter to which I have referred, from the Head of his Order to Albertus Magnus: “I would rather hear that my dear son was in his grave than on the Episcopal throne of Regensburg.”

My dear friends, it is not enough simply to speak of the Dark Ages and to compare them with our own times, in which we are supposed to have made such magnificent progress; but, if we want to form judgments, we must know some of the historical facts as to how things have developed in the course of time. No doubt you are aware that Jesuit influence is behind many of the attacks on us. You know, for instance, that from the Jesuit side came the most flagrant lies; for instance, the accusation that I myself had once been a priest and had forsaken the priesthood. And you know that a few years later the person who uttered this lie could not think of anything else to say except that this hypothesis could not further be held. In the Austrian Parliament a member named Walterkirchen once shouted at a Minister: “If a man has once lied, no one believes him even if afterwards he speaks the truth.” But Jesuitism stands behind all these things; one can point to many things growing on the soil of Jesuitism, but in this respect also I only want today to point to a historical fact.

It is a fundamental point of the Jesuit rule to render absolute obedience to the Pope. Now, in the eighteenth century there lived a pope who suppressed the Jesuit Order irrevocably for all eternity — literally for all eternity. If the Jesuits had remained true to their own rule they would, of course, never have appeared on the scene again. However, they did not disappear but took refuge in countries where there were rulers at that time less favorable to Rome, rulers who thought that by serving Jesuitism they could serve the future — not of humanity but of themselves and their successors. For the Jesuit Order was saved by two rulers, Frederick II of Prussia and Catherine of Russia. In Roman Catholic countries the Jesuit Order was not recognized as having a valid existence. The Jesuits of today owe it to Frederick II of Prussia and Catherine of Russia that they were able to survive that period when they were persecuted by Rome. I am not making polemics, I am merely stating historical facts. But these historical facts are quite unknown to most people, and it is necessary that they shall be borne in mind, because we must no longer be a sect which has built a wall around itself. We must look at what is around us and learn to understand it. That is our undoubted duty if we desire to be true to that movement in which we profess to live.

You see, it is one of the worst and most harmful signs of the time that people trouble so little about facts and have no inclination to ask how they have come about, to ask whence has come the present revolt against us, from what source it is being nourished. Such judgments as proceeded from the mood which I characterized as the mood of the last third of the nineteenth century are less and less to be heard today. It is really astounding how little human beings today know of what is going on in the world. For they slept through the event of the Encyclical “Pascendi Dominici gregis” of September 8, 1907, whereby the oath against Modernism was imposed on the Catholic clergy. Voices such as would certainly have been raised by such a man as the Dominican General who preferred to see his dear son in the grave rather than on the Episcopal throne of Regensburg are no longer heard; instead of that, people listen nowadays to voices which explain that a man can still be a free scientist if he swears that he can use any methods he likes to prove what he teaches; it does not matter whether he travels by express train or slow train, in a coach or on foot.

What leaps logic has to make if such proofs are to be used! I need not enlarge on this. But most people have no idea of the power lying in what at the present time is specially directed against us, who have never attacked anyone, and of what that power signifies. It is not sufficient to say that these things are really too stupid to notice. For, my dear friends, in the assertions constantly made about us, you will only find two things that can be affirmed with truth. For instance, when “Spectator” was reproached for having said his source was a book, the “Akashic Record,” and was told that that must have been a deliberate lie, for he must have known that he could not possess the “Akashic Record” in his library, he extricated himself as follows: “First, let me say that a printer’s error slipped into our second article. Akaskic Record instead of Akashic Record. This mistake Dr. Boos has noted with glee. He seems to strain at gnats and to swallow camels. In the same article there is another misprint; for Apollinaris, of course, one should read Apollonius of Ryana! This Dr. Boos has overlooked — perhaps intentionally!”

Now, my dear friends, if Akaskic Record had been allowed to stand, I should not have complained, for that could be a misprint! And I would even go so far as to accept that a man of intellectual caliber to which the article bears witness could write Apollinaris instead of Apollonius of Tyana. I do not even hold it against him that he quotes as being among the sources from which we draw someone whom he dubs with the name Apollinaris! But, my dear friends, it must be called a downright falsehood when it is maintained that the Akashic Record is something from which Anthroposophy is unjustifiably derived as from an ancient book. How does the gentleman wriggle out of this? He does not admit that there is anything with which to reproach him. He says: “This Akashic Record is a legendary secret writing which contains traces of the eternal truths of all ancient wisdom; it plays a part similar to that of the obscure book ‘The Stanzas of Dzyan’ which Madame Blavatsky claims to have found in a cave in Tibet, etc. etc.” Thus he makes clear to his flock that he can speak of this Akashic Record as of any other record once written down; and naturally they believe him. But I want to draw attention to two things. One is his statement: “Steiner considers he has rendered great service by rejuvenating Buddhism and enriching it by the introduction of the doctrines of reincarnation and karma, his own specialties.”

Needless to say I never made any such claim; not one single sentence of what has so far been published is true — or at most one thing, a thing which will perhaps always cause a headache to those who write in this strain. The one thing which can be looked upon as in any way true is in the passage in which he says: “The Gnostics also professed an esoteric doctrine and divided men into the Hyliker (ordinary people, the general run of men) and the Pneumatiker (theosophists) in whom was the fullness of the spirit and among whom therefore a higher knowledge (initiation) prevailed. The latter refrained from meat and wine.”

This sentence: “refrained from meat and wine” is the only one of which we can say that, as it stands here, it is strictly true; and the doctrine it represents is to many an uncomfortable one. But now this gentleman (for it appears he wishes to be thought a gentleman) says further on: “That is, however, not true.” What is not true? “Buddhism speaks of the migration of souls, Steiner of reincarnation; both are the same. According to this theory Christ is none other than the reincarnated Buddha, or Buddha reappeared. Whether it is said that a person reincarnates or that his earthly life is repeated, it comes to the same thing. All these long arguments reveal the sophistry of Steiner and his so-called scientific mind.”

I beg you to notice that in both these forms really one of the most mischievous pieces of dishonesty possible has been perpetrated. Every possibility is removed which might enable those who read it to judge for themselves what the truth is. Up to the present, in all these long articles, no notice has been taken of Dr. Boos’ answer to the first attack, in which he mentions, I think, twenty-three lies. The other piece of dishonesty lies in the following sentence: “This path is, however, not false but correct.” He had previously talked a lot of nonsense about the will, and then he goes on to say: “This path is, however, not false but correct, for the claims of Christ are based upon the will. Christ Himself says: ‘I have come into the world to do the will of my Father.’” Therefore, it is no longer permissible to say that it is a question of spiritual initiative or anything of that nature. Then he goes on: “This little example shows how far Steiner is removed from the true Christian impulse, and proves that to him Christ cannot be the Divine rules (the Way, the Truth, and the Life) but only the ‘wise man of Nazareth,’ or in theosophical language, a Jesu ben Pandira or Guatama Buddha.”

Now compare that with everything that has been said here in refutation of the modern theological view that one has to see in Christ Jesus merely the wise man of Nazareth. Think of all that has been said in this place against this materialistic theory! Yet here, by our nearest neighbors, we are calumniated, and what I have unceasingly contested is spread abroad as my own belief. I ask you, is greater falsehood possible? Can there be a more dishonest method than this? It is not sufficient to recognize the stupidity of these things, for you will more and more become aware of the real effects of such tactics. Therefore, it is essential that we here should really not sleep through these things, but that we should grasp them in all earnestness, for today it is really not a question of a small community here, but it is a great human question; and this great human question must be clearly seen. It is a question of truth and falsehood. These things must be taken seriously.

My dear friends, these observations are to be continued here next Thursday at the same time, and as has been the case today, a few eurythmy exercises will precede the lecture. Then I want to take the opportunity, perhaps next Saturday, of holding a public lecture from this platform, without polemics, a purely historical lecture showing the historical basis of all that preceded and led up to the Papal Encyclical “Pascendi Dominici gregis” of September 1907, and the results that have followed from it. Therefore, if at all possible, we shall try to arrange a public lecture here next Saturday. Next Thursday there will be a kind of continuation of today’s theme, when we shall go deeper and shall see in particular what the spiritual life itself has to say to what is happening today